Friday, September 19, 2008

Alexander Cockburn

I'm a limited fan of Alexander Cockburn because I support the idea of humanitarian intervention. Among other things. But if it's satisfying and self-riteous parrhesia (as in, speaking the distinct truth to power that almost always comes from a position of perhaps glorified impotence), this article should work (sub). May he not get all of this right, yet:
In cruder language the operators of these two giants [Fannie and Freddie] had been engaged in the pleasant activity of cooking the books by borrowing at low-interest government rates, selling the repackaged mortgages at a higher-interest markup and then lying about the their actual exposures. "Fannie and Freddie were almost single-handedly supporting the junk mortgage market that was making Wall Street rich," economist Michael Hudson told Counterpunch the Monday after the takeover, protecting themselves from regulatory harassment by shoveling campaign contributions at the relevant lawmakers sitting on the financial committees in Washington.

Now the Treasure is refloating these two huge casinos and sending them down the river again ["sticking the taxpayers with a $300 billion tab"], so that Wall Street can stay happy and China and the other overseas lenders can be assured that the money they're lending the United at least partly secured.[...]

Even Swift could not depict...McCain offering himself as the foe of special interests when his economic advisor is former Senator Phil Gramm, the key player in Congress in the late '90s in the deregulatory assaults that overthrew Glass-Steagall, opened the door to the derivatives scams and greased Wall Street's wheels as it plunged the economy into the present crisis. Obama alluded obliquely to Gramm without naming him in his Denver speech[...] But why not identify McCain's detestable associate [who recently called America "a nation of whiners"]? The problem is that co-conspiring in Gramm's deregulatory rampages in the late '90s was the Clinton Administration, spurred on by the Democratic Leadership Council. On the ticket with Obama is that lifelong serf of the banks, Joe Biden[...]

When they look back on it, people will surely see this election as one of the larger missed opportunities in the nation's history for scrutiny and shake-up of our economic and imperial arrangements: an unpopular war abroad, brazen thievery by the rich and powerful at home, widespread discontent of huge slabs of the electorate, beleaguered by debt, low wages and joblessness. How easy it should have been for a politician as eloquent and intelligent as Obama to create an irresistible popular constituency challenging business as usual. But what's positively eerie is the cautious sensitivity of his political antennas, alerting him time and again to the risks of actually saying or pledging anything substantive[...] Small wonder it's hard to remember much that he says, because so little that he does say is ever substantively memorable or surprising or exciting; no wonder that Sarah Palin is proving so successful a distraction.

support The Nation Magazine.

Too bad for Cockburn the distraction is already wearing out...

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