1. And this is different from Bush exactly how?
Barack Obama was elected commander in chief promising to run the most transparent presidential administration in American history.
This achievement and the overall promise of his historic administration caused the National Newspaper Publishers Assn. to name him “Newsmaker of the Year.”
The president is to receive the award from the federation of black community newspapers in a White House ceremony this afternoon.
The Obama White House has closed the press award ceremony to the press.
From the president’s official schedule:
“Later in the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will attend a reception with the National Newspaper Publisher Association in the State Dining Room, where they will be presented the Newsmaker of the Year award. This event is closed press.”
Maybe they’ll let the newspaper people pass the award through the fence.“
2. “The “Jewish Defense League” is actually considered a terrorist organization by the FBI. Some of their past acts include attempting to assassinate Lebanese-American congressman Daryl Issa. They also openly stated that they would assassinate Canadian Jewish holocaust revisionist scholar David Cole, forcing Cole to go into hiding indefinitely.“
3. The problem inherent in all foreign aid:
“Local communities, propped up with aid-fueled schools and clinics, are no longer required to build mutual trust to create social institutions. Small businesses selling socially useful commodities–food, clothing, mosquito nets–are cruelly shuttered out of business by avalanches of well-intentioned donations. The effect is anti-democratic, destabilizing, soul-crushingly “malignant,” Moyo writes, and “exceptionally corrosive” to government accountability, civil society and the prospects for economic development.
Aid-powered governments, insofar as they are accountable to anyone, answer only to their donors, who in turn, despite all their hopeful propaganda are even less accountable to the poor, Moyo says. It’s true, beside the dashed hopes of local peoples, there’s not much consequence to a failed aid project. When aid dollars are diverted toward despots’ lavish wedding parties or, less spectacularly, to interventions that are inappropriate or ineffective, reports are duly written, filed away and ignored. To wit: World Bank analyses have revealed that 85 percent of foreign aid is diverted away from its originally intended purpose. After $300 billion in foreign aid, the rate of poverty in Africa grew from 11 percent in 1970 to 66 percent in 1998. Foreign aid plows on regardless, with nary a wiggle on the steering wheel.
There’s a political logic to this paradox, although Moyo doesn’t quite come out and say it. Being seen to be helpful trumps actually being helpful, as anyone who has been loudly offered dishwashing help ten minutes after the last plate has been dried can readily understand. Presidents tout foreign aid programs to distract their constituencies from unpopular wars and failing domestic programs, or to win hearts and minds in some distant geopolitical battle. That’s why so many foreign aid agencies spend much more time trumpeting disbursements rather than tracking outcomes. Disease-prevention projects fail to measure the baseline levels of sickness before they commence; aid workers tout their distribution of helpful tools, not whether people actually used them.“
4. “The fact that the CIA instead destroyed the videos shows that it has something to hide.
Indeed, Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh says that children were tortured at Gitmo, as does respected political scientist Michael Haas. A videotape would instantly show whether the detainee was a child or an adult, while a transcript could easily hide age.
In addition, the 9/11 Commission report was based largely on third-hand accounts of what tortured detainees allegedly said. The fact that the CIA destroyed the actual videotapes means that we will never know for sure what the detainees actually said (anyone can fake a transcript after the fact).“
5. “The virtues of public anger and the need for more
With lightning speed and lockstep unanimity, opinion-making elites jointly embraced and are now delivering the same message about the public rage triggered this week by the AIG bonus scandal: This scandal is insignificant. It’s just a distraction. And, most important of all, public anger is unhelpful and must be contained or, failing that, ignored.
This anti-anger consensus among our political elites is exactly wrong. The public rage we’re finally seeing is long, long overdue, and appears to be the only force with both the ability and will to impose meaningful checks on continued kleptocratic pillaging and deep-seated corruption in virtually every branch of our establishment institutions. The worst possible thing that could happen now is for this collective rage to subside and for the public to return to its long-standing state of blissful ignorance over what the establishment is actually doing.
It makes perfect sense that those who are satisfied with the prevailing order — because it rewards them in numerous ways — are desperate to pacify public fury. Thus we find unanimous decrees that public calm (i.e., quiet) be restored. It’s a universal dynamic that elites want to keep the masses in a state of silent, disengaged submission, all the better if the masses stay convinced that the elites have their best interests at heart and their welfare is therefore advanced by allowing elites — the Experts — to work in peace on our pressing problems, undisrupted and “undistracted” by the need to placate primitive public sentiments.
While that framework is arguably reasonable where the establishment class is competent, honest, and restrained, what we have had — and have — is exactly the opposite: a political class and financial elite that is rotted to the core and running amok. We’ve had far too little public rage given the magnitude of this rot, not an excess of rage. What has been missing more than anything else is this: fear on the part of the political and financial class of the public which they have been systematically defrauding and destroying.
As Armando astutely observed, the attempt now to dismiss the anger over the AIG bonuses as the by-product of simple-minded ignorance and/or ideological rigidity (class warfare! crass populism!) is quite similar to how anti-war arguments were stigmatized before the attack on Iraq : ignore the screeching pacifists and let the sober Experts make the decisions, for they know best.
The AIG scandal is significant and has resonated so powerfully because it is a microscope that enables the public to see what and who has wreaked the destruction that threatens their security and future and, most important of all, to realize that these practices haven’t ended and the perpetrators haven’t been punished. The opposite is true: those who caused the crisis continue to exert control over what happens and continue to have huge amounts of public money transferred in order to enrich them.
The financial crisis has merely unmasked the corruption and rot in our establishment institutions that are staggering in magnitude and reach. Just as the Iraq War was not the by-product of wrongdoing by a few stray bad political and media actors but instead was reflective of our broken institutions generally, the financial crisis is a fundamental indictment on the way the country functions and of its ruling class. What would be unhealthy is if there weren’t substantial amounts of public rage in the face of these revelations.
* * * * *
Matt Taibbi’s new Rolling Stone article perfectly summarizes what the AIG scandal reveals about our political and economic system, and should be read in full. In sum: financial elites own the Government and both political parties. Their money drowns Washington and their lobbyists control it. They used that ownership of Government to abolish decades-old legal and regulatory protections which previously constrained what they could do. In the lawless environment which they literally purchased from our political leaders, they were able to pillage and pilfer and steal without limit. And even now that everything has come crashing down, they continue to dictate what the Government’s response is, to ensure that they — the prime authors of the disaster — are the prime beneficiaries, at the public’s expense, of the “solutions,” solutions which preserve their ill-gotten gains and heighten even further their power and influence.
Atrios has been writing a version of the same key observation virtually every day for weeks — that almost every plan to “solve” the financial crisis involves nothing more than transfers of enormous amounts of public money into the pockets of the same unchanged system and the same people who caused the collapse in the first place:
The issue is that [Geithner] and friends never distinguished between bailing out the system and bailing out the players. There was a way to do that, and they didn’t do it.
In condemning Geithner’s “bank rescue” plan, Paul Krugman notes that — yet again — it enables great benefits for the richest investors, with the public protecting them from the risk of losses (privatize gains; socialize losses), and concludes: “The Obama administration is now completely wedded to the idea that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the financial system.” When it comes to its primary challenge, the administration elected on a platform of ”change” is, above all else, viciously devoted to preservation of the status quo. Read John Cole’s summary of expert reaction to Geithner’s banking plan.
That is why the AIG scandal, rightfully so, is producing so much public outrage — because it demonstrates what the political and economic system really is, a system which the Government continues to prop up and embrace.
The AIG scandal vividly reveals how corrupt and self-interested are the people who are still exerting primary control over this process, which is why our establishment class is so eager to demand that everyone look away. For months, Americans have been told that they must sacrifice and trust the Government to engage in extraordinary actions if they want to stave off another Great Depression, only to watch as hundreds of billions of dollars fly to the very people who are the prime culprits. As Jane Hamsher put it: ”The ‘populist rage’ that the pundits find so unseemly is actually the appropriate response.”
And that’s the point: only this true, intense, and — yes — scary public rage can serve as a check on ongoing pilfering by the narrowed monied factions who control our Government for their own interests and who otherwise have no reason to stop. Who else is going to impose those checks? The bought-and-paid-for, incomparably subservient, impotent and inept Congress? The establishment-loyal, vapid political press? An executive branch run by the very people who are most vested in, dependent on, and loyal to the financial system that produced these disasters? Only a healthy fear of the populace — exactly what has been missing — can achieve that.
Obviously, mass rage can entail its own excesses and, and if unchecked, can lead to mob rule, a form of majoritarian tyranny (as Armando notes, its isolated, unrepresentative excesses (death threats!) are already being exaggerated to discredit the underlying anger itself). But we are far, far, far away from the point where unchecked public sentiment plays too great of a role in how our political institutions function. Rather: we’re a country that, for the last decade, acquiesced meekly and quietly as our Government transferred huge amounts of national wealth to a tiny elite; launched a devastating war based on purely false pretenses; tortured, spied on us and literally claimed the right to invalidate law and the Constitution; and turned itself over to the highest bidders.
The overarching question is not: why is there so much public rage? The overarching question is: why has there been so little? A political establishment that can function without any fear of the citizenry will inevitably trample on its interests. That is what has been happening more than anything else. And it is why we need far more public outrage, and fear of that outrage more deeply implanted in the minds of our political and financial elites. “