Last Stand

Betrayal is in the air. Doubt spreads as Festivus approaches.

As Rahm Says We Love Crises!

Nitpickers pounced right after inauguration. They see collusion in the Citi Corp bailout. They also fail to grok that what’s good for Goldman Sachs is good for Goldman Sachs. “Just look at the timeline of the Citigroup deal,” says one leading Democratic consultant. “Just look at it. It’s fucking amazing. Amazing! And nobody said a thing about it.” Typical Hollywood naivete. Why do they hate America?

It's Necessary, We're In An Emergency

If that wasn’t enough, some ‘fringe’ birkenstock types supported Obama because they care about rule of law, separation of powers, judicial review and general practical, moral and ethical problems with torture. Inconvenient. The new Administration preferred to whitewash the whole thing and offer immunity and government legal assistance. Initially optimists thought it wise to forego the green badgers and line officers and build a case for the actual torture policy makers. Oh, those Bush era State Secrets? Obama wants to keep them, too. Same with Patriot Act provisions. But it’s a nit for glass half full types. Er, ‘Move on’. It's Necessary, We're In A Crisis The birkenstockers’ granola is now splashed with a dose of DoJ defending John Yoo, advancing legal arguments used by the Nazi defendants at Nuremberg. Why wouldn’t the American Department of Justice summon the spirit of Roland Freisler and Eichman. We’re talking about *lawyers* being liable for their actions. Yoo may be a war criminal, but he’s part of the OLC club. Who invited Turley with his self righteous legal principles? Butt out.

When it rains it pours. Our saintly president is burdened with LSD-abusing, Sandanista-Chavez-loving whackos, assorted geostrategic ‘realists’, advocates of diplomacy and engagement and fiscal moderates. How could they not know Field Marshal Goldilocks was in charge? Of course Goldilocks would surge in the 30,00 range. (Did not the Stiftung call that exact outcome months ago?) Who is surprised that Goldilocks calls for ‘victory’ in 18 months and is immediately contradicted and ignored by DoD and CENTCOM. Kagan et al. said, the trick was to get Obama into Afghanistan, knowing it would be politically impossible to withdraw anytime soon. ‘Mission Accomplished’. Quoting an ’80s pop song, ‘Who’s Zooming Who?’ It's Necessary, We're In A Crisis

Leftist ingrates now scoff at a simple 1,200 page health care reform program. Obama will deliver millions of new paying customers to existing abusive companies without any cost constraint. Tens of billions in windfall profit. It’s market-reform, baby. Naturally, for this vital mission the Democrats turned to their go to guy, Mr. Clutch, Max Baucus. Oh, and Ben Nelson. Plus those two women from Maine that people mix up. For the coup de grace, ‘The Closer’, Joementum. Prepare for Democrats to declare victory with words written for them by the insurance industry.

It's Necessary, We're In A Crisis

No one’s dropping the ball gaining control of financial oversight. Who doubts Liz Warren’s impact? And who, if not Barney Frank, can deliver tight, meaningful financial reform after the greatest economic catastrophe since 1929? He even named it ‘The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009.’ So what if Democrats do the scut work of Wall Street and ensure derivatives and other instruments of financial malware remain unregulated and highly profitable? Like it’s really Democrats assuring business as usual with no consequences. They held a press conference.

That’s the problem with the naysayers. They refuse to see the pony in there somewhere.

It's Necessary, Because We Control All Branches Of Government
And hey, a Nobel Prize counts as serious bling, yanno?


  1. Comment says

    The health insurance industry is parasitical on the eccnomy – We know some folks who work for insurance companies shuffling papers and denying claims. They don’t add value. It’s booming – Just because it’s private most conservatives have trouble accepting the fact they are ticks on the body politic.

  2. says

    On the healthcare thing, I rather expect that the meaning of whatever legislation passes will be defined in the courts. There’s a reason, after all, why you don’t remember the Omnibus Interracial Marriage Act rather than Loving vs. Virginia. The US is fundamentally a common-law jurisdiction and that’s how they work.

  3. Comment says

    Honestly – we’re not really qualified to truly assess Bernake’s actions – We’re sort of forced to pick and choose between shade of opinion among a class of skewed pundits and writers – The whole class is somewhat corrupted. Bernake seems better than Greenspan – but Volcker seems better than Bernake. But who the hell knows?
    Lots of Bernakes opponenst are Ron Paul types who really seem to ideologues unaware that ending the Fed just means puttinh Brussells in charge.
    No wonder demagogues thrive on financial instability – it’s always easy for them to make a plausible sounding critique

  4. Comment says

    Also – keep in mind, Obama has no opposition – Pence is a simpleton, Aremey is an insecure jackass, Cantor is mediocriity, Boehner is out of his depth and lacks persuasive power. Newt is already yelling socialism – which just means he’ll have to try to be respectable down the road. Newt doing Gore commercials, following his GW hoax speeches is an example of his modus.
    People like Mitt and some others are the only potential opponents on the horizen and they all have to lie to the base and pretend to be other than what they are –

  5. Comment says

    re Bernake – yes many of his old assesments are quite embarassing. But we think he may have learned a bit from his mistakes – He is not clouded by vast wealth. His intellect must now battle with his ego.

  6. Comment says

    Meant to say that twenty percent – to thirty of the electorate that opposes Obama – their opposition has nothing to do with tarp or war or taxes (statistically none of their taxes will be raised by Obama) – They are just befuddled and angry and being misled

  7. Comment says

    You may be right about the mismanagement of the fund cutting into Obama’s momentum, but it also seems to us that much of Obama’s opposition – more than half — have no idea what Obama is doing. They think Cornel West, rather than Larry Sanders, gives Obama advice.

    Those who squeak and gibber in Armey’s Tea Parties have mostlt false notions of who Obama is and what he is doing. They think Bernie Sanders runs the show etc . They are irrrational and uninformed and they reprent at least twenty percent of Obama’s support.
    Obama counters with his own base – 95 to 99 support among blacks even if he put on a Reagan mask and hired David Stockman to run his show.

  8. Comment says

    We happen to think the Movement will be disappointed next year. We think the economy will firm up and begin to show some happiness by next spring – esp as more stimulus kicks in and the underlying assets in tarp regain more value – That’s why an upmarket matters – That’s why the Wall St/Main St disntinction fails us – Granted, we want justice, but if the markets tank all that bailout money will disappear, but an upmarket means big budget savings.
    Who can tell the future? It’s all just a guess. We have long predicted Obama would get 80percent of health care this year and will be able to improve upon the bill in the years to come. Indeed, reconciliation could be used for some of the smaller — more discrett – and controversial provisions.

    We disagree with Dean and agree with Nate Silver on he numbers.

  9. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Agree re cover. No post here about it. Here’s an interesting take on how Bernanke saw things in 2005.

    Expediency is a powerful argument given Fall 2008. The tertiary impact of Wall Street complete meltdown on society too catastrophic to risk. That still doesn’t excuse Geithner’s cavalier disregard of keeping records. As our old friend Liz Warren reported, hundreds of billions of dollars left the coffers with no paper trail. Crisis should reward action but not cavalier and reckless action. Both men are now paying a price. If they could set out an accounting how funds were used and for whom on what date, public confidence would be higher.

    Their mismanagement of those funds probably did more to undermine Obama’s momentum in the broadest sense than Obama’s bizarre refusal to engage and actually fight for something. The Movement was smart to sense the public did not see any accountability the bailouts. And that distrust has now metastasized. We didn’t think it would happen this way last April. And bet against the Movement to one of its JuJu Men. He won.

  10. Comment says

    We just saw Bernake got Time’s cover man. That is now an overrated prize – probably always was. Since it is often wrongly considered a compliment (in this case it is) Taibbi will probably weigh in on this. IMO Bernake made mistakes – as did Geithner et al. But we think they helped to avert a depression. Wasn’t pretty and there is no justice in all the smug fat cats getting away with so much and the smug Goldman ‘tude that pretends its not on welfare and pretends the bonuses are not welfare. All that being said – if Bernake and Geitner played chicken with Wall St. and forced justice – Wall St would have taken us off the cliff and we’d be in a deep depression. You can just see the attidue with Fuld et al. The whole cnbc crowd et al.

  11. Comment says

    Lapham points out some choice Wilkerson quotes and notes what we have noted – Wilkerson does not really know what he doesn’t know – since he is so stupified by gov speak.

  12. Comment says

    Just came accross an old Harpers from 2006 and Lew Lapham is scoring liberals for falling for the somewhat silly Wilkerson.

  13. Comment says

    Comment is gonna predict that Reid will use Lieberman’s unsurprising betrayal as an excuse to pass parts of health care via reconciliation. Like the public option and/or Medicare buy in.

  14. Comment says

    Fernholz does display some of those lamentable J-school ways – which is to say a sort of loser geekyness. Taibbi really gets under the skin of establishment reporters and he is quite bright.

  15. Dr Leo Strauss says

    The Reuters conclusion seems about right. A geekish literalist misrepresented Taibbi’s Def Leppard-esque stylings of Gonzo Journalism by the late Dr.

    We’re not surprised. Back in the day we tried to help a then TAP writer who’s now on to other things to understand John Yoo was not the breaking story. Focus on Cheney’s office yada yada yada. Laid it all out. If this was so true, how come no one else was talking about that Addington guy? It was like pulling teeth. We pointed them to the Iran Contra Minority Report and the Cheney/Addington role there and Addington’s connection to Casey. Finally, after an eternity the light bulb went off.

    Glad to see Reuters point out Fernholz continues that fine tradition.

  16. Comment says

    We’re not sure, but we think Taibbi errs when he says Obama promised to renegotiate NAFTA – Our recollection is that he implied that, but did not say that and mostly he sort of Clintonianly talked about addditional agreements rather than scraping the whole treaty. To borrow from “Joe” “The” “Plumber,” Obama was tap dancing around the issue like Sammy Davis Jr. For the obvious reason that the money fellas are pro NAFTA and the proles are not.

    re 45 minute gate:

    Wolfowitz loved that claim.

  17. Comment says

    Taibbi responds to Prospect attack:

    We love these feuds – we were surprised Taibbi made that Rubin error since it is a common error on the old right wing Clinton hater sites. So the RS staff must be young and not been around then.
    But talented as Taibbi is , he is sort of obnoxious himself – We mean that mostly as a complement since it serves to sting the polite grandees like Friedman et al (who are also obnoxious in a different way) – Anyway, it was interesting that Taibbi called Prospect obnoxious – There is some mirror imaging going on.

  18. Comment says

    So we used to go to Clydes in G-town and loved their hamburgers and basic foods. But it has been a while – glad to see you like them. Are they good?

  19. dilbert dogbert says

    Thanks for bringing back a memory of an exhibit of Annie”s photos in DC. I almost busted a gut when I saw photos of the warlord and warettes next the the Dirty Fucking Hippies.

  20. DBake says

    Some of the mistakes Fernholz points out look embarrassing for Taibbi, but some of them, I’m unclear how these are even mistakes.

    Taibbi writes: “It’s the sweetheart deal of the century, putting generations of working-stiff taxpayers on the hook to pay off Bob Rubin’s fuck-up-rich tenure at Citi.”

    And Fernholz responds: “Actually, the U.S. structural deficit and resultant national debt is mainly a hangover from the Bush Administration, with economic remedies to the financial crisis and the recession making a relatively small piece of the pie. Obama will be rolling back most of Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, but Taibbi deigns not to mention that.”
    I don’t understand how this functions as an objection. Obviously bailing out Citibank could put generations of taxpayers on the hook while the large structural deficit was doing the very same thing. Is Fernholz blaming Taibbi for failing to mention there was a big national deficit before the bailouts?

  21. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Curioius how this fact-checking anti-body swarm on Taibbi the apostate plays out. ‘The Left’ [sic] tolerates subversion and betrayal everyday without blinking but with Taibbi – boom! I guess the threat is Taibbi has credibility and visibility compared to most progressive/’Lefist’ patsies.

    Last night I was at a local Clydes restaurant (a chain around D.C. ). It was crowded with holiday types but also with some nearby defense/HLS/infosec types. Literally 2 feet away at the bar (it was crowded) a bulbous guy was explaining how his equally rotund drinking companion could become a rich contactor. It was all matter of fact, I’ve done this for dozens before relaxed.

    X should quit and become a contractor. The pitch (hire me to set it up for you) was since X was making 200 plus to quit and negotiate for 375-400 because ‘you can claim you’re covering ss, insurance, other taxes etc.’ Pitch man would create an offshore company for X and have X be an employee of Newco. The contract would be between the employer and Newco. X would draw a modest salary from Newco comparable to his current one but shovel the rest into a ‘captive insurance company’ offshore with Newco. This captive insurance company would technically have the bulk of monies and shelter. It could be unwound and make its distributions in a few years with much greater profits. There was a boring exchange about IRS regs.

    In layman’s term, a sham. Questions went back and forth about timing and other procedural matters broken by periodic leering by one of them at the women in the crowd.

    Obviously we’re no strangers to government contractors (even the semi-legitimate kind) or creating shell companies and other structural games. What was most amusing was the tenor, tone and matter-of-fact nature of it all. They both sounded like to neighbors discussing their favorite fertilizer.

    Coincidence given this thread? As Les Grossman says sometimes ‘The universe… is talking to us right now. You just gotta listen. ‘ Perfect way to close out 2009.

  22. Comment says

    We’re not sure if we published Taibbi’s latest Rollingstone link – But when we read it – though admittedly in the tank we are – we noticed a large amount of obviuous-seeming errors. It did not seem fact checked or maybe there was too much partying at RS offices. Taibbi is entertaining, but it seems he was careless trying to do his go-after-Obama pivot. Anyway – here is a summary of some the errors – But the Rubin one is the funnest because that a common error from old Clinton hate cites like Frepers.

  23. Comment says

    What’s funny when McCain rails against earmarks – what makes his rant so pathetic is that he always highlights pretty good projects. Like money for the DC Opera or Hawaii fishing industries. He even once helped kill a project in Arizona out of spite to a local enemy. Most of the projects he cites are small money – as opposed to his vast military adventures.

  24. Comment says

    The Orientalist aspect of our culture – esp the chattering class – with all its codes and whispers – is a topic that still needs exploration. There are so many things one does not discuss and then there is entire catagory and sub catagory of faux-taboo and pseud-taboo – wherein people pretend topics are off limit when they are not.
    There are so many times when people are talking about x they mean y.

    What happened with the Warlord was an abomination and perhaps a million died cruel deaths – Yet, it’s just sort of disappeared.

  25. Comment says

    In that same issue Wolcott talks about the looming blog wars and how then conservative Sulliven was attacking Atrios as objectively pro terror and “not getting” 9-11. But things change – or do they?

  26. Comment says

    Powell is called The Conscience and Ridge is titled The Protector (with a “Buzz Lightyear jaw”) They then note Armitage can bench 440 and Wolfowitz is deep Cold Warrior – Condi is a genius and a piano player of and Rummy the wrestler. The only decent person featured is Laura Bush.

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      Yeah, history will be brutal on many. When Atrios/Duncan Black and DailyKos started they were truly lone voices dismissed as childish runts by the ‘smart liberals’ ala Vanity Fair. People forget it took balls to do what they did. Remember when ‘the sane blogosphere’ according to the Finemans, Isikoffs and Kurtzes consisted of one third tier law professor simply typing ‘heh’? When the establishment knighted him the voice of ‘moderation’?

      Funny how the French are punished still for Vichy collaborators, the Germans are saddled with civilizational guilt but *everyone* in the USA always was against Iraq, the Warlord and ‘it all’. Phil Donahue was never fired. One giant collective mutual CYA.

  27. Comment says

    In the VF spread Cheney is called The Rock – It’s just too much. We’re gonna have to throw it away.

  28. Comment says

    We just came upon a Vanity Fair 2002 issue that Graydon Carter probably wants to burn out of embrassment – It has a complete Annie Liebovitz photo spread of Warlord and his warettes. It has an embrassing Chris Buckley essay calling Bush Prince Hal and to top it off it has a number of Gonnna get Saddam articles from Bob Baer and others.

  29. Comment says

    Great stuff Leo. OT – we just turn on c-span and Dan Lundgren is giving a speech that shows his welterweight intellectualism – complete with a ponderous and self-important style. Basically a medicore fella who, in his mind’s eye, regards himself grand. Lots of Bartlett quotes in poor context etc. It seems mediority is a big problem – an unreported problemm that gets cartooned by the occasional Brownies in Katrina, but unnoticed when banal and ordinary.
    Lundgren seems to have high regard for what he thinks are his deep thoughts.

  30. Dr Leo Strauss says

    None of this surprises and systemically inevitable. The Agency 2001-2008 was hollowed out and became dissolute. You know our view that it died. What remains calls itself CIA but is something different, inexperienced, unknown and unproven.

    Vietnam aside, the DO traditionally (and nominally) trained intelligence officers. During various cohort waves since its inception, the effort waxed and waned – never as brilliant as apologists puffed nor as futile as current trendy meme-setters assert. Valerie Plame et al. aside, the majority were under official cover and NOCs remained the exception rather than the rule for a variety of reasons, not the least the enormous internal paperwork and accounting involved.

    ‘Knuckledraggers’ – those capable of ‘kinetic initiative’ – were never numerous in the DO. Vietnam saw the buildup of some capability. Those got pushed out by Stansfied Turner during and before the so-called ‘Halloween Massacre’.

    Under Casey some of that capability was re-couped. But even in Afghanistan the Agency remained more of a facilitator, logistical support and the traditionally military role of TIARA – tactical intelligence and related activities. Actual knuckledraggers as historically understood were not back to scale. All of these personnel still were not indicative of the entire DO officer pool. Their ostensible mission remained allegedly to collect intelligence.

    By the time Netscape and the tech bubble made everyone suave turtle neck wearing digerati working the room at Davos, the DO hollowed out dramatically. Whole age cohorts retired or resigned on mass. Only a skeleton remained. What was the point if two people could meet for a beer, draw some graphs on a napkin and get $40 million in start up funding? Besides, CNN had more impact with policy makers than some bland report out of the intelligence product cycle. Clinton and the Agency didn’t get along at first. The glaring absence of his official portrait non accidental. Plus, Woolsey was an ass. All and all, there’s a reason Dyncorp mercenaries were so prominent in Bosnia (and not surprisingly so famously went off the rails). CIA was in serious crisis.

    November 2001 and Tenet is screwed. CIA has nothing. He’s begging people to come out of retirement. Or forestall retirement. The bench was almost empty. Really empty. Recruiting and training would take time. The normal route of hiring ex-military looked promising until the military itself got overstretched. Plus, huge, unimaginable monies became available. D.C. was drowning in ‘spend-this-now-it’s-national-security, son’ dough. Screw time when you can get 1/4 of the capability at 8 times the price. That’s the entire raison d’etre of the U.S. defense industrial base.

    So the outsourcing began. And the badge flipping. It began first internally at CIA. And the serious wealth by people expecting to retire on civil service pay scales. They took their rolodexes, connections – all assets paid for by the U.S. government and privatized by them on day one as a contractor like an IPO. Kaching!

    The deceit continued because many of their foreign official counterparts continued to deal with them or believed they should. This information was then sold back to the U.S. taxpayer at huge mark up.

    These stories of Blackwater blurring roles with CIA personnel in Iraq are actually the norm for the Agency overall. Apologists will deny it, but the Agency became so hollowed out under Tenet and the Magician, Goss and Hayden that contractors were performing actual day to day line functions at Langley and new ‘career’ recruits would be taking orders from and reporting to contractors. Those same contractors might then seek to recruit CIA personnel to join the contractor the next week in the cafeteria. Literally, pitching people to quit and join a company in the fricking cafeteria. Fanciful? The reality was grimmer and more farcical.

    Prince is a religious extremist, a war criminal and all that. He still saw a good market in gathering special forces and other specialists he could sell at mark up. Those were people who in earlier times would have been recruited by the DO, brought on board and trained.

    CIA had another reason to use Blackwater aggressively. Cambone and Rumsfeld were pushing a huge power play to take away paramilitary functions from CIA and center everything under uh, Cambone. CIA can never match the military in resources or on-demand response. But without using Blackwater and other mercenary personnel CIA couldn’t hope to show anything but doomed meager results. Particularly if the special forces personnel with Blackwater might have as much if not more operational experience as their nominal Agency clients in snatch n grabs, etc.

    Once the door is opened to contractors beyond specific, rigorously controlled boundaries, it’s all a blur, isn’t it? Nitpicking where to draw the line? Blackwater personnel shouldn’t assist beyond protection services in planning and conducting Iraq operations? Or rendition flights beginning in 2001? If one draws that line, what about the contractor locust hordes back at Langley showing up every day at a desk and issuing orders and assignments?

    That’s the real issue. And an issue no one wants to talk about. It will be swept under the rug. The problem is not Blackwater but the systematic institutional degradation and collapse at Langley. And to go there inescapably leads one to our long held conclusion: CIA died. Moreover, if we make that journey, we know also State hired mercenaries ‘protective services’ and lost control. People there overseeing contracts had even less a clue how to administer them. Moral contamination also followed suit. Is there stomach to investigate Foggy Bottom?

    The root cause of most these problems is the *Nation* never went to war. Bush sent in only the military et al. He bamboozled the bubble demos by hiding the true scale and cost by taking (a) the whole military budget off book in Congress; and (b) hiding the mercenary costs through opaque contracting vehicles or single sourcing them ala Blackwater. Don’t forget that the Dyncorp/CSC personnel that escaped any punishment at Abu Ghraib were hidden on a GSA schedule (can’t remember the details) that explicitly was not for military use. Does anyone believe it was the only ‘slip up’?

    Reckless money + expediency + no oversight + no real public involvement = what we we got. Same under Obama today. The purported Iraq draw down should allow for some decompression. We’ll see. It’s the new America.

  31. Comment says

    As much as we like Taibbi’s writting, we do disagree with some of his critique – We can elaborate later, but we think the escape of a market crash (while admitting a lack of justice) is important.


    Hitchens always has chump debaters – Hitch makes some good points but that pointy head dude is just a bad debater. He makes all the wrong points.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


CommentLuv badge