Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Department of Shredded Pieces of Paper Money

Good intentions, honest platitudes and vague reassurances about "responsibility" in every global media aside, one begins to wonder if Obama is more in love with himself, à la Bill Clinton, than he has a mature clue about the realistic consequences of this gigantic new holding company the taxpayers are now funding. In fairness it seems nobody much does. However as Bernie Sanders gently puts it, Obama needs someone from outside Wall Street giving him advice (titanic understatement of calling this "not easy" uncomfortably noted). Sanders' ideas of where to start are also pretty good.

That calling screaming for a regulatory counter-balance to Wall Street's newly gifted power, if not an alternative structure altogether, should be the position of the net roots seems to me inescapably clear. There's a delusion of grandeur at work when progressive blogs and talk shows are still stuck in damage-control mode for a President with 70% approval, gloating at how unnecessary and easy taking down the Republican "opposition" is these days (while the real conglomerate crooks are still robbing every honest worker blind, needless to say with historically eager help from both corporate Democrat and Republican). As Matt Taibbi characteristically points out in his essential exposé, the only people deemed capable of understanding let alone managing this new thing are the professional gambling class, which fact in itself amounts to an enormous power grab.* And if it wasn't easy to regulate these independent casinos before, how exactly mushing up their weirdly animated corpses and mixing them with other business ventures dead and half-alive and re-selling unidentifiable, over-valued limbs to the taxpayer helps the situation is beyond me (and probably Obama, unless he gets some truly open-minded help).

* The myth of the impossibly complex nature of these financial giants' operations is an unfortunate piece of propaganda. Obviously the power of Taibbi's account lies in its potential to render public anger more focused and into something less easily dismissed (for instance, with vague reassurances about a new "era of responsibility.") Given the circumstances, blanket blame is profoundly somewhat unjust and questionably helpful. The "bonus" non-issue is downright ridiculous (as the saying goes, "3 trillion dollars is a budget problem, 200 million is a scandal.") I actually think the author of today's NY Times Op-Ed has a valid point, tone-deafness aside (yes, his whining smacks of self-entitlement, he has no sense of real world incomes–honestly what did you expect?). Those "conspicuously unscathed" operators of the casino within the casino who really wrecked the economy (granted, as they were enabled) may amount to only four hundred recently and luxuriously retired dickheads at every conglomerate, but those are the names, along with Bill Clinton/Sandy Weill and especially Larry Summers, that Cuomo and everyone should be calling for, were they interested in something more meaningful than cheap blanket populism, especially as said lynch mob anger blurs itself into irrelevance and helps those who wish to obscure the real stakes. In this regard Time Magazine actually gets a few right. (Not that a little seething resentment of the self-entitled rich in this country isn't long overdue!)

nb. It is entirely possible I am a death-wish Democrat who just doesn't understand politics. Either that or I'm for a political discourse concerned enough for truth and healthy enough to require self-criticism.

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