Barack W ObamaToday’s must read MSM article comes to us via Rolling Stone: Matt Taibbi’s takedown of how the Obama White House has been corrupted by Wall Street insiders — Obama’s Big Sellout.

I have been calling the President “Barack W. Obama” for some time; Obama’s Big Sellout squares up with my views of his economic team as more of the same economic policies of the 43rd president.

Here is Taibbi:

“What’s taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.

How could Obama let this happen? Is he just a rookie in the political big leagues, hoodwinked by Beltway old-timers? Or is the vacillating, ineffectual servant of banking interests we’ve been seeing on TV this fall who Obama really is?

Whatever the president’s real motives are, the extensive series of loophole-rich financial “reforms” that the Democrats are currently pushing may ultimately do more harm than good. In fact, some parts of the new reforms border on insanity, threatening to vastly amplify Wall Street’s political power by institutionalizing the taxpayer’s role as a welfare provider for the financial-services industry. At one point in the debate, Obama’s top economic advisers demanded the power to award future bailouts without even going to Congress for approval — and without providing taxpayers a single dime in equity on the deals.

How did we get here? It started just moments after the election — and almost nobody noticed.”

The full article is today’s must reading . . .

Coincidentally, the Matson cartoon above is not part of the Rolling Stone article, but rather, is from the Roll Call. I am a fan of his work, and he has a stinging political cartoon in Bailout Nation.

Barack W. Obama, indeed . . .

>

Source:
Obama’s Big Sellout
MATT TAIBBI
Rolling Stone, Dec 09, 2009 2:35 PM

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/31234647/obamas_big_sellout

Category: Bailouts

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

66 Responses to “When Did Obama Sellout To Wall Street?”

  1. YY says:

    As a Washingtonian for 22 years I learned that faces change but the system endures and gets more entrenched.

    I remain amazed and saddened that anybody believes that the president is anything more than a bird in a cage, well kept, fed the right information and aired occasionally to puff his feathers. He may look good or sound good but the handlers are in control…

    The only real solution is deleveraging the Federal system to the states, and the process unfortunately is increasing leverage of the Federal Govt, and all leverage it will not end well.

  2. VennData says:

    “…In fact, some parts of the new reforms border on insanity…”

    That about sums up this little tea pot’s prose. Send him back to the sports pages.

  3. The Window Washer says:

    OK Barry what is your call on Taibbi?

    For me he’s kind of the Warhol of the last year.

    Everyone wants to quote him but is he really up to your level?

    The reason we’re here is because you look at what’s happening, and only that, and make a call.

    It’s meant a lot to me seeing you talk about the stock market rally these last few months (since late july I think). Helped a monkey relax, and look around for a bannana, instead of getting caught up in the “what’s going to happen tomorrow mindset.”

    Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

  4. WW

    I like Taibbi — i don’t always agree with him, but he seems to capture the Zeitgeist of the moment perfectl;y.

    As I noted in Gasparino vs Taibbi:

    Back in June of this year, Rolling Stone published Taibbi’s article on Goldman Sachs. It was a epic take-down, full of righteous anger and blustery fury over Goldman’s role in, well pretty much every major bubble over the past century. The hyperbole-laden piece, its indignant tone, and the frustrated fury felt by Taibbi captured the zeitgeist of the moment perfectly. It crystallized a growing discontent over the outsized influence of Goldman Sachs — in government, on Wall Street, and especially, regarding the bailouts . . .

    The best way to enjoy Taibbi is to think of it as the culmination of frustration by the public, with the struggling masses infuriated at Goldman’s role in this crisis — their CEO requesting a special exemption for more leverage from the SEC (and getting it for themselves and 4 other firms), that same CEO becoming Treasury Secretary, and then doling out trillions of dollars to inept and insolvent financial companies, and finally, Goldman Sachs hoovering up billions. We know they sucked out $12.9 billion dollars via from AIG direct pass thru of bailout monies — must be nice to get 100 cents on the dollar! Most people are probbly unaware that Goldman also grabbed $5.9 billion dollars just before AIG collapsed — a treansfer that if AIG went thru the bankruptcy processs, most likely would not have been permitted to stand.

    PS:

    Princess Bride?

  5. The Window Washer says:

    BTW

    an old school 60′s Dem that works for me told me about this, thought it might fit this post.

    http://www.duttyartz.com/category/recession-rap-jams/

  6. Moss says:

    Seems like Obama ‘bought in’ to the Wall Street based hegemony, Disaster Capitalism is alive and well.
    Just vote every incumbent, with few exceptions, out of office. Not much else can be done.

  7. davossherman@gmail.com says:

    email Matt’s article to the WH and tell them they are utter morons – i sure did

  8. TDL says:

    “laissez-faire intellectuals…”

    Which ones are those? All I see are neo-Keynesians, hacks, and corporatists.

    Regards,
    TDL

  9. torrie-amos says:

    i officially no longer care

  10. flipspiceland says:

    Taibbi loses a lot of street cred by admitting he bought in to the “hope” bullshit.

    TheBamster ran his campaign on a total fiction which only the 99% of blacks, students, and some very naive lefties believed was real and won with the finances of Wall Street, 99% of the Jewish vote (and other anti-republicans, not-bush types) thrown in.

    Whoever thought there would be some major financial reform has no knowledge of politics, government, or the electorate.

  11. bsneath says:

    Here are the “Cliff Notes”. This just makes me madder than fuck.

    Michael Froman, a high-ranking executive at Citigroup. During the campaign, Froman had emerged as one of Obama’s biggest fundraisers, bundling $200,000 in contributions

    Froman brought in none other than Jamie Rubin,…Bob Rubin’s son. At the time, Jamie’s dad was still earning roughly $15 million a year working for Citigroup, which was in the midst of a collapse …

    “If you had any doubts at all about the primacy of Wall Street over Main Street,” former labor secretary Robert Reich declares when the (Citigroup) bailout is announced, “your doubts should be laid to rest.”

    In January 2009, just over a month after the bailout, Citigroup paid Froman a year-end bonus of $2.25 million.

    At Treasury, there is Geithner, who worked under Rubin in the Clinton years.

    Serving as Geithner’s “counselor” — a made-up post not subject to Senate confirmation — is Lewis Alexander, the former chief economist of Citigroup

    Two other top Geithner “counselors” — Gene Sperling and Lael Brainard — worked under Rubin at the National Economic Council

    Obama installed economic czar Larry Summers, who had served as Rubin’s protégé at Treasury

    Froman, who by then had been formally appointed to a unique position: He is not only Obama’s international finance adviser at the National Economic Council, he simultaneously serves as deputy national security adviser at the National Security Council.

    He’ll have help from David Lipton, another joint appointee to the economics and security councils who worked with Rubin at Treasury and Citigroup, and from Jacob Lew, a former Citi colleague of Rubin’s whom Obama named as deputy director at the State Department to focus on international finance.

    Over at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is supposed to regulate derivatives trading, Obama appointed Gary Gensler, a former Goldman banker who worked under Rubin in the Clinton White House.

    And as head of the powerful Office of Management and Budget, Obama named Peter Orszag, who served as the first director of Rubin’s Hamilton Project.

    “Rather than having a team of rivals, they’ve got a team of Rubins,” says Steven Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. “You see that in policy choices that have resuscitated — but not reformed — Wall Street.”

    While Rubin’s allies and acolytes got all the important jobs in the Obama administration, the academics and progressives got banished to semi-meaningless, even comical roles.

    America’s never-again-to-be-seen-on-TV ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Goolsbee, meanwhile, was appointed as staff director of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a kind of dumping ground for Wall Street critics who had assisted Obama during the campaign; one top Democrat calls the panel “Siberia.”

    Joining Goolsbee as chairman of the PERAB gulag is former Fed chief Paul Volcker, who back in March 2008 helped candidate Obama write a speech declaring that the deregulatory efforts of the Eighties and Nineties had “excused and even embraced an ethic of greed, corner-cutting, insider dealing, things that have always threatened the long-term stability of our economic system.”

    The lone progressive in the White House, economist Jared Bernstein, holds the impressive-sounding title of chief economist and national policy adviser — except that the man he is advising is Joe Biden

    Virtually all of the Rubinites brought in to manage the economy under Obama share the same fundamental political philosophy carefully articulated for years by the Hamilton Project: Expand the safety net to protect the poor, but let Wall Street do whatever it wants. “Bob Rubin, these guys, they’re classic limousine liberals,” says David Sirota, a former Democratic strategist. “These are basically people who have made shitloads of money in the speculative economy, but they want to call themselves good Democrats because they’re willing to give a little more to the poor. That’s the model for this Democratic Party: Let the rich do their thing, but give a fraction more to everyone else.”

    The president’s economic czar, Larry Summers, was paid more than $5.2 million in 2008 alone as a managing director of the hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and pocketed an additional $2.7 million in speaking fees from a smorgasbord of future bailout recipients, including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

    Geithner’s aide Gene Sperling earned a staggering $887,727 from Goldman Sachs last year for performing the punch-line-worthy service of “advice on charitable giving.”

    Sperling’s fellow Treasury appointee, Mark Patterson, received $637,492 as a full-time lobbyist for Goldman Sachs

    another top Geithner aide, Lee Sachs, made more than $3 million working for a New York hedge fund called Mariner Investment Group.

    Rahm Emanuel, who has been out of government for only 30 months of his adult life, managed to collect $18 million during his private-sector stint with a Wall Street firm called Wasserstein-Perella.

    You can’t expect these people to do anything other than protect Wall Street,” says Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Republican from Florida.

    On October 20th, the president went to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York and addressed some 200 financiers and business moguls, each of whom paid the maximum allowable contribution of $30,400 to the Democratic Party…. bailed-out firms like JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs were expected to contribute a meager $91,000 to the event — because bankers were tired of being lectured about their misdeeds.

    “The investment community feels very put-upon,” Fass explained. “They feel there is no reason why they shouldn’t earn $1 million to $200 million a year, and they don’t want to be held responsible for the global financial meltdown.”

    There’s no other way to say it: Barack Obama, a once-in-a-generation political talent whose graceful conquest of America’s racial dragons en route to the White House inspired the entire world, has for some reason allowed his presidency to be hijacked by sniveling, low-rent shitheads. Instead of reining in Wall Street, Obama has allowed himself to be seduced by it, leaving even his erstwhile campaign adviser, ex-Fed chief Paul Volcker, concerned about a “moral hazard” creeping over his administration.

    What’s most troubling is that we don’t know if Obama has changed, or if the influence of Wall Street is simply a fundamental and ineradicable element of our electoral system. What we do know is that Barack Obama pulled a bait-and-switch on us. If it were any other politician, we wouldn’t be surprised. Maybe it’s our fault, for thinking he was different.

  12. call me ahab says:

    of course BR-

    the Dread Pirate Roberts nightly praise for Westley-

    re Obama- well Taibbi was thrown a softball- almost too easy to run w/ this story-

    also- i pointed this out on another thread- this headline kills me-

    “Obama defends US wars as he accepts peace prize”

    priceless

  13. bsneath says:

    This pretty much explains the rest. The President’s Chief of Staff who is running the show:

    Rahm Emanuel, who has been out of government for only 30 months of his adult life, managed to collect $18 million during his private-sector stint with a Wall Street firm called Wasserstein-Perella.

  14. maynardGkeynes says:

    As smart as he is, my take is that Barack Obama doesn’t really understand finance or economics. The reason? He grew up poor, among poor people, and wasn’t around money, not even a little money. He worked his way up in the culture of lawyers, the civil rights movement, politics and the law. I really don’t think this gave him the right instincts for dealing with the crisis we are in. Which is not a good thing and may cost him his job.

  15. yes, of course, this is ‘shocking’…

    most of this article could have been written over a year ago..

    see: http://clusty.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&query=The+Obama+Deception

    “The Obama Deception, Now that the establishment has anointed and installed Barack Obama as president and the corporate media has heaped effusive praise upon this banker vetted front man..”

  16. MayorQuimby says:

    Obama is doing what every governmental leader has done for over 100 years – catering to the job CREATORS. These people (corporates, bankers etc.) are some of the ONLY folks left in the country that actually CAN provide any sort of productivity. Why is this? Because for 75 years now – we have turned a hard-working self-reliant populace into semi-socialist, mamby-pamby semi-commies. Your average J6P can’t do a blessed thing except VOTE. You do the math as to what happens when those votes count for little.

    I hate these buttheads as much as anyone but of course Obama turns to WS. Until the system collapses under its own weight, the folks highest up the pyramid usually get their way and the folks on the bottom usually get the brown fluids that trickle downwards century after century after century…

  17. franklin411 says:

    As you’re seeing now, Barry, you can’t have a thread about the President without some people trying to turn it into a Klan rally.

  18. krice2001 says:

    @ flipspiceland 9:07
    What gives? “99% of the black vote”, “99% of thee Jewish vote”? I know that as Barry says, we prefer to deal with facts on this site, not conjecture. I don’t think there’s much fact to what you’ve said. This is the kind of post that shows up here that pisses me off. Fortumately, most of the comments on here are quality.

  19. ella says:

    When he was running for the office.

    Remember, many of his Wall Street contributors/investors promoted Obama by claiming that he really gets it. Unfortunately, what they did not say was that benefiting the few on Wall Street assures the demise of the many on main street.

    Weary.

  20. bsneath says:

    krice2001 Says:
    December 11th, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Well said.

  21. uno says:

    Another, perhaps most fitting moniker for our conflicted Keynesian-in-chief:

    Barak v. Obama

  22. Patrick Neid says:

    Acting surprised by the Obama admin is a bit much. What did they think? If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.

    Most of his appointments are Clinton/Rubin acolytes. Combined this with the ongoing world econ crisis the policies with their results were certain. Had the backdrop been more benign when Obama came into office the results we now see would have been the same but would have taken six to eight years.

    Yes we are all Keynesians now and most everyone loves it. There is no government intervention too large. The only argument these days are folks jumping up and down in their playpens screaming that they are not intervening the way they personally want them to–but intervene we must!

    The hangover will probably kill us.

  23. Transor Z says:

    Agree that Taibbi is good for zeitgeist and I credit him for choosing his shots well. GS, Rubin and Obama’s weakness are good subjects to get out there to the peeps, IMO.

    The limousine-liberal/callous millionaire-asshole meme is the heart of the matter. I don’t know what can be done with these kids growing up to help them get real before they become cogs. Universal military service? Honestly dunno. I hope it’s not that we’ve become hopelessly decadent.

    FWIW, our buddy Flippy Spice has shown his anti-semitic stripes in other threads:
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/12/bernanke-confirmation/#comment-239841

  24. bsneath says:

    @maynardGkeynes:

    You raise very good points.

    Also, we are witnessing perhaps one of the most thorough and deceptive takeovers of government ever perpetrated. One that is entering its 3rd Administration and one that only gets stronger in spite of the destruction that it has caused.

    The Rubin team staged an early coup not only to make sure Obama was surrounded with Wall Street insiders but also to ensure he was shielded from reformers.

    So many of Obama’s top aids, including the Chief of Staff, have at the least been compromised by Wall Street bribes (and hopes of future careers just so long as they protect the status quo).

    Do not under estimate the power of the future employment opportunity. I have witnessed it in government. It is an unspoken and unwritten agreement that an industry will hire and reward top officials upon their leaving government. This alone greatly influences the actions of those individuals while in government. They are able to justify in their own minds that they are acting independently by making changes at the margins when in fact they are carrying the water for the industry by opposing material changes to the status quo.

    Republicans or Democrats, it does not matter. They go to Corporate America (Cheney), Wall Street (Rubin) or into a law firm or lobby firm to peddle their influence.

  25. crosey says:

    Having recently returned from a trip to Italy, and a little tour time in Rome, I’m reminded that the most “successful” emperors (Trajan, Hadrian) won immense popularity not only from their accomplishments, but mostly from their ability to entertain and feed their people…i.e., keep their minds off what is really going on.

    No different today.

  26. call me ahab says:

    tz-

    good catch-

    i would venture to guess that many folks don’t even know what is meant by saying “tribe”

  27. While Taibbi’s prose style is off-putting to some (he’s obviously a fan of Hunter S. Thompson), the factual content of his piece is basically sound. Even during the 2008 campaign, there were disturbing signs that Obama’s actions were incongruous with his rhetoric. One example was when he spoke out against warrantless wiretapping and then, as Senator, cast his vote in support of it. The next thing to watch is the degree of administration support for strong action on climate change.

  28. EAR says:

    A bit obvious but “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”

    It is almost inevitable that a homo sapien given power and wealth develops a paternalistic and condescending attitude towards or disdain for those “below” them on the socio-economic scale. They know what’s good for all because they have been rewarded for their special gift of knowing what’s good for all. No matter your initial intentions, as your power and wealth expand you come to believe that you know what’s best for all in spite of reality.

    Some believe terrible ideology is good, some believe terrible policy is good, some believe whatever is good for themselves is good for all.

    Politicians, movie stars, pro athletes, bankers, the profoundly well heeled and so on… we are the reasons they’re where they are, we put them there with our dollars and our votes, so to them we have essentially decided that what they do is divine, what believe is dogma.

    I must admit, in spite of all that I know and all that I read, I still have faith in O’s intellect… along with 99% of blacks and 99% of Jews.

    But whether I’m right or wrong about him, I have faith in my talents and intellect and my ability to maneuver and succeed in a rigged game. The game has ALWAYS been rigged.

    As for Taibbi, he’s a bit shrill for me. A little too dramatic. People need to stop acting as if they’ve been betrayed. If you take a good look at the history of this country you wouldn’t be so shocked whenever its citizens got a raw deal from the powers that be.

  29. hue says:

    maynardGkeynes, i know many smart people, who are clueless about finance, and some last fall thought this market problem thingy would last a few weeks.

    i love the disillusioned Obama voters, the ones who voted for Obama because they didn’t want the Clintons and a repeat of the polarizing 90s. we have the Clinton administration without Bill.

    OT, this is for Mr. Sucks. extend your life http://bit.ly/8Jvr92 if only http://bit.ly/7NTUB8

  30. Transor Z says:

    I think the sales pitch being made (successfully) is that the financial behemoths are critical to national security. Unfortunately, they are incompetent and corrupt. The incompetent part is what the narcissists have a hard time seeing in themselves.

    Taibbi was pandering a bit on globalization, IMO. Personally, the issue I have with globalization is that it was part of the wealth transfer mechanism we saw over the last 30 years. US wages had to be harmonized with other countries at some p0int. But the CEO caste used the increased profit margins and tax breaks to loot instead of reinvest for competition (see e.g. auto industry) or even feel some sense of noblesse oblige to funnel the money back to the rank and file in the form of socialized entitlements. And a lot of the secular wealth-transfer process was masked from view by easy credit and a relatively affluent lifestyle for many. More than that, it was part of a devastating wave of wealth stripmining.

    I would have liked to have seen the US go more European in the sense of downsizing consumption expectations and socializing things like health care and child care for working families. But it didn’t happen that way, in large part because of a monumentally successful and sustained propaganda campaign that divided and conquered citizens along ethnic/racial and phony ideological lines.

    The key historical innovation here is incompetence. That’s not part of the American national self-image. It is, however, consistent with oligarchical/aristocratic decisionmaking insulated from social mobility/merit-based advancement. Pragmatism has been the hallmark of US policy historically. We reinvent ourselves — or used to anyway. We just don’t seem to be as light on our feet as we used to be.

  31. EAR says:

    Transor Z…

    Well said, very well said.

  32. ronald says:

    Pragmatism breads complacency.

  33. Transor Z says:

    I disagree. I think pragmatism allows for flexibility and innovation.

  34. TakBak04 says:

    Good Observation TZ. Also, I would fault the Media, Corporate, Government Nepostism that’s developed in the last 30 years or so. It’s become incestuous from the Board of Directors of all of our large companies, banks and through to Media and Government. Anyone notice in Taibbi’s article, Jamie Rubin. Isn’t he married to Christiane Amanpour who reports for CNN? Alan Greenspan’s wife at NBC? Let’s also put our Defense Department in the category of nepotism, croynism. Gates has served in 8 different administrations. Retired Generals paid by media as on air “consultants.” Anyone remember when the Generals would retire on Pensions and go off to FLA to play golf? Now they form their own companies and Lobby the Government. Well….I’m sure you know the deal. It’s not ever discussed openly why this nepotism , incestuousness, cronyism is leading to a closed circle that is almost impossible to break into unless you are willing to play by the established “rules.” Obama has played by them and Clinton and Gore learned early on what happens if you don’t. Now we have a big happy family of former Presidents and Veeps who are all “getting along” just fine. Only outlier was Carter. We know what happened to him.

  35. I would have liked to have seen the US go more European in the sense of downsizing consumption expectations and socializing things like health care and child care for working families. But it didn’t happen that way, in large part because of a monumentally successful and sustained propaganda campaign that divided and conquered citizens along ethnic/racial and phony ideological lines.

    Well said, Transor. Thanks.

    The steady erosion of the U.S. vs. western Europe in all manners of social well being barometers in the past 30 years is striking.

  36. Uchicagoman says:

    Personally, I sense a certain level of cognitive dissonance in criticisms of Obama.

    In fact, I think the recent Nobel Prize and speech really highlights part of this paradox and conundrum of interpreting the Obama presidency.

    ———
    a) Is he both the tyrannical liberal socialist, causing radical and crazy changes (like evil Health Reform) against the better sense of the “quiet majority.”?

    b)Or is he just he same a Good ole Boy Bush, back at War and keeping the “capitalist” pigs well fed?
    ———

    However, I do think he welcomes and takes our criticism very seriously.

    As the first commenter, YY, deftly pointed out, while faces change, game doesn’t.

    I think Obama is well aware of this.

    Color me “hopeful”, but I also believe he knows real change is possible in this country. (I mean, for God’s sake people he is half black! That is a change in itself!)

    But…, and it is a big butt, in this case, you’ve got to play the game to make things happen. The establishment does not disappear overnight.

    You have to work together with them, stay determined and focused on the LONG term objectives.

    And I believe Obama is strongly suited to do this.

    Contrary to what others may feel/think, I do believe he has unique perspective on things for a POTUS, and I also believe
    he has the capacity to bring home important progress for this country, even if it take time and damn hard work.

    “Hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.” ;-)

  37. Thor says:

    Tranzor – very well said!

    Douglas – unless of course, you look at the ethnic and demographic issues Europe has failed to address over the last 30 years. Both are a ticking time bomb. Yes, things are excellent in France, as long as you’re middle aged and white.

  38. EAR says:

    Thor…

    OT. I wanted to apologize for my responses to you in an earlier thread, I was a real richard.

    Bad day, my bad.

    If you don’t remember what I’m talking about, carry on.

  39. TakBak04 says:

    Good piece by Edward Harrison about Taibbi’s article…

    —————————-

    By Edward Harrison of Credit Writedowns

    Matt Taibbi is one of the few commentators in the mainstream media who is not worried about ‘access’ and has, therefore, been free to write much more critically about the economic crisis and reform efforts on Wall Street.

    -snip-

    Since that time it is obvious that two things have occurred as a result of this ‘Washington insider’ bias. First, there has been no real reform. Insiders are likely to defend the status quo for the simple reason that they and those with whom they associate are the ones who represent the status quo in the first place. What happens when a company is nationalized or declared bankrupt is instructive; here, new management must be installed to prevent the old management from covering up past mistakes or perpetuating errors that led to the firms demise. The same is true in government.

    That no ‘real’ reform was coming was obvious, even by June when I wrote a brief note on the fake reform agenda. It is even more obvious with the passage of time and the lack of any substantive reform in health care.

    Second, Obama’s stacking his administration with insiders has been very detrimental to his party. I imagine he did this as a way to overcome any worries about his own inexperience and to break with what was seen as a major factor in Bill Clinton’s initial failings. While I am an independent, I still have enough political antennae to know that taking established politicians out of incumbent positions (Joe Biden, Janet Napolitano, Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Kathleen Sebelius or Tim Kaine) jeopardizes their seat. So, the strategy of stacking his administration has not only created a status quo bias, but it has also weakened his party.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/

  40. Thor says:

    EAR – I don’t remember what you’re talking about so no worries ;-)

  41. [...] “Barack W. Obama” sold out to Wall Street?  (Big Picture also Credit [...]

  42. crosey says:

    My guess is that Obama is naive and TPTB have enjoyed it from the beginning. He had “everything” explained to him, right after he was elected.

    1/10 of 1% run the show.
    20% are in-the-know.
    80% are titillated by the $1 menu, and they don’t want to know.

  43. EAR says:

    “Second, Obama’s stacking his administration with insiders has been very detrimental to his party. I imagine he did this as a way to overcome any worries about his own inexperience and to break with what was seen as a major factor in Bill Clinton’s initial failings.”

    … and he and his gang were hesitant to nationalize the banks and replace their management because a fake populist plumber and a latino construction worker became celebrities by calling him a socialist or and socialiste. The label was taken seriously, still is. Sad that such fear-mongering is effective in a country that has Costco.

    Just a suggestion, don’t start callin’ me a naive Obama-something or other.

  44. ronald says:

    @Transor Z
    Allowing for something doesn’t mean it will happen.
    Another example:
    Steve Ballmer vs. Steve Jobs
    Which one is the pragmatist?

  45. Thor — i don’t dispute what you say. my thoughts are more based on a comparison of the generally available, statistically measurable metrics of well being. Or to put it another way, saying you’re number one doesn’t make you number one. As Transor notes, the strength of the social compact in the U.S. has taken some pretty hard hits in the past 30 years. I continue to stress the erosion of the U.S. manufacturing base (due to off-shoring and policies which encourage it) as a key problem. It’s important to make stuff. Too much of U.S. economic activity and wealth creation is devoted to speculative manipulation of financial instruments rather than making stuff. There are lots of other factors, but this one is so big that it’s hard to dismiss.

  46. ITDog09 says:

    @torrie-amos: I officially no longer care

    I’m 50. I’ve lived through the war in Vietnam, watched my mother and grandmother crying at the kitchen table while writing letters to the draft board on my older brother’s behalf. I lived only a few miles away from the Watts riots. I dimly remember JFK being assassinated, I clearly remember MLK being assassinated, and I’ll never forget the night my older brother came home, white as a sheet, from his shift at the Ambassador hotel the night RFK was shot. I’ve watched the rise and fall of Nixon, riveted to the Watergate hearings. I watched my country change when Reagan came to power. I watched in horror as Bush took the reins. But in all honesty, what began under Reagan as a tumor, became a cancer under Bush, is now metastasizing under Obama.

    If I too no longer care, it’s because I sincerely think the patient, America, is now terminal. I have never felt this way before.

  47. ITDog09 — Share some of the disillusionment, but not all of it. I’m 45. Nothing is either/or. If you can’t get in through the front door, look for a back door. There are some aspects to Obama’s administration, that in my opinion, are positive. Other trends are decidedly negative. A positive trend is what appears to be a serious commitment to embracing science and science-based policy. This has been missing for the past 8 years. I like the emphasis on non-fossil fuel energy production and support for basic and applied scientific research, which is something the U.S. has always had a lock on. This in turn results on an increased education quality, esp. in sciences and mathematics, where the U.S. has slipped. The troubling aspect of what Taibbi discusses is, in my opinion, a serious mistake in resource allocation and the loss of important opportunities for investment in societal improvement. If there was ever a time to spend lots of $$$ on infrastructure, this is it.

  48. hue says:

    it’s just shattered illusions. it’s a country created by elite white men, cleared out the natives, farmed by slaves, built railroads with Asians, industrialized by poor Europeans in factories. now labored by latinos, stuff bought from Japanese, then Chinese manufacturing. same as it ever was. still the best country in the world in comparison.

  49. Transor Z says:

    @ronald:

    Given the recent rapprochement between Apple and MS, not disclosing cancer, and managing huge mainstream success with iPod and iTunes, Steve Jobs has shown his pragmatic side in recent years, wouldn’t you say? :-)

    “Pragmatic” has all sorts of shades of meaning, as you know. But I intended it more as a culturally ingrained attitude toward problem-solving than a philosophy. For example, Barry can say whatever he likes about this bank or that fund or this political policy here on the blog but we all know he uses a “pragmatic” head to make investment decisions.

    I think the pragmatism-as-complacency you allude to is actually cynicism. Take the story lines of Rick and Louie in Casablanca. There’s Old World cynicism, exemplified by Louie’s debonair corruption. Louie takes bribes, sexual favors from desperate women, and rounds up the usual suspects to keep the Nazis off his back. Rick is New World cynicism. You rig the roulette wheel to pay off the crooked cop or to do favors. You hide your parasite buddy’s stolen letters of transit in the piano. You stick your neck out for nobody and refuse to hide the buddy when the cops come for him.

    The pragmatic parts of Casablanca we never get to see. We don’t know what Rick and Louie will do out of the Free French post in Brazzaville, but we know they’ll be successful. The line between cynicism and pragmatism is thin but they’ve crossed it. They’ve found a purpose: fighting the twin evils of Nazis and Vichy water. Pragmatism as I see it is part cynicism, part technical competence, and part higher purpose. You’ve got to have elements of all three if you want to be Rick., i.e., The Man. But that’s a purely personal take on it.

  50. Transor Z says:

    @ronald:

    Given the recent rapprochement between Apple and MS, not disclosing cancer, and managing huge mainstream success with iPod and iTunes, Steve Jobs has shown his pragmatic side in recent years, wouldn’t you say? :-)

    “Pragmatic” has all sorts of shades of meaning, as you know. But I intended it more as a culturally ingrained attitude toward problem-solving than a philosophy. For example, Barry can say whatever he likes about this bank or that fund or this political policy here on the blog but we all know he uses a “pragmatic” head to make investment decisions.

    I think the pragmatism-as-complacency you allude to is actually cynicism. Take the story lines of Rick and Louie in Casablanca. There’s Old World cynicism, exemplified by Louie’s debonair corruption. Louie takes bribes, sexual favors from desperate women, and rounds up the usual suspects to keep the Naz1s off his back. Rick is New World cynicism, rough around the edges. You rig the r0ulette wheel to pay off the crooked cop or to do favors. You hide your parasite buddy’s stolen letters of transit in the piano. You stick your neck out for nobody and refuse to hide the buddy when the cops come for him.

    The pragmatic parts of Casablanca we never get to see. We don’t know what Rick and Louie will do out of the Free French post in Brazzaville, but we know they’ll be successful. The line between cynicism and pragmatism is thin but they’ve crossed it. They’ve found a purpose: fighting the twin evils of Naz1s and Vichy water. Pragmatism as I see it is part cynicism, part technical competence, and part higher purpose. You’ve got to have elements of all three if you want to be Rick., i.e., The Man. But that’s a purely personal take on it.

  51. davver1 says:

    Lets face it, when all is said and done all 0f you are going to vote for Obama again. He knows this, and that’s why you aren’t going to see any reform, because he doesn’t have to give you reform to get your vote.

    The best you people can come up with is to go an complain on the internet. Guess what, it doesn’t do jack shit.

  52. call me ahab says:

    davver1-

    speak for yourself dude- i’m not voting for him

    tz-

    interesting juxtaposition- Rick and Louis-

    Rick- the archetypical American- reluctant to get dragged into other people’s/other countries problems- and Louis as the pragmatic European dealing w/ the waxing and waning powers of the nation states that define Europe

  53. ronald says:

    @Transor Z
    English is not my first language, but:
    pragmatic:
    hardheaded: guided by practical experience and observation rather than theory; “a hardheaded appraisal of our position”; “a hard-nosed labor leader”; “completely practical in his approach to business”; “not ideology but pragmatic politics”
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    pragmatism – The pursuit of practicality over aesthetic qualities; a concentration on facts rather than emotions or ideals;
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pragmatism

    Another example:
    Is Global Warming
    1. a fact
    2. an indicator for a complex system

    A pragmatist without mathematical knowledge might take it as a fact, or not. But mathematically it’s an indicator and if one doesn’t know the difference one might want to “massage” the data so they look right and justified. If one knows the mathematical theory, one will understand that a complex system will not behave linear. Or the illusion of fact without understanding the theory(observation can be a tricky thing). That doesn’t mean Climate change isn’t real. But the indicator should be studied really careful and models should be verified by people who actually have the mathematical background.

    My guess is Barry knows the difference in his field of expertise. He has the theoretical background for judgment and is hardly a pragmatist based on observation. [I hope]

  54. DeDude says:

    Certainly a well-deserved slap at Obama and his economic team – even if not fair all the way through. Big question is how long it will take before they sacrifice Geithner, and who he gets replaced with. This piece does not leave much room for optimism on that front.

    Great comments here, including Tranzor@11:34, Uchicagoman@12:07 and Douglas@2:08

    daver1@3:09; in a democracy like ours your do not get to vote for the perfect candidate, you get to vote for the lesser evil of two.

  55. S Brennan says:

    S Brennan says:
    December 11, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    When I first read “Matt Taibbi, Obama’s Big Sellout” I thought it was referring Matt’s work for the Obama campaign during the primaries.

    Well…I’m glad to see he finally wised up, but honestly it’s a little late…a little checking of who was donating to the Obama campaign could have told you what you needed to know. Perhaps Matt’s a dumb guy who writes well, or perhaps he is SHOCKED…SHOCKED to find Gambling going on!

    Don’t know…and it doesn’t matter, because being right after the fact is a useless talent.

  56. dvdpenn says:

    Fascinatingly negative sentiment. I know that’s in the nature of comments on the Interwebs. But everywhere I go – liberal, conservative, free marketeer or wannabe socialist. Everyone hates everything.

    Increasingly, Obama is not a president. He’s a Rorschach test. And right now, everybody seems to see nothing but bat wings and blood splatter.

  57. older than dirt says:

    @ITDog09:
    I’m 68.

    On November 22, 1963, I was at a retirement luncheon (for someone who worked with me) at the Kings Arms in Encino (sounds like you were a So. Cal. guy, like me). We were at the bar when we heard the news that JFK was shot. That began a lousy weekend.

    On March 19, 1964, I was on a “troop train” from Union Station in Los Angeles to Fort Ord – Uncle Sam wanted ME! It was just in time for Pres. Johnson’s “mistake”/”mis-statement”/LIE to Congress on August 4 of that year about the North Vietnamese firing on the U.S.S. Maddox & C. Turner Joy in the Gulf of Tonkin. Congress, in all of its wisdom/cowardice gave the Pres a blank check to do what “had to be done.” Eleven years later with 50,000 young Americans killed in action – multiples more wounded and/or maimed – let alone the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese killed — ended ignominiously!

    I finished my degree in Accounting in the beginning of 1968 and began work for a “Big 8” firm – Haskins & Sells (now Deloitte, Touche,…). The managing partner of the L.A. office was a Kennedy supporter, and he encouraged me & another staffer to volunteer for the Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s Presidential campaign in our “spare time” (after Q1, audits were fewer, so we had some office time to study for the CPA exam and other stuff!).

    … Fast forward a couple of months. On June 5, 1968, I got home from a small audit about 8 P.M.; grabbed a bite of dinner & sat in front of the tube to track the results of the Cal Democratic Presidential primary. .. cut to the chase… I was sitting in front of the T.V. when the Senator was shot. Senator Robert F. Kennedy wanted us out of Vietnam, but he wanted us to exit with honor. Our ultimate exit years later was ignominious!

    I quit the firm shortly thereafter; toyed with the idea of going to law school (took the LSAT and got accepted a couple of great schools) – ultimately, I decided to get another degree in mathematics and become a teacher.

    Enough for now – this ain’t a biographical blog – damn it!

    After JFK, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 & now Obama it seems obvious that anyone seeking power is to be looked at with some suspicion. I’m not a political “fan” of one party or the other; nor an ideologue. I care about my wife, our extended family, neighbors, and, generally, folks that have WORKED for whatever they have.

    In 2010, I’d prefer to vote for pragmatic independents for the Congressional races that affect our state (our House member & 1 Senator); but, I’ll take the “least worst” candidate to try to help restore some semblance of responsibility to Capitol Hill. The only viable solution, IMHO, is political. Otherwise, we’re all in for very rough times.

    Sorry for the late (and lengthy) post. After the market closed, we took a NAP!! Before you make any age jokes, we get up at 4:00 A.M., work out vigorously with weights & cardio equipment. Except for timeouts for breakfast & lunch, we’re doing the “market thing” & seeking useful knowledge online from blogs like TBP (&ZH — and let’s not forget Andy T’s site).

    Respect to all.

    OTD

  58. [...] to Barry Ritholtz, I came across this latest by Matt Taibbi (famous for his description of Goldman Sachs as vampire [...]

  59. TakBak04 says:

    @call me ahab Says:
    December 11th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    davver1-

    speak for yourself dude- i’m not voting for him

    tz-

    ———

    SO…who the Hell will you be voting for? Boxed in…..where?

    It’s amazing how narrow the choices are “shaping up” as to what the “Mainstream Media gives us ….for the BUZZ.

    We might even end up voting for Tiger Woods/Sarah Palin if the Media Spins it enough to get by for us out here.

    :evilgrin:

  60. Transor Z says:

    @ronald:

    That’s an impressive analysis of “pragmatic” for a non-native speaker. Basically, “pragmatic” tends to have two contemporary meanings in American English: #s 2 and 3 at http://m-w.com/dictionary/pragmatic

    The second is more precise than the first because it refers to pragmatism the philosophy developed by James and Dewey et al. This meaning goes more to the epistemological issues you referred to. That wasn’t the sense I intended. I intended the “practical as opposed to idealistic” sense, which tends to be a compliment among Americans.

    Traditionally, I think Americans tend to be skeptical of the value of formal education (in contrast to on-the-job or experiential learning) because they see the former as tending to be too theoretical to be of practical application in life. When an American says someone is “book-smart” it’s an insult because the subtext is that the person has no common sense/street sense/practical life experience.

    But I would say the American “pragmatic spirit” is embodied in scientists like Richard Feynman and I’m thinking in particular of his work on the Challenger disaster blue ribbon panel. Feynman used his formidable brain to analyze the work of NASA’s engineers and directors leading up to the disaster and issued a scathing critique. In front of the press, Feynman dunked a section of O-ring in ice water to demonstrate the material’s tendency to deform at low temperatures — a simple elementary school level experiment that should have been performed at some point in quality control.

    So in this episode you had a theoretical physicist who famously never lost touch with basic applied science. When I talked about investing and “pragmatism,” you can talk about many examples of academic economic theory either not jiving with everyday experience or simply being irrelevant to it. Similarly, religious or moral principles are not predictive of how certain investments will perform during a period of time.

    Does this clarify at all?

  61. EAR says:

    This is quite a thread.

    If it was like this all over the www we’d be in good shape.

    I wonder which one of you is Taibbi?

  62. philipat says:

    Follow the money?

  63. mitchn says:

    Late to this thread, but just have to say “Wow.” You guys rock. And Transor — well, if you ever decide to start teaching on the interwebs, please let us know.

  64. engineerd1 says:

    BR, I really can’t figure you out. I sort of had you pigeonholed as a free market quasi-libertarian guy who had such a burr in his saddle over the religious right that he felt duty-bound to hate conservatives. But ocassionally, like here, you make it clear that you are actually playing for the bad guys. I could add to this ad nauseum, but he isn’t worth the ink. Suffice it to say that anyone who says that our problems are due to de-regulation, or that littleo had a mandate to fundamentally remake the american economy had better be smoking dope….because if sober he is a fool. The one encouraging thing here is seeing leftist morons tearing each other a new one. You have absolutely no idea how this comforts me.

  65. [...] that "you cant just print money" so "hey obama he gib me free money" When did Obama sell out to Wall Street?? [...]

  66. [...] the book was written, Ritholtz has written a few posts asking what the Obama team has been doing since the crisis: When companies get to be that large, [...]