Beast of the Month - May 2009
"I yam an anti-Christ..."
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
"While the boss man takes his bonus pay and jets on out of town
And DC's bailing out them bankers as the farmers auction ground
Yeah while they're living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town
Here in the real world they're shuttin' Detroit down"
John Rich, "Shuttin' Detroit Down"
Well, it's been 100 days into the Obama Administration, and already a picture of the next four years is becoming pretty evident. True, he isn't the combo of Hitler, Stalin and Chairman Mao that the "teabaggers" (quit snickering!) of the Beck-Hannity-Limbaugh crowd try to make him out as. On the other hand, he clearly isn't the perfect mixture of JFK, MLK & Jesus Christ that the so-called "progressive" cultists fantasize he is either.
Say what you will about the teabaggers, but their anger at Barack Hussein Obama, however misdirected, at least seems like the logical response to the looting of America that has continued under his reign. Indeed, it seems that the left is far more delusional about what Barack Obama is than the Fox News watchers could ever be as they continue to wave pom-poms for the dude. For the general direction of the Obama Administration is exactly what The Konformist warned it would be: a sniveling betrayal of the duped progressives who supported his election victory as he bootlicks Wall Street and the Pentagon.
To be fair, Prez Obama hasn't been as terrible as some predicted he'd be. (And he certainly isn't as bad as George W. Bush, though that's hardly an amazing feat.) The good news: he has yet to launch World War III against Russia and/or China. Of course, the main reason is because there's no money left to finance WWIII after the massive swindling by the banksters and Wall Street under his reign, and that of his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, The Konformist Beast of the Month.
Under Geithner and Team Obama, the siphoning of bucks to prop up the Wall Street monoliths has continued unabated. And though the Obama Administration pushed through a $787 billion "stimulus" program as well as a $75 billion plan to help homeowners facing foreclosure, the general direction of the Obama years is definitely still slanted towards funneling money to the powerful few. Indeed, though the $787 billion was more than the Wall Street Bailout - no doubt done to convince the public they've received more help than the bankers have - the vast majority of these dollars will only come to the poor, working class and middle class indirectly, if at all. Likewise, the foreclosure plan appears to be just enough to help only the subprime debtors who the financial system can profit off via the aid. Tellingly, it is the stimulus program and the homeowner plan that became the focus of the rage ranted over the airwaves by reactionary blowhards like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rick Santelli rather than the Wall Street Bailout. This appears to be a calculated obfuscation by these loathsome pundits. The end result is threefold: one, to channel the legitimate anger of the masses at the economic crisis towards those who are the victims rather than the perpetrators; two, to make it seem that it is only right-wing nut jobs and racists who oppose Obamanomics; and three, to frame the Obama economic policies as far left via distortion and shift the entire debate even farther to the right than before.
After the stimulus plan was pushed through, the Obama Administration offered up a trillion dollar "toxic assets" bailout for Wall Street. (In fact, it appears the push to get the stimulus program passed so quickly was because another round of obscene Wall Street handouts without a penny to the public would've been too in-your-face class warfare.) The plan puts federal funds to back 97 percent of the money used to buy away these bad assets, with the loans and three quarters of all losses backed by Uncle Sam. The investors in this scam will thus have their losses pretty much covered with a big upside for any financial rewards. All in all, the plan seems to be born from the big business philosophy of "socialize the costs, privatize the profits."
While the Obama team has been warm and snuggly to Wall Street, they have been equally ruthless to anyone with a United Auto Workers union card. While they coddle the bankers with trillions in bailouts, the pocket change handed to the Detroit Big Three was conditional on UAW workers accepting massive layoffs, pay cuts and reductions in retiree benefits. This shouldn't be too surprising, as the head of Obama's Auto Task Force is a real life Gordon Gekko in Steve Rattner, a corporate raider who has made a living crushing worker benefits for personal profits.
All this seems to follow the reactionary pattern that's been in place since the Wall Street Bailout of last October. Which leads to a logical question: just who was behind the bailout in the first place? As it turns out, a key player in creating the TARP program was the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank at the time. This was none other than (drum roll please) Timothy Geithner himself.
The appointments of guys like Rattner and Geithner shouldn't be too surprising either: as has been noted on The Konformist, Obama has long surrounded himself with the most right-wing elements economically tied to the Democratic Party. This includes Austan Goolsbee, the University of Chicago professor who is on the "left" side of the far-right economic program made famous thanks to Milton Friedman. Goolsbee was named staff director and chief economist for the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, whose chairman, also appointed by Obama, is former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, the man whose ruthless monetary policies (also inspired by Milton Friedman) led to a nasty recession that nearly destroyed Ronald Reagan's presidency in its first term.
Beyond just surrounding himself with right-wingers, Obama's positions, even before his election, were decidedly to the right of Edwards and Clinton. Indeed, though it is almost never acknowledged, by the end of the 2008 campaign, John McCain had offered a far more generous solution to foreclosure victims than any Obama proposal. Of course, Obama may have been too busy raising a record $650 million dollars to show any concern for these bitter financial victims. And though the sales job of Obama feigns his campaign was fueled by small donors, the Campaign Finance Institute concluded Obama "raised significantly more large-donor money in absolute terms than any of his rivals or predecessors." (It should be mentioned as almost an afterthought that Obama's VP pick, Joe Biden of Delaware, is so tied to the banking industry he has earned the nickname of "Credit Card Joe" for his efforts.)
The punch line in this rightward tilt in Obamanomics: after repeatedly being accused of being a far-left socialist by the Beck-Hannity-Limbaugh crowd, the left will be blamed for any failures in his economic programs. The general suspicion of The Konformist staff is the stimulus program will be enough to stop a major depression, but not enough to stop a lingering recession. Meanwhile, in January, economist Paul Craig Roberts warned the deficit would be $3 trillion in 2009, and his projection looks more accurate by the day than the predictions of others. With the unemployment rate looking to hit double digits soon, it appears there's a lot of failure ready to be pinned on the left in the coming years.
In any case, we salute Timothy Geithner as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Timmy!!!
Allen, Mike. "Volcker Will Head New Obama Board." Yahoo News 26 November 2008 <http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081126/pl_politico/15997>.
"Credit Card Joe." The Real Joe Biden. 24 August 2008 <http://therealjoebiden.wordpress.com/2008/08/24/credit-card-joe>.
Eley, Tom. "Buyer Beware! Obama Named 'Marketer of the Year'." World Socialist Web Site 6 December 2008 <http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/dec2008/obad-d06.shtml>.
Grey, Barry. "Wall Street Celebrates Government Windfall for Banks and Big Investors." World Socialist Web Site 24 March 2009 <http://wsws.org/articles/2009/mar2009/toxi-m24.shtml>.
Marshall, Bruce. "Barack 'Hoover' Obama." Rense.com 11 March 2009 <http://rense.com/general85/hoov.htm>.
"Obama: 'Everybody Thinks They’re Economists'." Infowars 6 February 2009 <http://www.infowars.com/obama-everybody-thinks-theyre-economists>.
"Reality Check: Obama Received About the Same Percentage from Small Donors in 2008 as Bush in 2004." The Campaign Finance Institute 24 November 2008 <http://www.cfinst.org/pr/prRelease.aspx?ReleaseID=216>.
Roberts, Paul Craig. "Another Real Estate Crisis Is About to Hit." Online Journal 23 January 2009 <http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_4274.shtml>.
Sirota, David. "Obama's Gordon Gekko Targets Union Workers." OurFuture.org 31 March 2009 <http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2009031431/obamas-gordon-gekko-targets-union-workers-0>.
Tarpley, Webster G. "Defeat Obama - Advice For Voters." Rense.com 3 November 2008 <http://www.rense.com/general83/advi.htm>.
Tarpley, Webster G. "Motormouth Joe Biden - Warmonger, Wordmonger And Political Hit Man." Rense.com 25 August 2008 <http://rense.com/general83/biden.htm>.