ROLL CALL: Dodd Warns Against Nuclear Option on Nominations. “You’re going to take an institution that’s given us the kind of protections against some very bad ideas historically because there was a place where we had to think twice about what you were doing.”
IT’S THE KNOWLEDGE PROBLEM AGAIN: Did Financial Services Reform Inadvertently Put a Kink In Obamacare? “The unbanked may have a hard time buying insurance on the exchanges. Too bad we just created more of them.”
GEORGE WILL ON “BIPARTISAN ABDICATION“: Interesting column today about congressional acquiescence in recent decades to assertions of presidential power in the realm of the two branches’ shared power over the military. Congressional avoidance of all sticky political issues arguably goes even further than just the use of military power; witness incessant delegations of power to executive agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Dodd-Frank), the Independent Medical Advisory Board (IPAB), the EPA, and on and on.
Listen up, kids! Your parents are robbing your futures blind and you’re chumps enough not only to go along but to say – like the adorable title orphan in the classic baby boomer musical Oliver! – please, sir, I want some more.
From virtually every possible angle, Obama is helping to diminish the prospects for today’s younger generation. First and foremost, his response to the Great Recession – stimulus and the massive piling up of debt – is slowing the recovery. Ginormous regulatory schemes such as Dodd-Frank and the creation of huge new soul-and-bucks-sucking programs such as Obamacare weigh heavily on the economy now and in the future too. His refusal to discuss seriously old-age entitlement reform – Medicare and Social Security and the 40 percent of Medicaid that goes to old folks – is a massive storm front on the economic horizon. His preference for secrecy and overreach when it comes to executive power won’t screw young people as obviously as his economic policies, but when he leaves office in 2017, he will have created far more terrorists than he needed to.
Yet The New York Times reports that not only did 18-to-29-year-olds vote for Obama by far-higher-than-average percentages than folks over 30 years old, they believe that by far-higher-than-average percentages that the government needs to be doing more, not less. This, despite record levels of government spending and debt – and awful results – for the whole of the 21st century.
Hey, rubes! Related thoughts here.
IN AN EDITORIAL, the Boston Herald endorses my revolving-door surtax on post-government employment.
As a senator from Connecticut, Democrat Christopher Dodd earned $174,000 in his last year in office. In 2011 he became head of the Motion Picture Association of America at $1.2 million a year. U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) earned $158,000 in his last year in the House, 2004, and $2.06 million the next year as head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Congress is not unique. The regulatory and executive agencies display this behavior too. What the employer is trying to buy is knowledge, connections and influence. You could think of these as intangible capital, and the Reynolds tax as a form of capital gains tax.
It’s nice to have my ideas noticed.
TIM GEITHNER’S LEGACY: An Issue For Republicans, If They’re Smart Enough To Use It:
As Timothy F. Geithner prepares to leave the Treasury Department, most assessments focus on how his policies affected the economy. But his lasting legacy may be more political, contributing to the creation of an issue that can now be seized either by the right or the left. What should be done about the too-big-to-fail category of financial institutions?
Mr. Geithner came to Treasury in the middle of a severe financial crisis, a set of problems that he helped to create and then worked hard to prevent from worsening. As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, starting in 2003, he watched over – and failed to defuse – the buildup of systemic risk. In fact, the New York Fed was relatively on the side of allowing large, seemingly sophisticated financial institutions to fund themselves with more debt relative to their thin levels of equity.
This was a major conceptual mistake for which there still has not been a full accounting. In fact, blank denial continues to be the reaction from the relevant officials. . . . In Mr. Geithner’s view of the world, the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation fixed the problem of too-big-to-fail banks. Outside of Treasury, it’s hard to find informed observers who share this position. Both Daniel Tarullo (the lead Fed governor for financial regulation) and William Dudley (the current president of the New York Fed) said in recent speeches that the problems of distorted incentives associated with too big to fail were unfortunately alive and well.
Ironically, despite the fact that the Obama administration failed to rein in the megabanks and allowed them to become larger and arguably more powerful, this has not helped the Republicans in electoral terms.
As Ms. Noonan puts it bluntly: “People think the G.O.P. is for the bankers. The G.O.P. should upend this assumption.”
Yes. In reality, the Democrats are the party of the plutocrats and big banks, while the “rich” that the GOP represents are the “petty rich” of small business owners and successful professionals — unsurprisingly, it’s the “petty rich” that Obama’s tax increases have targeted. Turn that around.
And while you’re at it, repeal the Hollywood tax cuts!
NOEMIE EMERY ON THE HOUSING CRASH:
Twice, Bush tried to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and twice Democrats (Obama included) moved in to stop him. Especially culpable were Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Dodd claimed that the institutions were “fundamentally strong,” and Frank said he wanted to “roll the dice a little bit more in his situation” rather than impose stricter regulation on Fannie and Freddie. He did roll those dice, and they came up snake eyes at the end of the Bush years. The same could have just as easily happened in the Gore or Kerry administrations, had they existed, and it would not have been due to their policies, either. It was due to bad sense, bad judgment, greed and a lot of misguided good will.
Bush didn’t create the conditions that led to the crash; he inherited them from Bill Clinton, and a large cast of thousands all played their own parts. Republican policies had no role in the crash; and the Democrats’ policies would have had no role, either.
This was not a case of free markets run wild; it was a case of government policy distorting the markets by removing their built-in restraints. This case has been made by a handful of columnists and two serious books — “Reckless Endangerment” by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner, and “Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac” by Oonagh McDonald — but not yet by the silent and clueless Republican Party. How many more times must it lose till it does?
Plus, a mention of “Reynolds’ Law.”
FROM THE GRUMPY ECONOMIST, SOME PREDICTIONS: “Forecast in three parts: The sound and fury will be over big fights on taxes and spending. They will look like replays of the last four years and not end up accomplishing much. The big changes to our economy will be the metastatic expansion of regulation, let by ACA, Dodd-Frank, and EPA. There will be no change on our long run problems: entitlements, deficits or fundamental reform of our chaotic tax system. 4 more years, $4 trillion more debt. Why? I think this follows inevitably from the situation: normal (AFU). Nothing has changed. The President is a Democrat, now lame duck. The congress is Republican. The Senate is asleep. Congressional Republicans think the President is a socialist. The President thinks Congressional Republicans are neanderthals. The President cannot compromise on the centerpieces of his campaign. Result: we certainly are not going to see big legislation. Anything new will happen by executive order or by regulation.”
Plus: “We’re still sitting on a debt bomb. Remember 2004, when a few chicken-littles were saying ‘there is trouble brewing, there is a huge amount of debt (mortgages) that is in danger of defaulting, and the banks are stuffed with it?’ And how everyone made fun of them? That is our situation now, but it’s sovereign debt.”
HATING BREITBART: Director Andrew Marcus discusses his documentary look at Andrew Breitbart in a 23-minute audio interview at Ed Driscoll.com, including his struggles with the (Chris Dodd-led) MPAA to receive a PG-13 rating, and get the documentary out into theaters before the November election.
THEY DON’T WANT IT OUT BEFORE THE ELECTION: Andrew Breitbart Documentary Release Delayed Over Rating War With MPAA. I saw a screening last night, and if I were a shill for Obama — as the MPAA is — then I wouldn’t want this in theaters before the election either.
UPDATE: Michael Walsh emails: “Interesting, isn’t it, that head of MPAA is now… ta-da! Chris Dodd.”
EXQUISITELY BORED IN THE WHITE HOUSE: “Liberals fret: Is Obama bored? Does he want a second term? Maybe not,” Byron York writes, noting that “A look at the president’s career shows he has never stayed in a job four years without looking to move on to something better:”
Now Obama has been president for nearly four years. Aided by a huge Democratic majority from 2009 to 2011, he achieved some big things — massive stimulus, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank. He even won the Nobel Peace Prize, essentially for showing up. But he hasn’t achieved, and won’t achieve in four more years, the “fundamental transformation” of American society that he envisioned. And his entire career suggests that by now he should be angling for a bigger, better job. The problem is, there isn’t such a position — and a second term in the same old job doesn’t count. The chief benefit of winning re-election to a second term might simply be to avoid being labeled a loser, to avoid joining Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush as presidents who couldn’t win a second time.
So if his liberal supporters sense signs of boredom and frustration in the president, they might be right. I wrote about this in a January 2010 column that began, “This is about the time Barack Obama becomes bored with his job.” Back then, he had just passed a year in office — about the time, in the past, that his restlessness and ambition began to kick in. Now, years later, the problem is only worse.
UPDATE: More, from the Guardian: “Has a disillusioned Barack Obama lost the will to win?”
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Reader Dennis Roach emails: “He’s just not that into us!”
STEPHEN GREEN IS DRUNKBLOGGING TONIGHT’S DEBATE. I suspect a lot of us will be drinking through this one. . . .
Green: “Obama is doing his best I’M NOT PEEVISH face. If the all-caps didn’t give it away, the face is not entirely convincing.” He also keeps stressing how much he agrees with Romney on taxes, etc. Interesting. . . .
UPDATE: Okay, despite the lying, people on the right should be glad that this is an argument about who’ll cut taxes.
But why does Lehrer keep cutting Romney off?
More from Stephen Green: “Romney is doing the job of making Obama angry, without being mean. The split-view camera reminds me of Bush versus Gore 12 years ago.”
Plus: “Obama keeps saying ‘math,’ but Romney keeps using numbers. You do the math.”
Obama compares himself to Dwight Eisenhower. Not seeing it. And remember that promise to cut the deficit in half in his first term? How’s that working out? . . .
Reader Tim Miller writes: “I wish Romney would tell Obama that he’s confusing the 5 Trillion number with the debt he’s added during the past 3+ years.” I think it’s more like $7 trillion.
Warren Buffett won’t like that corporate jet remark.
Plus from Stephen Green: “Obama just slammed the F-22. I guess Lockheed is going to send out those layoff notices after all. If not, they’re fools.”
Obama’s blaming Bush for the deficits because of “two wars on the credit card.” So look at Bush’s second-term deficits:
Declining steadily until the 2008 bailout. Blaming the war is, well, basically a lie.
Also, Obama keeps mentioning “folks like my grandmother.” You mean the “typical white person” grandmother? I guess she’s back out from under the bus.
Reader Bob Read emails: “Are you watching Intrade? Obama is down 5 since the debate started.”
Stephen Green: “Romney has been practicing his split-screen face. When Obama is speaking, he looks like I hope I look, when my six-year-old is trying to sell me on a line of total crap.”
I’m watching C-SPAN, but reader Ed Kiesel emails: “The twitter feed at the bottom of CNBC is 90% pro Romney, and damn is it funny!”
Lehrer is doing his best to run interference for Obama, but it’s not enough.
Talking about Dodd-Frank, it’s obvious that Romney actually knows what Dodd-Frank does. Obama, not so much.
More from Stephen Green: ” Aaron Hanscom, our managing editor, just emailed to tell me Andrew Sullivan is wailing and rending his garments over Obama’s bad performance. What, he was expecting another McCain?”
Jonah Goldberg tweets: “Maybe Obama can turn this around by just reverting to his 2004 DNC Keynote speech?”
Obama: They’re not “Death Panels,” they’re just panels made up of expert doctors who’ll decide if your treatment should be paid for.
LOOKS LIKE WE’RE IN FOR NASTY WEATHER: CNBC reports “‘Zombie Economy’ May Give Markets a Scare in October.”
Or as Mike Flynn writes at Big Government, “Storm Clouds: The Looming Obama Recession:”
Make no mistake, the deteriorating economic situation is the result of Obama’s policies. Since the end of the recession we’ve had massive stimulus, auto bailouts, cash for clunkers, ObamaCare, Dodd Frank and a host of new regulations. We have also been promised a huge tax increase should Obama win reelection. If you were intentionally trying to trigger a recession, you’d be hard pressed to come up with more effective policies.
Obama’s reelection campaign is predicated on the myth that the economy, while weak, is steadily improving. It isn’t–at all. Come November, Obama ought to take his rightful place in the unemployment line.
Or else a lot more of the rest of us will.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Money Mismanagement Storm at the National Weather Service. “When whistleblowers sounded the alarm, the inspector general let the potential wrongdoers investigate the alleged wrongdoings.” Kinda like letting Chris Dodd oversee Wall Street — oh, wait . . . .
Connecticut might be the last place you’d expect Republicans to pick up a U.S. Senate seat this November, but it may happen. In the race for retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman’s seat, Linda McMahon, the co-founder of the highly profitable World Wrestling Entertainment, leads Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy by three points, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.
Those numbers terrify Democrats, so much so that at the party’s convention in Charlotte, N.C., this week they frantically shuttled Mr. Murphy around town to meet deep-pocket Democratic donors.
Connecticut hasn’t had a Republican senator in modern times—with the exception of Lowell Weicker, who was so liberal that the Democratic Mr. Lieberman unseated him in 1988 by running to his right. Barack Obama carried the state by 23 points in 2008.
But Nutmeg State voters today are cranky, and even Mr. Obama is up only seven points on Mitt Romney in the latest Quinnipiac poll. One reason for their angst is tax-happy Gov. Dannel Malloy, who has raised income, sales and 70 other taxes and fees while insisting that taxpayers would be glad to pay the higher charges. They haven’t been—in part because the budget remains steeped in red ink and the unemployment rate remains persistently above the national average. Barron’s recently rated Connecticut the worst-run state in the country.
Hard to believe that the state that gave us Chris Dodd could have sunk to such depths. . . .
PAUL RAHE: Suicide: The Democratic Party’s Self-Inflicted Wounds. “None of this had to happen. It was a consequence of the Obama administration’s decision to treat the economic crisis as an opportunity to transform America by shoving through measures like Obamacare and Dodd-Frank. It was a consequence of their treating the so-called stimulus bill as an opportunity to enrich the constituencies supporting the party. It was a consequence of their insisting on raising taxes on the investor class in the middle of a recession. And, of course, it was a consequence of Obama’s decision to say that, if he failed to bring unemployment down dramatically, he would be (and should be) a one-term President. Even the mainstream press is beginning to realize that Barack Obama and those who put him in the office where he is right now conspired unwittingly to bring down the Democratic Party.”
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: CBS, AP: Dem chair of House Oversight covered up ties to Countrywide for himself, colleagues, and staff. “How did Countrywide end up as one of the worst villains in the housing-bubble collapse, which cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and nearly crushed the financial sector? Simple: they bought political connections by offering sweetheart deals to people like Chris Dodd, who headed the Senate Banking Committee, and Towns, whose committee was supposed to keep corruption out of federal regulation of the market. When the entire mess collapsed, people like Dodd and Towns were in position to manipulate the investigations in order to avoid detection. Dodd was less successful at that effort than Towns, who got away with it as long as Democrats remained in charge of Congress — and the White House, which has been mighty incurious on the whole issue since running on populist outrage over the housing-bubble collapse.”
Plus: “Towns announced his retirement in April. He should be expelled, and his pension benefits stripped for this coverup.”
NICOLE GELINAS: Dodd-Frank’s Protection Racket. “Congress has created a shield for itself, a useless and destructive agency that it can point to when the public justly blames it for failing to fix our ongoing economic problems. Whether the CFPB can protect Congress in that event is unclear, but one thing is certain: despite its name and lofty goals, it can’t protect consumers.”
J.W. VERRET ON What’s Wrong With Dodd-Frank.
DISHONEST EDITING OF “WAWA” TAPE? “In actuality, Mitt was contrasting the ridiculous over-regulation of the public sector, with the efficiency of the private sector, and used the electronic ordering system at WAWAs as an example – here’s the FULL video.”
I think they were trying for a rehash of the Bush grocery-scanner lie.
UPDATE: Dodd Harris emails:
“I think they were trying for a rehash of the Bush grocery-scanner lie”
That was my immediate thought, as well, when I read the story. They got away with it then–and they simply cannot or will not wrap their heads around the fact that the media environment has changed. No matter how many times these sorts of shenanigans boomerang back and embarrass them, they still think they can twist the public’s perceptions the way they wish. “Real journalists” liked that power and simply refuse to accept that “some blogger” has taken it away for good,
Sadly, there are always some willing dupes who won’t ever learn the truth–because they don’t want to. The type that are still pushing narratives like that the Swift Boaters were “proven wrong” or that Obama is a pillar of fiscal restraint.
Sad, hilarious, whatever. (Bumped). Hot Air has the whole story and the videos.
OBAMA’S NOT-SO-HOT DATE WITH WALL STREET:
[N]egotiations over the implementation of the new Dodd-Frank financial regulations had made large Wall Street institutions, chiefly banks, wary of open war with the White House. “Most of them are scared stiff of the president,” a top Romney bundler on Wall Street told me recently. “Including the ones on our side.”
But by the beginning of the year, it had also become obvious to many on Wall Street that Obama’s campaign was going to take a populist turn. Some bankers believed that the administration’s strategy was to talk tough in public and play damage control in private, and they were sick of playing along.
One day in late October, Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, slipped into the Regency Hotel in New York and walked up to a second-floor meeting room reserved by his aides. More than 20 of Obama’s top donors and fund-raisers, many of them from the financial industry, sat in leather chairs around a granite conference table.
Messina told them he had a problem: New York City and its suburbs, Obama’s top source of money in 2008, were behind quota. He needed their help bringing the financial community back on board.
For the next hour, the donors relayed to Messina what their friends had been saying. They felt unfairly demonized for being wealthy. They felt scapegoated for the recession. It was a few weeks into the Occupy Wall Street movement, with mass protests against the 1 percent springing up all around the country, and they blamed the president and his party for the public’s nasty mood. The administration, some suggested, had created a hostile environment for job creators.
Messina politely pushed back. It’s not the president’s fault that Americans are still upset with Wall Street, he told them, and given the public’s mood, the administration’s rhetoric had been notably restrained.
One of the guests raised his hand; he knew how to solve the problem. The president had won plaudits for his speech on race during the last campaign, the guest noted. It was a soaring address that acknowledged white resentment and urged national unity. What if Obama gave a similarly healing speech about class and inequality? What if he urged an end to attacks on the rich?
As Orrin Judd writes, that’s from the New York Times, not the Onion. (Though admittedly sometimes it’s hard to tell the two apart.)
But hey, what could go wrong with such a speech? Other than America’s class warrior-in-chief might use soothing, diplomatic language that suggests getting opponents’ faces and punching back twice as hard? Or these earlier examples of the president’s pro-business rhetoric:
Here’s Barack Obama on the campaign trail, in February of 2008:
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.
There’s this quote from an attorney who deposed Chrysler’s president in May of 2009:
“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers… It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force.”
“My administration,” the president told bank CEOs in April of 2009, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
Obama as quoted by the New York Times in March of 2009 on AIG bonuses:
“I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry. I’m angry,” Mr. Obama said, his voice reaching a peak seven days after learning of the bonuses given to employees of the American International Group. “What I want to do, though, is channel our anger in a constructive way.”
Obama during the BP oil spill:
“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talkin’ heads were even paying attention to the gulf. A month ago…I was meeting with fishermen down there, standin’ in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. and I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminare, we talk to these folks because they potentially…have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”
Obama in April of 2010, in the middle of a speech on Wall Street “reform” blurted out, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”
In June of 2008, Jim Geraghty spotted this telling passage in a book by David Mendell titled Obama: From Promise to Power:
“[Obama] always talked about the New Rochelle train, the trains that took commuters to and from New York City, and he didn’t want to be on one of those trains every day,” said Jerry Kellman, the community organizer who enticed Obama to Chicago from his Manhattan office job. “The image of a life, not a dynamic life, of going through the motions… that was scary to him.”
That’s the pro-business president you want giving a “healing speech about class and inequality,” and urging “an end to attacks on the rich.”
Today at the Washington Post, former GWB speechwriter Michael Gerson notes that “The brand of the Obama reelection campaign, so far, is ruthlessness:”
Obama’s agenda, strategy and rhetoric are now solidly blue — perhaps for sound political reasons. But Obama’s talent for inspiration was the single most interesting thing about him as a politician. Without that aspiration, what is left of his appeal? This is the reason his Ohio speech seemed so boring, particularly in comparison to his speeches four years ago. There was little that couldn’t be said by any liberal politician, at any time. Obama has lost more than a campaign talking point; he has lost one of the main reasons for his rise.
What principle or purpose unites Obama’s initial campaign with his current reelection effort? There is little obvious continuity — apart from one, unchanging commitment. The cause that has outlasted hope and change is Obama himself.
There have always been two parts of Obama’s political persona, both of which were essential to his rapid advancement. There is the Hyde Park Obama, lecturing on constitutional law, quoting Reinhold Niebuhr and transcending old political divisions. There is also the South Side Obama, who rose in Chicago politics by doing what it takes.
This is not unusual. All politicians believe that their tenacity and competitiveness are servants to their idealism. But as the Hyde Park Obama fades, the South Side Obama becomes less appealing.
All of the atmospheric elements of politics — unity, bipartisanship and common purpose — are significantly worse than four years ago. This is not all Obama’s fault. But he is choosing — in a campaign so nasty, so early — to make it worse. At some point, ruthlessness just leaves ruins.
To paraphrase Peter Arnett, Obama apparently believes it’s necessary to destroy the country in order to save it.
RELATED: Charles Krauthammer on the “Divider-in-Chief.”
THEY HAVEN’T LEARNED: MPAA Chief Dodd Hints At Talks To Revive SOPA.
Christopher Dodd, the former Connecticut senator who now leads the MPAA, hasn’t given up on his dream of censoring the Internet. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, he said that Hollywood and the technology industry ‘need to come to an understanding’ about new copyright legislation. Dodd said that there were ‘conversations going on now,’ about SOPA-style legislation, but that he was ‘not going to go into more detail because obviously if I do, it becomes counterproductive.’ Asked whether the White House’s decision to oppose SOPA had created tensions with Hollywood, Dodd insisted that he was ‘not going to revisit the events of last winter,’ but said he hoped the president would use his ‘good relationships’ with both Hollywood and the technology industry to broker a deal.
You can’t trust these guys. The GOP should overcome its reluctance to criticize a big business and go after Hollywood hammer-and-tongs. It would be a good issue for them, and it’s the right thing to do. But I’ve been pointing this out for a decade, and they’re still not listening.
DANIEL HENNINGER: A LESSON FOR THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS:
The American Catholic Church, from left to right, is now being handed a lesson in the hierarchy of raw political authority. One hopes they and their supporters will recognize that they have not been singled out. The federal government’s forcings routinely touch other groups in this country—schools, doctors, farmers, businesses. The church’s fight is not the whole or the end of it.
Since he appeared, no other word has been invoked more often to describe Barack Obama’s purposes than “transformative.” Last year, Mr. Obama began to be criticized by some of his supporters for being insufficiently transformative while holding the powers of the presidency—this despite passing the biggest social entitlement since 1965, an $800 billion stimulus bill, raising federal spending to 24% of GDP and passing the Dodd-Frank restructuring of the U.S. financial industry. Naturally an interviewer this week asked Mr. Obama why he hadn’t been more “transformative.” The president replied that he deserved a second term, because “we’re not done.” In term two, it will be Uncle Sam, Transformer.
Transformed into a place where what Washington wants matters more than what you believe.
UPDATE: The Anchoress: You Bet It’s War.
Next: A requirement that mosques sell bacon.
MORE STILL: A steaming pile of sexism from Hillary Rosen: “This public debate on whether or not the Obama administration’s sensible policy on covering birth control has turned into a boys against the girls fight. And the boys are out of touch and out of line.”
Shut up, boys. This issue is owned by women.
Related: Senate Democratic Women Are Boycotting Morning Joe. Join the club, ladies. Although for most of us, it’s not so much boycotting as forgetting it exists.
FINALLY: Another Rube Self-Identifies:
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan says President Barack Obama hasn’t kept his promise, when it comes to the new White House policy on contraception.
Sources told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer that Archbishop Dolan feels betrayed after his meeting with the president on the issue late last year.
“All statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.”
MORE SUPPORT FOR MY REVOLVING DOOR TAX on former government officials: “The New York Times reports that the chief of the securities fraud unit for the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, Christopher Garcia, is leaving to become a $1.2 million-a-year white collar defense lawyer at Weil, Gotshal & Manges.”
But wait, there’s more:
The Beacon focuses on Ron Klein, a former Democratic Congressman from Florida who is a registered lobbyist for Spirit. The Holland & Knight press release announcing Mr. Klein’s hiring says, “As a member of the House Financial Services Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee, he was instrumental in drafting and passing major pieces of legislation including the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) and the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010. Due to his background with healthcare businesses and regulation, Klein was also an active participant in the negotiation and passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” It also says, “Holland & Knight is pleased to announce that former U.S. Representative Ron Klein (D-FL) has joined the firm’s Public Policy & Regulation Group as a partner. Klein will play a major role providing strategic counsel to clients in the area of government regulation and compliance in the financial services, healthcare and energy sectors.”
This is a textbook example of how the revolving door works. The congressmen pass these pieces of legislation that are so complicated and burdensome that one of the only rational ways for businesses to respond is to hire one of the people who wrote it to advise them on how to either comply with it or legally get around it.
Well, I’ve got a proposal to address this. Shared sacrifice!
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, CHRISTIANISTS WOULD CONTROL THE GOVERNMENT. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Obama: I Pushed Dodd-Frank And Health Care Reform Because Of Christ. “The president said he often falls to his knees in prayer, and emphasized the role of his religious values in determining where to lead the country.”
WHITE HOUSE REFUSES TO COMMENT ON PETITION TO INVESTIGATE CHRIS DODD: “The White House has issued a statement in which they refuse to comment on the petition to investigate Chris Dodd for bribery from the MPAA to pass legislation. The reason given: ‘because it requests a specific law enforcement action.’”
And that’s not all they won’t comment on.
DIRTY HOLLYWOOD: The Hill: Consumer group accuses Hollywood of ‘threatening politicians’. “Consumer group Public Knowledge on Friday accused the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its head, former Sen. Chris Dodd, of trying to intimidate lawmakers into supporting a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills.”
Okay. But why doesn’t that NYT news story have the word “Dodd” in it? This story the NYT put up last night had “Dodd” in it. Have you noticed the role of the former Senator in the SOPA fight? He’s kind of a lobbyist (for the movie industry), except that he can’t actually be a lobbyist, because it’s illegal for a former Senator to lobby Congress in his first 2 years out of office.
NO, I’M NOT GOING DARK TODAY: But you can tell your Congressmember about how you feel about SOPA. And you should. (Bumped).
UPDATE: A reader emails: “Glenn, no name please. I work for Congressman Tim Johnson. Just to let you know, we’re getting about a hundred emails an hour opposing SOPA. We were already opposed, but this certainly makes us feel that much better about our opposition.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Web Protests Piracy Bill And Senators Change Course. “Members of Congress, many of whom are grappling with the issues posed by the explosion in new media and social Web sites, appeared caught off guard by the enmity toward what had been a relatively obscure piece of legislation to many of them.”
MORE: A reader emails:
From the NYT Article:
“The problem for the content industry is they just don’t know how to mobilize people,” said John P. Feehery, a former Republican leadership aide and executive at the motion picture lobby. “They have a small group of content makers, a few unions, whereas the Internet world, the social media world especially, has a tremendous reach. They can reach people in ways we never dreamed of before.”
That’s not their problem at all. The problem for the content industry is that they have no people to mobilize. All they have is Hollywood cash and insider access. The number of flesh-and-blood, voting people they can bring to the table in support of SOPA and PIPA is trivial. The media companies, the ones that actually provide the services that people use on a daily basis… they’re the ones who have the people and the votes, and they didn’t need cash or insider access to make an impact today.
Cash and insider access do not get members of Congress re-elected. Votes do. Let this be an object lesson to Dodd, Feehery, and the whole corrupt, rent-seeking crowd at the MPAA.
(As an aside: …and to the “campaign finance reform” crowd who believes that cash = votes).
REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-HOLLYWOOD): Unbowed by protests, Lamar Smith to move ahead on piracy bill. He’s an honest politician: He stays bought.
UPDATE: Speaking of SOPA Phonies: Chris Dodd’s paid SOPA crusading. “It’s behavior like Chris Dodd’s that makes it rational not only to be cynical about our political culture, but outright jaded. What makes Dodd’s shilling for this censorship law so galling is that, during the 2008 presidential campaign, he postured as the candidate who would devote himself first and foremost to defending core Constitutional freedoms and civil liberties. When Dodd led the 2007 fight against warrantless surveillance and amnesty for lawbreaking telecoms as part of the FISA debate, I, along with several other blogs, helped raise close to $250,000 in a few days from small donors for his flagging presidential campaign. . . . Apparently, the person Chris Dodd scorned back then as someone ‘wanting to be president of a trade association’ was . . . Chris Dodd, who is now President of Hollywood’s trade association.” Hey, Rube!
A more serious point: You can scorn bought-and-paid-for shills for Big Media like Lamar Smith and Chris Dodd. But the real problem isn’t their lack of morals, but an oversized government that inevitably lures people with loose morals. When government has the opportunity to make or break industries, industries will find people to lobby it to make their industry, and break their competitors’. The solution is to return the government to its — much, much smaller — intended constitutional scope.
CATO’S ROGER PILON: “All of Obama’s appointments yesterday are illegal under the Constitution. And, in addition, as too little noted by the media, his appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is legally futile. Under the plain language of the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB, Cordray will have no authority whatsoever.”
UPDATE: A lawyer-reader emails: “If Richard Cordray were Sarah Palin, someone would file a qui tam action against him when he gets his first paycheck, and someone in Ohio would file a grievance with the Ohio Supreme Court’s Attorney Disciplinary Counsel seeking sanctions for Cordray’s clearly unconstitutional actions.” Well, not so much if Richard Cordray were Sarah Palin, as if Republicans acted like Democrats. Maybe they should give it a try — the Dems seem to enjoy it. And they did manage to prevent a Palin candidacy through sheer harassment.
IF YOU’RE A REPUBLICAN AND YOU’RE UNHAPPY, YOU CAN CHEER YOURSELF UP by reading this “What if Obama loses” symposium in the Washington Monthly. From their PR email:
The Washington Monthly asked a group of distinguished journalists and scholars to think through the likely ramifications of a GOP victory in November. Here’s what they conclude:
David Weigel reports that the Tea Party will control the agenda regardless of which Republican wins the nomination.
Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann predict that there’s a “better-than-even chance” that the Senate filibuster will be destroyed.
David Roberts shows that the GOP won’t eliminate the EPA, but will permanently cripple it.
Harold Pollack disabuses liberals of the hope that health care reform can survive a Republican presidency.
Dahlia Lithwick writes that one more round of judicial appointments by a Republican president will lead to a generation of anti-government rulings no future Democrat can undo.
Plus: Jonathan Bernstein on why campaign promises matter; Michael Konczal on the end of Dodd-Frank; James Traub on the GOP’s “more enemies, fewer friends” doctrine; and Paul Glastris on why, this time, conservative anti-government aspirations will be fulfilled.
You’ll probably feel a lot better. And note that this is largely independent of which Republican Obama loses to, so long as Obama just loses.
Plus, from Walter Russell Mead: After Iowa: Dems Are Playing Defense in 2012. “Via Meadia is not in the soothsaying business; this is not intended as an election forecast. But after months of horse race coverage in Iowa, it makes sense to step back from the day to day headlines and spend a little time thinking about how the big picture is starting to shape up. The playing field is tilting away from the Democrats this year; after running the table in 2008, Democrats face losing it all this time around.”
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LEGALITY OF THE CORDRAY APPOINTMENT UNDER DODD-FRANK.
Leaving aside the constitutional questions, there is a potential statutory problem with the legality of the Cordray appointment under Dodd-Frank. Section 1066 of Dodd-Frank provides that the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to perform the functions of the CFPB under the subtitle transferring authority to the CFPB from the other agencies “until the Director of the Bureau is confirmed by the Senate in accordance with Section 1011.” It turns out that section 1011 is a defined term which provides: “The Director shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”
This seems to suggest that even if the President might be able to appoint Cordray under the recess power the full grant of statutory authority wouldn’t transfer to the Bureau unless the statutory language was fulfilled as well.
Appointed but without power. Hmm.
LONGEVITY: Aging slowed in mice with supplement mix. Slowing aging is okay. Reversal would be better . . . .
UPDATE: Charlie Martin notes this: Stem cells reverse aging in mice. “The mice, which had been engineered to mimic a human disease called progeria, would normally have grown old when they were quite young. But that changed when researchers injected muscle stem cells from healthy young mice into the bellies of the quickly aging mice. Within days, the doddering and frail mice began to act like they were living the storyline of ‘The Strange Case of Benjamin Button’ as they started looking and acting younger.”
THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED OVER THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND, if you were out, you know, having a life or something:
My Sunday Washington Examiner column: When Muddling Through Is The Best You Can Hope For.
Revising my Venn diagrams. “I would have thought that the circles representing ‘people who have endorsed Ron Paul’ and ‘people who defend the competence of Obama’s central economic planning’ wouldn’t overlap.”
“Christopher Dodd, Sen. Lieberman’s former colleague, left office a pariah, statewide and countrywide, but quickly landed on his feet by becoming chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.”
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION (CONT’D): Four More “Friends of Angelo” in Congress. “With Congress about to wrap up its year-end business and head home for the holidays, there probably won’t be too much news made on Capitol Hill until next month. Why not conduct a whodunit instead? House Oversight chair Rep. Darrell Issa resurrected the Countrywide Financial influence-peddling scandal by informing the Ethics Committee that four current members received sweetheart deals on loans through the infamous Friends of Angelo program that sent former Senator Chris Dodd into retirement … perhaps to the Irish mansion he now owns.”
It’s a “cottage.” It just looks like a mansion to the untrained eye.
CLEAR-EYED ANALYSIS: Scott Ott, author of Laughing At Obama, reviews Frank J. Fleming’s new book, Obama: The Greatest President In The History Of Everything.
Fleming and Ott are still sandwiching Bill Maher. Does Chris Dodd know about this? (Bumped).
Related: ‘Frothing Degenerate Mob’ Would Make a Great Name for a Punk-Rock Band. “What the MSNBC crowd refuses to recognize is that the offensive aspects of the Occupy movement are not incidental to it, but an expression of the movement’s anti-social essence. The mobs who are attacking ‘Wall Street’ are anti-wealth and anti-capitalism and, if you understand what wealth and capitalism represent, you understand that the Occupiers are also anti-work, anti-thrift and anti-enterprise. That is to say, they are fundamentally hostile to bourgeois values.” For some, of course, that’s the primary appeal.
Plus this: “Stipulate that wealthy interests have gamed ‘the System’ to their own advantage, so that Goldman Sachs, General Motors and other corporations deemed ‘too big to fail’ have received windfalls at taxpayer expense, in repayment of their support for the bipartisan corruption in Washington. But the Occupiers aren’t reading Peter Schweizer’s shocking new expose of crony capitalism or demanding criminal prosecution of Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, et al.”
THE LION OF THE SENATE: Carrie Fisher: Ted Kennedy once asked me if I’d have sex with Chris Dodd. Make me a sandwich!
Yet what will soon become apparent is that the movement was never intended to be financial. It was entirely ideological.
In short, liberals would be given a free pass while conservatives would be burnt at the stake.
Many Occupiers claim that Wall Street received special treatment. That those who caused the financial meltdown deserve to be tarred and feathered. Yet when actual names are named, liberals go silent when they realize that the evil corruption they rail against can be located in the political mirror.
Democrats Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank were at the epicenter of the 2008 economic collapse. They have never nor will they ever be held accountable. Christopher Dodd retired rather than face questions about his sweetheart deals with Countrywide. As for Barney Frank, several crimes have been committed in his very home, from prostitution to drug running. He has always claimed ignorance.
Mr. Frank admitted that he had “ideological blinders” on when dealing with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Yet Mr. Frank still has his job, and former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines was given a platinum parachute of over 90 million dollars.
Nice to point that out.
At this point, Wall Streeters really do not like Barack Obama. It has been a long time since I have met one who still actually supports him. But the extent of the pain of Dodd-Frank depends on regulations that have yet to be written by executive branch agencies that report to the White House. The big financial firms know that their future profitability requires that President Obama influence those regulations, and he is exploiting that for all it is worth.
This, loyal readers, is “regulatory capture” in action.
Not that anybody from the “Occupy” movement or the New York Times will look at it that way.
Nope. Send ‘em a copy of Iain Murray’s book.
JAMES TARANTO: INK-STAINED VIGILANTE:
Dionne’s criticism of Gingrich is a bit misleading. As we shall see, the erstwhile speaker accused Frank and Dodd of corruption; he did not suggest jailing them because “we disagree with” them. But that’s a quibble. Dionne is quite right to point out that in America we do not imprison people without due process. Neither Frank nor Dodd has been charged with, much less convicted of, any crime. Gingrich’s statement was indeed outrageous.
But as the transcript shows, it was not Gingrich who introduced this pernicious, un-American idea into the debate. It was Dionne’s colleague Karen Tumulty, a Post reporter and one of the debate panelists.
That’s different. She was talking about jailing business executives, not corrupt Democratic politicians.
WHAT IF THE NCAA adopted Dodd-Frank?
TIM CARNEY: Thank Wal-Mart For Your New Bank Fee.
Related: Bank of America, CARD Act, Dodd-Frank, and soaking the poor. “And before anybody says that this is unexpected… no. No, it was not. I was telling people back in JANUARY that this was going to happen, and I even explained why.”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Huntsman’s Good Economic Plan: Better than anything so far from the GOP Presidential field.
The heart of the plan lowers all tax rates on individuals and businesses. Mr. Huntsman would create three personal income tax rates—8%, 14% and 23%—and pay for this in a “revenue-neutral” way by eliminating “all deductions and credits.” This tracks with the proposals of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and others for a flatter, more efficient tax system.
That means economically inefficient tax carve outs for mortgage interest, municipal bonds, child credits and green energy subsidies would at last be closed. The double tax on capital gains and dividends would be expunged as would the Alternative Minimum Tax. The corporate tax rate falls to 25% from 35%, and American businesses would be taxed on a territorial system to encourage firms to return capital parked in overseas operations.
Mr. Huntsman would repeal two of President Obama’s most economically debilitating creations, ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. Mr. Huntsman has it right when he says, “Dodd-Frank perpetuates ‘too big to fail’ by codifying a regime that incentivizes firms to become too big to fail.” He’d also repeal a Bush-era regulatory mistake, the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules, which have added millions of dollars of costs to businesses with little positive effect.
Mr. Huntsman says he’d also bring to heel the hyper-regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and the National Labor Relations Board, all of which are suppressing job-creation.
AMERICA GIVES CHINA a mineral monopoly. “Complaints from the Congo are growing about the U.S. legislation intended to stop illegal mineral sales. The Dodd-Frank bill (also called the Obama Law) has a clause that prohibits the sale of so-called conflict minerals may have been well-intentioned but it was not well-thought out. Rather than run the risk of buying any minerals that might have been smuggled from the Congo, many major mining companies are simply refusing to buy minerals from central Africa. The result is a de facto embargo. There are few buyers for Congo’s valuable minerals, especially tantalum and tungsten which have many hi-tech uses. This has damaged the Congo’s economy, because the nation relies on mineral exports. According to some sources, China, which does not have to meet Dodd-Frank standards, is snapping up many minerals at very cheap prices.” More like a monopsony, really.
SPURRED BY MY ROBERT HEINLEIN CURMUDGEONS QUOTE, Dodd Harris reminds me of this post from last year: Dismiss The Tea Party At Your Peril.
MILT WOLF: The Bad-Luck President:
Mr. President, you didn’t run into bad luck. You created it.
America is indeed blessed, but it’s not by some accident that previous generations were able to create the most prosperous nation in the history of humankind. Our founding principles of constitutionally limited government, individual liberty and free-market capitalism have unleashed the powerful American engine of prosperity. This engine is fueled by individual players’ investments of labor and capital, and both are supplied directly in proportion to their confidence of realizing reward. . . . The Japanese tsunami, the “Arab Spring” uprisings and Europe’s debt crises are not America’s “bad luck” – Obamanomics is.
The Obama presidency is a case study of what happens when you break faith with the principles that made America great. Mr. Obama has chased investment capital out of the market by implementing the Dodd-Frank financial-sector takeover. He has frozen new hiring by unleashing Obamacare’s enormous costs on employment.
He has trampled the rights of Americans as free consumers with the unconstitutional individual mandate to purchase government-sanctioned health insurance. He has made a mockery of free competition by granting Obamacare waivers to cronies and union friends. He has stymied the technology sector by unleashing his antitrust forces and the manufacturing sector by unleashing his labor-relations forces.
He has ushered in the first-ever downgrade of America’s credit rating by rejecting the Cut, Cap and Balance Act. And he has all but assured that those Americans with capital will stay on the sidelines by maligning them and launching class warfare upon them.
Plus, a Robert Heinlein quote you may recognize.
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Blame Bo! Did Obama’s Dog Eat The Recovery?
In his inaugural address 2 1/2 years ago, President Obama called for a “new era of responsibility.” Yet lately, his main goal in life seems to be escaping any responsibility for the lousy economy.
It’s getting so you have to keep a list of everyone and everything Obama wants to blame for the anemic economic recovery. . . .
Just to be clear, Obama’s policies alone are to blame for the current sorry state of the economy.
In his first two years, Obama had free rein to get his economic agenda through a heavily Democratic Congress: An $830 billion stimulus, billions more in auto bailouts, mortgage bailouts and cash for clunkers, ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank.
None of those packages worked. They produced the worst recovery since the Great Depression. That was true before the Arab Spring, the tsunami, Europe’s debt crisis and before Republicans won back the House.
At a press conference this summer, Obama said: “I’m not interested in finger-pointing.”
But that’s all he’s been doing for months.
Those (many) who are rubbishing the eminently rubbishable S&P tonight are generally not grappling with something we’ve been talking about for years around these parts: The current fiscal trajectory of the United States is not just deteriorating rapidly, it’s definitionally unsustainable. That’s not crazy libertarians talking, that’s Barack Obama and Ben Bernanke. . . .
I eagerly look forward to this being blamed on libertarians, but even more than that I truly look forward to the day when the political class in this doddering country recognizes that you can’t just wave away a spending spiral by pretending that it doesn’t exist.
DODD-FRANK’S WINNERS: Revolving-Door Regulators.
Yet another reason for my 50% surtax on post-government earnings . . . . .
WHAT? LIBYA? OH, RIGHT: Scant Planning for Post-Qaddafi Libya.
Of course, at the rate we’re going — despite the days-or-weeks-but-not-months promise from several months ago — Qaddafi will die of old age before we kick him out anyway.
As I said a while back, “Waging war halfheartedly, on the cheap, and by committee is not a formula for success.”
Some criticized me at the time for not appreciating the brilliance of Obama’s plan. Well, the brilliance remains obscured.
Meanwhile, the White House seems shockingly somnolent about Syria, even though Syria has been a much more serious enemy of the U.S. and Israel than Libya in recent years. “If there is a country in the Arab world where trying to shape events is a vital American interest, it’s Syria. For starters, the brutal regime is the linchpin to Iran’s growing influence in the region and a key transit point for weapons and insurgents heading to Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Successfully nurturing a friendly opposition in Syria could change the dynamics of the region and cut off at least three of Iran’s tentacles. Now that would really advance the cause of peace. Yet, in the one place where an active American role seems more than justified, Obama is acting like a deer caught in the headlights. Odd, isn’t it?”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Kim du Toit emails: “Pick ANY actual crisis that has faced this President, and the reaction has been identical. The only time he has been decisive is when there’s been an opportunity to punish his political adversaries.” It’s all a question of priorities, I guess.
MORE: Dodd Harris emails:
“Obama is acting like a deer caught in the headlights.”
I don’t think he’s acting.
UPDATE: Jeff Carter on what it means: “The effects of the crony capitalism economy are being seen in unemployment numbers. Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, huge unchecked runaway bureaucracy. It has created ‘The Great Uncertainty’. We are seeing people get frustrated and drop out of the work force. If you are a history major, check out charts from 1937-40. They might repeat themselves.”
Plus this: “The number of unemployed in the workforce actually rose by almost 170,000, while the number of Americans not in the workforce fell by 105,000. That’s why the unemployment rate rose in this report. However, the workforce level in May 2011 is still more than 500,000 fewer people than a year ago, when the Obama administration tried selling its ‘Recovery Summer’ campaign.”
IN THE WASHINGTON POST, JOHN TAYLOR REVIEWS Gretchen Morgenson & Joshua Rosner’s Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. Excerpt:
While many economists — including this reviewer — have argued that government actions caused the crisis, Morgenson and Rosner use their investigative skills to dig down and explain why those actions were taken. To avoid reckless policies in the future, we need to understand their causes, and the authors’ identification of government-industry links deserves careful consideration by anyone interested in improving the economy. . . .
The book then gives examples where Fannie’s executives — Jim Johnson, CEO from 1991 to 1998, is singled out more than anyone else — used the excess profits to support government officials in a variety of ways with plenty left over for large bonuses: They got jobs for friends and relatives of elected officials, including Rep. Barney Frank, who is tagged as “a perpetual protector of Fannie,” and they set up partnership offices around the country which provided more jobs. They financed publications in which writers argued that Fannie’s role in promoting homeownership justified federal support. They commissioned work by famous economists, such as Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, which argued that Fannie was not a serious risk to the taxpayer, countering “critics who argued that both Fannie and Freddie posed significant risks to the taxpayer.” They made campaign contributions and charitable donations to co-opt groups like the community action organization ACORN, which “had been agitating for tighter regulations on Fannie Mae.” They persuaded executive branch officials — such as then Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers — to ask their staffs to rewrite reports critical of Fannie. In the meantime, Countrywide, the mortgage firm led by Angelo Mozilo, partnered with Fannie in originating many of the mortgages Fannie packaged (26 percent in 2004) and gave “sweetheart” loans to politicians with power to affect Fannie, such as Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. The authors write that “Countrywide and Fannie Mae were inextricably bound.”
It’s interesting to me that there has been so little law enforcement — or journalistic — interest in the rampant corruption relating to these institutions’ collapse.
DEFINING ‘SYSTEMICALLY IMPORTANT’ FINANCIAL FIRMS: For purposes of the Dodd-Frank bill.
DERIVATIVES MARKETS’ PAYMENT PRIORITIES IN BANKRUPTCY: Harvard Law School’s Mark Roe summarizes his new article in this blog post. ”Stanford Law Review recently published my article, The Derivatives Market’s Payment Priorities as Financial Crisis Accelerator, in which I analyze the Bankruptcy Code’s role in undermining the stability of systemically-vital financial institutions.” The key observation, I think, having finished the article last night, is the role provisions of the bankruptcy code play in making certain derivatives accelerants in spreading systemic risk, by promoting the derivatives-holders to the front of the pack in bankruptcy. The Dodd-Franck bill is, well, a work in progress; Michael Lewis’s The Big Short is a pretty good place to begin on derivatives and the financial crisis.
DAVID ZARING: How’s the Implementation of Dodd-Frank Coming Along? Not well, apparently.
DODD HARRIS: Nice move, Dearborn: You’ve made Terry Jones a Koran-burning martyr. “This case won’t have to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Michigan’s appellate court should vacate the convictions immediately. And then Pastor Jones will get to file his 1983 action and be entitled to damages from the state. All of which will do nothing but increase his media exposure and generate sympathy for his asshattery.”
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, PEOPLE WOULD BE TRYING TO SHUT DOWN DISSENT. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Prosecutor Seeks Prior Restraint of Koran-Burning Pastor.
From the comments: “Jones may be a whackadoddle but he sure knows how to force the contradictions. He submits a false premise and his opponents race to prove him right after all.”
DODD HARRIS: “Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Thursday filed a filed a Petition for Supervisory Writ [PDF] directly to the state Supreme Court over a circuit court judge’s temporary blocking of the Budget Repair Bill. The petition is absolutely devastating to Judge Sumi’s actions with respect to the bill.”
ARE YOU BETTER OFF THAN YOU WERE four years ago? No, but at this rate we’re better off than we will be four years from now. So we’ve got that, anyway.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
There was an old Soviet joke that went:
“How are you doing?”
“About average–worse off than I was last year, but better off than I’ll be a year from now. So about average.”
Yes, that’s what I was invoking. My store of those jokes may be becoming relevant again. . . .
DODD HARRIS: REAL DOCTORS, FAKE NOTES. And the crowd at the eponymous Crooks and Liars blog tries to run interference. “One understands the impulse to discredit a narrative that harms one’s cause. But if the era of blogging, Twitter, and omnipresent video has proven one thing, it’s that it’s better not to jump the gun. Whatever credibility you have is destroyed when you’re proven wrong.” Luckily for them, the Crooks and Liars folks don’t have that much at risk!
Related: Naming Names. Plus, will Wisconsin’s Qui Tam law allow third-party lawsuits for sick-leave medical fraud?
WALL STREET LOBBYISTS TO G.O.P.: Hands Off Dodd-Frank. They bought the bill fair and square, I guess. . . .
MICHAEL BARONE: Obama’s Antique Vision of Technological Progress. “If you put together Obama’s resistance to just about any serious changes in entitlement spending with his antique vision of technological progress, what you see is an America where the public sector permanently consumes a larger part of the economy than in the past and squanders the proceeds on white elephants like faux high-speed rail lines and political payoffs to the teacher and other public-sector unions. Private-sector innovation gets squeezed out by regulations like the Obama FCC’s net neutrality rules. It’s a plan for a static rather than dynamic economy.”
UPDATE: Dodd Harris emails: “Obama looks more like Wesley Mouch with each passing day.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Michael Walker writes: “…and Jeff Immelt is Orren Boyle.”
“COMBAT OPERATIONS HAVE ENDED:” Obama’s Afghanistan Gaffe. “He was getting Afghanistan mixed up with Iraq. If this were Reagan or George W. Bush, the press would be all over it, depicting the president as senile, stupid, doddering, a pawn of his aides or vice president, or worse. Instead, the press has almost entirely ignored it.” The narrative is that he’s a brilliant speaker. Facts that interfere with the narrative get ignored.
UPDATE: A reader emails: “First we have a SOTU that is heavily plagiarized and now a verbal blunder…..I think the evidence is clear he is merely a puppet for Joe Biden.” Heh.
A TYRANNY OF THE HEAVILY ARMED?
America is no longer a democracy. It is now a tyranny of the heavily armed. That is Barbara Ehrenreich’s claim in today’s Los Angeles Times. Along with her colleague Frances Fox Piven, Ehrenreich is an Honorary Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. In today’s Op-Ed, Ehrenreich does her best to pretty up Piven’s call for rioting in America, while painting conservatives as gun-mad assassins.
I sense that the left is now running scared. The Nation erred in allowing Piven to call openly in its name for rioting in America. They’re likely even more worried now about damage to the Nation’s reputation than they are determined to silence conservatives. But at this point, they probably figure the best defense is an aggressive offense. Ehrenreich’s wild Op-Ed is the result. Here you will read what the Nation crowd really thinks of America.
Meh. It’s not like the “bitter clinger” line is anything new. The trouble is, these folks liked the idea of a dictatorship of the proletariat, so long as it wasn’t actually, you know, proletarian. ‘Cause those proles are just icky.
Meanwhile, since Ehrenreich seems to be trying to gloss over what Piven was calling for, let’s remember what those Greek riots she liked so much involved:
At the same time, tens of thousands of protesters marched through Athens in the largest and most violent protests since the country’s budget crisis began last fall. Angry youths rampaged through the center of Athens, torching several businesses and vehicles and smashing shop windows. Protesters and police clashed in front of parliament and fought running street battles around the city.
Witnesses said hooded protesters smashed the front window of Marfin Bank in central Athens and hurled a Molotov cocktail inside. The three victims died from asphyxiation from smoke inhalation, the Athens coroner’s office said. Four others were seriously injured there, fire department officials said.
Hooded protesters. Molotov cocktails. Three dead by fire, four hospitalized. This is Piven’s idea of a proper “people’s movement.” This is the kind of violence she was advocating. This is what she’d like to see happening in America, to Americans. And this is what her allies are trying to minimize, or distract attention from, by making false accusations aimed at innocent parties. Just for the record.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Just a quick thought on your Piven updates. The phrase “Hooded protesters. Molotov cocktails” made me initially think “that is doubly despicable, Priven & Ehrenreich are also Klan supporters”?
They don’t have a problem with the Klan’s choice of means, anyway. And reader George Wilson emails: “The ‘tyranny’ is the fear that a molotov cocktail might not be a match for Desert Eagle .50 or an AK-47.” Yes, there’s nothing more tyrannical than someone who refuses to be intimidated.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Scot Echols writes: “So let me see if I’ve got this right. Is Piven pissed off that the Tea Party protests weren’t violent?” I’m pretty sure that’s not it, but that’s an understandable mistake . . .
MORE: Dodd Harris sends this helpful illustration:
DODD HARRIS: How Not To Improve The Discourse.
RON RADOSH: The Second Time is Farce: Frances Fox Piven Calls for a new Cloward-Piven Strategy for Today. Actually, it was pretty much a farce the first time, as the original Cloward-Piven strategy wasn’t exactly a brilliant success. As for calls for “mass protests” and “unruly mobs” in favor of more socialism, modeled on the Greek riots, I can’t think of anything better for the Republicans. It’s like this is some sort of clever scheme using a doddering, easily manipulated provocateur, but who could . . . Karl Rove, you magnificent bastard!
TAINTED LOVE: Lockyer, Chiang Got Campaign Money From Fraud-Tainted Developer. “Two high-level state officials have frozen nearly $150,000 in campaign contributions raised for them by a low-income housing developer now accused of bilking government agencies. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and state Controller John Chiang said they have put the money into separate accounts while they await the outcome of a federal probe into Advanced Development and Investment Inc. The company has built dozens of subsidized apartment complexes up and down the state with taxpayer money. . . . Spokesmen for Lockyer and Chiang said that if the company is found to have committed wrongdoing, the two men will give the money back.”
Note that they’re not returning the money. Just, you know, freezing it. Somehow, though, this makes me think of Rep. William Jefferson, which I’m sure was not their hope . . . .
UPDATE: Dodd Harris emails:
What? No mention of escorting Bill Lockyer to an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, “Hi, my name is Spike, honey.”?!?
I’m shocked — shocked!
Unlike Lockyer, I don’t regard prison rape as a political tool. Though if I were to make an exception, he’d be at the top of the list.
THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND:
My Sunday Washington Examiner Column: The Nigel Tufnel Presidency.
A political epitaph for Chris Dodd: Brought down by his own shady dealings.
China’s enthusiasm for nuclear power. Can nuclear paeans from Tom Friedman be far behind?
They told me if I voted for John McCain, the feds would be warrantlessly tracking Americans in their daily lives. And they were right! “Federal law enforcement agencies have been tracking Americans in real-time using credit cards, loyalty cards and travel reservations without getting a court order, a new document released under a government sunshine request shows.”
Was this the worst year for movies ever?
GOODBYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE: Shady Dealings Brought Dodd Down. “It isn’t the news cycle that causes the public to lose faith in political leaders, it’s the news of what they do with their authority. Dodd’s respect for the legislative process was not in view during that squalid episode. . . . The people of Connecticut took his measure anew and found Dodd wanting in fundamental ways. The system wasn’t broken — it worked, to Dodd’s disappointment.”
THE DON DRAPER PRESIDENCY?
Peggy Noonan: “Not knowing how to feel humility or therefore show humility he decided to announce humility.”
It reminded me of Heather Havrilesky: “The move is classic Don Draper. He announces abruptly that he has evolved — instead of actually evolving.”
Plus, this conclusion from Noonan:
Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can’t just bully them, you can’t just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.
Americans don’t want, as their representatives, people who seem empty or crazy. They’ll vote no on that.
Indeed. Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Numerous readers are still blaming Noonan for her earlier Obamamania. Reader Barry Dauphin writes: “So why did she fall all over him two years ago? He had even fewer accomplishments then.”
Like Draper, he can be seductive on short exposure. And reader Lawrence Loretoni writes:
I’m glad to see that Ms. Noonan’s eyes seem to be open at last. But she, like so many other Republican “moderates,” spent several months in 2008 lecturing the rest of us lower-class knuckle draggers about how Obama’s “superior temperament” and other star qualities made him a better choice than McCain for President. It would be nice if at least one of these pundits had the common decency to admit they were wrong. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Dodd Harris says the comparison is unfair — to Don Draper:
I don’t think that analogy is entirely fair – to Don Draper. This last season was about the harrowing of Don Draper, just as this political season was the harrowing of Obama. But Don at least *experienced* it before not really changing. He was tortured, pushed to his limits, and forced to at least acknowledge his past failures. In the end, he chose the easy fix, but he at least plumbed the depths of his own manufactured past before doing so.
I’ve seen no sign Obama has done any of that. He’s still blaming everyone but himself.
Well, that’s the difference between real life and fiction, I guess . . . .
MORE: The Anchoress emails:
That Don Draper/ Obama comparison was brilliantly insightful. It squares well with this piece by Santiago Ramos who examines the shallow emptiness that is being revealed in Draper, and his confusion, but it also rings with Hiawatha Bray’s comments at the bottom of the piece. Bray mentions that Draper is bothered by women who are actual adults…I would argue that Obama too is bothered by adults…he wants the voters to be childlike, chanting three-word catchphrases and buying the product. he does not want adults who actually question, dare to oppose or wish to peer below the surface. Don Draper, indeed. A grad student could write a thesis on it!
And probably will!
WHAT’S WRONG WITH “THE NEW ELITE?” Forget cultural insularity or smugness. The main problem with the “new elite” is that they’re not an elite at all. That is, they aren’t particularly smart, or competent. They are credentialed, but those credentials aren’t so much markers for smartness or competence, or even basic education, as they are admission tickets to the Gentry Class, based on good standardized test scores. That’s fine — ETS was berry, berry good to me — but it doesn’t have much to do with ability to succeed, or lead, in the real world. Worse yet, it seems to have fostered a sense of entitlement.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Very long-time reader and first time emailer. Just my two cents on the elitists.
I am an elite anti-elitist Tea Partier and I made my first protest signs way back in March 2009. I’m a Yale [BA, Philosophy], Columbia [MA, International Affairs] former Wall Street trader and risk manager who is just about done getting another masters [in Library and Information Science] during a two-year “John Galt” sabbatical from work. I’ve met many, many Tea Partiers at this point and they are not anti-elitist in a general, superficial sense. Indeed, they most often admire those who have succeeded by dint of a good education or hard work or taking advantage of a bit of good luck. The subset of elitists that we are fed up with are the ones in the government, the media, and academia who think (erroneously) that they know better what we should be doing with our time every day and have the right to pick our pockets to fund it. Not only are we tired of being condescended to (and take my word for it, I could wipe the floor with most of them intellectually) but they’re obviously screwing everything up. So, to borrow Lee Harris’ word from his new book, we’re the “ornery” bastards who, from time to time, rise up to put the elite (and effete) corps of impudent snobs back in their place.
Please leave my name off this if you excerpt any of it. Living in the bluest of blue, I really don’t want a busload of SEIU protesters on my front lawn.
Meh. Last time they tried that, they couldn’t even fill the bus. But okay.
And reader Carl Stritter writes: “Our betters; Bitterly clinging to their sheepskins and NPR tote bags and waiting for that Government job so that they don’t have to, you know, perform.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails:
I’ve been thinking about this, and I am starting to think that the problems with a meritocratic elite are essentially the same as those of a centrally planned economy. Every meritocratic system is ultimately dependent upon some set of metrics to judge merit. But just as no centrally planned economy can create metrics that adequately describe the needed outputs of industry, no one meritocratic system can create metrics that adequately describe all of the characteristics needed to be, collectively, the decsion-makers of a society. Inevitably, the young people start performing to the metrics rather than the desired characteristics themselves. The university system has now created a truly bizarre set of success metrics (e.g., pleasing a professor of critical theory) and it is little wonder that many kids graduate after an expensive education and have almost no capabilities that fit them for work in the real world. To the extent that we make a graduate degree a necessary qualification for any real work we are getting the intellectual equivalent of the slop that Soviet factories churned out toward the end.
Any single meritocratic system that uses a single set of metrics will suffer from this version of the fatal conceit. America has historically been run not by any sort of meritocratic system but rather by a reasonably open system with multiple paths to the top, with many competing sets of metrics along the various paths. Making a lot of money has always been one of those metrics, and frankly, it’s not such a bad one. I’d hate to be in a society in which is was the only one. Still, even that is better than the current system, of which the ultimate product is Barack Obama.
The old American system wasn’t perfect. There were categories of people who had no good path to the top, or even the upper strata, and that was a waste of good talent. But we would be much better off if we could go back to something like an improved version of the old system before the current system becomes entirely entrenched.
A subject worthy of further study.
MORE: Dodd Harris references this Robert Heinlein quote:
Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
DODD HARRIS: DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY:
“Progressive” commentary about the Tea Party movement — such as E.J. Dionne’s assertion that it reflects the “anti-statism” of the Anti-Federalists who lost out at America’s founding — does more to illuminate the lack of knowledge of political history of the commentators than the reality of the movement.
UPDATE: Yes, the Hayek thing is a reference to this: “He’s so unhip, when you talk about Dylan, he thinks you’re talking about Dylan Thomas. Whoever HE was. The man ain’t got no culture.” Now I’m going to have that going through my head for the rest of the day. Andy Warhol, won’t you please come home? Well, I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce . . . .
ANDY KESSLER: What’s The Matter With Wall Street? “There are too many traders, bankers and salesmen to support the new level of business. Thanks to Dodd-Frank, the shrinking of finance will continue.”
DODD HARRIS: I Don’t Really Care If GOP Takes Back The Senate. “I’m a libertarian, but not one of the hard core that seems to exist mainly to make any perfect the enemy of every good. As such, despite his mushiness on some issues I care about, I could say that I had a mild preference for Castle and a GOP Senate over O’Donnell and no GOP Senate. But, as I’ve already said, nothing I’ve seen convinced me that Castle was the key to a GOP takeover. And there’s plenty to like in O’Donnell’s victory.”
Plus, O’Donnell has raised
half a million three quarters of a million dollars since yesterday, which is something I doubt Mike Castle could have done.
JONATHAN ADLER: Did Chris Dodd Read His Own Bill? Nah. They have lobbyists for that.
THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: Masculinity was to blame. Yeah, when I look at Barney Frank and Chris Dodd — and Tim Geithner — all I think of is testosterone.
MASSIMO PIGLIUCCI ON MARTHA NUSSBAUM ON BURQA BANS: “I must say that it is rather distressing to see a progressive public intellectual with a rigorous training in philosophy arguing so badly. It is in fact rather ironic that throughout her essay Nussbaum accuses her opponents of adopting a double cultural standard, while at the same time flagrantly doing the same herself, point after point.”
UPDATE: Related thoughts from Dodd Harris.
OVER AT THE CONGLOMERATE, a forum on Dodd-Frank.
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE: The Truly Bizzare “Logic” of Dodd-Frank’s Shareholder Empowerment Provisions.
CORRUPTION WATCH: First Chris Dodd: Now his wife?
THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND:
WaPo Ombudsman: Why the silence from The Post on Black Panther Party story? I think we know why, but thanks for noticing.
Joe The Plumber Fixes BP Oil Leak. Okay, a different Joe The Plumber. But still.
More non-newsworthy violence. Must fit the narrative to be newsworthy.
A dangerous disaffection.
Critiquing the design of the new DOJ website. Black is the new black.
GOP Dumps On Tea Party, Right-Blogs. It’s called the “stupid party” for a reason. On the other hand, beware divide-and-conquer journalism . . .
Angelo Codevilla: America’s Ruling Class — And The Perils Of Revolution. Related thoughts here.
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE: Dodd-Frank And The Non-Delegation Doctrine.
FORBES: “The Dodd-Frank bill does nothing to deal with Wall Street’s central problem: systemic non-disclosure. . . . Dodd-Frank is a full-employment act for regulators that addresses everything but the root causes of the financial collapse.”
SENATE VIP LOANS MOUNT: Countrywide Dealt With More Lawmakers and Staffers Than Previously Known. It’s not just Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad, then.
STOLEN VALOR: Democratic Senate candidate lied about serving in Vietnam:
Not just any Democratic Senate candidate, either. It’s Richard Blumenthal, current attorney general of Connecticut, whom Chris Dodd made way for by retiring earlier this year. He’s been leading all Republican challengers by upwards of 20 points in the polls and was considered a mortal lock to win the seat in November. Until now.
Read the whole thing, as the Professor would say. And incidentally, if by chance Blumenthal is elected, he wouldn’t be the only Democrat in the Senate caught lying about serving in Vietnam.
COULD SENATOR DODD’S “CONSUMER PROTECTION BUREAU” regulate dentists?
CHRIS DODD TALKS TRANSPARENCY, DWELLS IN SECRECY.
DODD’S CONNECTICUT KICKBACK: “That’s no minor oversight, because insurance companies, like AIG, tend to have thrift charters rather than bank charters. So, as the bill stands now, AIG and other insurers that accepted massive bailout funds, such as The Hartford, would not be automatically covered. That’s a head-scratcher only if you forget that most insurance companies reside in Dodd’s home state, Connecticut.”
SHOCKER: Chris Dodd’s Carve-Out For Cronies.
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE: The Pernicious Corporate Governance Provisions Of The Dodd Bill.
POLITICO: Dems Haunted By Corporate Ties: “President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are promising a climactic clash with Wall Street, but there’s a complication in their battle plan: The Democratic Party is closer to corporate America — and to Wall Street in particular — than many Democrats would care to admit.”
UPDATE: Related thoughts from Michael Barone. “Republicans have been accurately attacking the Dodd bill for authorizing bailouts of big Wall Street firms and giving them unfair advantages over small competitors. They might want to add that it authorizes Gangster Government — the channeling of vast sums from the politically unprotected to the politically connected.”
KA-CHING: Wall Street Cashes Out Investment In Chris Dodd. “The financial industry built Dodd’s career, so why shouldn’t it profit from the demise of it? It’s like a political credit-default swap. It’s a perfect fit for the Goldman Sachs era on Wall Street: No matter who loses, they win.”