The Obama Bailout Bill

by: David Sirota

Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 23:59

Sadly, the bailout bill is no longer George Bush's. It's Barack Obama's:

Black lawmakers said personal calls from Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama helped switch them from "no" to "yes."

I'd say a pretty sad - though predictable - moment in Democratic Party history. The Democratic nominee helps ram a Wall Street giveaway through a Democratic Congress. At least with NAFTA, Bill Clinton relied on mostly Republican votes.

I have to say, this kind of thing just really bums me out - it takes my "hope" away, if you will. We are watching the first African American presidential nominee use his enormous power to pressure African American lawmakers - many from poor and working class communities - to vote for a bill that most experts say will either hurt the economy or not help it much, and will give away 5 percent of the entire economy largely to Manhattan and Greenwich billionaires.*

I think we all would have liked to see Obama state his principles and really fight for them on this, rather than taking a pass by simply lamenting the polarized process and then supporting a travesty.  Because of Obama's behavior, I think we have learned an important lesson: We learned that this is precisely the kind of dynamic that will likely govern an Obama administration. The formula is clear: Make rhetorical gestures to progressives, while paying off Big Money with trillions. I'm not lamenting - this is the formula for a lot of Democratic politicians. But we should all make sure to have our eyes wide open and start administering some real pressure if we want any real results - Obama himself has warned us.

* Note to bailout/Obama apologists: You are going to have to get a different substantive argument other than saying "well, Paul Krugman supports it so I guess it's good." You would do well to actually read what Krugman has said, which is that: "To this day [the bailout proponents] have never been able to explain clearly why buying up bad mortgage assets at market prices will solve the credit crunch...The Wise Men, as far as I can tell, have never had a clear idea of what they're doing."  

David Sirota :: The Obama Bailout Bill

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Last week (4.00 / 2)
I actually thought it was Obama's bill last week, even with all of McCain's theatrics.  Obama will have to preside over the results, so I guess that's as it should be.

More theatrics to come (4.00 / 1)
Clearly, McCain was itching to go all Mavericky and derail the bill. He's done interviews where he comes down hard on both sides of the issue in the same interview, one of which got the Daily Show clip montage treatment. He has this inner conflict where he wants to do the maverick thing but also wants to appear presidential (i.e., get credit for the non-suspension suspension). Given his erratic nature I bet he'll go after Obama on the bailout even though he voted for it...

As far as Obama, at least we know where he stands. Now how are we going to empower progressive members of Congress to generate movement? Don't forget, most or all of the Democratic leadership was behind this thing as well. Can we exert any pressure to get progressives in leadership positions with real power?

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."
-Lawrence Summers

[ Parent ]
see Obama state his principles and really fight for them (4.00 / 3)
That is exactly what you saw.  He stated his principles which were in support of this bill, and he fought for its passage.  Obama can't make it any plainer that he is Bill Clinton all over again.  I couldn't support Hillary because of the Clinton machine, and I sure as hell can't vote for a Bill Clinton clone.  

While I admire the hell out of all of you who still think you can actually fight city hall and win, I don't believe anymore that it can be done.  Oh sure, the fluke here or there; but it takes the constant pressure of real money and power to change it.  That isn't us and that isn't Obama.  He is no change agent, and there isn't a dime's worth of hope that he ever will be.  He is just another ambitious politican taking advantage of who and whatever he needs to.  

[ Parent ]
Hurray for Obama! (4.00 / 2)
I am absolutely not on board with this idea that this bail out should not have been passed.  I didn't like the original iteration, and I don't like this one all that much either, but I'm not unhappy it passed the Senate, and I'm not unhappy that Obama very reasonably said - this is a start to resolving the crisis - more needs to be done.


Visit the Obama Project

huh (0.00 / 0)
I'm not sure I understand. If you don't like the bill in any iteration, why Hurray for Obama?

I don't like the fact that he has this much sway over black congressman. What exactly is the agenda the the Black Caucus is pursuing here?

[ Parent ]
here is how it works (4.00 / 2)
you have people like me - upwardly mobile or privileged members of various disempowered groups - women, Black people, South Asians, etc.  We are placed in positions of power on the condition that we accept the rules - i.e. capitalism, Christianity, patriarchy, whatever - and then we use our identities as leverage over other people in our group to promote horrible things or we just get jobs as investment bankers (now bankers i guess :) or lawyers or doctors and a nice hosue in the suburbs and a nagging feeling that we missed something somewhere (if we have a conscience).  

Obama's better than most of us probably (especially people his age) - but he, Hillary Clinton, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin - they're part of a class within the upper class.  It's the triumph of cultural diversity over bread and butter issues - or the other way to look at it is that it's one pathway back to bread and butter issues.  The trick is to not get so caught up in the symbolism (especially if you're not a member of the group) and the gentle nourishing warmth of "diversity" and actually pay attention to how identity and class work together.  Otherwise, you're all screwed.

[ Parent ]
And the free bonus prize -- (4.00 / 3)
Capitalism, patriarchy whatever then gets to point to you and say, "There is no need to dismantle the systems of oppression, it's already been done. See, look at this one! If this one can make it, that proves it."

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
The triumph of shallow smarts! ;-) (4.00 / 1)
Dr.A and Sadie B: excellent points. Gail Collins, who has recently taken to infesting the NYT Op-Ed pages (as if Maureen Dowd is not enough) anticipated David Sirota's misperception of Obama's "rhetorical gestures to progressives":

I know, I know. You're upset. You think the guy you fell in love with last spring is spending the summer flip-flopping his way to the right. Drifting to the center. Going all moderate on you. So you're withholding the love. Also possibly the money.

I feel your pain. I just don't know what candidate you're talking about.
Think back. Why, exactly, did you prefer Obama over Hillary Clinton in the first place? Their policies were almost identical - except his health care proposal was more conservative. You liked Barack because you thought he could get us past the old brain-dead politics, right? He talked - and talked and talked - about how there were going to be no more red states and blue states, how he was going to bring Americans together, including Republicans and Democrats.

Exactly where did everybody think this gathering was going to take place? Left field?

When an extremely intelligent politician tells you over and over and over that he is tired of the take-no-prisoners politics of the last several decades, that he is going to get things done and build a "new consensus," he is trying to explain that he is all about compromise. Even if he says it in that great Baracky way.

She is quite right of course. Then of course, what I have no realised is characteristic of her, she veers off into this:

Most of the things Obama's taken heat for saying this summer fall into these two familiar patterns - attempts to find a rational common ground on controversial issues and dumb-avoidance.

So, that would be you... the dumb part. Because you find it irrational to blindly seek common ground on controversial issues. Rather you try to derive a legitimate position from first principles. Dumb!

When you have a foundational commitment to "common ground" with those who share no such interest (at least with such fervour) and whose ranks include the likes of the current crop of Republicans, the views and actions (and analysis) you adopt are of necessity bound to be narrow and shallow.

But then, what makes it anti-dumb in Collins' eyes? I believe it is considered anti-dumb because it is "realpolitik". And it is so in a meritocratic framework whose legitimacy is beyond examination and whose ranking undergirds the very successes of these (and any) politicians. Obama talks down to black men because he is a natural part of a system that finds him, with his wholesome family and Harvard education, a better person than those irresponsible gangsters. They are dumb. He is anti-dumb. If they weren't dumb, why didn't they go to Harvard too? Obama supports the bailout because it endangers the entire economy! Working class grunts protesting it on Wall Street are dumb because they are putting moral outrage over their own personal fortunes as determined by Wall Street and assorted pundits. And so on.

The meritocracy only requires that we all take our pre-assigned positions (not ideological positions, for ideology would be pretty dumb, but quite the opposite), as Dr.A notes. Brown guy? You can be the super-intelligent Asian dude whose successful startup demonstrates to millions of other immigrants and blacks what opportunity abounds if they lose their "victimhood". White chick? How would you like to be CEO of Hewlett Packard? Nice, eh? And these are not merely mollifying handouts. Rather, as Sadie points out brilliantly, these are the very means of legitimising and reifying the hierarchy and the meritocracy.

[ Parent ]
i agreed with collins when she wrote that (4.00 / 1)
that i have a different color on my specs' lenses when i read about obama now is probably more a reflection of events since then than it is about him.

i've  been wondering if he's just trying to organize us.  through demonstration.  and he's the target.

it's the only way to still believe that he as a person is a progressive, in any sense.

[ Parent ]
i don't know why i keep trying (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Love that gallows humor. (0.00 / 0)

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
oh i was serious! (0.00 / 0)
i really really really really want to like this's just really hard right now.

[ Parent ]
Liking the guy (0.00 / 0)
Me too (really want to like the guy)... for one thing, after 8 years of Bush, and 8 years of Reagan before that, it is comforting to listen to a sentient being. And I can see the intelligent and straight-talking inner self peeking out ever so often, like when he said "nobody knows suffering like the Palestinians". And despite my hating on Collins, I can even somewhat agree with the "anti-dumb" characterisation -- Obama's impatience with the usual silliness that substitutes for politics is reassuring for those of us who have started questioning our own sanity. To repeat myself (and others), the reason Obama will not do anything radical (despite the coincidence, at this juncture, between radical left action and rightful and logical action) is that his ascent is an opposing narrative to a radical one. Which is not to say that radical paths are preferable to gradualist ones axiomatically... on other words, WTF do I know? ;-)

[ Parent ]
hee hee (0.00 / 0)
yeah i pretty much agree.  it's too bad he's impatient with us too :)

it's just the whole "inner self" thing i worry about - how long will we look for his inner self before we conclude it's not going to show up where it matters.  and that it's too free market capitalist? :)  his economics is WEAK!

[ Parent ]
Economics are weak... (0.00 / 0)
... or as McCain might say, his fundamentals are weak. ;-)

[ Parent ]
I don't like the bill but (4.00 / 1)
I also don't think its the worst, and I DO think that Obama's pragmatic, and consensus building approach is better in the long run than the demagoguery of the so-called "class war" frame.

Yes, I know that that runs counter to the popular notion around here, but I don't believe in class war.  I believe that government's number one job is to get the varying competing interests together and hammer out something that benefits all.  That seems to be Obama's approach. I like it.

As to the CBC, their agenda is to fight to stay relevant.  They've been out of touch and irrelevant for some time now - and that was never more proven than when they all lined up and told black people, often in stark terms, to vote for Hillary, and black people summarily ignored them.  Obama is the captain of the ship in some ways now, and his voice, and their ability to line up with the priorities and message that he's set, will be the difference between their ability to reconnect with the community or not.


Visit the Obama Project

[ Parent ]
Belief and reality (4.00 / 1)
QT, "class warfare" is not a matter of "belief". And its not just a popular notion. It is the reality of our lives, however much the majority may wish to believe that we are in a classless society or that even if there are classes, class mobility negates the idea of class warfare (mobility, factually speaking, is less than 30%). To not believe in class warfare, then, you have to believe that there is no systematic misappropriation of labour. In other words, you have to believe that the work done by a CEO is indeed worth 100s of times that of a worker. It does not matter that this is no longer an explicit physical war where the national guard can be deployed to kill striking miners. Does it matter if you lose your life at the hands of the police or via the more impersonal denial of health benefits or termination of COBRA, etc?

This is the danger, IMHO, of all this talk of "frames". We forget the picture (i.e., reality) that lies within.

[ Parent ]
I second that (4.00 / 1)
The "Rescue Plan" (it's no bailout) probably won't solve anything, and, hopefully won't be applied wholly, but at least it avoids a major markets' crash. Not that I care for Wall Street and other markets investors, but the people who would get hit the hardest by such a crash would be the ordinary people.
The markets are basically holding the whole economy as hostage. In such circumstances you have the terrible dilemma between paying the ransom or sacrificing the hostage, and in this case there's no raid option.
It's unfair to blame Obama about this. He's doing, in my opinion, the only responsible thing to do.

[ Parent ]
Responsible (4.00 / 2)
The only responsible thing to do is to use his power to pass a bill, instead of using his power to pass a bill a huge number of economists, financial analysts, investors and experts say will make the problem worse. That's truly the "only responsible thing to do."  

[ Parent ]
That is simply not the consensus (4.00 / 1)
and there are more than a few Progressive Economists who support this (Kuttner in a addition to Krugman, eg).

You can try and make all of us who support this out to be Bush lackey's - and frankly you will succeed only in dividing people who agree on principles 90% of the time.

It would be different if I say people addressing the substance: frankly I haven't seen much of that.

[ Parent ]
No, not Bush lackey's, corporate owned lackeys and (4.00 / 4)
the people they convince to buy their crap day after day.  
Substance has been addressed ad naseum.  People who support this bill are too afraid (or bought and paid for) to listen.

I propose a new rule.  If you vote for or agree with a law, you live it, pay for it, and/or go fight and die in it.  The rest of us just get to watch.   I'm tired of having hypocrits tell me what I have to do with my money, my life, and my family.  

[ Parent ]
Consensus... (4.00 / 1)
How amusing that a lack of consensus is used to justify a consensus approach? ;-) But seriously, have you read Dean Baker? Dean offers serious arguments on why this bailout is a bad idea. In contrast, Krugman who opposed the idea behind any such bill, up till the last moment, slightly switched positions with anecdotal references and "Aw shucks" teen talk. I am not suggesting that Krugman is being duplicitous. But if he wishes to convince us of the sudden value of the [Senate version of the] bill, then he needs to apply his considerable analytical skills in similar fashion to what he did before.

That doesn't make you a Bush lackey. I don't see Bush rear his head until you made this strange leap.

[ Parent ]
It's all about context... (0.00 / 0)
Is there an alternative bill that could be passed on the table? To my knowledge the answer is no.
On the other hand we're in a crucial period of the presidential race. That's a situation where you're doomed to make cynical, political choices. Opposing the bill is arguably riskier for Obama from an electoral standpoint than voting for it, as far as his opponent is backing it too.
Would Obama oppose, I already hear the vicious spin the GOP would repeat ad nauseum until election day.
Obama's responsibility right now is to get elected first.

[ Parent ]
I don't think he did it out of political calculation (4.00 / 2)
He did it out of conviction.  In his case this tactic is raised to the level of a principle.  this is his personal, political temperment.  It is not a one time action...this is how he thinks.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Of what conviction? (0.00 / 0)
You're quite lucky to read in Obama's mind to know how he thinks...

[ Parent ]
how is it going to avoid a market crash? (4.00 / 1)
and why is it the best possible thing that might come out of congress?

I think the second point is plausible; i have strong doubts about the first one.  See here.

[ Parent ]
how is it going to avoid a market crash? (0.00 / 0)
Simply by preventing the silly sell-off reflexes like those we witnessed after the house rejected the bill. Can you just imagine the Dow falling down 7% a day during just one week? That would be apocalyptic, not only for the big money but for billion people all over the world.
Don't get me wrong, I know all this stuff is pure BS and irrationality, but that's just how things work.

[ Parent ]
yes but it's being exaggerated (0.00 / 0)
dow dropped 23% in one day in 1987.  Here, it dropped 7% and then recovered the next day (as far as I know...didn't follow what happened after the morning).  The guy on yahoo finance said, maybe it could drop to 7000 worst case scenario - that's worst case.

What the actual crisis is is that banks don't trust each other and credit is in short supply.  So they need access to capital.  The assets and more to the point the uncertainty over who has what bad assets and how much it might drag them down are a cause of this.  This in turn, as far as I can tell, was initially caused by what I would call predatory lending practices and more broadly by the fact that U.S. homeowners and consumers had no other outlet to turn to besides debt to sustain the economy because of stagnating wages.  And if that problem isn't solved, how is the rest going to be dealt with (politically AND economically) in the long run?  As far as I know, globally, there isn't another consumer base that can step in today to take the place, which leaves you with the problem you started with.

This is why progressive politics today brings in both pro-market people and pro-marginalized people, I think.

[ Parent ]
No one knows... (0.00 / 0)
This one crisis is radically different from 1987. In 1987, the global economy was not fundamentally ravaged as it is today, it was strictly a market/finance/speculation problem. The drop was big and spectacular but the trend did subside.

Today, recession is already there in several countries. Given the crass dumbness of the markets, I can really see a huge sinking of stock markets, on a long run if that kind of panic happens again in the short term. The Yahoo! finance guy is optimistic, good for him, but after all the BS that experts have fed us for the last 2 years, uhm...

[ Parent ]
1987, etc (0.00 / 0)

I am not sure I agree with your differentiation. The 1987 crash was the high-point, IIRC, of a recession, and the crash made matters worse (despite government intervention), given the simultaneous S&L fallout, leading to a recovery that started only in the early to mid 90s. The recession (again IIRC) was global, and at home, the S&L bust put at risk many many households.

In contrast, the current economic climate across the globe is more mixed. China and India (home to about 1/3rd of the world?), while cooling off, are coming off a few years (more than a decade in the case of China) of torrid growth and sport economies that are still in line for high growth. The central banks and governments of various European nations have declined to participate in the US bailout, suggesting that they should not have to pay for US excesses, and that they consider their version of the crisis well within control.

All those suggesting that this was a necessary step: the burden of proof lies with you. Give us the details and analysis: how, and how much, concretely, will the absence of this bailout affect the bottom 50% of the US population? You may have a strong case to present, but in the absence of it, it is proper and parsimonious of us to assume that as is always the case, government handouts are targeted for the wealthy.

[ Parent ]
Rescue Plan (4.00 / 1)
Oh Yum, Spin!

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Tired of you David (2.00 / 14)
It seems that all you know how to do is bash Obama. We are trying to elect a black man president. With all due respect, please shut up, this will probably be my first and last chance to vote for a black man for president and I will be damned if white progressives such as yourself try to sabotage him.

"Sabotage" (4.00 / 7)
To what end do we elect a president? To simply elect someone? You are blinded by your partisanship. You can sit there and watch $700 billion get shitted away, and your only response is "let's not hurt the people who are trying to shit it away."

Perhaps you are very rich, and you are financially insulated from a decision to shit away $700 billion. If you are, you are very lucky. But you are also wildly, wildly out of touch with what faces most Americans - especially if the only reaction you have to watching 5 percent of our economy lit on fire is "how will this hurt a presidential candidate?"

[ Parent ]
To pretend that the election of an African American (4.00 / 4)
would not be an event of historic significance is silly.  You can argue that the dominant force in this country's history is race.

I suggest you knock on the doors of the integrated neighborhood in my development.  You will find virtually every African American House has an Obama sign in their yard.  Hell, on the main drive in the African American Community in Tampa today they were selling Obama shirts.

You know, I didn't support Obama in the primaries.  I don't support everything he does blindly.

But to ignore the obvious significance of this even is simply a form of ignorance that shows an incredible divide on the left.

To suggest that the African American support is based on blindness is insulting to them - and that is a fair read of what you just wrote.  I am about over the self righteousness of people who pretend that what is going on with Obama isn't amazing.

Spare me the I am not a racist response - I assume you aren't one.

But I do think you are damn near willfully ignorant of the importance of this election in the African American Community.

[ Parent ]
Well it certainly is historic (0.00 / 0)
and something to be proud of.

But for those of us who have a "post-boomer" view of culture, identity politics does not have the level of importance as it does to older generations. To the extent that the story of Obama is one about race (and that is a relatively small part of the story), to me that story is not about a black man getting into high office, but that the black community is finally being welcomed into the American family, and from now on, the black experience will become increasingly indistinguishable with the American experience.

[ Parent ]
you mean a capitalist view? ;) (4.00 / 2)
the upper tiers of the Black community, various immigrant communities, women, lgbt people, etc. have been let into the "american family."  The rest are deported, left out in the cold, foreclosed upon, just like White poor, working class, and middle class men.  The primary difference is that they added knowledge that they were discriminated against on social as well as economic grounds.

but I hope that you're right that at minimum we get the benefit of a true dismantling of racism.  I'm optimistic too, but I worry - a friend told me that the way people talk about Obama is reminiscent of the way people talked about Blair when he was elected.

[ Parent ]
Don't worry, we've already had our Blair... (0.00 / 0)
his name was Clinton.

[ Parent ]
oh (0.00 / 0)
i call him our nixon :)  but sometimes i think he was our eisenhower :(

[ Parent ]
justify the nixon reference (4.00 / 1)
this has become a trash the only Democrat other than FDR in the 20th century to get elected twice....just because Hillary Clinton ran for president against Barack Obama.

You don't elect Democrats or promote the Democratic party by trashing one of its most important figures.

You have issues with his presidency...discuss them fairly.  I had problems with his judicial appointments.

And in terms of political temperment Barack Obama is more like Bill Clinton than anyone else.  So think hard about that.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
it was contextual (4.00 / 1)
basically, nixon implemented a bunch of liberal policy items (clean air act, indexing cost of living allowances for social security benefits to inflation, affirmative action executive orders, etc.) for a variety of political reasons because the things he more broadly would have wanted to implement were politically infeasible.  He came at the end of a period of liberal dominance from the opposite party.

If you replace the word nixon and liberal with Clinton and conservative, that's the parallel I'm trying to draw.  It's his place in a 30-40 year period in which the other party was dominating the discourse and electin the other party could only provide defensive measures.

If you want a thorough critique of the post 1994 Clinton presidency, I would point to: NAFTA, repeal of Glass-steagall, the horrendous immigration and benefits bills in 1996, DOMA, promoting school prayer, the attack on sista soulja, the Iraq sanctions (and particularly the Albrightish justifications of them) etc.

Mainly, the question is whether he did the most he could do in the space that he had.  I'd argue that his presidency was too focused on electability, and not focused enough on shifting discourse (in fact, I think he helped reinforce it in a lot of ways).  And Paul Rosenberg's argument that his pushing through NAFTA helped gut the Democratic party for a decade or more to date is compelling to me.  But, these things are really ahrd to tell, they're in a social context, and they're masked by other things.

In addition to all this, I think his resistnace to the Republicans was too focused on himself and not focused enough on ideas, politicies, or even the electability of other Democratic politicians and others.  They pass the tax cuts, he stays in office.  He has the affair with the intern, NOW put in a bind.  Obviously, the Republicans are what drove this whole thing, but an accounting like the one you asked for I think is both fair and called for at this moment before his presidency recedes into history altogether.

[ Parent ]
In that context I agree with your critique of Bill Clinton's presidency (4.00 / 1)
He was someone who because of the era passed legislation whose idea genesis came from the other party.

And I agree,  survival when push came to shove was focussed too tightly on the presidiency not Congress.  But he left things well enough that much more could have been accomplished with another Democratic president.  And losing in 2000 was only partly his fault...espeically since we didn't really lose.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
If I could rate my own post (4.00 / 2)
I would consider troll rating it.  You can't edit your own comments - if I could it read very differently.  

This post hurls innuendo at people who don't deserve it - which is what I was ironically complaining about above.  

[ Parent ]
Tribalism is real; so what? (4.00 / 2)
I would like to think that it means as little to black people to have black in high office who fail, like Colin Powell or Condeleeza Rice, as it does to this white person to see white George Bush really fail.

If you derive some sort of vicarious gratification from having a person with X% of melatonin in their skin attain high office, regardless of what they do to attain that office, and what they do while in power, than all I can say is: this is why I'm not overly enamored of democracy.

I would be wildly enthusiastic about Obama if he would pursue "change" of the kind that I had fantasized he might. Instead, I have nagging doubts and a growing conviction, which grows stronger with each issue that he flubs (from my perspective), that he'll just be another Bill Clinton.

Right now, he's looking like a whore for Wall Street, as is McCain and most of the Senate. What's particularly sad about this is that, being the leading contender for POTUS, I believe he could have single-handedly forced a better bill.

I wish progressives like Dave Sirota had more access to the media, and that more sharp criticism of the crappy bailout bill, as well as people pushing for it, like Obama, was to be seen. Indeed, I hope that Sirota and like-minded folks use this unpleasant episode to encourage the public to get politically active, since they can expect a President who will look out for monied interests, even at the expense of working men and women.

According to Obama, change comes from the bottom. I hope Sirota,, inspire the bottom to do exactly that, and one of the best ways to make the point is to focus on Obama's part in this monstrosity. If real progressives curl up in the fetus position, and suck their thumbs, because they're afraid of hurting Obama's chances for election, then they certainly won't gain my respect. One of the main reasons that this country is so whacked up is because influential people were afraid to open their mouths and speak their minds.

There'll be no change from the bottom, if the spokepersons for the bottom are cowards. Sirota is a real treasure.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Mind Reading (4.00 / 3)
You are blinded by your partisanship.

This might not be the best response to use as an example, but I'd wish you'd stop trying to read people's minds.  Over and over again you make assumptions about why people hold certain opinions.  In reality, you are just making assumptions.

This mind reading thing just sidetracks all debate.

And you do it again and again and again.  It would almost be better if you just attacked someone personally; at least then it would be an honest opinion of that person's character.  (Yes, I realized I just opened up myself up for some creative comebacks.)

Can we please stop pretending we always know everyone else's motives?

(Though now that I think of it, one of the main reasons people are against the bailout is because of perceived motives.  Perhaps this problem lies deeper than I realize.)

[ Parent ]
It's called Theory of Mind. (0.00 / 0)
And it's the cornerstone of human social ability. Theory of mind is what enables us to live peacefully in groups in the first place, and to cooperate to accomplish tasks. To try to practice politics without it makes no sense whatsoever.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
well ok (4.00 / 1)
Then get better at it.

Note that when David does this it allows him to completely ignore the arguement.  Once he has decided someone came to a specific conclusion for irrelevant reasons
("blind partisanship" in this case) he has excused himself from the debate.

Perhaps I should complain about stating something as a fact when it is really just an opinion.  Taking on "it seems to me that..." would do wonders for David's reputation on this site.

[ Parent ]
Fair enough. (0.00 / 0)
The point of, as you say, "reading people's minds" is to be able to predict future behavior. If your predictions aren't accurate, you have to change your assessment.

Personally, I share Sirota's assessment of Obama but I will be more than happy to change my mind should he prove me wrong in 2009. In fact I'm hoping for it.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
You are an idiot (2.00 / 2)
Look, I've been reading the blogosphere since 2003, and it is a huge part of the reason I am going into politics. I am writing my undergraduate thesis on the internet's impact on party politics, and I think the work ya'll do at openleft is some of the best shit out there.

But straight up, if you keep letting David Sirota spouting off with this uninformed, unproductive, unoriginal, crudely Marxist on the front page, you are doing all of yourselves a disservice.

That 700 billion isn't being lit on fire. In fact, there is a chance the taxpayers will get that money back and perhaps even see a return on investment. Second off, if this commenter was very rich, they wouldn't be "isolated from [this] decision" but would be very concerned about the value of their investments going to shit. Many Americans of  different classes are concerned about the value of their investments for retirement and the security of their savings.

The fact that Obama is black doesn't have shit to do with it, but the fact that he is the most progressive politician we are likely to see elected to the presidency in our lifetimes does. DON'T FUCK THIS UP.  

[ Parent ]
Fire sale or your money back! (0.00 / 0)
Max, so here's my question, based on my understanding of how the basics of this deal (minus the pork and sweeteners) works: we, the people, buy all the bad mortgage debt from million dollar bonus Wall Street firms, their executives and other corporations. We give them $700b and they give us a bunch of liens. That $700b is gone. Probably spent on more yachts, Central Park apartments and so on -- trickling down to grunts in yachts manufacturing shops and apartment building and maintenance. Now, the government, facing a massive $700b debt (on top of the $1 trillion + thanks to Iraq) looks at its budget options for 2009, 2010 and so on. What do they do? They wring their hands, and since defence spending is mostly untouchable, cut other spending (Obama has already told us that with this bill some of his economic policy plans will need to be reworked, scaled back or put on the backburner). So this goes on for a while... and then, say in 2010 or 2011 the real estate market recovers, somehow returning to somewhere near the doubling of prices we saw through the last few years -- let us assume this is possible, for the sake of argument. Assuming the government held on to its liens (or equivalent), until this recovery, now what? The government dumps the stuff, nets a cool $800b or perhaps even a trillion. What happens to this money? What is your guess? Mine is that all debate is drowned out by a call for tax cuts and refunds, and my next guess is that these will head towards those same Wall St and corporate executives that we paid off with the original $700b in the first place.

If I am right, I must warn that my argument is not a libertarian one.

[ Parent ]
WOW! I thought partisanship was a good thing? (4.00 / 1)
Or, only when we are blindly partisan in the way that is authorized around here?

No offense, David, but short of your post on opposing the wicked vicious hatred that we're seeing surface in reaction to Obama's success, I haven't agreed with much of anything you've had to say.  And frankly - opposing that vicious wicket hatred is somewhat more important in my worldview than worrying about rich folks still being rich.

Even if I believed in the whole class warfare argument (and I don't), it doesn't trump for me, the need to overcome the virulent racism that's lurking in America, compounded by the abject ignorance and fear of some racists that a black president will somehow mean slavery for white people.

If Obama gets elected and the democratic powers that be pull all the strings and he is just a puppet - the figurehead of a black president does the country good.  Of course, I don't believe that's about to happen - but I'm stating the principle here.  The idea of a black president is one that needs to actually succeed in becoming fact in order for truly transformational change to happen.  It isn't a cure - but its a quantum leap in the right direction, or so I believe.


Visit the Obama Project

[ Parent ]
TRed for introducing race into the discussion needlessly (0.00 / 0)
It's you who are fixating on his race, not the rest of us.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
i don't think this is an appropriate reply (4.00 / 1)
the problem is not that race is being introduced (it should be, just like gender, sexuality, nationality, class, intersectionality, etc.) but the crassness of the approach - the comment is about as worthy of discussion as the idea that Palin is a feminist.  

So just ignore it and move on, because you really don't want to foster a divisive racial dialogue on this one.  It's a ridiculous comment, move on.  Don't make us nonWhite people school you :)  Because we will if we have to, if you make us pick sides on this one ;)

[ Parent ]
This is a discussion about fiscal policy, not race (0.00 / 0)
By your logic, you might as well interject race into a discussion about literally anything, legitimately. I totally reject that. If this was a discussion specifically about how this plan might affect people of color, that that would be one thing. But it's not. It's a discussion about the broad political implications of Obama's stance on this bill, and I fail to see how race has ANYTHING to do with it. And yes, I get the racial aspects of Obama running for president. But I repeat, within the context of THIS discussion, race has no place, or at least wasn't convincingly introduced into it.

You're basically saying that a certain subclass of people have earned the right to interject their undeniable suffering into ANY discussion, in ANY manner, and that no one has the right to tell them otherwise. Um, no, times a thousand.

Or am I now allowed to mention the Holocaust whenever we discuss FISA or farm policy?

Again, I don't see how race--especially as introduced by this comment into this discussion--has anything to do with THIS discussion. A total non-sequitor of a criticism.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
it wasn't from left field - the post raised the issue (4.00 / 3)
I have to say, this kind of thing just really bums me out - it takes my "hope" away, if you will. We are watching the first African American presidential nominee use his enormous power to pressure African American lawmakers - many from poor and working class communities - to vote for a bill that most experts say will either hurt the economy or not help it much, and will give away 5 percent of the entire economy largely to Manhattan and Greenwich billionaires.

Clearly race was brought up as leverage against Obama in the argument (along with class and other things).  Even trolls might have a legitimate social position from which they're arguing, and that they're trolling doesn't give you the right to reject discussion of that position - especially when it was brought up by the post itself!  

And I'm saying that as someone who has a critique of Obama (and others) on the basis of how they use their identity status in the service of power (see below).  But it takes some while to get to that idea and even then it's hard to internalize, and having some patience with people who haven't yet is the least that we deserve.  Moreover, people don't always express themselves in exactly the same ways.

[ Parent ]
Fair points (0.00 / 0)
But that comment just casually shoved aside all of these important details and subtleties by saying "He's black, don't criticize him, period!", which I found to be idiotic and worthless. Comments that are intended to end worthwhile discussions are trollish, and need to be treated as such. There are all sorts of things that the commenter could have said in objection to Sirota, that had to do with race, that wouldn't have been trollish. But this was.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
I don't always agree with David...but in this case (4.00 / 2)
mentioning his race was a reference to class and economic oppression.  He was saying that it depressed him that someone who represents such an economically distressed group should be promoting a bill that does not help that community.

David thinks,  and I agree,  that this bailout solves nothing.  It just kicks the can down the road ....which even Krugman agrees that more money will be needed later.  It does not solve the long term problem and it  may not even solve the short term credit crisis...since this is such a backdoor, inefficient way to get money into the system...becasue doing the better thing...buying equity directly would be considered that dreaded thing "socialism" it wasn't ever on the table.

Doing the right things takes a bold leader...and that is not Barack Obama....he is as careful and cautious as many accused Hillary Clinton of being.  There I have long disagreed with David...he was not the most progressive candidiate...she was.  18 months ago she made proposals like the Home Owners Loan Corporation to refincance troubled mortgages,  which could have averted this crisis.  Obama gave that the back of his hand.  So his present go alone stance does not surprise me one iota.

But I appalud David for the vociferousness and perserverence of his response to this very important matter.  He used that agaisnt my candidate in the primary...but this time he's actually working real hard to make things better for everybody.  It's hard to do that when even people who should be on your side....demean and diminish you.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
i agree with almost everything you said here (4.00 / 3)
my only point was that if someone is not just going to inject race but do what we call fronting it in a critique like this, to ask other people to then refrain from discussing race is not just unrealistic, but it's unjust.

[ Parent ]
I think frankly (4.00 / 1)
that we could think a little about how the African American Community looks at this election: because it is 180 degrees opposite from the discussion here.

What was written above would find wide agreement among African Americans.  You may not like it - but that is reality.

[ Parent ]
I never said that race doesn't have anything to do (0.00 / 0)
with this election. That would have been idiotic and offensive. What I DID say was that Obama's race had nothing to do with THIS specific issue, which it doesn't, and that I found the commenter's pathetic use of the "Leave him alone, he's a black man" meme to be idiotic and offensive. I.e. no matter what the topic, no matter how far from race relations a specific discussion about it is, you can just shut it down by saying "But he's a black man!".

That is, on so many levels, simply idiotic and offensive.

It's also called hijacking a discussion, which is bannable on many blogs.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
You are right about (4.00 / 1)
thread hijacking.

I think what caused me to overreact is the suggestion that Obama is using his position to convince others to betray the interests of his community.

That is very strong accusation - and in the end I don't think it is appropriate.  

[ Parent ]
David does have a way of sensationalizing things (4.00 / 2)
It's his style, and while sometimes annoying and excessive, his heart is clearly in the right place--and certainly does provoke a lot of animated discussions!

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
The road to hell is paved with good intentions (0.00 / 0)
And having ones heart at the right place doesn't ensure positive results, sometimes quite to the contrary. Just my personal opinion, of course.

[ Parent ]
No, but neither does it guarantee the exact opposite (0.00 / 0)
So the aphorism is, in this instance, misplaced, unless you can show how his intentions are causing negative results. I've yet to be convincingly shown that they have been.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Pls check my other comment! (0.00 / 0)
I already made this case. Imho David, and other "rabble rousers", are raising expectations for Obama promoting purely progressive politics to a level where constant disappointments are certain. Such disappointments will lead to more and more people becoming disconnected from their democratic (big D, too!) representatives, and question the system in general. This is why I think populists like David are dangerous for democracy in the long run.

[ Parent ]
So you're arguing against too-lofty goals? (4.00 / 1)
I don't see David as raising expectations for what Obama will do. Quite the opposite, as he's made clear that he does not expect him to aggressively persue many of these things. But he is still raising the bar for what he believes should and even could be done, IF Obama and Dems were more aggressive in persuing progressive policies. He's shooting for goals that most people here would agree are good ones, and complaining that Obama isn't interested in them is somehow dangerous to progressivism? I don't get that at all. Seems like an awfully pessimistic and defeatist way to go about things, lowering expectations to meet some politician's limited political courage or faulty policy ideas. It's our job to constantly be pushing them to do better, not being supportive of their letting us down.

I'm guessing that you were against being critical of Obama & Co. over FISA, because, by this logic, it just disillusioned people--as opposed to the people who voted for that POS bill.

I'm guessing that you view this as what you call "realism", but I look at it as the kind of small-bore, low-expectations, low-risk DLCesque thinking that nearly destroyed the party in the 90's and early 00's. You don't achieve great things by settling, thinking small, and accepting "reality". You achieve great things by constantly pushing against the boundaries of what is, and what is seen as, "reality"--and by railing against those who can't or won't, whether out of fear or complacency. It's literally the definition of progressivism.

It is actually risk-averse, small bore-thinking establishmentarians who are the dangerous ones, because they simply enable the crazies and psychopaths on the other side.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
indeed. (0.00 / 0)
but i think he is - whether by intent or not (i would guess not...but then how long can i keep guessing that before i just recognize that he's just another politician?).  

Obama :(

[ Parent ]
that is what he was saying (4.00 / 2)
it is not is a political calculation in Obama's view that this bill is the right way to go about calming the market, opening the credit spigot....He made the decision to exclude things like the bankruptcy redo that Dodd initially ahd in the bill.  Obama is the kind of person and politician who always thinks compromise is the way to go...That is what his post partisanship always meant.  

David and I think this bill does not solve the problem...and that it is wrong to help Wall Street first and Main Street so much later that it may not help at all.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Oh... (3.20 / 5)
And how much of that $700 billion will go to the African American community? Or, do you simply not care? who is sabotaging what again?

[ Parent ]
handcuffs (4.00 / 4)
That's what this bailout is. A pair of handcuffs for the next president.  

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."
-Lawrence Summers

[ Parent ]
4 more years of Bush (4.00 / 1)
Strange isn't it, that somebody with such low approval ratings is dominating the agenda for the next four years: the bailout, a lousy economy, Iraq and a slow withdrawal with a sizeable residual force, the Bush tax cuts/expiration or not.  

The best response would have been minimal leaving things to the next President and to the choice made by the people of the US.  Remember, Greenspan's failure to cut rates in August or September 2000 greased the way for recession in 2001.  Doing normal things to help the economy was "too political"; doing this was "required.  Oh, brother.

[ Parent ]
is it really that strange? (0.00 / 0)
or is it just the endgame?  if there's one thing you can say for the lunatics who have run the republican party for the last 15-30 years, it's that they play long term.

[ Parent ]
End game indeed (0.00 / 0)
Absolutely, Dr.A. As many comedians (Maher for one) have pointed out, the Republican argument is self-satisfying: elect us to power because we believe that government is evil (and we will prove it). So, Norquist gets his endgame of drowning government in a bathtub.

[ Parent ]
Banned (0.00 / 0)
You have been banned.

[ Parent ]
wtf??!?! why don't you let us self-regulate! (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
Check out the comments section at MyDD since I left (4.00 / 1)
And then ask that question again.

[ Parent ]
fair enough (4.00 / 1)
i changed my hosts file to not let me back to mydd, but i'll take your word for it.  just please pay attention to all aspects of the dynamic here - i don't know why this happens, but fairness demands that people with less power and from disempowered groups get some extra consideration in the thought process i think.  Even when they're being dumbasses.

[ Parent ]
I disagree (4.00 / 1)
No one's opinion should get extra points here because of who or what they are. That makes no sense. Obviously, some people's opinions on any given matter are likely to be more salient than others'. But that doesn't mean that they should get special treatment because of it. Their comments should be treated on their own merits. It's inherently anti-democratic otherwise.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
so why do you support affirmative action? (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
It probably doesn't need to be said (0.00 / 0)
But to respond to your question, employment and participation in an online discussion form are not comparable. There is no interview to register an account, no is their structural racism preventing people from doing so. It isn't the same thing.

[ Parent ]
obviously not, but look at the language of the argument (0.00 / 0)
But that doesn't mean that they should get special treatment because of it. Their comments should be treated on their own merits. It's inherently anti-democratic otherwise.

"extra points here because of who or what they are" "special treatment" "treated on their merits" "inherently anti-democratic"?  

The basis of affirmative action is not just about jobs or higher education- it's about a culture of appreciation of difference - including differences in discourse and perspectives.  Again, within an understanding of agreed upon norms like the ones you laid out below.  What the hell is the point of progressive policies without a culture of progressivism?

[ Parent ]
Structural racism... (0.00 / 0)
... is more pervasive in its influence than the above opinion estimates. What percentage of the audience is white and male? What percentage is minority or poor? A while ago, on MyDD or here a poll (IIRC) had average household income of the readership at $100k or some such crazy figure (median household income is about $50k). The whole point of structural discrimination is that it does away with individual agents. Do we really think that every poor person, a non-white person, a person without a college education, is in the same position to post a comment as his or her counterpart? To anticipate a retort, this is not a "patronising" point. The question does not cast an individual in a discriminated or disempowered group as fearful or bashful. The very emphasis on structure is to avoid this sort of personality considerations. Rather, the structural analysis and the underlying theory emphasises the importance of these features in the outcomes. You see this in other data: black boys perform worse on aptitutde tests relative to white boys when they are told that they are competing against white men. White boys in turn fare poorly when they are aware of a comparison against Asian boys.

Also, analysis in these matters is not expressible in some sort of formal logical terms. Lesser heard experiences can disproportionately inform a debate in a productive manner.

I am not sure who was banned and why... the comment by Chris Bowers does not make that clear.

[ Parent ]
Non-sequitor (0.00 / 0)
Ably explained below, by Chris.

You're trying to trap me. I'm not falling into that one.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
The comments section here is valuable (4.00 / 1)
It rarely degenerates into one line commentary, and adds quite a bit to the site.

Comments that accuse front page posters of sabotaging Obama's presidency as part of a larger racial conspiracy among white progressives to defeat him take away a lot of value from the comments, and from the site.

If I were to tolerate vicious, direct attacks like that on front page posters, I don't know why anyone would want to post here. Also take note on how this comment clogged up a good deal of the discussion in this thread, thereby distracting from several other, far more substantive responses.

This is bannable behavior, period. It detracts from the value of the site, and what I hope to create here.

Democrats and progressives are divided on this bill, and so discussion is bound to be heated. People on both sides feel like they are being called idiots and traitors to the cause, probably because some people are calling them that. However, even in the midst of such heated discussion, there are lines that people can cross that will result in banning. I have always had a heavy hand on banning, and I think the quality of our comments here is partially the result of that.

[ Parent ]
thanks (4.00 / 1)
I appreciate the forthrightness and the explicit boundaries, and I hope that some of what I'm saying below makes sense in that context- it's usually very difficult to communicate over these divides, even though it's the most necessary thing in the world.  

The racial and other power dynamics of the progressive movement need to be explored - there needs to be an inward glance.  Not periodically, but frequently.  By some of us constantly.  Moreover, it should be about bridging gaps in understanding and mutual expression of needs, not moralism or policing.  So what you consider clogging, I consider an opportunity to push progressivism at home.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that for now...metacommentary, in my experience, is the most destructive thing for blogs possible, despite being lots of fun! (for commenters anyway :).

[ Parent ]
I totally agree that these things need to be discussed (0.00 / 0)
But this particular diary isn't the place for it. It's generally understood that commenters are not supposed to veer a diary's topic too far away from it. When they do, it's called hijacking, even if the direction that they were taking it is a meritorious one. If a diary is about topic A, and someone wants to talk about topic B, then they need to either find a diary about topic B, or start one themselves. And yes, even if B is indirectly related to A (and smart people can ALWAYS connect any given B to any given A).

It's not just about respecting a diarist, but about enforcing some sort of discipline on a blog, to keep it from being dominated by aggressive people who only want to talk about their topics of interest. That's why these rules exist, and why they're enforced.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
cool (4.00 / 2)
i think, then, that a frontpaged diary about race, the progressive movement, and obama is in order.

[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 1)
Such a diary is ALWAYS in order. His being the likely next president, and the issue of race having been put on a backburner for the past few years (because of the war, Bush's creeping fascism, etc.) absolutely call for serious discussions on this topic. What does it mean for a black man to be president? We have barely even begun to explore that tremendous question. But not in this diary, lest I myself start hijacking it. :-)

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
I think that's a fine idea ... (0.00 / 0)
Good suggestion.

[ Parent ]
Tolerance isn't a one-way street... (0.00 / 0)
Comments that accuse front page posters of sabotaging Obama's presidency as part of a larger racial conspiracy among white progressives to defeat him take away a lot of value from the comments, and from the site.

In my earlier comment, I argued in favour of "special" treatment of rarely heard voices. In fact, I have offered a similar argument in favour of the more heartfelt and radical posts from Sirota or Stoller, which raise cries of frustration against Obama (and his fanbase). I stick by that defence. However, the aim of tolerance is not to foster intolerance and I can agree with the above caveat. And that, I hope is obvious, is not a cop-out!

[ Parent ]
It has been better .. (4.00 / 1)
lately .. it was brutal during the primaries .. a lot of the trolls seem to have left

[ Parent ]
For being way off-topic and race-baiting, I assume (0.00 / 0)
To allow that sort of comment to stand is to allow people to attack comments and diaries that they disagree with by accusing them of being bigoted. It's trollish behavior 101.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Cranberry Has a Legitimate Point of View (0.00 / 0)
...and should not be banned. Electing the first black President and all it's ramification to our society and the world needs more consideration.

Cranberry was rude, but I would interpret the 'shut up' to be more out of frustration for the way David harps on Obama before he's even elected. Why not wait until after Obama is elected before condemning him to Blair status? I'm sure a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress can fix the problems in the bailout bill.

[ Parent ]
The Sirota Drumbeat continues (1.33 / 6)
for Nader in '08.  

are you sure it's not the obama drumbeat ;) (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Banned (0.00 / 0)
You have been banned.

[ Parent ]
hmm. (0.00 / 0)
So people aren't allowed to (albeit snarkily) disagree with David Sirota anymore?

You owe it to yourself to listen to This American Life's fantastic and common-sense explanation of the economic crisis.

[ Parent ]
Not being being dishonest and making ad hom attacks (0.00 / 0)
Not just against Sirota, but against anyone. It's not about agreeing or disagreeing with someone, but about doing it in a minimally respectful, civil and honest manner.

That comment failed this test.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
This is not an isolated case (4.00 / 2)
See here:

previous comment

And here:

pervious comment

It is common parlance for this (former) user to flippantly insult front page posters, and indeed any blogger, who criticizes Democrats from the left.

This isn't snark. Banned.

[ Parent ]
Huh? What for? (0.00 / 0)
I see this comment as a snarky response to Sirota's unreasonable expectations. Expecting the sun, the stars, and a pony IS typical for Nader supporters, so I think there is a point in this.

And even if cmpnwtr was serious - can or should someone be banned for being dumb? Because it's obvious that David is not a Nader supporter. Well, at least, not yet.

Really, pretty please, more second thoughts before banning someone here! Take a look at your own guidelines first, and check if the comment at hand violates any of them. And then, in dubio pro reo, and a warning may be the better idea. You know I'm speaking from some experience, Chris.

[ Parent ]
Justice and honesty as the sun, the stars and a pony? (0.00 / 0)
Expecting the sun, the stars, and a pony IS typical for Nader supporters, so I think there is a point in this.

Yes, indeed. We are all Cadillac driving welfare queens, now.

[ Parent ]
Disagree (0.00 / 0)
I can only go by what I hear "on the street". I've been purposely listening to a number of middle-of-the-road fairly-uninformed people on how they are perceiving this. It's all Bush. Bush Bush Bush. They don't really see anyone else.

I dunno (0.00 / 0)
I think you will see republicans at least try to tag this on the Democrats. I know, I know, the bailout idea originated with the Bush administration, and leadership of both parties was pushing for it. That doesn't matter, as long as public opinion is against it, they'll try to play the populist role. May not matter in 6 months, but then again if it doesn't work, watch out.

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."
-Lawrence Summers

[ Parent ]
that's cause the mccain campaign is stupid (4.00 / 1)
if they were smart, they would have voted against the bailout, interests be damned, and then campaigned on that vote.  from the getgo.  i mean, what better opportunity to prove maverickhood?

[ Parent ]
Aside from the politics... (0.00 / 0)
I am hoping the House Republicans will come through for us tomorrow, and kill the bill. Unfortunately, however, I think more people of both parties are worrying about their mutual funds than are thinking clearly about the country's future.

I wish Congress would wait until after the election. Hopefully, the dynamics will be different.

the problem is that if they kill it (0.00 / 0)
they're the ones who get leverage.  they're the ones who got candy in the revised version no?  that's why although i f@#king hate this thing, I think it might be better to let it go with as many possible improvemetns as possible unless the whole thing can be killed AND it won't cause a financial collapse that will affect the entire American and global economy.

But maybe that's my fear talking.  In any case, the problem is clear - it's not economic, it's political.

[ Parent ]
The stock market went down a lot again today (0.00 / 0)
despite it looking like the bailout will happen.  700 billion may not be enough to keep the market from falling a lot more.

It has fallen a lot more in th epast and we didn't throw 700 billion dollars at it to solve it.  What would solving the crisis look like?  do we have any baseline or judgement on what constitutes success?

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
This stems from Obama's community organizer (4.00 / 2)
background.  The problem is that the community he is trying to organize is a working conservative majority.  Pragmatic, practical compromises will necessarily be policies that are favored by this majority.  We've a long way to go folks.

community organizer (4.00 / 1)
from the University of Chicago, home of the shock doctrine!

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Did someone just start observing politics yesterday? (4.00 / 1)
What the heck?! If there's a genuine UPRISING in the land and real bottom-up change is coming to Washington, then why do we need to be so disillusioned and cynical about what's to come with a not-yet-real Obama administration?

Push for progressive solutions. Organize for concrete actions. Fight for meaningful legislations. Do whatever. But enough of the whining.

This country, this world, is never, NEVER, going to be the way we might all like it to be. There will not be justice for all. Heck, there will not be health care for all. There will not be 100% full employment. But let's cut out this kind of self-defeating preemptive negativity.

With all due respect, (0.00 / 0)
all he is pointing out is that we shouldn't sit back and be content with a centrist president.  That is not whining, its the call to action that you are arguing for.

[ Parent ]
And who has any illusions about Obama? (4.00 / 2)
Some might think he's the going to be the best thing since sliced bread, but I'd expect a seasoned political organizer and analyst like David to know better by now. It's just surprising to hear that he seems so surprised and angered by Obama's not embracing the NO BAILOUT proposal or whatever sensible alternatives there are.

Obama's is not trying to be the greatest progressive movement leader of our history. He's trying to win an election to be the next president of the United States of America. What will he do once he gets there? Well, I don't believe he'll be signing executive orders to establish a single-payer national healthcare system; or mandate drastic carbon emissions immediately; or walk a picket line or two with striking workers; or reduce the U.S. military budget by half. No. But he can move in the right direction if we all do our share to push him. I believe, from what I've observed of him and McCain so far, that he's the one more likely to hear out and maybe actually hear progressive voices. So, let's get him elected this November, and then keep pushing him after that.

But if anyone wants to get disillusioned and give up about what an Obama administration could potentially accomplish for progressive causes, I guess that's just too bad.

[ Parent ]
Last time I checked (4.00 / 2)
Push for progressive solutions. Organize for concrete actions. Fight for meaningful legislations.

Last time I checked, Sirota has done a helluva lot of that. If you are going to accuse someone of just starting to follow politics, I would recommend learning about the person you are criticizing first.

[ Parent ]
Sirota in five words or less: "I am the only progressive; BOW DOWN BEFORE ME" (2.00 / 6)
It is getting almost impossible to read Sirota. Whenever Obama does something Sirota, in his infinite wisdom, approves of, it is "THE UPRISING COMES TO THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN" and whenever Obama goes a different direction it is "omg, look at how terrible a Democrat Obama is."

I just wonder who made David Sirota GOD of the left who we should all bow down before?

This seems to me like the worst and most pathetic back seat driving possible. I don't know what I think about the bailout, but I trust Barney Frank's progressive credentials, so to tar and feather anyone who supports it as essentially giving the powers that be a wraparound doesn't make me trust Obama less, it makes me think of Sirota more and more as Lyndon LaRouche or Ralph Nader and a discredit both to this site and the left.

If I could edit... (0.00 / 0)
I'd probably edit about 2% of the venom out of this.  

[ Parent ]
Oh (0.00 / 0)
And I'd also change the title so it was ten words or less.

This is a lesson kids: be careful about posting while mad.

[ Parent ]
Trollish on so many levels (4.00 / 2)
And this pretty much sums up how little you understand what being a Democrat or progressive means:

I don't know what I think about the bailout, but I trust Barney Frank's progressive credentials

I.e. trust your leaders blindly, don't figure things out on your own, don't have an opinion, be a follower. Hmm, last time I checked, that was pretty much how your typical wingnut operates.

If you don't have an opinion on the bailout, for gods sakes why are you OPINING on it?!?

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
If you're not disapponted in Barney Frank (0.00 / 0)
you're probably not paying attention, or are a troll... Now Frank could have redeemed himself by, say, backing an alternative like DeFazio's plan, but he's not doing that right now. The Dem leadership needs a kick in the pants, not blind allegiance.

And for alchemi and all those who complain and raise hell every time Sirota posts on Open Left, I say to them the same thing I would say to those who used to complain about "Married With Children" - if you don't like the show, change the frickin' channel.  

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."
-Lawrence Summers

[ Parent ]
Word to this comment (4.00 / 2)
I can't even tell you how much Sirota pisses me off. He has to be my least favorite commentator on the left or the right. No one else I read has anywhere near the level of pure bile and utter contempt for those that might express the slightest amount of disagreement with him.

The truth is that half of Democrats, and half of Republicans support the bailout, mostly because people don't entirely understand what is going on. David certainly doesn't. The thing that bothers me is that understanding this situation requires a level of nuance that David fails to possess, but then he accuses those who see the complexities of the situation as traitors to the cause. It isn't just counter-productive, but it is incredibly lame.  

[ Parent ]
So why do you read him? (4.00 / 1)
Is somebody holding a gun to your head?

Have you ever heard the saying, "When you take somebody's time, you take their life, because time is all we have?"

Well the reverse is also true. When someone gives their time, they give their life, because time is all we have.

The frontpagers here are giving their time to the rest of us because they care about this thing called democracy. Even if you don't respect them as writers, or as human beings, you should at least respect them for what they are doing.

Alternatively, if you are so much smarter than they are, why not make your own blog? It's still (basically) a free country.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I don't know what President Obama will do (4.00 / 2)
and neither do you, David.  We just don't know.  There may be an uprising soon or there may not.  It was never in the cards for it to happen now.  What the landscape will look like after two or three years of this shitty illusion-free economy is anyone's guess.

The point is that even though (I said "though", not if) this is a bad bill, there was risk to Obama's chances of winning in being seen as leader of "the Uprising" - especially if the uprising failed.  If he had gotten out in front of the pitchfork people and the stock market then tanked he could have been destroyed.

If there was really going to be a real populist uprising this year it would have found itself a different candidate than Barack Obama.  The  uprising and the election are two separate things which move at their own speeds.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

we cannot predict the future, therefore we should not talk about it? (4.00 / 1)
8 years has taught us a lot -- one is that most "progressives" can't win an election to save their lives. So the horseracing and so forth on liberal blogs, the "oh, good strategy", it's very unimpressive to me. Given how bad our track record is on predicting strategies for success (Dean? Clark? Kerry?), we should probably just stop right now trying to explain how or what Obama is doing helps him win.

In the meantime, I view the criticism of Obama (I've said this before) as a sign of optimism. After years during which we realized that we'd have to jump up and jump for glee when yet another a conservative, pro-war, anti-civil-liberties Democrat won some election, we're starting to ask for more.

[ Parent ]
I am not objecting to criticism of Obama here, which I share (4.00 / 1)
But I am making the point that the strategy David wished him to follow was too dangerous to be seriously contemplated.  

So criticize all you like - obviously there will be pressure on Obama after the election, and we can only hope he handles it well.

Lincoln had no intention of abolishing slavery - he merely wished to confine it to the area where it already existed.  FDR's initial campaign was based on balancing the budget.  Will Obama follow this pattern?  Who knows?  Certainly, not without pressure, but given the weak state of the left generally, a scenario better than this was never in the cards.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Maybe Barack thinks it's more important to stop the bleeding (4.00 / 4)
now with an imperfect bill. Maybe he would just like to get to his presidency with an economy not in complete free-fall.

He has the backing of Paul Krugman and Joe Sitglitz -- progressives I trust a LOT more on economic matters than you, David -- on this: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...

Note to bailout apologists (4.00 / 2)
Note to bailout/Obama apologists: You are going to have to get a different substantive argument other than saying "well, Paul Krugman supports it so I guess it's good." You would do well to actually read what Krugman has said, which is that: "To this day [the bailout proponents] have never been able to explain clearly why buying up bad mortgage assets at market prices will solve the credit crunch...The Wise Men, as far as I can tell, have never had a clear idea of what they're doing."  

[ Parent ]
And you would as well (4.00 / 2)
because despite what you quoted above, Krugman still said of the bill, "Better to pass it tomorrow than not."

I think it's pretty obvious and very well-stated by many why the bailout must go forth, despite the fact that Open Left's main page posters continue to, in a manner scarily reminiscent of the Repugs themselves, ignore facts and reason and succumb to emotionalistic, base pitchfork wielding.  It's no better coming from the left than the right.

You owe it to yourself to listen to This American Life's fantastic and common-sense explanation of the economic crisis.

[ Parent ]
But Krugman can give no reason it will help (0.00 / 0)
Because it won't. It will make the recession/depression deeper.

[ Parent ]
the situation is like this: (4.00 / 5)
you are in a room with two other guys. One of the guys is on fire, and he's running around madly trying to put it out.

The guy who's not on fire says to you, "We need to pour this can of gasoline over him to put out the fire!"

You say, "Throwing gasoline on him will only make things worse!"

The guy says, "Yes, but we can't just stand around. The guy's on fire! We've got to do SOMETHING!"

So it is with this bailout. It will only make things worse.

[ Parent ]
But he IS on fire, gosh darnit! (0.00 / 0)
Heh, well said. ;-)

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
How is it gasoline? (4.00 / 1)
Your analogy is cute, but what bearing does it have on the reality of the situation?  Essentially Wall Street is in a panic, global investors are in a panic, and the government is the only entity on the planet that can take the bad assets off their books, get them all to stop freaking the fuck out, and absorb a financial blow that would be much worse if it came in the form of another Depression.  As I understand it, the bailout is trying to remove oxygen from the fire--in this case, the toxic junk mortgage assets pervading every corner of the financial sector that still have unknown lows to which they can plunge.

You owe it to yourself to listen to This American Life's fantastic and common-sense explanation of the economic crisis.

[ Parent ]
the bailout comes down to this: (4.00 / 5)
the (former) investment banks are asking us to pay our good cash for these crappy assets, which are immensely overvalued.

There's no chance the value of these things would go up. These instruments--CDOs, CRSs, and the like are so unregulated that no one knows whether they're actually based on anything real. Their estimated worth is in the hundreds of trillions of dollars. There's not enough real money in the world to pay for all that debt. $700 billion is nothing by comparison.

This bailout would accomplish two very bad things. First, it would leave the government short of cash in the event that we do enter a prolonged economic downturn, and need a ready infusion of federal cash to stimulate the economy. Second, it would make it much much harder for us to borrow money from foreign creditors, should that become necessary during an economic downturn.

The fundamental problems in our economy can't be fixed by this top-down solution. The values of these toxic assets will come down when someone takes a long hard look at them, and it will hurt the economy. That's inevitable at this point.

To address these problems with the banks, there have been various proposals for recapitalization of the banks that don't involve our buying up these crappy assets. But there's no serious discussion of this in Washington.

A longer-term, more important thing that must be done now is to invest in infrastructure, helping homeowners pay their mortgages and improve their homes. This will increase the actual value of our economy, not just push pieces of paper around to make us feel better.

There are so many reasons this bill shouldn't pass without a long and thorough debate. But apparently, we don't do that anymore. We rush shit through in a week at Bush's behest to please big business, and everyone in Washington--Democrats and Republicans--bands together to sell the people on it.

[ Parent ]
well said (0.00 / 0)
i think some things need to happen to keep the financial markets from destroying the rest of the economy, but overall, i agree - especially about the process.  Who gives the Bush Administration 700 billion dollars in a week? (okay, fine there are conditions on it predicated on Congress doing later what it refuses to do now and which the Treasury Secretary is laughing at).  Plus, what the hell else is in this massive bill!??

[ Parent ]
Really well said (0.00 / 0)
Make this a diary...this is not a rant but a limpid eyed view...I guess like your name.

Please it's good...there should be a reocrd of this that is easy to find for the futrue....because I sadly think you may be right.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
well metaphors are great (0.00 / 0)
but you have several major problems going on in the financial sector that I've heard about (i'mn not a professional economist, so take with several grains of salt):

1 banks' access to capital
2 lack of confidence among bankers (which causes #1)
3 toxic assets (as you pointed out)
4 bad assets that were overvalued
5 potential lack of access for people in the productive economy to credit (or maybe this has already happened)
6 people being kicked out of their houses

In addition, the economy's already in a recession, from what I've read and heard.

This doesn't really deal with all of these problems - it mainly deals provisionally with #2, and maybe if Paulson abuses it, with #1.  It also deals with #3 - but at what cost?  Even in economic terms, at what cost to the productive economy in whose name this is being done?

[ Parent ]
he needs a bill that would actually stop the bleeding then (0.00 / 0)
you can punt at a small price tag or solve the problem at a large price tag, but you can't punt at a large price tag.  Doesn't make sense.

comes down to what your pessmism/optimism and analysis you're adopting is, I guess, but I'm pretty pessmistic and what this guy says makes sense to me.

Nouriel Roubini is the NYU economics professor known lovingly around Wall Street as "Dr. Doom" for his foresight in predicting the end of the financial system as we know it....

5:11: The U.S. economy risks a negative feedback loop: Economic woes hurt creditworthiness, hurting banks, hurting credit, hurting the economy. Wash, rinse, repeat, lose your house.

5:14: The Fed's next move is likely a rate cut.

5:14: Everything that's going on in markets now? You know, stocks and credit being lousy? Expect more of that.

5:16: "The events of the last few weeks say we're one accident away from a systemic financial meltdown," says Roubini. He points to previous accidents that nearly caused a universe-eating financial black hole: Bear Stearns in March, Fannie and Freddie in July and Lehman and AIG a couple of weeks ago. "We're seeing the beginning of a silent run on the shadow and traditional banking system," he says. "There's a generalized panic" in the financial markets.

5:20: And that's not the scariest part, he says! The scariest part is that, every time the government steps up its response, the market reaction gets weaker and weaker.

5:22: "We are literally one step away from collapse of entire financial system and even the corporate system."

5:24: This bailout package isn't going to do the trick. That's why the market isn't cheering it any more: Nobody trusts anybody any more. "We've reached the point where $700 billion doesn't make any difference given reaction of market."

5:26: The economy was already in "freefall" before September. We're in for a severe recession, according to a litany of data.

5:28: Treasury should have done more - you can't just buy and park bad assets. You have to triage, shutting down weak banks and deciding who to save. You have to recapitalize the banking system so they'll extend credit. You have to reduce debt. Earlier, he said you have to guarantee all deposits, regardless of amount. "This plan in Congress is just a sham."

[ Parent ]
not mutually exclusive (4.00 / 3)
The Uprising and the Obama campaign/presidency could converge. If whoever advocating the Uprising don't just throw their hands in the air and take the ball home every time Obama doesn't end up doing the exactly most progressive thing imaginable.

i think they were talking about you (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
I think he knows that. (4.00 / 2)

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Good... (0.00 / 0)
The last few state polls I've seen on this have actually shown support for it.  If people see Obama as taking a role in getting something done, that's a good sign.

Links? (0.00 / 0)
I still have only seen one poll that directly asks about this bailout bill. It was the ABC-WaPo poll that showed a divided public, 47% opposed and 45% in favor. No matter what they show, I'd love to see links to polls since then that directly ask whether people support or oppose this bill.  

[ Parent ]
Well, here's the VA one from earlier... (0.00 / 0)

In the article:

"On the federal rescue of Wall Street, 53 percent support a bailout, 17 percent are opposed and 30 percent are undecided.

Fifty-eight percent are very or somewhat confident that the Bush-Congress plan will help improve the economy over the long run. Thirty percent are not too confident or not confident at all about the consequences for the economy."

Only 17% opposed.

[ Parent ]
"A" bailout (4.00 / 1)
It says they support "a" bailout. It did not ask if they support this bill. That isn't the same thing. I can point to polls showing 57% of the country wanting to start over and try a new bill altogether. However, those polls, like the one you show, do not ask people directly about this bailout.

[ Parent ]
Ahem... (4.00 / 1)
Did you read the second part about it?

58% are somewhat confident the BUSH-CONGRESS bill will help.  That seems to me to be pretty specific.

Either way, if you want to argue your point that this is not supporting this particular bailout, I just stand by my original assertion that people want SOMETHING done and what they see might be as good as it gets they figure.  If Obama looks like he's taking an active role in something that 58% of people think will make things better, I consider that a net-positive.

[ Parent ]
Obama is to Bailout (2.67 / 3)
as Clinton was to NAFTA.  He's already blown his progressive cred, and he's not even in office yet.

Gonna be a long, ugly 4 years, no matter who wins.

Please... (4.00 / 1)
Yeah, we should all just voter for Nader now.

[ Parent ]
not the worst idea (0.00 / 0)
for safe staters like myself.

he's not listening to people calling, or emailing, or asking for refunds of donations. maybe losing the popular vote would help.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Let me ask a hypothetical question (0.00 / 0)
If Obama took a position on some issue that was very close to your heart and you did not agree with him, how would you express your frustration?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Well (4.00 / 4)
personally i don't want to see us get into another needless war or two abroad and have another conversative ideologue further shred what little we have left of the federal government's regulatory and other useful functions. So, I'll be voting for Obama myself. But that's just me.

[ Parent ]
Not exactly (4.00 / 1)
NAFTA was years in development on both sides of the aisle. By the time Clinton signed it, everyone had had plenty of time to consider it, and there was no "We must do this now or we'll all DIE!" urgency to the efforts to push it. The alleged need for a bailout was jammed down Dems' throats overnight a month before the election in EXACTLY this manner, and in typical Dem fashion, they caved.

In going along with it, Obama revealed once again his political approach (never go against the establishment consensus except when it's politically expedient), but not necessarily his policy views, which I continue to believe are formed more by political considerations than by principle or ideology. Clinton appeared to genuinely believe in NAFTA. Obama just appears to prefer to do whatever is politically smartest at any given time. Which, in a way, can be an advantage to progressives, IF we can figure out how to pressure him, because he is so malleable.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Come on now! (4.00 / 5)
It's just ridiculous to see leftists tear into one another like this, and I for one am not comfortable with the race card, NO MATTER WHO IS PLAYING IT!

David Sirota has indicated that he will support Obama, albeit not wholeheartedly. I feel the same way. He had me from hello, until he threw away our right to privacy and supported amnesty for the telecom industry. I'll vote Obama, but I DON"T approve of a lot of his stands at this point. The bailout is just another point where those of us who come from the left spectrum of the party feel betrayed. WE were the ones who provided the impetus for the Obama campaign in the early days, and we were the ones betrayed by his business as usual stance.

To attack those of us who are uncomfortable with Obama's rightward swing and to insinuate that somehow WE are the racists misses the point entirely. What we are is the wing of the party that sees business as usual, with the redistribution of wealth from bottom to top, and the erosion of constitutional rights, as a problem no matter what the racial identity of the politician doing the deeds. And we feel betrayed by this shift. We trusted Obama when he said he would never support FISA. Look what we got out of him. WE're less inclined to trust anymore. That doesn't make us traitors, whatever the rest of you think. It makes us the ones who really want, and are willing to work for, change.

A Preview of Real Life in an Obama Presidency? (0.00 / 0)
No question that Obama is showing leadership on this issue. But this issue makes it distasteful.

One question is whether Obama would be - more - handcuffed more by a deeper recession - based on the "crisis of confidence" caused by not passing this bill.

I believe a deeper recession would handcuff him more, therefore, I think it's the right decision.

But yes, I don't know whether waiting until after the election would cause such a recession.

Ask yourself (4.00 / 4)
Ask yourself why you believe this bill will prevent a deeper recession when most major economists, financial analysts, academics and experts say it will do nothing to stop a deeper recession - and may actually cause one? Ask yourself - who are you listening to when you draw that conclusion? Ask yourself - aren't the people I'm actually listening to when I draw that conclusion the same media and Bush administration officials who told me we had to invade Iraq to get Saddam's WMD?

[ Parent ]
A lot of it is based on Barney Frank (4.00 / 1)
I'm not an economist. But I've learned to trust Barney Frank.
I believe he's the smartest member of Congress, and a good progressive. When he's concerned about the working capital that keeps the US system running, I listen.

But I can see that you are of a different opinion, ref -

Unfortunately, unless a working progressive majority is elected in Congress this year, I believe these "Grand Bargains" will be necessary to eventually get to goals like National Health Insurance.

[ Parent ]
There are scores of top-notch economists (4.00 / 2)
who are strongly against this bailout plan, including a Nobel Prize winner (Joseph Stiglitz). I'd put them up against a career politician anyday. Your inability and unwillingness to find out who these economists are and why they're opposed to this plan makes it hard to take your support of it seriously. Professed ignorance is no way to win an argument.

But just to get you started, here's a short list:

Jared Bernstein
Robert Reich
Dean Baker
James Galbraith

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
My limited time does not justify your snark (4.00 / 1)
Your inability and unwillingness to find out who these economists are and why they're opposed to this plan makes it hard to take your support of it seriously.

So you're saying that because I have limited time and trust certain people, that I'm not worth listening to.

Professed ignorance is no way to win an argument.

And you're calling me ignorant. I hope you're not on the lines trying to convinced undecided voters.

Working from home, I may have a bit more Internet time than the average person. But I do work more hours. So this is the best I can do.

I'm tempted to respond with an expletive.

However, if you can encapsulate the reasons for your opinion in your response, I would listen.

[ Parent ]
And yet you have enough time (4.00 / 1)
to respond with yet another series of non-sequitors. Either read up on this plan and on why some are for it and some against, or else you're not really engaging in thoughtful discussion on it. And this site is not about thoughtless discussion. Is that so hard to grasp?

And I am against this plan because it does too little to help the people who are most going to be hurt by this meltdown--homeowners, small shareholders, employees facing layoffs, etc.--too much to help those least deserving and in need of it--CEOs and top execs of the Wall St. firms who caused this, and firms that should be allowed to fail--and not enough to address the root causes of this meltdown--poor, and poorly enforced, regulation of financial activity.

It's basically authorizing Paulson to buy out the assets of these firms at inflated prices, and inject cash into their coffers, in exchange for the vague promise of profits someday--that will never materialize, because they were bought for way more than they're worth--instead of sidestepping these firms and going directly to the homeowners and buying their homes at fair market value, and subsidizing renegotiated mortgages, and letting these firms go under if they can't hack it. This would accomplish the twin goals of keeping the credit markets working and saving lots of peoples' homes, while not rewarding the bad players in all this.

But if you want more substantive explanations of why it's a bad plan, you really need to read these people, do some of your own thinking, and not be so thin-skinned.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Gee whiz (0.00 / 0)
You say I respond with non-sequitors - without substantiation. That is more unjustified snark, in my opinion.

Voters are thin-skinned. Elections are won and lost because voters are thin-skinned. Creating a convincing argument, even in the blogsphere, requires some level of courtesy.

And yes, I have thinner skin than the average politician, which is probably why I'm not one.

However, I appreciate the time you've taken with your argument.

I hear bits and pieces about giving judges the power to reduce interest rates and amounts owed. And yes, some of that is necessary as far too many have been put underwater on their homes through no fault of their own.

Is there someone addressing the people who haven't borrowed beyond their means? If relief is being proposed for homeowners who are underwater, what of the rest of us?

For example, is there someone saying "cut all mortgage payments by at least 10%" - or something similar which would at least feel equitable?

[ Parent ]
Yes, there are such people (0.00 / 0)
But their voices are not represented in this bill. House progressives proposed their own plan this week, that includes such provisions, but it's been all but ignored. Leading progressive economists have also proposed similar things, and also have been ignored. This is a top-down bill, that hands money to the fat cat Wall St. types who are responsible for this mess, by buying off their near-worthless assets--at inflated prices--and assumes that the money will somehow trickle down to the masses. We know how well that's worked in the past. The money will stay in their pockets or go offshore, and the public will see very little of it. It's a sweetheart deal for Wall St., intended to prop up a corpse. The plan should have been bottom-up. Money tends to percolate up better than it trickles down.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Stiglitz strongly against it? (4.00 / 2)
Then why did he say on Democracy Now! that this bill is "better than doing nothing"?

You owe it to yourself to listen to This American Life's fantastic and common-sense explanation of the economic crisis.

[ Parent ]
Rorschach test (4.00 / 2)
Economist have been all over the place with this.  The reality is both complex and confusing.  It is very easy to read what you want from this deluge of information to support your own view.

From what I can tell, most think the bill isn't very good but will stop the bleeding and won't hurt.

My own opinion over time is the bill will not be as expensive as it looks and with good, longer term economic recovery plans we should the money back.  The risk of not passing the bill is greater than the risk of passing the bill.

Others, particularly the front pagers, see this bill in mostly political and moral terms; tax payers are being asked to bail out the bad guys.  Worse, the Bush administration is in charge making this literally their last, big attempt to play reverser Robin Hood and get all the goodies they can for their friends.

I don't see that.  But I'll also admit I'm a more trusting person by nature than most, certainly more than the front pagers.  But all the evidence seems to be against them this time.

[ Parent ]
How can you be a trusting person (0.00 / 1)
with the same people who brought us this and all the other disasters of the past 8 years? That's not trusting. That's naive.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
I'm not (4.00 / 2)
I see little evidence that Bush gives a damn and no evidence that Cheney is even involved.  Paulson isn't "the same people".

Now, I don't like Paulson.  I think he is an egotistical, testosterone driven megalomaniac.  But I don't think he wants the markets to collapse on his watch and I think he'll drive the hardest bargain he can when buying those assets -- because that's the kind of competitive bastard he is.

And I think those assets will be worth something once we make longer term changes that are needed.  For example, Biden just tonight said they wanted to save home mortgages through refinancing based not on interest rate (which would be awesome on its own) but by premium, which would be doubly awesome.  Through refinancing, the mortgages and the assets that own them would gain actual value, making them a better deal for the taxpayer.

Anyway, the trusting thing was more of a personality quirk I was bring up; mostly just warning those who might feel inclined to be convinced by me.  :-)

[ Parent ]
He's the same people (0.00 / 0)
in the sense that he sides with entitled and moneied elites over the majority of Americans. And I'm not convinced that he's always going to drive a hard bargain, when there are conflicts of interest involved. The task of negotiating the purchase of these assets should have been assigned to an independant bipartisan commission jointly appointed by congress and the administration, or an RTC-like entity.

But one guy being allowed to do this--especially THIS guy--is just stupid. As someone described it on DKos (I think) recently, he's throwing himself a pass, that he'll catch when he's back in the private sector and "consulting" for one of these firms. The risk of him being another Billy Tauzin is to great to trust him here.

Just because he's more competent than your typical Bushie doesn't mean that he's any more ethical. And even if he was, we can't know that, and shouldn't trust him so blindly. My biggest gripe about this plan was were the money goes, and who gets to decide it. Someone like Paulson should not be that person. Hell, it shouldn't even be one person.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
the problem is that the majority of Americans don't have a seat at the table anymore (0.00 / 0)
As far as I can tell.  This is a debate among different sections of the moneyed elite, and I don't know how to believe that with the current makeup of Congress and especially the Democratic Senate leadership and President Obama (yeah I called him President...get used to it :), I don't know how something better legislatively is going to be developed :(

This is why I like the No BAILOUT bill - because it concedes very little politically.  It won't solve the economic problem, but I don't think it will  make it worse, and might give some time to develop a better solution.

Unless people take to the streets this isn't going to change and usually when I desperately want people to take to the streets, it means I feel despair because I think they're not gonna.  From my perch abroad, I have no way of knowing if I'm wrong, but I think this is accurate.

So what to do in the meantime?  Is there anything useful to ask of Congress?  Or other things that  need to be done?

[ Parent ]
I didn't know that (0.00 / 0)
He was against it a few days ago. Or, at least the house bill from last Sunday, saying that it plays taxpayers as suckers. What he finds in this bill that changes that is something I'd like to know.

I suspect that a lot of them decided that for political reasons this was the best deal that could be cut at this point, and that this deal was better than no deal, and we'll just fix the flaws next year. I hope they're right, of so.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Unfortunately (4.00 / 2)
Barney Frank really shouldn't be your go-to guy on this issue.  Progressive he may be, but he's also gotten major financial support (as in one of the tops in Congress if I remember correctly) from the sectors that stand to benefit the most from this bailout, and that doesn't pass the smell test for me.

You owe it to yourself to listen to This American Life's fantastic and common-sense explanation of the economic crisis.

[ Parent ]
Point well taken but this is also political (0.00 / 0)
And Barney Frank is about as qualified as they come - for a progressive politician who knows what can get passed.

And yes, Barney is the one who came up with the line about lobbyists, contributions, and how it was in his sarcastic tones, not supposed to affect his behavior.

[ Parent ]
Like who? (0.00 / 0)
most major economists, financial analysts, academics and experts say it will do nothing to stop a deeper recession - and may actually cause one?

"Most" being...?  Because most of what I've seen linked to on OL's bailout posts is far more emotional than academic, and I'm (genuinely, desperately) trying to get a factual base of knowledge on this issue.

You owe it to yourself to listen to This American Life's fantastic and common-sense explanation of the economic crisis.

[ Parent ]
It's been linked a thousand times (4.00 / 2)
We've been linking over and over and over again to the 200 economists who signed the letter against this, to George Soros, to Galbraith, to Roubini...the list goes on and on and on.

[ Parent ]
Please be patient, David (4.00 / 1)
For some of us, this is the first chance that we've had to get into the details. Not all of us are up to speed on the different threads on this collective blog.

btw, Whathaveyou, the link is ref

This is as friendly of an audience as you're going to get.

[ Parent ]
But no comparison (4.00 / 1)
When checking out expert opinions you really only have two options:

1) Check with those experts you already have a track record with, those you trust, or

2) Survey all the experts and see what the consensus judgment  is.

You can be sophisticated and combine these two by surveying experts based on school of thought or political persuasion, but it still boils down to these two options.

The problem with this letter you keep pointing to is doesn't fall into either category; at least for me.  (#1 is obviously dependent on the individual.)  In isolation this list means very little.  For all I know the absence of 10,000 other signatures means more.

BTW, this is what I was trying to get at the other day when I brought up Creationists.  In both cases, a list of a bunch of qualified guys agreeing to something holds little value without context.  The difference, of course, is I know what the real context is in the creation/evolution debate and in this case don't know at all.

[ Parent ]
there's another option (0.00 / 0)
which is to make yourself as close to knowledgeable as possible on the context so that you can understand it to the best of your ability.  of course, you might end up wrong, but at least it'll be more of your mistake in thinking rather than in trusting the wrong people.

i mention this because most "experts" are powerful in their fields and in broader society and therefore have a vested interest in maintaining things like the financial markets.  Which then colors our own perspectives.

[ Parent ]
Good point (0.00 / 0)
A bit beyond what I was getting at, but yea, good point.  In fact, half the arguments I make on this subject these days really come from my own understanding, not specifically what any economists claim.

Also, the more I read economists the more I realize they largely disagree and I'm unsure they actually understand anything; at least when it comes to something as complex as this.  :-)  This ain't a real science; at least not yet.

[ Parent ]
oh it's totally trumped up ideology a lot of times (4.00 / 1)
especially american economics.  there's certain kinds of thinking that are useful and thinking economically as a whole can be, but formal economics can be really problematic (and that's true whether you're a statist or a neoclassical).  At minimum, trying to divide out politics from economics is a disaster for economics and gets you to really dumb theory.

if you're interested, take a look at Immanuel Wallerstein's volume Unthinking Social Science - it's a really interesting set of ideas about how to do social science and why social science is the way it is today.  it's briefer than Modern World-System - which is four volumes I think, and gives a synthetic and systematic telling of global capitalism from the 16th century to nearly today.  Useful, but very dry.

[ Parent ]
Who was it who called economics (0.00 / 0)
"that most ancient of pursuits, the quest for a high-minded excuse for greed?"

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
i like this quote on Schumpeter (0.00 / 0)
"Schumpeter didn't think that intellectuals understood politics any better than anyone else; instead, he thought they were simply more likely to mistake their own impulsive judgments for reasoned ones."

I think it's from either an LRB or a New York Review of Books article.  Or OpenDemocracy.

[ Parent ]
Do you trust Hoyer though? .. (4.00 / 2)
I don't .. he's a corporate Democrat

[ Parent ]
I agree with all of this except the last word (4.00 / 1)

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Which is about as good a progressive argument (4.00 / 2)
to vote AGAINST it as I can think of, on a purely political level. Hoyer is a corporate hack.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
the same shill who wrote and pushed through the FISA bill (4.00 / 2)
that retroactively legalized Bush's crimes and vested unlimited spying powers in the president.

Not a great recommendation, is it.

[ Parent ]
That's the worst example you could find, really. (4.00 / 1)
Hoyer has close to no respect in the blogosphere. And for good reason. Horrible guy.

[ Parent ]
Oh my (4.00 / 5)
So many knickers in so many knots. Obama is trying to be elected President of an extremely conservative, racist country, most of whose citizens are ignorant and proud of it. Give the man a break.

If the 'bailout' bill is not passed and the economy tanks, everybody loses. If it passes and the economy still tanks, the conclusion is ambiguous: it wasn't enough, it was a good try but didn't work, it was the wrong approach but the best we could collectively do at the time, it was a big mistake but was widely supported. The political calculation for Obama is easy: go with the consensus view and the safer choice and support the bill. Once elected, he can operate with a freer hand (Democratic majority in both houses, strong mandate, clearer economic indicators, no election in a few weeks).

I don't think it's Sirota's content that rubs people the wrong way so much as his style. Personally, I find the sky-is-falling schtick wearisome; I guess I just don't have the energy for hysteria that I used to have. I know this for sure: Sirota won't ever be elected President of the United States, and it's easy to see why. No doubt he has no desire to be President and is content to be a shit-disturber on the left, and we need shit-disturbers on the left, but tactically a calmer approach might be more effective.

Well said! (4.00 / 1)
"I don't think it's Sirota's content that rubs people the wrong way so much as his style. Personally, I find the sky-is-falling schtick wearisome; I guess I just don't have the energy for hysteria that I used to have."
Exactly! And I have to say, if that's how Sirota makes his case when speaking to unionists, I'm not sure if this doesn't do mare harm than good. Raising the expectation sky-high, making constant disappointments almost certain, is a dangerous way to sell politics to the people and can only result in more and more people disconnected from their democratic (bid D as well!) representatives. Sirota is really playing with fire, and if here would be more arsonists like him, they may succeed pone day in burning down the house. But there won't be any phenix rising from the ashes, because, after all, this is reality and not the dream world of progressive lunatics.

Hell, isn't the fantastic prospect of a liberal president working under a liberal majority in Congress very good reason for satisfaction and optimism? Why ruin this with making people believe there can be castles in the sky? More reason, pls, and less hot air! Really.

[ Parent ]
It is ironic (4.00 / 1)
that what is probably Obama's last vote as a Senator may also be the most fateful. There is a view among some economists that the bill actually makes the credit crunch problem worse.

Whatever the case, I will take a neutral stance on Obama's position for now, as I suspect that he is pushing for the bill merely to give Treasury and the Fed a free hand to hold things together during the "off-season", or transitional period, between administrations. It is unfortunate that this crisis occurs now, as it will likely be a full six months before the political system is in a position to begin to tackle the problem in an earnest and coherent fashion. And that is six months at the earliest.

"it takes my "hope" away" (4.00 / 3)
During the final phase of the primaries, must have been at the end of May, I predicted that many Obama would eventually become disillusioned about their candidate. I didn't think it would happen before the election, though. Well, does this make some of you think differently about the "horrible" Hillary Clinton, who is such a "sell out" of progressive ideals to the interests of big capital? Come on folks, Obama never was any more progressive than Hillary, and his constant calls for bipartisanship should have been a warning sign! It was obvious from the start that he is still a politician in the first place (he's from Chicago, for heaven's sake!), and that "change" was more of a campaign slogan than a serious plan for political revolution. Still, many supporters got carried away and projected their own hopes and ideals on the candidate. This rosy picture couldn't last.

Ok, sry, but I couldn't resist this "I told you so". However, Obama is still a much better candidate than any republican alternative, and will be a fine president. He may even be better than Bill Clinton, who should have done more to prevent the  republican majority of 1995. Obama, as a Senator more familiar with the situation in the House and the problems of the lawmakers, will certainly be better in this regard. And his good job managing his campaign shows he has the talent for the executive side, too. Having a liberal president of such qualifications will be a tremendous change for the better for the US after those horrible eight years.

But this doesn't say that all progressive dreams will come true. Obama won't simply be the president of the lefties, he wants to be the president of all Americans - and that's the right stance for that job, imho. Very often, this will necessite compromises. So, there will be disappointments, not only every now and then, but regularly. And the best way to achieve progressive victories won't be to try to pressurize the president, but to influence the liberals in the House and Senate, and to get "better" Dems elected, like Matt and Chris and many other progressives try to do. The fight for progressive politics doesn't end with the inauguration, it's really just the beginning of the next phase.

So, don't allow the current disappointment about Obama to get you carried away, folks. Remember what Bill Clinton, in some very honest and personal statements said recently:
"Every president has to tend to the present but keep an eye on the future, even when it may not be so popular to do so."
"And you just remember what I told you. If you look at - there's lots of academic surveys on this, which always surprise the cynics - people running for president, if they win, actually try to do what they promised to do. And almost always when they don't it's because circumstances render it impossible or because they have changed their mind for good and sufficient reasons based on evidence. But this is the best evidence we have. Look at what they stand for. Look at the philosophy, look at the programs, look at the commitments. This is not close, folks. It is not a close question. This country is in deep trouble, but its potential is absolutely limitless, and I think you know who best represents that potential."  

"Well, does this make some of you think differently about the "horrible" Hillary Clinton, who is such a "sell out" of progressive ideals to the interests of big capital?" (0.00 / 0)
you really want to revisit this? ;)

[ Parent ]
The White House is on the wrong side of the barricades (4.00 / 1)
The problems we face are systemic, and any occupant of the White House faces severe limitations on his or her ability to change the nature of power in Washington and in our society as a whole.  The President's job is to maintain and, if possible, expand American (corporate) hegemony internationally, and to manage the national security state.  Expecting a President to abandon those purposes is like expecting the CEO of GE to manage the company on a "profits and private property don't matter" basis.

Now, the nature of the presidency is malleable.  But the President can't initiate the change.  We will.  Or we won't.  If we threaten the status quo enough, institutional power will respond.  If we refuse/fail to threaten the status quo, institutional power will have no reason to change.

President Obama isn't going to lead our movement.  He's going to oppose it.  That's the President's job, just like it's a CEO's job to oppose the union.  Now, there are better and worse bosses, ones who genuinely hate workers and revel in their hostility, and others who avoid antagonizing workers when possible.  So the election does matter.  But the big goals are still up to us to accomplish.

My personal level of hope is very, very low.  But it's pegged to what the American people do, not to what any politician does.

"I am not a Labor Leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I lead you in, some one else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition."

Eugene V. Debs, 1910

Krugman (4.00 / 2)
Krugman is for passing the bailout, however bad it may be, to avert a financial panic, which could send us straight down an economic abyss.

Here he is today:

I hope that it passes, simply because we're in the middle of a financial panic, and another no vote would make the panic even worse. But that's just another way of saying that the economy is now hostage to the Treasury Department's blunders.

For the fact is that the plan on offer is a stinker - and inexcusably so. The financial system has been under severe stress for more than a year, and there should have been carefully thought-out contingency plans ready to roll out in case the markets melted down. Obviously, there weren't: the Paulson plan was clearly drawn up in haste and confusion. And Treasury officials have yet to offer any clear explanation of how the plan is supposed to work, probably because they themselves have no idea what they're doing.

Despite this, as I said, I hope the plan passes, because otherwise we'll probably see even worse panic in the markets. But at best, the plan will buy some time to seek a real solution to the crisis.

Flawed? Yes.  But hopefully the bailout will buy us a few months until an Obama administration can implement a real recovery plan.  Obama has said as much when talking about it.

Thank you! (0.00 / 0)
I especially appreciate Krugman's assertion here:

he financial system has been under severe stress for more than a year, and there should have been carefully thought-out contingency plans ready to roll out in case the markets melted down.

If Obama could predict the problem 2 years ago, and write to Paulson about it, Paulson could have done some thinking about it prior to the meltdown that we're now trying to stave off.


Visit the Obama Project

[ Parent ]
there were measures proposed by Democrats that could have forestalled (0.00 / 0)
some of this.  James Galbraith, a liberal economist, has cited something called a Home Owners Loan Corporation, to renegotiate and refinance bad mortgages.   That could have stopped this...or at least ameliorated this.

Hillary Clinton brought this up and a mortgage foreclosure moratorium 18 months ago. Sad to say Barack Obama did not join her in support of these kinds of solutions.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Thank you David (4.00 / 2)
As an African-American, I share your profound sense of disappointment and disillusionment at reading this cite about Obama and black congresspeople. My congresswoman (Diane Watson) probably got one of those calls because before I'd even had a chance to call and congratulate her about her heroic vote against the bailout on Monday, I heard her on the radio saying that she was going to vote for it when comes back up again. To now find out that it may have been Obama, somebody who I've given hundreds of dollars and hours of volunteer work to, who convinced her to switch is thoroughly demoralizing.

The irony is that the principal reason that I'm opposed to the bailout (other than just the pure unfairness of it) is that it will impede Obama's ability to implement any of the things that he's spent the last 18 months talking about. Mark my words, if Obama is elected, his administration will be beset by one budget crisis after the next, and each time we will not be expanding the progressive agenda, but trying to figure out the next remnant of the New Deal safety net needs to be jettisoned in order to allow us to get current on our debt payments. Who would even want to be President under those circumstances?

Maybe it's my own fault for being naive about Obama, but I barely even recognize the man who brought me to tears barely more than a year ago. How can we believe that you'll bring about real change when you're willing to give away more money in one fell swoop to Wall Street billionaires than the sum total of all of the worthy progressive goals outlined in your platform?

The Congressional Black Caucus saw this thing for what it was and they heroically and righteously opposed it. I was actually hoping that Obama would call some of them so that they could give him the benefit of their decades of years in the Capitol to make him see what was really going on. But to now hear that, yes, he did call them, but it wasn't to get their advice, but instead to browbeat (or bribe) them into supporting this monumental giveaway of our public funds, geezus, it makes his sell-out on FISA look like mere child's play. I wonder what's next, Cheney for Secretary of Defense?

Great post!

He only called black folks? (0.00 / 0)
I don't agree with the bailout as it stands but I'm not sure if you're saying he has particular power with black folks vs. other democrats or what.  

since he got the nomination (0.00 / 0)
I have been able to predict ahead of time his stance on issues and legislation.  I think this could be considered to read his mind.  You infer how people think from how they act...if you are clear eyed enough. I have no illisions that we have a rampaging liberal here,  who will hopefullly win the White House.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"


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