Floodgates

To be a fly on the wall of this Saturday’s G20 meeting in Washington, D.C. on the global economic crisis. Germany declares an official recession. And between Thursday and Saturday morning, Hank Paulson may unveil three or four new course reversals.

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department on Wednesday officially abandoned the original strategy behind its $700 billion effort to rescue the financial system, as administration officials acknowledged that banks and financial institutions were as unwilling as ever to lend to consumers.

But with a little more than two months left before President Bush leaves office, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. is hoping to put in place a major new lending program that would be run by the Federal Reserve and aimed at unlocking the frozen consumer credit market.

The program, still in the planning stages, would for the first time use bailout funds specifically to help consumers instead of banks, savings and loans and Wall Street firms.

Treasury officials said they hoped to invest about $50 billion from the bailout fund into the new loan facility, with the aim of helping companies that issue credit cards, make student loans and finance car purchases.

On display for all is the continuing collective failure of the American governing classes (political and economic). The Treasury Department’s Inspector Generals’ verdict on the fundamental infrastructure to administer *any* portion of the troubled asset relief program (TARP)? “It’s a mess.”

Alas, the rest of the world is far ahead of the American people in recognizing the obvious truth. Americans are still besotted with self-generated mythos of competent State crisis stewardship. We know the short hand labels (‘FDR’, ‘WWII’, ‘Moon Landing’). The Iraq fiasco tore the veil off the Republican partisan claim to national security competence. September 2008 clawed down past the veil into the fatty tissue of the decadent and corrupt face of the entire political class.

Much has changed since those times beyond ‘Acid, Abortion and Amnesty’, Fiddy Cent and OJ Simpson. The sheer complexity and paralytic opacity of the American political economy 2008 subverts managerial enthusiasm and accountability. We certainly believe the current generation as a whole is largely not up to the task before them particularly because they know nothing of sacrifice of the type and scale required. This is a Nation of consumers and arbitragers (lawyers, accountants, financiers, etc.). Even if they want to be like Big Russ or Brokaw’s Greatest Generation, they have no real life resources to draw upon. Instead, they must summon symbolic imagery and serialized fictions of reality from movies, tv shows and ‘historical book’ merchandizing efforts as yardsticks. And in this sense, while ‘The New Media’ surely offers unprecedented venues voices and silos to collect expertise or the like minded, the end result is more cacophony and less insight in the aggregate.

Comments

  1. says

    The Rude Pundit makes a very good point; can you imagine Obama pardoning a turkey? Of course he’ll do it, but Bush took such “dunce-like glee” in it.

    Of course, the thing about turkeypardoning is that it’s a sort of sacralisation of the executive branch – an atavistic harking back to the King’s touch for scrofula. No wonder the Movement likes it.

  2. Comment says

    re A while ago Berman was invoked by warmongers because he supposedly had anti wat credentials stemming from his oppposition to war when he was of draft age. So because he was a leftist when Radosh was a leftist and he once opposed a war that the one time Red Radose once opposed (but now sorta supports) in Indochina, he is invoked to argue for a war in Iraq. It’s really kind of crazy, but the only reason it’s worth noticing now is the ‘jump the shark’ quality. Radosh is invoking descredited people to try to descredit journalists who were already vindicated by events.
    This kind of madness still has some traction in MSM media, but it is tapering off. Radosh could have said that Stone was not worthy compared to the McLatchy people, but he can’t bring him self to shake his neocon delusions – just as he had trouble shaking his pro USSR delusions.

  3. says

    Berman, schmerman. One of the things that maddens me with these people is the death of embarrassment. Why the hell do we have to behave as if Paul Berman was anything other than an odious warmongering hack? But people still quote him like some sort of towering intellectual authority.

  4. Anon says

    Small example of Radosh’s pathetic reply – (Radosh would have been more legit if he said that those who were proven to be right – the McLatchy reporters – are being besmirched by comparison to Stone)

    “Put aside what many commentators have noted, most recently Robert Kagan, that not only U.S. but British and French intelligence, as well as the stance of Saddam Hussein himself, convinced the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ready to use, and that sanctions by the UN were not working. Also put aside that the consensus among Democrats, including the outgoing President Bill Clinton, was that Iraq was a serious threat, and that his removal was a dire necessity. Remember that the major case for invasion was made by the Clinton administration advisor Ken Pollock, who spelled out the case in the strongest terms in his 2002 book, The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq.”

    This is all a joke – Pollack didn’t make a case, he produced a gotcha talking point

  5. Anon says

    NB – Ron Radosh definately wrote false things in a post 9-11 environment. But we think he was not conscious of falsehood – just sub conscious. He’s too absorbed in his own self image of intellectual martyrdom and left wing apostasy to knowingly lie. But there were plenty of knowing liars.

    Most of the liars were like Mark Steyn – telling parts of things things that were technicaaly true, in a limited way, out of context – so as to mislead. We use him as an example because of the way he knowingly mislead about Obama accepting fake donations in the latter part of the campaign.

  6. Anon says

    Portraits of the Non-Novel:

    http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/the-i-f-stone-question-again/#more-811

    Did IF Stone write false things on purpose? Sure. But it’s funny that Barry Gewan cites this and cites Berman and Radosh.

    All three – to a greater or lesser extent – wrote things they did know (or should have known) to be untrue in the recent past.

    The fake threat from Saddam was a complete fiction and now people are sweeping it under the rug.

    This reminds us of the popularity of fake train robbery tourist attractions in the 90s during the height of the car jacking epidemic.

  7. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Good points all, Alex, especially about the Movement not lying well. Your last insight to us is the entire business model of Fox News, so we would be inclined to join that view.

  8. says

    What is the STSOZ take on Sarah Palin’s turkeyday appearance?

    I find it incorporates a number of key themes; one is of course sheer blundering incompetence, this Schlamperei that permeates the movement. Another is corny/camp aesthetics – from a British standpoint the whole idea of granting a turkey executive clemency would be considered ridiculous, messianic, and emotionally pornographic. (Yes, Virginia, we’re still going to eat all the other turkeys.)

    But there is a third theme at work; one thing about the Movement is that it doesn’t lie well. Its deceit tends to rest on others’ unwillingness to recognise it. After all, the whole turkey-pardoning business implies that you’re going to kill a hell of a lot of turkeys, but who would imagine actually issuing the pardon in front of a guy hacking the heads off them, on live television?

    Am I going too far in suggesting that this may be deliberate, or at least unconscious but functional? Should I read an exoteric signal here that says something along the lines of Follow me – you know you want the turkeys and the bullshit?

  9. Comment says

    re Newt – Suggested case study for his Restoring Civilization class could be his very unpresidential and hilarious low class public fight he is having with his sister. Studies in character,

  10. Nonnie Mouse says

    “The rise of democratic frontrunner Barack Obama signifies an alarming victory of style over substance. Not unlike the dot-com hype, his campaign promises more than he can deliver. The one thing his voters can count on is that they will ultimately be disappointed.”
    -Gabor Steingart, Spiegel Online, February ’08

  11. A Random Quote says

    “Trent Lott may want to turn the clock back to Jim Crow. Mr. Cheney just wants to go back to a time before Vietnam and Watergate, when there was more government secrecy and less moral relativism.”
    ~Maureen Dowd
    (irony unintended)

  12. A Random Quote says

    “America turns its mass-produced urine antennae toward Caesar’s arrogant ganglion, while history is advocated by utopians as a substitute for defecating.”
    ~Daniel Libeskind
    (poetry of the trendy designer that
    Pakataki chose to rebuild the WTC site)

  13. A Random Quote says

    “Seventy-five days into the Bush regime and I’m a wreck. I’m afraid to drink the water. I’m afraid to breate the air. I’m afraid glaciers will melt and seas will rise. I’m afraid to visit California in the dark. I’m afraid the Dow will dip below 5000. I’m afraid Russia will take leave of its senses. I’m afraid China will take leave of its senses. I’m afraid North Korea will lob a missile our way. At the rate things are reeling backward, soon I’ll be fearing fear itself.”
    ~Maureen Dowd
    Spring, 2001

  14. A Random Quote says

    “What killed Detroit was Washington, the government of the United States, politicians, journalists and muckrakers who have long harbored a deep animus against the manufacturing class that ran the smokestack industries that won World War II.

    As far back as the 1950s, an intellectual elite that produces mostly methane had its knives out for the auto industry of which Ike’s treasury secretary, ex-GM chief Charles Wilson, had boasted, “What’s good for America is good for General Motors, and vice versa.”

    “Engine Charlie” was relentlessly mocked, even in Al Capp’s L’il Abner cartoon strip, where a bloviating “General Bullmoose” had as his motto, “What’s good for Bullmoose is good for America!”

    How did Big Government do in the U.S. auto industry?

    Washington imposed a minimum wage higher than the average wage in war-devastated Germany and Japan. The Feds ordered that U.S. plants be made the healthiest and safest worksites in the world, creating OSHA to see to it. It enacted civil rights laws to ensure the labor force reflected our diversity. Environmental laws came next, to ensure U.S. factories became the most pollution-free on earth.

    It then clamped fuel efficiency standards on the entire U.S. car fleet.

    Next … Now there is nothing wrong with making U.S. plants the cleanest and safest on earth or ….”
    ~Pat Buchanan
    (the endless backstab)

  15. A Random Quote says

    “And then there’s the ownership question. Some Democrats want Uncle Sam to take an ownership position in all the selling and purchasing of banks. This is nuts. In America, this is nothing but property confiscation.”
    ~Larry Kudlow
    NY Sun Sept. 24 2008

  16. Aldershot says

    “…like Ann Coulter facing off against Jesse Jackson.”

    I’d pay to see that.

    I dread the thought of that snide schlub Franken in the Senate.

  17. A Random Quote says

    “If Conrad Black’s conviction is allowed to stand, a precedent will be have been set that could leave thousands of executives of companies at the mercy of prosecutors with exceptionally, even unconstitutionally, broad discretion over what is and is not illegal behavior.”
    ~NY Sun (ex-newspaper)
    August 1, 2008

  18. Anon says

    Franken gaining on Coleman:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7743146.stm

    It looks like Franken might gain just enough to lose by single digits. That would be fine. We think Franken and Coleman are both annoying. Perhaps we favor Franken, but just a little bit because of the production values and as a caralyst for reaction. Are biggest complaint with Franken is that he is not as good a comic as people credit him. The gop constantly tried to ridicule him as just a comic, but that was insulting on many levels.
    His SNL stuff was always medicore.
    There is no real free market in comedy – it’s a close shop. Multi channel cable is helping to end this -

  19. Comment says

    We are watching the NewsHour and we see Ruth Marcus is standing in for Mark Shields as the “liberal” to share commentary with David Brooks the “conservative.”

    Ruth Marcus, bless her heart, is probably a very nice lady, but it’s hard to imagine someone more overrated by the pundit market than she is. She never has anything particularly interesting to say. All of her recommendations to Obama are flawed and/or silly. She just mouths conventional wisdom and liberal pieties (except for being somewhat pro war and Serious and Grownup about being semi pro torture.)

    What’s the point? While we see the need for CW mouthpieces like Gergan et al, we think there are far too many and the economics of declining newspaper sales suggest a shake up is needed.

    Plus – it would be really funny if PBS actually had commenters that represent the actual views of the GOP base and the Dem base – like Ann Coulter facing off against Jesse Jackson.

  20. A Random Quote says

    “Eugenics is an excellent thing ; but not when carried to such a point as to teach men that love of life is to outweigh all else in the mind of man. The man worth calling such should always be willing to risk his life for an adequate object. But all this only affects nations which do suffer from militarism. My concern is with the United States, where militarism is an
    absolutely negligible factor from the standpoint
    of eugenics. Over a century and a
    quarter have gone by since it has been of
    the slightest effect whatever save in the case
    of the Civil War. To write about militarism
    as a danger to Americans from the standpoints
    of eugenics is precisely and exactly as
    if we should write about the eating of horse
    meat in honor of Odin as a danger to our
    spiritual life. Such eating of horse meat
    was at one time a serious problem to the
    missionaries who converted our ancestors
    from heathenism.”
    ~Teddy Roosevelt
    The Outlook (1914)
    (Offering something for all the current GOP
    factions: Buchanan, Kristol & McCain)

  21. Comment says

    It would be interesting of Intrade is offering
    odds on Conrad’s pardon or clemoncy.
    We think Bush may offer him the pardon as long
    as Conrad’s request can be made to be seen as
    a favor to Blair or the UK. Think of how
    Clinton justified the Rich pardon – there was the
    obviously bogus-seeming tax work done by Scooter’s
    firm, but it was much better for Clinton to say he
    did it as a favor to the Israelis.

    Arguably, Conrad Black helped sell the war via the Telegrapg – he helped launder bogus “intel.” So this
    would be the main thing in Bush’s mind when weighing
    a pardon. But Black errs if his makes his legal case
    so front and center.

    Ultimately, Bush will do what is best for Bush and there are some unknown variables. We say it’s 50/50.

    Scooter has a better shot. IF he behaves.

  22. A Random Quote says

    “Jesus had Judas, Nixon had John Dean. Because of both those betrayals, twelve men came under pressure.”
    ~Chuck Colson

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