Archive for Populism

How The Obamas Think

America, are we really going to re-elect this crowd?

- Aggie

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Leftists Controlling The “News”

Soros gives 1.8 mil to NPr and somehow NPR claims it will hire an additional 300 journalists over four test markets.

The numbers don’t add up. This is from a Minnesota newspaper, and the claim is that the head of MPR plans to hire these journalists.

Last week, George Soros — “the billionaire financier who was an energetic Democratic donor in the last several election cycles,” according to the New York Times — announced he was sitting out the 2010 race because “I don’t believe in standing in the way of [a Republican] avalanche.”

Today, National Public Radio announced a $1.8 million grant from Soros’s Open Society Foundations for an “Impact of Government” initiative that will eventually “add editorial resources and reporters to NPR member stations in all 50 states.”

It’s another exciting newsroom-enhancing infusion for public radio on the heels of MPR honcho Bill Kling’s $100 million plan to hire 300 journalists spread over four test markets.

But at the very least, Soros’s involvement raises conflict-of-interest questions. Regular readers of MinnPost comments know the Pavlovian response Soros inspires from at least one conservative, and right-wing icon Glenn Beck has declared Soros “the head of the snake.” (You can imagine the consternation from the left if billionaire Tea Party funder David Koch was giving the grant.)

Yes, I can imagine it. I can imagine the President of the United States standing in front of cameras making all sorts of allegations intended to generate class hatred.

According to the press release, Soros money will fund the “year-long pilot phase with station partners in eight states, allowing NPR to staff a new team of editors and data-analysts to run the project.” Those stations have not been selected. Will MPR be signing up?

“Too soon to tell, but we’ll take a close look at it,” MPR News managing director Chris Worthington says.

Your tax dollars pay for NPR. Keep it in mind on November 2nd.

- Aggie

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Economic Treason

The long, dreary march from freedom to fascism

Economic Treason Not To Hire?
By RICH KARLGAARD

News flash from the AFL-CIO’s blog:

When U.S., corporations sit on more than $800 billion without creating jobs, when banks hoard more than $1 trillion in profits without lending to small businesses and consumers and when health insurance companies with tens of billions in profits demand huge premium increases, there are only two words to describe such greed says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

“Economic treason!”

Addressing the Ohio AFL-CIO convention in Columbus today, Trumka called on union members to mobilize and rally behind “economic patriots” in a “knock down drag-out” fight against the “false populism and name calling” that Tea Party and Republican leaders . . .

Hate to tell you, Dick, but it’s even worse. U.S. corporations actually hold a trillion more than you say — $1.8 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.

Does anyone in the AFL-CIO’s donut lounge pause to ask why corporations aren’t hiring or banks lending? Of course, you would have to talk to a real employer or banker to get the answers. I have. Here is what they say:

1. Corporations aren’t hiring because Congress and the Obama Administration, particularly with health care, have made it costlier to do so in a time of slowing growth.

2. Banks aren’t lending because small business is getting kicked in the teeth. The survivors are playing defense. Large businesses can tap the equity or bond markets, the latter at very favorable rates. Oh, and did you stop to think that Washington strangely is attacking banks from both sides – chastising them for not lending, and restricting their ability to make risky loans?

Damnable rich people, says Dick Trumka. He is asking union members to mobilize and rally behind economic patriots. Let me tell you about Trumka’s patriots.

It’s 1979, and I’m at a trade show at the Boston Marathon. The show is concluding, and one of the exhibitors – of jogging underclothes, I recall – needs to hustle back to work. So he starts to dissemble his booth. From the shadows arrive four union guys – big meaty guys – who tell the exhibitor that he is not allowed to pack up his own stuff. Huh? The exhibitor says he needs to go – now. Whereupon the union guys start physically shoving him around.

I was standing a few feet away and watched this.

Now it’s 1993, and I’m attending a technology trade show at Chicago’s McCormick Place. My cell phone battery is low, and so I look for an electric outlet. Spotting one, I remove the charger from my bag and discover it won’t fit into the outlet. In fact, the outlet is oddly shaped, unlike any outlet I’ve seen. It looks like some kind of foreign outlet. I ask a security guard about the funny outlets. He says: “I’ll call up the man with the connectors.”

“The man with the connectors?”

“It’s in the union contract.”

And it continues.

I’m in a mellow mood, a peaceful mood, and I don’t feel like going off on anyone. But I truly believe that populism is a bad, bad thing and I wish this wasn’t happening.

- Aggie

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What Was That All About? II

Obscene bonuses, peasants with pitchforks: they’re so 2009:

Asked about the $17 million bonus given to Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the $9 million bonuses going to Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO, the president said, “I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen. I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”

“I do think that the compensation packages that we’ve seen over the last decade at least have not matched up always to performance,” the president said — a rather serene response relative to some of his previous language on the matter.

I already need a variation on WWTAA—WTFWTAA!!!

Is Jamie Dimon worth $17 million a year? How would I know? Is A-Rod worth $33 million a season? Is Leonardo Dicaprio worth $20 million per movie? Somebody thought they were. Somehow Dimon and Blankfein succeeded at what they do (whether we admire it or not) to rise to the top of their professions. And their boards of directors rewarded them for it. Of course I don’t think every exec has earned his (it’s almost exclusively men) multi-millions: in good times, they benefit from profits; in bad times, they still cash in for guiding the ship of industry through tempestuous seas. They never seem to lose.

But these are private companies, and other than workplace safety and non-discrimination and a few other statutes, they do not answer to the government. Those that have taken public bailout money surely have to be politic about how they spend it, but even then if the government knew how to build cars or manage a financial system, they’d do it. They don’t. They don’t even know how to bail out properly: remember how angry President Obama was right after underwriting some of the banks when they weren’t in turn increasing lending but instead just applying their funds to the balance sheet? Why didn’t he make lending a condition of receiving the money? Or even, why blast a bank for solidifying its position?

I might like to see more shareholder influence over “excessive” corporate pay, but even there we already have a pretty good system in place. It’s called “selling”.

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“Like it or Not”

The rest of the MSM is sitting on this quote like Horton the elephant on the egg.

I heard it on Rush, and searched for it on Yahoo News.

Exactly three responses.

“We’ve got to make sure that our party understands that, like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning, so we can’t be demonizing every bank out there,” Obama said. “We’ve got to be the party of business, small business and large business, because they produce jobs.”

This is controversial? Democrats need to “understand” this, “like it or not”?

And who’s been demonizing banks more than anyone since William Jennings Bryan?

When President Obama stages his little dog and pony shows (he calls them “jobs summits”)…

… he asks everyone to come up with ideas, form little working groups, break for juice and crackers, and then present their ideas to the class.

Are we to believe that not one participant has suggested an across the board tax cut, a la Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush? I know he wouldn’t do it—I’m not an “effing re**rd”, in Rahm Emanuel’s words—but why won’t anyone stand up to the emperor and tell him his Johnson is hanging out (economically speaking)?

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What’d Wayne Newton Ever Do to Him? [UPDATE]

Danke Schoen, mo**erfu**er:

On Tuesday, during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Obama was trying to make a point that the federal government needs to watch their spending the same way American families do. But he used Las Vegas as an example, for the second time.

“You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t go blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college,” Obama said.

Some Las Vegans said Obama should not have picked on Sin City.

“Every time he says something, conventions cancelled, stuff like that. That’s probably what’s going to happen,” said Las Vegan Neil Peterson.

But the mayor may be the most livid Las Vegan.

“He’s not our friend. I don’t know about Nevada, but Las Vegas, he’s sure not our friend,” Goodman said. “He has a real psychological hang-up about the entertainment capital of the world.”

“Everybody says I shouldn’t say it, but I’ve got to tell you the way it is. This president is a real slow learner,” Goodman said.

“I want the president to straighten this out. If not, he’s not welcome in my city, as far as I’m concerned,” Goodman said.

President Obama doesn’t like this country very much, does he? We’re bitter clingers, we have places like Vegas, we need our souls cleansed, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for (who was waiting?)… well, excu-u-u-u-use me, Mr. President, but I like schlock. I’ve never been to Vegas, and I might have been snooty about those who had back in my liberal days—but God, how pretentious!

If Siegfried and Roy didn’t exist, we’d have to create them.

Las Vegas is nothing to be embarrassed about; in fact, it’s a monument to the triumph of capitalism, both legal and illegal. From a gleam in Bugsy Siegel’s eye to the Strip—there’s no greater success story in American history.

There’s more light generated in one night on the Strip than in the entire Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in a year.

You know who’s playing the MGM Grand over the next month? David Copperfield, Jon Bon Jovi, Lily Tomlin, just to name a few. Are we a great country or what?

You know what’s playing in President Obama’s vacation paradise of Martha’s Vineyeard? Nothing. Oh wait, I take that back. I see that Fan Ogilvie, West Tisbury Poet Laureate, hosts a reading of Newly Beloved Poems on February 14th at the Chilmark Tavern. Admission is free, needless to say.

UPDATE:
I don’t think I’d be dissing Oscar Goodman if I were President Obama. Unless he wants to end up in the Potomac with cement overshoes:

During his career as a defense attorney he represented defendants accused of being some of the leading organized crime figures in Las Vegas, such as Meyer Lansky, Nicky Scarfo, Herbert “Fat Herbie” Blitzstein, Phil Leonetti, former Stardust Casino boss Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal, and Jamiel “Jimmy” Chagra a 1970s drug trafficker who was acquitted of ordering the murder of Federal Judge John Wood. His most notorious client was reputed Chicago mobster Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro, who was known to have a short and violent temper. In the semi-factual 1995 movie Casino, the character of Nicky Santoro was based on Spilotro and was portrayed by actor Joe Pesci.

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So Nuanced, Erudite

With Obama, we’ve finally elected Pat Paulson The White House is Doo-Dah Central

From today’s Washington Post:

President Obama, who lashed out Sunday at “fat cat bankers” who “still don’t get it,” plans to gather the heads of major banks at the White House on Monday to urge them to make more loans and to accept the necessity of greater regulation.

Obama convened a similar meeting with bank executives in March, and the need for a replay highlights the lack of progress in the interim. The banking industry has reduced lending for five consecutive quarters, even as it has regained profitability thanks to vast public aid.

Was the March meeting the one where he stood in front of the cameras surrounded by bankers, and proclaimed: “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” Why Yes, I believe it was. Perhaps today he’ll bring along a pitchfork, just to emphasize the point. That would be a nice photo prop.

On the bright side, Rasmussen has him at -18 today, in-line with the -19 he received yesterday. This indicates that Americans have stepped back from the brink and rejected the angry populist rhetoric.

- Aggie

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The Downside To Encouraging The Mobs With Pitchforks

Your wealthy donors become unhappy

Obama is such a genius.

Democratic political committees have seen a decline in their fundraising fortunes this year, a result of complacency among their rank-and-file donors and a de facto boycott by many of their wealthiest givers, who have been put off by the party’s harsh rhetoric about big business.

The trend is a marked reversal from recent history, in which Democrats have erased the GOP’s long-standing fundraising advantage. In the first six months of 2009, Democratic campaign committees’ receipts have dropped compared with the same period two years earlier.

The vast majority of those declines were accounted for by the absence of large donors who, strategists say, have shut their checkbooks in part because Democrats have heightened their attacks on the conduct of major financial firms and set their sights on rewriting the laws that regulate their behavior.

At least the donors are not brain dead. On life support, but not expired.

- Aggie

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The Obama Administration, Anxiety, and Outright Fear

Am I the only person who has noticed that the Obama administration seems to play with people’s fears?

It isn’t just the low flying airplane over Manhattan and the people running for their lives. It is also the way that Durban II was handled – we’re going, we’re not going, we might be going – absolutely crazy making. In the end they did the right thing, but the lead-up was a nail-biter.

Or how about the way the bankers were handled, the famous pitchfork comment: Right now I am the only thing that stands between you and the mob with pitchforks. What a thing to say!

Or the early days of the meltdown: This is going to be very, very bad, the worst we’ve seen in any of our lifetimes, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Have any of our readers actually read Saul Alinsky? I am starting to wonder if this is just the incompetence of a new administration or if this is a technique, sort of like the Oslo sydrome. Are we meant to feel off-balance? Is the goal to create a state of mind in which we believe that Obama is the only thing standing between us and disaster?

- Aggie

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