Monday, March 16, 2009

Backlash for Bloomberg?

March 16th’s New York Times has a story on populist opposition to the bailout (penned by Adam Nagourney who is evidently re-emerging after is miserable excuse for journalism during the election campaign):

The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about a populist backlash against banks and Wall Street, worried that anger at financial institutions could also end up being directed at Congress and the White House and could complicate President Obama’s agenda.

As my seven-year-old daughter would say, “Duuuh!” (said with that perfect bi-syllabic inflection that gives the edge that added sharpness).

So the “Team of Rivals”, better termed the “Team of Super Harvard Friends” or the “Bailout League” (both names following the form of superhero TV cartoons), is beginning to connect the dots:
  • Initially obscure candidate, Obama, soars to presidency by galvanizing public sentiment following eight years of criminal ‘leadership’ and sixteen years of gross disregard for the benefits of careful regulation;
  • Obama, having gained presidency, immediately proceeds to put in place a ‘team of rivals’ that amounts to no more than a rivalry between Bush economics and Clinton economics, or Harvard on Wall Street economics and Chicago in the classroom.
  • That team then continues an already unpopular Bush-Bernanke-Geithner-Paulson (BPGP) scheme, perserving massive bailouts with no punishment of any kind whatsoever for exactly those people who manufactured the crisis.
  • Worse, that team offers little more than a verbal slap on the wrist when the very same architects of collapse further reward themselves with bonuses, vacations, etc.
  • Last, the shock and awe that The People might find something objectionable in this, that The People are not the dimwitted sheep that privileged Harvard and Chicago grads are encouraged to think they are.

Let’s be blunt. This is a president who, now in office, has abandoned very nearly every measure that gave him any appeal in the first place. He has toadied up to the very Republicons who gave us this calamitous, criminal war. He has persevered in bailing out kickbacks to those who lead the funding drive for him (most notably Goldman Sachs).

He has offered one and only one real carrot to The People, namely a promise of universal healthcare. But even on that count, he has already strictly ruled out the one solution that a large majority of Americans know is the way to go — single payer. He has done this because it would deny wealthy insurers the means to strangle to death, both figuratively and literally (by denial of care), the people insured in name only.

Similarly, despite the fact that over 70% of Americans want to see Bush administration war criminals investigated, Obama offers nothing but evasions and lame excuses for why it might not be prudent to do so. And thus, not only the rest of the world, but many Americans too come to see American justice for what it really is — a two-tiered system of punishments for the common citizens and rewards no matter what for the elite.

As unemployment skyrockets (especially if we consider real unemployment, as opposed to the figure popularized by the government and obediently parroted by the media), Obama proposes “shovel-ready” projects. As already noted by this ranter, anyone who has seen a cattle farm knows what is shovel-ready in heaps.

Worse, Obama and his Team Captain Lawrence Summers are echoing Bush: “Buy! Buy! Buy!” as if a soaring stock market would do anything at all to get people into paying jobs.

In New York City, we should be seeing some evidence of concern among Bloomberg boosters. But no. No concern for Bloomberg — despite his cozy relationship with Wall Street and his long record of advocating deregulation — because he is more than rich enough to squash any opponent. And even were he not so, his backroom bargains with the likes of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, while not the violently corrupt machine politics of an older New York, are more than sufficient to undermine any real democracy in New York City.

Just as President Obama is ignoring a core principle of democracy nationwide, so too is Michael Bloomberg in New York: Public Officials Serve the People. Obama and Bloomberg are public servants, despite what they may think. In a true democracy, the fear of electoral loss might mitigate against the anti-democratic sentiments of its leaders. But nationwide the Democrats and Republicans have a well-established system of one hand washing the other. And citywide, Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t even make a token effort to conceal his contempt for the commoner. He’s too wealthy to care.

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