(The President’s New Chief of Staff) William Daley – “You can pick up the phone and call him in a way you can’t really with anyone there now.”

William Daley
Who can pick up the phone and call Mr. Daley, the President’s Chief of Staff?

That’s an interesting question.

From CBS News Political Hot Sheet

“With Wall Street reporting record profits while middle class Americans continue to struggle in a deep recession, the announcement that William Daley, who has close ties to the Big Banks and Big Business, will now lead the White House staff is troubling and sends the wrong message to the American people,” said Justin Ruben, Executive Director of MoveOn.org.

What has liberals so upset? It’s hard to know where to start. There’s the years at JPMorgan Chase and on the board of mortgage giant Fannie Mae; the fact that Daley reportedly opposed the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was a major component of financial regulatory reform; Daley’s December 2009 argument that Democrats should “steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan”; his reported work with the Chamber of Commerce to “loosen the post-Enron regulations on the accounting and auditing professions”; his work in the Clinton administration to get the North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress; and, more generally, the fact that he’s seen as a strong advocate to the Obama administration for the interests of big business.

Before the selection, Politico asked banking officials and corporate lobbyists who they wanted in the chief of staff job, and the “unequivocal” response was Daley. The subsequent story included just the sort of quote to make a liberal (as well, potentially, as a Tea Partier) cringe: “Immediately things would get better” if Daley got the job, one executive said. “You can pick up the phone and call him in a way you can’t really with anyone there now.”

Now, you know who can call Mr. Daley and “call him in a way you can’t really with anyone there now.”

James Pilant

On Fighting And Losing Well, Financial Reform Edition (via Rortybomb)

Rortybomb is one of my favorite web sites. Here, is a discussion of the efforts necessary to shape the new regulations on financial transactions in a more effective way. It’s a very sad story to me because the people (the President) we thought would be pushing for effective legislation were only interested in photo op legislation when the country needed better.

From Rortybomb

Last week I wrote about President Obama and losing poorly, about how he loses in a way that doesn’t build toward long-term liberal goals, that leaves his enemies stronger and in control of the narrative while splitting his supporters. I want to talk about this argument and financial reform, specifically how the progressive community was able to overcome it. I would argue that the progressive community fought financial reform well for two key reasons.

A Community of Experts

The first is that Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), Roosevelt Institute, the financial blogosphere and many others found a large number of experts, built them up and deployed them in ways that pushed for stronger concrete changes. On Roosevelt’s end alone, our Make Markets Be Markets conference and Will It Work? How Will We Know? conferences took experts working in a variety of different places and on a number of individual topics and brought them together.

These were experts in their fields who had a different, stronger vision of how the financial sector should be regulated than what was proposed by Treasury. They made strong recommendation, markers for what serious reform would look like. This builds us for the long run, as there are now experts with a strong vision who have been tested in the public sphere, experts that wonks, media, lawmaker and regulators can call on for expertise in the future. That’s building a community.

(It was also fun! Frustrating, hard-work, a complete pain-in-the-ass, disappointing at times, but fun. Matt Stoller pointed that out to me, that this kind of political community building should be fun, along with the smart insight that financial reform battles that are lost need to be lost in a way that builds coalitions. How many liberal groups had a fun 2010?)

For the second reason, you will have to go to the full article.

Rortybomb is eloquently stating what I and many others have come to realize, the President is not on our side. It doesn’t matter what he said. It doesn’t matter what he did. He’s not on our side.

So, we have to fight for issues just as if he were an enemy politician. This involves experts and grass roots campaigning.

If there was anything more plain in 2008 than the need to put a stop to the casino style gambling on Wall Street, I would have been hard pressed to name it. Yet, the President let this thing sit for almost a year and a half till a good part of the outrage died and then the President deliberately tried to weaken the bill and to some extent succeeded. This is pathetic.

Well, it’s not getting any better. The President of the United States has thousands of issues upon which he has not yet caved, not yet surrendered or not yet modified to the interests of monied interests. We get to watch.

James Pilant

P.S. If you would like a simple, easy new year’s resolution that will benefit you for the entire year, click on the link to Rortybomb and then add it to your favorites. You’ll never regret it. jp

Second Chances? Barack Obama to Michael Vick – Have We become a Compassionless Country? (via Motivational Speaker – Chuck Gallagher Business Ethics and Choices Expert)

I don’t follow any sports whatever but I do follow crime stories. Thus, I am aware of Michael Vick. I did not like what he did. Nevertheless, he paid the penalty and should be judged by his actions now. I teach my class that America is the land of the second chance. Apparently Chuck Gallagher shares my opinion. I hope others see the world the way I do in this respect. After all, a nation that imprisons such an enormous part of its population might need to find some mercy and compassion to make these people part of society once again.

James Pilant

Second Chances?  Barack Obama to Michael Vick - Have We become a Compassionless Country? Well, for a guy who believes in Second Chances (hence the title of my new book – Second Chances) I was shocked and saddened at the media storm or fire related to Barack Obama's comments praising giving folks – namely Michael Vick – a "Second Chance."  As a nation have we become so full of hate and intolerance that we no longer can tolerate the idea that "Second Chances" are worth aspiring toward? So this past Monday the following was reported by … Read More

via Motivational Speaker – Chuck Gallagher Business Ethics and Choices Expert

Federal Reserve Gave Citibank 1.6 Trillion Dollars In Loans; Morgan Stanley – 2 trillion And Goldman Sachs – A Mere 600 Billion

Bernie Sanders
Matt Taibbi writing in Rolling Stone

I was in Washington last week and visited Bernie in his office, mainly to talk about the incredible results of the Federal Reserve audit, about which I’ll be writing more in the upcoming weeks and after the New Year. The audit of the Fed was undertaken because Bernie and a few other members of congress fought very hard during the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform debate to force open Ben Bernanke’s books, and as a result we now know the staggering details of the secret bailout era. We know that Citigroup received $1.6 trillion in loans, and Morgan Stanley $2 trillion, and Goldman Sachs – the same Goldman Sachs that bragged about how quickly it paid back its $10 billion TARP bailout – over $600 billion. We know that hedge fund billionaires who moved their corporate addresses to the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes were rewarded by their buddies in government with huge Fed loans; we know that the U.S. government likewise has been extending massive loans to a variety of Japanese car companies at a time when many American auto workers in Detroit have seen their wages cut in half, to $14 an hour. There’s that and there’s more on the outrage front, and we know it all because Sanders kicked and screamed and stamped his feet about Fed secrecy until just enough other members of the Senate decided to go along with him.

The TARP bailout was just a small part of the benefits showered on Wall Street, a Wall Street than in spite of the enormous public funds necessary to keep them operating paid out enormous bonuses.

But just for fun, and because I enjoy it, let’s see what Matt thinks about President Obama.

I contrast this now to the behavior of Barack Obama. I can’t even count how many times I listened to Barack Obama on the campaign trail talk about how, as president, he would rescind the Bush tax cuts as soon as he had the chance. He stood up and he said over and over again – I can still hear him saying “Let me be clear!” with that Great Statesman voice of his, before he went into this routine – that the Bush tax cuts were wrong and immoral. He said more than once that they “offended his conscience.” Then, just as he did with drug re-importation and Guantanamo and bulk Medicare negotiations for pharmaceuticals and the issue of whether or not he would bring registered lobbyists into his White House and a host of other promises, he tossed his campaign “convictions” in the toilet and changed his mind once he was more accountable to lobbyists than primary voters. He pulled an Orrin Hatch, in other words, only he did it serially.

I can live with the president fighting for something and failing; what I can’t stand is a politician who changes his mind for the sake of expediency and then pretends that was what he believed all along. You just can’t imagine someone like Sanders doing something like that; his MO instead would be to take his best shot for what he actually believes and let the chips fall where they may, budging a little maybe to get a worthwhile deal done but never turning his entire face inside out just to get through the day. This idea that you can’t be an honest man and a Washington politician is a myth, a crock made up by sellouts and careerist hacks who don’t stand for anything and are impatient with people who do. It’s possible to do this job with honor and dignity. It’s just that most of our politicians – our president included, apparently – would rather not bother.

Thanks, Matt!

James Pilant

Net Neutrality – Obama Caves, A Young Turks Interview With Timothy Karr

This is 18 minutes and 23 second. A bit long for many of my readers. Nevertheless, this is a good explanation about how the new rules amount to a surrender on net neutrality.

James Pilant

Will Wall Street Ever Pay For Its Crimes? Or Just Its Fair Share Of Taxes?

These are brief interviews with Les Leopold. Here is a sample of his writing from Huffington Post

We got into this crisis because Wall Street invented and pedaled fantasy financial instruments that turned out to be junk. While their party lasted, those complex derivatives were a gold mine for the largest financial institutions. According to the New York Times, the profits from the nine largest commercial banks “from early 2004 until the middle of 2007 were a combined $305 billion. But since 2007, those banks have marked down their valuations on loans and other assets by just over that amount.” In other words, the profits weren’t real.

He also has a book called The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It.

News Of Death Net Neutrality Working Through The Media

Okay, watching this thing is just painful. Not only are sites like mine going to suffer, if you want a decent internet speed so you can watch movies, you’re going to have to pay more for it.

It highlights once again, the President’s ability to take a solemn pledge on an issue, break it, and then declare victory.

Today, the White House hales a victory on Net Neutrality. Maybe they can sell that to the rubes but I can read law.

James Pilant

Internet Dead.

From Steven Axelrod on Salon

The internet as we know it is officially doomed, as of today, and I’m already feeling nostalgic. Funny that a technology could move so fast across the landscape of my life – from a geeks-only fluke to a curiosity, to a useful tool, to a powerful engine of procrastination and finally a central venue for all my communications, research, entertainment and shopping, only to be reduced to the closed down, controlled, censored corporate cash cow it’s about to become, with the Obama administration’s blessing.

Internet, we barely knew ye.

But of course the Proprietors of our Nation couldn’t allow this internet business to go on the way it was heading. What a frightening thought – free, unobstructed communications, with no control and no profit … people just saying whatever they want, whenever they want, leaking documents, downloading YouTube videos that make Proprietor-controlled media outlets look like liars. You knew there’d be repercussions after the “Colbert bombed at the Press Association Dinner” narrative was reduced to one more punchline, a million downloads later.

He’s right. It will take a while but these things you’re reading like my blog, the sites you surf will probably go the way of the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon.

You might be curious as to why I’m not outraged myself.

In fact, my most fire breathing, screaming fits of anger were over this issue some months ago.

I simply realized that the Obama administration will sell out the internet in a total reversal of the President’s stated position. As far as the President is concerned, words have no meaning. He says whatever is necessary to get whatever he wants at the time.

You want to argue with me.

If so much as one person objects, I will happily put up the You Tube videos where the President declares that he absolutely supports net neutrality and will not compromise. I put them up on a previous post. It took me about a minute to find four separate events where he said these things.

So, it was inevitable.

The best guide to this President’s actions are to go on You Tube, run the issue and see what the President said during the campaign. Expect him to do the opposite and you will only rarely be wrong.

The independence of the internet was critical to the kind of support and networking, the Obama campaign used to win election in 2008. You see, the President isn’t even smart.

It was unwise politically, damaging his own campaign infrastructure and limiting the influence of the blogosphere which did so much for him during the campaign. It also alienates the aforementioned bloggers, who if they are anything like me, will never forget this latest outrage.

I’m not going to forget it.

What happens to me and this blog. Well, I’m going to keep going and I have a monitor that tells me the loading speed for the web site, when it gets longer than say five seconds, I’ll start considering shutting down.

I am stubborn though, maybe I’ll hang on until it’s just me and some close friends who tell me that they log on when don’t or can’t.

And it gets better. Our President is planning on fixing the tax code next year.

Of course, he’s going to cut up Social Security like a butchered steer, George W. Bush’s dream come true.

I’d like someone to tell me what the hell happened?

I want to know.

I can get being betrayed.

I can get changes of allegiance.

I definitely understant political expediency.

But this President makes decisions that don’t even make sense from an election point of view.

Earlier, I said that you could take the opposite of what the President said as a guide, but there is another one. If there are two options and one is the more politically foolish, the White House chooses that one.

Net neutrality is dead. Happy Christmas.

James Pilant

Bob Cesca – Are Progressives Losing Touch With Reality?

(I want you to know that I recognize that this essay is going to offend readers. I am sorry about that. I wanted very much over the last two years to write about how home owners were saved from foreclosure, how the banks were stopped from paying bonuses with public money, how thorough investigations were conducted into the banking practices which resulted in the financial meltdown, how the financial regulation of the 1930’s was reinstated to prevent future disasters, how white collar criminals were frog marched from their fancy offices and incarcerated, and how the President called on Americans particularly in the business world to act ethically, morally and responsibly. I didn’t get to write those essays.)

This is a response to Bob Cesca’s essay in the Huffington Post

Bob finds the President’s ability to sacrifice core beliefs that he asserted a few days before to be admirable displays of negotiating ability.

The President agrees to extend the Bush tax cuts after unequivocally saying he would not.

Losing touch with reality? Those funny people can read newspapers, observe blogs and understant ideology and facts.

The facts are clear. The President has no principle he is willing to stand for. None. Nada. Zero.

You expect a President to occasionally give up an ideogical point for negotiation. With Obama, whoops, excuse me, Mr. Cesca, I mean President Obama, everything is on the table.

Watching him eaten alive by Republican piranha is hardly the political vision held by Americans when he was elected.

Let me make it absolutely clear to you, Mr. Cesca. Lyndon Johnson said he knew the difference between chicken s**t and chicken salad. We’ve been fed a steady diet of chicken s**t by this White House.

It’s time for something different. It’s time for a primary challenge.

It would be better to have some exercise in actual belief than continual surrender.

It would be better to have a human being with some sincerity, some vestige of belief, some commitment to his own words, than this.

You want political reality, Bob? You want some straight talk, Cesca?

Try this. A good section of the Progressive movement are fed up and disgusted. They are not coming up with money, knocking on doors and doing all that other stuff that paid off with exactly, precisely zero. Progressives worked for this President. Oh, did I get that right, Bob, saying President? Does that make you feel more comfortable? Progressives are the cutting edge of the blade. They are the people that organize and fight for a candidate. No, they are not a majority of the Democratic party, just the part that gets out and fights. What are you hoping for? That Palin is the nominee, and all the Progressives will say they are sorry and come flocking back to fight?

What if it’s not Palin? What are you going to do then? Will you write how Progressives are out of touch while they sit at home?

This is rage, Bob. This is what you get when you get betrayed over and over again.

This is what you get when you watch banks bailed out to the last dime and watch the HAMP program (run by a twenty year veteran of Citibank) go down in flames having helped less than a million Americans of whom more than twenty percent are going back into foreclosure.

Oh, I guess that doesn’t bother you, Bob. See those are real, breathing, walking around Americans having the largest investments in their lives seized and turned into quick cash by those same bailed out banking institutions.

I teach business law and business ethics. Did you ever walk into a class and try to explain how a privileged class can crush the economy by gambling on derivatives and playing with home mortgages like monopoly money and walk away with their millions (billions) intact. No criminal investigations, no action taken to recover the money, the President constrained from even light criticism. All I have to do is explain that virtue is its own reward. Hard sell, Bob?

But morals, ethics, campaign promises, they can all be dispensed with for pragmatism. After all, cutting a deal, however bad, is what it is all about. Right?

Losing touch with reality? Lord God, I wish. This is a nightmare.

If anyone had told me two years ago, this would be the result of the election, I would have thought they were mental.

There was a lack of contact with reality. But it was then, not now. We know what we have now and it’s not much.

James Pilant

Moody’s To Cut U.S. Rating?


Moody’s warned Monday that it could move a step closer to cutting the U.S. AAA rating if President Obama’s tax and unemployment benefit package becomes law.

The plan agreed to by President Obama and Republican leaders last week could push up debt levels, increasing the likelihood of a negative outlook on the United States rating in the coming two years, the ratings agency said.

A negative outlook, if adopted, would make a rating cut more likely over the following 12-to-18 months.

For the United States, a loss of the top Aaa rating, reduce the appeal of U.S. Treasuries, which currently rank as among the world’s safest investments.

We just spent several months with every commentator screaming out that we can’t afford to spend more money, that social security had to be cut, that things could not go on the way they had been and then –

President Obama made a deal with the Republicans to add trillions to the debt! (and social security will still get cut!)

The bizzarro world of Washington marches on. But there will be pain, there will be payback.

James Pilant