Get Ready For The Attack Of The Lords Of Loud

It will be loud and it will be damning. The tea baggers will be hunch over their radios ready for tearful marching orders from General Beck. Rush will rustle his papers and call for Obama's impeachment. O'Reilly's Folks™ will nearly get out of their rockers. Nearly.

But while the intimidating din of Democrat disaster will fill the airwaves, it will be up to honest brokers in the media to remind Americans how we got here and who exactly set up the scenario that has failed us...

That the security measures that didn't seem to stop a single Nigerian were set up by Cheney, Bush and their congress.

That Gitmo detainees released by the Bush administration who are now part of al-Qaeda leadership in Yemen.

That shoe-bomber Richard Reid penetrated American airspace without problem during the Cheney-Bush security failure.

That less than a year into his administration, President Barack Obama, has seen one man with an underwear package of explosives slip by security, while in less than a year and AFTER ignoring warnings that Osama bin Laden was intent on flying planes into American buildings, President Bush presided over our country's largest terrorist attack - one that tore down our economy and gave what he believed was credence to invade a country who did not attack us which led to the death of over 3000 Americans and the loss of more than a hundred thousand more innocents.

That the Lords of Loud cannot pin this on the head of the Transportation Security Administration, becuase none exisrs...because Republican obstructionism, especially South Carolina's Republican Senator Jin DeMin has blocked the appointment of Obama's nominee for the head of the TSA, Erroll Southers.

That these are the same bloviators were at the ready to scream traitor at anyone who pointed to Bush's having any responsibility for 9-11.

Point is, Rush out of the sick bed, Sean and Glenn will have their panties packed with explosives Monday morning, ready to spew half-truths - which wil most assuredly be no truth at all.

If the Fourth Estate wants to do their job they cannot give right wing radio and TV's deceptions equal footing with the facts. And Dems must be at the ready to return their worst with their best. And that means the entire truth, something you'll never hear out of the right's charlatan mouths.
Social Media Consulting, Web Presence,
Call Center Technology
Book A FREE 1/2 Hr. Phone Consultation


Rachel Maddow rips apart Cheney, GOP attack machine

Top GOP Concern: American Safety or Scoring Political Points?

With the nearly instant attacks by the GOP against President Obama in the aftermath of the attempted terrorist airplane attack on Christmas, I think the Republicans have stooped to new lows. Rep. Hoekstra, after accusing liberals of having a "weak knee reaction on terrorism" actually raised money off of this recent national security threat (The DNC-rightfully so- blasted him for that.)

"It was shameful that Republicans like Mr. Hoekstra would attempt to play politics with our national security at all, but raising money off it is beyond the pale," read a statement from the committee's Press Secretary Hari Sevugan. "Republicans are playing politics with issues of national security and terrorism, and that they would use this incident as an opportunity to fan partisan flames and raise money for political campaigns tells you all you need to know about how far the Republican party has fallen and how out of step with the American people they have become. The American people simply will not tolerate the likes of Mr. Hoekstra and the Republican Party playing politics with the serious issues of national security and terrorism - especially after the mess they left this country in both domestically and on national security after eight years of failed leadership."

From TPM: Other GOP representatives and FOX News continue to take aggressive swings at the president for waiting too long to speak about this or not putting enough fear into the hearts and minds of Americans. Well, as reported by Huffington Post, apparently Bush waited 6 days to comment on the shoe bomber and the GOP stood silent without one complaint. How strange. Is it me or is the hyprocrisy really getting out of hand? 

The bellowing by Republicans over the Obama administration's supposedly lackadaisical response to the attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit seems as much about political posturing as legitimate national security concerns.

How else to explain the GOP's relatively quiet reaction eight years ago to President George W. Bush's detached response after a similarly-botched terrorist attack?

On December 22, 2001, Richard Reid -- known more infamously as the shoe bomber -- failed in his attempt to blow up a Miami-bound jet using explosives hidden in his shoe. Coming less than four months after September 11, there already were deep concerns about a potential attack during the upcoming holiday break. Nevertheless, President Bush did not directly address the foiled plot for six days, according to an extensive review of newspaper records from that time period. And when he did, it was only in passing.

The day of the attempted attack, for example, the Associated Press reported that "White House officials" were monitoring the situation throughout the afternoon and that "President Bush received two briefings" on the matter while at Camp David for the holidays. Spokesman Scott McClellan, meanwhile, told reporters that administration officials were consulting with acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift -- the plane Reid boarded made an emergency landing at Boston's Logan International Airport.

I can only hope the Democrats, led by President Obama, come out forcefully against this nonsense and call the Republicans out one by one, including how they are holding up an important TSA nomination and voted against funding for better airport security. They may need to grab the Republican playbook on this one because clearly the GOP is not acting out of any sense of patriotism right now.

So I ask: what is the top GOP concern? Safety for the American people or scoring cheap political points? I think we all know the answer and it is truly shameful

Source: Republicans For Obama email.
Social Media Consulting, Web Presence,
Call Center Technology
Book A FREE 1/2 Hr. Phone Consultation


Mary Matalin and Dana Perino are smoking crack

From the December 27 edition of CNN's State of the Union:

MATALIN: I was there, we inherited a recession from President Clinton, and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation's history.

Matalin's comments were documented by Think Progress.

Fact: 9-11 attacks occurred 8 months into Bush presidency, after Bush had received memo warning of Al Qaeda's intent to attack

Attacks came eight months after Bush inauguration and more than a month after he had received a Presidential Daily Briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." President George W. Bush was inaugurated on January 20, 2001, eight months before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York City; Arlington, Virginia; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The 9-11 Commission stated that on August 6, 2001, Bush received a Presidential Daily Briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," and that Bush "did not recall discussing the August 6 report with the Attorney General or whether [then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza] Rice had done so." The Commission also "found no indication" that Bush's aides further discussed with him "the possibility of a threat of an al Qaeda attack in the United States" prior to 9-11 -- this despite the fact that "[m]ost of the intelligence community recognized in the summer of 2001 that the number and severity of threat reports were unprecedented."

Perino previously stated that "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term." Matalin's claim about the 9-11 attacks follows former Bush White House Press Secretary Dana Perino's false assertion on the November 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity that "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term."

Fact: According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, recession began in March 2001 during Bush presidency

NBER determined that recession started exactly 10 years after expansion that began in March 1991, "the longest in the NBER's chronology." In March 2001, the U.S. economy went into recession for the first time in 10 years, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). NBER -- the private, nonpartisan organization whose business cycle announcements have long been considered the definitive word on the topic -- announced its determination on November 26, 2001:

The NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee has determined that a peak in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in March 2001. A peak marks the end of an expansion and the beginning of a recession. The determination of a peak date in March is thus a determination that the expansion that began in March 1991 ended in March 2001 and a recession began. The expansion lasted exactly 10 years, the longest in the NBER's chronology.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

25 Brits in bomb plots

25 Brits in jet bomb plots officals fear that 25 British-born Muslims are plotting to bomb Western airliners. The [alleged] fanatics, in five groups, are now training at secret terror camps in Yemen. It was there London-educated Umar Abdulmutallab, 23, prepared for his Christmas Day bid to blow up a US jet. The British extremists in Yemen are in their early 20s and from Bradford, Luton and Leytonstone, East London. They are due to return to the UK early in 2010 and will then await internet instructions from al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] on when to strike. A Scotland Yard source said: "The great fear is Abdulmutallab is the first of many ready to attack planes and kill tens of thousands. We know there are four or five radicalised British Muslim cells in the Yemen. They are due back within months when they will be under constant surveillance."

US orders security review after failed attack 27 Dec 2009 President Barack Obama ordered a review of US no-fly lists after a botched Christmas Day terror attack and demanded to know how a Nigerian man managed to board a Detroit-bound airliner wearing an explosive device. The databases used by US security agencies are under scrutiny after it emerged that the man who tried to blow up a jet from Amsterdam with 290 people on board as it prepared to land in Detroit was on one of their watch-lists. "There's a series of databases that list people of concern to several agencies across the government. We want to make sure information-sharing is going on," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Al-Qaida links to Christmas Day plane bomb plot investigated --Officials investigate British link to Nigerian's plan to destroy US airliner 28 Dec 2009 Investigators on both sides of the Atlantic were last night urgently investigating the background of the would-be plane bomber, as international attention turned to al-Qaida's stronghold in Yemen. Scotland Yard and MI5 want to establish how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was radicalised and by whom, and whether he had accomplices in the UK or the Arabian peninsula. He has told US officials that he met 'al-Qaida' operatives in Yemen who gave him the device which almost brought down Northwest Airlines flight 253 to Detroit and taught him how to use it.

Detroit terror attack: MI5 hunt for bomber's accomplices 27 Dec 2009 MI5 is hunting for possible accomplices of the Detroit airline bomber amid fears that he may have been planning to launch the attack from Britain. Security sources believe that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, 23, may have developed links with other extremists during the three years he spent studying at University College London. The Security Service is concerned that the son of a respected Nigerian banker was "off the radar" [?] while living in Britain from 2005 to 2008 on a student visa. Little more than a year later he went on to attempt a terrorist attack after being trained by 'al-Qaeda.'

Terror suspect out of hospital, held at undisclosed location 28 Dec 2009 Investigators combed through Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's history Sunday... Abdulmutallab was released from a hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Sunday after being treated for burns, according to Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit, Michigan. The 23-year-old is charged with attempting to set off an explosive device aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from the Netherlands shortly before its landing in Detroit on Christmas Day, and was being held in an undisclosed location, Balaya told CNN.

Airline bomber was barred from Britain --Man who allegedly attempted to blow up US jet had UK visa request refused in May 27 Dec 2009 The son of a prominent Nigerian banker, who allegedly attempted to blow up a transatlantic flight over America, was barred from returning to Britain earlier this year. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, graduated from a university in London last year but his visa request was refused in May when he attempted to apply for a new course at a bogus college. Abdulmutallab, described as a devout Muslim, attempted to ignite an explosive device on a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day after shouting about Afghanistan.

Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport 27 Dec 2009 A Michigan man who was aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 says he witnessed Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab trying to board the plane in Amsterdam without a passport. Kurt Haskell and his wife, Lori, of Newport, Mich., were returning from a safari in Uganda when they boarded the NWA flight on Friday. Haskell said he and his wife [attorneys with Haskell Law Firm in Taylor] were sitting on the ground near their boarding gate in Amsterdam, which is when they saw Mutallab approach the gate with an unidentified man. While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. "The guy said, 'He's from Sudan and we do this all the time.'" Mutallab is Nigerian. Haskell believes the man may have been trying to garner sympathy for Mutallab's lack of documents by portraying him as a Sudanese refugee.

Unclear If Suspect's Name Was On Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment List --The list, maintained by United States National Counterterrorism Center, includes about 550,000 names 27 Dec 2009 The Nigerian man accused of trying to ignite an incendiary device aboard a trans-Atlantic jetliner on Friday came to the attention of American officials at least "several weeks ago," but the initial information was not specific enough to raise alarms that he could potentially carry out a terrorist attack, a senior Obama administration official said on Saturday... It was unclear whether Mr. Abdulmutallab's name was entered into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, which includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization. Those people, however, are not necessarily placed on the federal government's so-called no-fly list, which prohibits persons entering the United States because of known or suspected [or imagined] terrorists links. Mr. Abdulmutallab was not on that list, federal officials say.

Airports raise global safety levels after terror attack on US jet is foiled --Police search London address as bomber suspect is revealed to have links to al-Qaida Security at airports around the world was stepped up yesterday after a student from a London university tried to blow up a transatlantic airliner carrying 290 passengers and crew minutes before it was due to land in the US... Yesterday MI5 was combing its records to establish whether Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had links to known Islamist groups in the UK. In May he was barred from returning to Britain when he attempted to apply for a new course at a bogus college. Scotland Yard confirmed it was liaising with US authorities as searches were carried out at properties in central London, including a student hall of residence and a flat in Belgraviaworth up to £3m.

Europe tightens security after foiled U.S. attack  Airports and airlines across Europe moved rapidly to tighten security on U.S.-bound flights on Saturday after a man tried to set off explosives on a plane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit. Authorities in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands either increased passenger checks or reinforced security measures already stepped up ahead of the busy Christmas and New Year travel period, officials said.

Police search London flat in US plane bomb probe 26 Dec 2009 Police are searching a number of properties in central London as a man [Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab] is charged with trying to blow up a US airliner flying to Detroit. The Metropolitan Police have been searching a flat at an apartment block in Mansfield Street, central London, and other properties in the capital. Police have cordoned off Mansfield Street in front of the apartment block.


FBI says second Detroit plane incident not serious 27 Dec 2009 The FBI gave the "all clear" on Sunday after an investigation of what it said was a "non-serious" incident on an Amsterdam to Detroit flight. Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said a Nigerian man was taken into custody by the FBI and no explosives were found. The man went to the bathroom repeatedly and did not respond to flight attendants' direction an hour before landing. "The Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated and the investigation shows that this is a nonserious incident and all is clear at this point," said Detroit FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtolv.

Food Poisoning Blamed In Second Northwest Flight 253 Bomb Scare --Nigerian Passenger Became 'Unruly' After Crew Forced Him Out of Bathroom 27 Dec 2009 A second scare of a possible bomb on Northwest Airlines flight 253 Sunday was the result of a passenger [a Nigerian petroleum engineer] who refused to come out of the bathroom because he was sick with food poisoning, law enforcement officials told FBI agents and local police swarmed the plane as it landed in Detroit after the pilot reported an "belligerent and uncooperative" passenger who had spent more than an hour in the bathroom [That's an arrestable offense?] as the flight neared Detroit. 

More GOP Historical Revisionism

From Thinkprogress:
On CNN today, GOP strategist and former Dick Cheney adviser Mary Matalin argued that President Obama is speaking too much about the severe debt, deficits, and economic recession he inherited from the previous administration. Defending her former boss, Matalin charged that President Bush had in fact “inherited a recession” and the September 11th attacks from President Clinton:
And now this is what Matalin said:
I was there, we inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history.

These people are crazy
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How Bush-Cheney Destroyed America

The great $12 trillion Bank Robberry, in which unscrupulous bankers and financiers were deregulated and given free rein to create worthless derivatives, sell impossible mortgages to uninformed marks who could not understand their complicated terms, and then to roll this garbage up into securities re-sold like the Cheshire cat, with a big visible smile of asserted value hanging in the air even as their actual worth disappeared into thin air. Having allowed the one-percent oligarchs to capture most of the increase of the country's wealth in recent decades, Bush and Paulsen now initiated the surrender to them of nearly a further entire year's gross domestic product of the US, stealing it from the rest of us by deficit budget financing that will have the effect of deflating our savings and property values and relative value of our currency against other world currencies. That is, we are to be further beggared for sake of the super-rich. And while the banks and bankers are held harmless, the hardworking Americans who have lost and will lose their homes are extended virtually no help. While 500,000 American children will go hungry at least some of the time this year, the Oligarchs at Goldman, Sachs, will get millions in bonuses, on the backs of the ordinary taxpayers. It seems likely to me that the creation of a pool of vast excess liquidity for the super-rich by the Reagan-Cheney tax cuts was what impelled them to develop the derivatives, since they had too much capital for ordinary investment purposes and were restlessly seeking new gaming tables. The conclusion is that until we get our gini coefficient back into some sort of synch, we are likely at risk for further such meltdowns.
Social Media Consulting, Web Presence,
Call Center Technology
Book A FREE 1/2 Hr. Phone Consultation


Jasper Schuringa subdued alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Northwest Airlines 253

The passenger who tackled a suspected terrorist on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 said Saturday that he’s “happy” to be alive.

Jasper Schuringa, a video director and producer from Amsterdam, told CNN how he helped the cabin crew to subdue Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old who reportedly ignited a small explosive device on board the plane Friday as it prepared to land in Detroit.

Schuringa said he heard a sound that reminded him of a firecracker and someone yelling, “Fire! Fire!”

But he was only certain something was wrong when he saw smoke. He saw Abdulmutallab's pants open and he was holding a burning object between his legs.

"I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away," Schuringa said.

He said he then screamed for water and pulled Abdulmutallab out of his seat and dragged him to the front of the plane.

Schuringa told CNN that Abdulmutallab seemed out of it and "was staring into nothing."

To ensure the suspect did not have other explosives on his body, Schuringa stripped off Abdulmutallab's clothes. He then handcuffed the alleged attacker with the help of a crew member.

Schuringa said the other passengers applauded as he returned to his seat and that he sustained minor injuries during the take down.

"My hands are pretty burned. I am fine," he said. "I am shaken up. I am happy to be here."

Federal law enforcement and airline security sources say Abdulmutallab was immediately taken into custody following the incident and treated for second- and third-degree burns on his thighs.

CNN reports that the Nigerian suspect, a student at University College London, is 'talking a lot' to the FBI.

The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement that the plane and its baggage were screened after the incident. Security sources told CNN that remains of the device were sent for analysis to an FBI explosives lab in Quantico, Virginia.

Law enforcement and airline security sources also told CNN that no other suspicious materials were found and that the suspect only had carry-on luggage.

Passengers on board the flight were interviewed by law enforcement before leaving the airport.

Abdulmutallab flew on a KLM flight from Lagos, Nigeria, to Amsterdam and is reportedlynot on a "no fly" list, though he is on a U.S. database of people with suspected terrorist connections.

Although there is no evidence that he is a trained member of Al Qaeda, the Nigerian national reportedly claimed a link to extremists. A federal security document obtained by CNN further revealed that his explosive device "was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used."

White House spokesman Bill Burton told CNN that from his holiday vacation in Hawaii, President Obama told security advisers "that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel,"

Read more:
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2009 proved hopeful for Florida LGBT activists

If one word could describe the mood of Florida’s LGBT activists over this past year it would be simple: Rebuilding. While the majority of eyes focused on California’s Proposition 8 last fall, Florida faced its own anti-marriage bill that strictly defined marriage as between one man and one woman and effectively banned any legally-recognized same-sex union with similar rights as marriage. The measure passed in Nov. 2008 with 62 percent of the popular vote and derailed any momentum Floridians had gained on the marriage issue.

Instead of taking their loss lying down, however, LGBT activists in the Sunshine State saw an opportunity to consider a new strategy toward legislative progress in their state, which ranks as one of the least equal in the nation because of its gay adoption ban, a lack of a statewide employment non-discrimination bill and other contentious issues. They have focused on local victories -- and these include the expansion of domestic partnership recognition in Miami and Tallahassee, the defeat of an anti-gay measure in Gainesville and expanded protections for Tampa’s transgender residents.

Read More....................

Source: The Edge

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Barbie Doll Was Modeled After German Hooker

The Mattel Barbie doll -- more familiar to us as Barbie -- has, in the last four decades, taken on a life and persona of her own. In 1994, an unofficial biography revealed that Barbie was modeled on a German cartoon character, an ambitious hooker named Lilli. At a 1995 exhibit, "Art, Design and Barbie: The Evolution of a Cultural Icon" at New York's Liberty Street Gallery, Lilli's role in Barbie's evolution was heavily underplayed. This subterfuge was part of a larger controversy, in which columnists and curators accused Mattel Inc., the sponsor, of being excessively meddlesome. While Mattel purged the exhibit of certain works of art inspired by Barbie, the company also did its best to camouflage the doll who had inspired the creators of Barbie. To understand why this was inevitable, we must put ourselves in Barbie's shoes, and follow the progress of a very hard-working plaything.
Until recently, few Barbie owners were conscious of Barbie's true age -- or of the life this all-American prom queen once led in another land, under another name. But Barbie's first playmates are now old enough to handle the truth. M.G. Lord, the author of "Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll," is one of those women. In "Forever Barbie," Lord reveals that Lilli -- "an eleven-and-a-half inch, platinum ponytailed" German doll -- was the pre-American Barbie. The Lilli doll was the three-dimensional version of a popular post-war cartoon character who first appeared in the West German tabloid Bild Zeitung in 1952. A professional floozy of the first order, Bild Zeitung's Lilli traded sex for money, delivered sassy comebacks to police officers, and sought the company of "balding, jowly fatcats," says Lord. While the cartoon Lilli was a user of men, the doll (who came into existence in 1955) was herself a plaything -- a masculine joke, perhaps, for West German males who could not afford to play with a real Lilli. A German brochure from the 1950s confided that Lilli (the doll) was "always discreet," while her complete wardrobe made her "the star of every bar." The Lilli doll who made it into the "Art, Design and Barbie" show was dressed in her most (perhaps her only) demure outfit. This was a literal cover-up. Easily overlooked by anyone who didn't understand Barbie's history, Lilli was dressed like a prostitute who didn't want to be noticed -- lost among the other non-Barbie dolls who were provided for educational purposes.
It seems fitting that Lilli dolls were manufactured in Hamburg, a city where government-approved, licensed prostitutes are a fact of life. In the United States, where legal hooking is virtually unheard of, Lilli had to tone down her act. (Perhaps she changed her name in order to get around a U.S. immigration law barring prostitutes from becoming residents -- but that is just conjecture.) While it is still unsafe for a foreign prostitute to reveal her trade in the United States, Barbie -- decades later -- is no longer foreign. She is more American than many Americans, and perhaps even more hypocritical.
As you can imagine, Lilli did not become Barbie overnight. Like Vivian, the awkward streetwalker in the movie "Pretty Woman" (who transmuted into a social swan), Lilli "cleaned up really nice." But her transformation from adult hussy to quasi-virtuous teenager was a painstaking miracle of art and science. Jack Ryan, a Mattel designer with a Yale engineering degree, worked on making the doll look less like a "German streetwalker" by changing the shape of her lips and redoing her face, says Lord. When the ex-hooker's body was recast, her incorrigible nipples were rubbed off with a fine Swiss file. Although she submitted to corporate mutilation, I do not regard Lilli as a victim of prudery -- or of capitalism. She was up to her own perverse tricks, an agent of her own future.
To get to the American public, Barbie had to capture the buyers at the annual American Toy Fair. Working the 1959 Toy Fair as a respectable ingenue did not come easily, and the Sears buyer, a man, didn't fall for this makeover. While we have no reason to think he had known her as Lilli, it's clear that Barbie's sexiness betrayed her, for he refused to stock her. This initial rejection didn't prevent Barbie from overcoming her scarlet origins and selling herself into the hearts and lives of America.
Barbie's not the first canny harlot to have shaved four to seven years off her mileage, or to have changed her name. But compared to other enterprising trollops who delete whole decades in a day while renaming ourselves every other week, Barbie is quite restrained. She has changed her name only once.
Over the years, millions of people have found her respectability utterly plausible. Now, Barbie's past has returned -- not to haunt her, but to be flaunted. The disclosure of her history was perfectly timed. Heidi Fleiss, Norma Jean Almodovar and the Mayflower Madam (aka Sydney Biddle Barrows) have paraded their collective, commercial past on television talk shows, making it trendy for Barbie to open the closet door. Activist hookers like Margo St. James (whose bid for a San Francisco Supervisorial seat was supported by many gay Democrats) have politicized the prostitute's image, making Barbie's past appear more wholesome. In this era of Sex Worker Chic, Barbie the ex-hooker is no symbol of shame. Instead, she is "the girl who got away with it" -- a role model for ambitious women who will have their cake and eat it, too. You can't keep a good pro down, and the success of Lord's "Forever Barbie" has turned Barbie's hidden past into an official piece of our country's social history.
Marketed as a harmless plaything for 35 years, the all-American prom queen turns out to have been a foreign whore on the run. Somehow, the kind of girl your brother couldn't take home to Mom became a role model for million of young girls. How did this unthinkable change occur? Picture a little girl on Long Island (or in Westchester) openly playing with a facsimile of the New York call girl her suburban father secretly visits during his lunch hours. If I am startled, shouldn't middle America be horrified? More amazing is the thought that this whorish facsimile could be a gift from her parents. But that is exactly what has happened -- and what continues to happen -- in homes all over North America. Barbie has become one of the family, and nothing can stem this tide. Even the most committed feminists have been known to buy Barbie dolls for their daughters, as have fundamentalist Christians. She is everywhere, even in the enemy's nursery.
Is Barbie a sneaky trollop who hid the truth when it was convenient, revealing it now to keep up with the Zeitgeist? Or was she, perhaps, one of the great powers behind this cultural shift, helping to make prostitution more acceptable? During the 1980s, Western Publishing was marketing Barbie's Dream Date, a board game that Lord says could easily be called The Hooker Game. Players find ways to make Ken spend "as much money as possible" before the clock strikes 12, then "tally their date and gift cards." (Could this make her a role model for hookers who need to get their beauty sleep?) "What I objected to in this game was its covert prostitution," Lord told me. In "Forever Barbie" she suggests that it's contradictory to market Barbie's Dream Date alongside We Girls Can Do Anything, a Barbie game in which girls strive to become doctors and designers.
But the covert behavior makes perfect sense to me. Like many women who use their bodies to pay the rent, Barbie has had to have a straight cover. Almost every successful call girl I know has a customer who can only get it up for a part-time pro with a cute, respectable career -- as an interior decorator or journalist, perhaps. A smart hooker's entire Rolodex may be composed of guys who think they are helping out a Good Girl who has temporarily lost her way. In adult magazines, phone-sex ads entice jaded callers to chat with a "blonde coed," as do the not-very-pristine stickers plastered strategically (next to the tow-truck stickers) on public phones. As I write this, one of the few remaining peepshows in New York's Times Square area still attracts business with this neon message: "LIVE MODELS WORKING THEIR WAY THROUGH COLLEGE." In the adult entertainment classifieds of many publications, men are regularly tempted by "non-professional" talent. Nobody would seek out, or feel good about paying, an amateur dentist. But a private stripper's "amateur" status is often a selling point, as is a prostitute's. Purity is a hot commodity in the sex industry. I have been told by clients and colleagues alike that my great allure is that I "don't look like a hooker." Friends who have seen Bombay's notorious "cages" tell me that a whole section of Bombay's sex district is devoted to "virgins" (who presumably have no repeat customers).


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Why,Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart rejected Charlie Christ

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who are leading figures in the Cuban-American GOP political community, have rescinded their endorsements of Crist. Lincoln Diaz-Balart wouldn't elaborate on the reason, except to give this cryptic comment: "We take our endorsements seriously, but the governor knows why we withdrew and he left us with no alternative."

The Miami Herald speculates that this might have happened because Crist snubbed the Diaz-Balarts in their attempt to have a friend of Lincoln's son appointed as a judge, instead picking a different candidate. Could something this picayune have led to a retraction of a Senate campaign endorsement?
Social Media Consulting, Web Presence,
Call Center Technology
Book A FREE 1/2 Hr. Phone Consultation


ACORN is cleared of wrongdoing

 ACORN is cleared of wrongdoing vis a vis yet another independent investigation, this one by the Congressional Research Service [PDF], as noted in a press release from U.S. House Judiciary Chair John Conyers this afternoon (posted in full below).

Of most note to our readers, Conyers' statement points out what we've been pointing out - over and over and over again for years: "There were no instances of individuals who were allegedly registered to vote improperly by ACORN or its employees and who were reported 'attempting to vote at the polls.'" Who knew?! What a surprise! (At least to Fox "News" viewers, who probably won't hear about this report either.)

Also: "No instances were identified in which ACORN 'violated the terms of federal funding in the last five years.'"

And: "Recently enacted federal legislation to prohibit funding to ACORN raises significant constitutional concerns. The courts 'may have a sufficient basis' to conclude that the legislation 'violates the prohibition against bills of attainder.'" That finding is one that a federal judge also recently concurred with, when she issued an injunction earlier this month to keep the law from taking affect since ACORN had "been singled out by Congress for punishment that directly and immediately affects their ability to continue to obtain federal funding, in the absence of any judicial, or even administrative, process of adjudicating guilt."

Finally, according to today's report, Andrew  Breitbart's phony video-taped "sting operation" against ACORN may, itself, have violated the law in both California and Maryland, about which we might ironically recommend to prosecutors: "Prunishment" for Andrew Breitbart!
Social Media Consulting, Web Presence,
Call Center Technology
Book A FREE 1/2 Hr. Phone Consultation


Majority of Americans continue to oppose the health care bill

A new Quinnipiac poll finds that a large majority of Americans continue to oppose the health care bill -- and that two policies that have been dropped, the public option or the Medicare buy-in, which were both very popular.

The poll finds 53% of respondents saying they mostly disapprove of the health care plan in Congress, to only 36% who approve. From the party internals, support is at 64%-22% among Democrats, 10%-83% among Republicans, and 30%-58% among independents.

The now-departed public option, however, is supported by a 56%-38% majority, including a 54%-41% margin among independents. Also, the Medicare buy-in for Americans ages 55-64 was supported by 64%-30%, including 57%-36% among independents and even a 50%-44% margin among Republicans.

The poll also finds that only 31% agree both that the President and Congress must take on health care reform now and support the current proposals. Another 28% want reform now but don't support the current proposals (a number spread pretty evenly across all partisan sub-samples), while 36% don't think reform should be taken on now.

From the pollster's analysis: "While the Senate leadership reportedly has the votes to pass a health care overhaul plan this week, outside the Beltway there appears to be weak support, both to what voters understand as the plan, and the need to pass that plan now."
Social Media Consulting, Web Presence,
Call Center Technology
Book A FREE 1/2 Hr. Phone Consultation


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Health care reform will pass the Senate this week

Unless some legislator pulls off a last-minute double-cross, health care reform will pass the Senate this week. Count me among those who consider this an awesome achievement. It's a seriously flawed bill, we'll spend years if not decades fixing it, but it's nonetheless a huge step forward.--- Paul Krugman  

A Dangerous Dysfunction
Social Media Consulting, Web Presence,
Call Center Technology
Book A FREE 1/2 Hr. Phone Consultation


Why Can't Democrats Do Anything Right?

Could a crushing defeat on health reform teach Democrats to stop prioritizing corporate interests?

From Bill Moyers Journal PBS

BILL MOYERS: Something's not right here. One year after the great collapse of our financial system, Wall Street is back on top while our politicians dither. As for health care reform, you're about to be forced to buy insurance from companies whose stock is soaring, and that's just dandy with the White House.

Truth is, our capitol's being looted, republicans are acting like the town rowdies, the sheriff is firing blanks, and powerful Democrats in Congress are in cahoots with the gang that's pulling the heist. This is not capitalism at work. It's capital. Raw money, mounds of it, buying politicians and policy as if they were futures on the hog market. 

Here to talk about all this are two journalists who don't pull their punches. Robert Kuttner is an economist who helped create and now co-edits the progressive magazine THE AMERICAN PROSPECT, and the author of the book OBAMA'S CHALLENGE, among others. 

Also with me is Matt Taibbi, who covers politics for ROLLING STONE magazine where he is a contributing editor. He's made a name for himself writing in a no-holds-barred, often profane, but always informative and stimulating style that gets under the skin of the powerful. His most recent article is "Obama's Big Sellout," about the President's team of economic advisers and their Wall Street connections. It's been burning up the blogosphere. Welcome to both of you. 

BILL MOYERS: Let's start with some news. Some of the big insurance companies, Well Point, Cigna, United Health, all surged to a 52 week high in their share prices this week when it was clear there'd be no public option in the health care bill going through Congress right now. What does that tell you, Matt?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, I think what most people should take away from this is that the massive subsidies for health insurance companies have been preserved while it's also expanded their customer base because there's an individual mandate in the bill that's going to provide all these companies with the, you know, 25 or 30 million new people who are going to be paying for health insurance. So, it's, obviously, a huge boon to that industry. And I think Wall Street correctly read what the health care effort is all about. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Rahm Emanuel, the President's Chief of Staff, was Bill Clinton's Political Director. And Rahm Emanuel's take away from Bill Clinton's failure to get health insurance passed was 'don't get on the wrong side of the insurance companies.' So their strategy was cut a deal with the insurance companies, the drug industry going in. And the deal was, we're not going to attack your customer base, we're going to subsidize a new customer base. And that script was pre-cooked so it's not surprising that this is what comes out the other side. 

BILL MOYERS: So are you saying that this, what some call a sweetheart deal between the pharmaceutical industry and the White House, done many months ago before this fight really began, was because the drug company money in the Democratic Party? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, it's two things. Part of it was we need to do whatever it takes to get a bill. Never mind whether it's a really good bill, let's get a bill passed so we can claim that we solved health insurance. Secondly, let's get the drug industry and the insurance industry either supporting us or not actively opposing us. So that there was some skirmishing around the details, but the deal going in was that the administration, drug companies, insurance companies are on the same team. Now, that's one way to get legislation, it's not a way to transform the health system. Once the White House made this deal with the insurance companies, the public option was never going to be anything more than a fig leaf. And over the summer and the fall, it got whittled down, whittled down, whittled down to almost nothing and now it's really nothing. 

MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, and this was Howard Dean's point this week was that this individual mandate that's going to force people to become customers of private health insurance companies, the Democrats are going to end up owning that policy and it's going to be extremely unpopular and it's going to be theirs for a generation. It's going to be an albatross around the neck of this party. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Think about it, the difference between social insurance and an individual mandate is this. Social insurance everybody pays for it through their taxes, so you don't think of Social Security as a compulsory individual mandate. You think of it as a benefit, as a protection that your government provides. But an individual mandate is an order to you to go out and buy some product from some private profit-making company, that in the case of a lot of moderate income people, you can't afford to buy. And the shell game here is that the affordable policies are either very high deductibles and co-pays, so you can afford the monthly premiums but then when you get sick, you have to pay a small fortune out of pocket before the coverage kicks in. Or if the coverage is decent, the premiums are unaffordable. And so here's the government doing the bidding of the private industry coercing people to buy profit-making products that maybe they can't afford and they call it health reform. 

BILL MOYERS: So explain this to the visitor from Mars. I mean, just this week, the Washington Post and ABC News had a poll showing that the American public supports the Medicare buy-in that- 


BILL MOYERS: By a margin of some 30 points- 


BILL MOYERS: And yet, it went down like a lead balloon. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Look, there are two ways, if you're the President of the United States sizing up a situation like this that you can try and create reform. One is to say, well, the interest groups are so powerful that the only thing I can do is I can work with them and move the ball a few yards, get some incremental reform, hope it turns into something better. The other way you can do it is to try to rally the people against the special interests and play on the fact that the insurance industry, the drug industry, are not going to win any popularity contests with the American people. And you, as the president, be the champion of the people against the special interests. That's the course that Obama's chosen not to pursue. 

MATT TAIBBI: And I think, you know, a lot of what the Democrats are doing, they don't make sense if you look at it from an objective point of view, but if you look at it as a business strategy- if you look at the Democratic Party as a business, and their job is basically to raise campaign funds and to stay in power, what they do makes a lot of sense. They have a consistent strategy which involves negotiating a fine line between sentiment on the left and the interests of the industries that they're out there to protect. And they've always, kind of, taken that fork in the road and gone right down the middle of the line. And they're doing that with this health care bill and that's- it's consistent. 

BILL MOYERS: If you were Republican, wouldn't you feel right now that it's going your way? I mean, the Democrats control the White House, they control Congress and the only thing they've been able to make happen this year is escalate the war in Afghanistan

MATT TAIBBI: The Democrats are in exactly the same position that the Republicans were in once the Iraq War turned bad. All the Republicans have to do now is sit back and watch the Democrats make a disaster out of this health care effort. And they're going to gain political capital whether they're in the right or not. And I think it's a very- it's a terrible thing for the party. 

BILL MOYERS: Some of your progressive readers and colleagues are going to take issue with you, of course, because there are progressive figures like John Podesta, of the Center for American Progress, Kevin Drum, and others who say, look, this bill has its real problems. It's got some real toxic qualities to it. But it's not as bad as Kuttner and Taibbi think. This is the Senate bill, it covers 30 million-plus more people, has subsidies for low-income families, spreads the risk, lowers some premium costs, creates some exchanges where people can shop for better coverage and prices. You know, don't be too hard on it. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, my co-editor, Paul Starr in the editorial in the current issue of "The Prospect" takes exactly that position. Don't be too hard on Obama, he inherited a really difficult situation and we're making incremental progress. If we could've done better we would've. Paul and I disagree about that. I mean, I think one of the challenges of a president is to transform the reality rather than just work within its parameters. I think the other problem, frankly, is that those of us who consider ourselves progressives invested so much in this remarkable figure, Barack Obama. And we read our own hopes into him. We saw him as a potentially great president. We saw this as a potentially transformative moment, I certainly did, where he could've chosen to be the kind of president Roosevelt was. And it turns out that's not who is characteralogically and that's not how he chose to play the moment. 

BILL MOYERS: Yes or no. If you were a senator, would you vote for this Senate health care bill? 




BILL MOYERS: Why? You just said it's designed to enhance the fortunes of the industry. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, it's so far from what I think is necessary that I don't think it's a good bill. But I think if it goes down, just because of the optics of the situation and the way the Republicans have framed this as a make or break moment for President Obama, it will make it easier for the Republicans to take control of Congress in 2010. It will make Obama even more gun-shy about promoting reform. It will create even more political paralysis. It will embolden the republicans to block what this President is trying to do, some of which is good, at every turn. So I would hold my nose and vote for it. 

MATT TAIBBI: My feeling on it is just looking more concretely at the health care problem, this is a bill that to me doesn't address the two biggest problems with the health care crisis. One is the inefficiency and the bureaucracy and the paperwork which it doesn't address at all. It doesn't standardize anything. The other is price, which has now fallen by the wayside because there's no going to be no public option that's going to drive down prices. So, if a health care bill that doesn't address those two problems, to me, is- and additionally is a big give-away to the insurance companies because it provides, you know- it creates this new customer base, it's something I personally couldn't vote for. 

BILL MOYERS: Aren't you saying that in order to save the Democratic President and the Democratic Party in 2010 and 2012 you have to have a really rotten health insurance bill? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, when you come down to one pivotal moment where a bill is before Congress and the administration has staked the entire presidency on this bill and you're a progressive Democrat are you going to vote for it or not? Let me put it this way, if I were literally in the position that Joe Lieberman is in and it was up to me to determine whether this bill live or die, I would hold my nose and vote for it even though I have been a fierce critic of the path this administration has taken. 

BILL MOYERS: But doesn't that further the dysfunction and corruption of the system that you write so often about? I mean, you said a few weeks ago that our failed health care system won't get fixed because it exists entirely within the confines of yet another failed system, the political entity known as the United States of America. You said we have a government that is not equipped to fix actual crisis. So if Bob votes for a bill that in his heart and in his mind he does not believe really helps the situation, isn't he furthering a government that can't solve the actual crisis? 

MATT TAIBBI: I think so. I understand his point of view. But I my feeling is that if you vote for this bill and it passes, that's your one shot at fixing a catastrophic and completely dysfunctional health care system for the next generation maybe. And I think it's much better for the Democrats to lose on this issue and then have to regroup maybe eight years later, or six years later, and try again and do a better job the next time than to have it go through. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: We're going to have to do that anyway. In other words, these fights never end. We're going to have to go back and make a fight another day. And hopefully, that won't be 20 years from now. Hopefully, it will be six years from now. I think if this bill goes down it's going to be even harder to get the kind of legislation we want because the Republicans are really going to be on the march. So, the Democrats are really between a rock and a hard place here, because if it loses, there's one set of ways the Republicans gain. If it wins, there could be another set of ways that the Republicans gain. And this is all because of the deal that our friend, Rahm Emanuel struck back in the spring of passing a bill that's a pro-industry bill that doesn't really get at the structural problems. 

MATT TAIBBI: But that's the whole point. If the Democrats had used as a political strategy, we're just going to do what the vast majority of our constituents want and pass a bill that was real, that had real teeth to it, that provided real benefits and actually fixed the problems then, you know, the political benefits that the Republicans could've had after the passage of the bill would've been very limited it seems to me. They could've only gone that one direction and criticized that you know, as a, you know, a socialist give-away. They couldn't have criticized it as an industry give-away and ineffective. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Look, this is not Monday morning quarterbacking. 


ROBERT KUTTNER: I mean, I was making the same criticisms that you were at the time. But now we're down to a moment of final passage. And maybe my views are very ambivalent. But I would still vote for it because I think the defeat would be absolutely crushing in terms of the way the press played it, in terms of the way it would give encouragement to the far right in this country that we can block this guy if we just fight hard enough, if we just demagogue it.

MATT TAIBBI: But couldn't that defeat turn into- that crushing defeat, couldn't that be good for the Democrats? Couldn't it teach them a lesson that, you know, maybe they have to pursue a different course in the future? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, you're younger than I am. 

BILL MOYERS: Matt, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, a very progressive member of Congress who's been at this table wanted a public option. He says this health care bill appears to be the legislation that the president wanted in the first place. 

MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, I mean, I think that makes sense. Yeah, it's quite obvious that at the outset of this process, the White House didn't want, for instance, single payer even on the table, you know, when Max Baucus had his initial discussions in committee on this bill, he invited something like 43 people to give their ideas about, you know, how the bill might look in the future. And he didn't invite a single person from- who was an advocate of single payer health care. So that was never on the table. And it's quite clear that the public option was looked at more as a political obstacle for the White House as opposed to something that they really wanted. They kind of used it as something to scare the Republicans and the moderates with. And that's really all it ended up turning out to be. 

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, if he had wanted a public option, if he'd wanted a Medicare buy-in, he could have tried to persuade the public and the Congress. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: That's what's so galling. Yeah. 

BILL MOYERS: Galling? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: I mean, if you if you roll back the tape he could've played it so differently and he could've gotten a better bill. But we are where we are. 

MATT TAIBBI: I mean, that's what George Bush did when he wanted to get something unpopular passed or something that was iffy. I mean, he just took, you know, if there were any recalcitrant members, he just took him in the back room and beat him with a rubber hose until they changed their minds. I mean, he could've taken Joe Lieberman back there and said, look, if Connecticut ever wants a dime of highway money again, you're going to have to play ball on this thing. That's what the president does. I mean, the president has an enormous amount of power. The leaders, the majority leaders have an enormous amount of power. And if they want to pass something, they can do it. And especially when there's a tremendous public mandate to get something like this passed. I just- the idea that they couldn't do this was- is a fallacy. 

BILL MOYERS: But members of Congress, they take the same contributions from the same insurance and real estate and drug industry. You look at the list of contributions to members of Congress- they are as saddled by obligations as the President, right? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, some are and some aren't. I mean, the House, at least, just passed a bill that's over $100 billion to extend unemployment, extend insurance benefits in the interim prevent lay-offs at the level of state and local government. Now, you have a group of Democrats, and this is the real pity of it. The Democrats are supposed to be the party of the average person. You have the so-called New Democrats who are really the party of Wall Street. And then you have the Blue Dogs who are fiscal conservatives. And if you look at what happened in Barney Frank's committee to the financial reform bill, he's a pretty good liberal, he ended up looking like a complete stooge for industry because in order to get a bill out of his own committee, he had to appease the 15 New Democrats, so-called, who were put on that committee mostly by Rahm Emanuel when he was the- 

MATT TAIBBI: Sort of as a means to raise money. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: As a means to raise money. So Melissa Bean, who's a two-term Democratic Congressman ends up being the power broker because she controls 15 votes on Barney Frank's committee of what she's going to allow out of committee and what she isn't. 

BILL MOYERS: Why does she control 15 votes? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Because there are 15 New Dems, and this is the centrist caucus that particularly specializes in taking money from the financial industry. 

BILL MOYERS: You call them centrist, don't you mean corporate Democrats? I mean- 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Corporate, yes, sorry. That's too kind. They're corporate Democrats who were put on that committee because Rahm Emanuel felt that there's no better place than the House Financial Services Committee if you want to shake down Wall Street, to put it bluntly. 

MATT TAIBBI: There's a great example of Melissa Bean's power was when the banks wanted to pass an amendment into the bill that would have prevented the states from making their own tougher financial regulatory rules. And Bean put through this amendment that basically said that the federal government would have purview over all these laws. And it passed. And this was the kind of thing that the banks wanted. They just go to Melissa Bean, she puts that amendment in there and it and it gets through. 

BILL MOYERS: If you were Barack Obama in a city that's overrun by money, how would you try to fix it? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: I would go over the heads of the special interests to the people. I think there's a lot of sullen apprehension, frustration out in the country. And I think the people are hungry for leadership. He's not doing that sufficiently. 

MATT TAIBBI: It's absolutely a political winner for the president to hit Wall Street very hard and do all the things that he's supposed to be doing right now. You know, that all the things that FDR did. If he did those things, if he remade Wall Street in the way that it needs to be remade, he would do nothing but gain popularity. And I think that's the strategy he should have pursued. 

BILL MOYERS: But what if by nature, that's not what he wants to do? What if, by nature, he prefers to head the establishment, than to change it? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Then he runs the risk of being a failed president. And I do have the audacity to hope that he's a smart enough, principled enough guy, that some time in his second year in office, he's going to realize that he's at a crossroads. 

MATT TAIBBI: This isn't a purely political problem. This isn't just a question of how does Barack Obama get reelected. This is a serious problem. He has to put aside maybe his inclinations to think about what he can do to actually fix the country. And it's, you know, desperately in need of fixing. And so, if he's not that guy, he has to become that guy. 

BILL MOYERS: You say it's a serious problem. But isn't from your own experiences, your long experience, your recent experience, isn't this the fundamental question issue of why it's not working, that there's too much money canceling out other imperatives, other needs, other possibilities? 

MATT TAIBBI: This is the fundamental question. Is there a way that we can have a politician get elected without the sponsorship of special interests? Can we get somebody in the White House who's independent of the special interests that are in the way of real reform? And that's the problem. We haven't been able to have that happen. And we need to find a way to have that happen. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Right. And I think it's not accidental that the last three Democratic presidents have been at best, corporate Democrats. And one hoped because of the depth of the crisis and the disgrace of deregulation and ideology, and the practical failure of the Bush presidency, this was a moment for a clean break. The fact that even at such a moment, even with an outsider president campaigning on change we can believe in, that Barack Obama turned out to be who he has been so far, is just so revealing in terms of the structural undertow that big money represents in this country. The question is: Is he capable of making a change -- he's only been in office less than a year -- in time to redeem the moment, redeem his own promise? 

BILL MOYERS: When you talk about corporate Democrats, exactly what do you mean? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: I mean Democrats who are reluctant to cross swords with the corporate elite that has so much power in this country, whether it's the Wall Street elite or whether it's the health-industrial complex. 

MATT TAIBBI: And I think, you know, back in the in the mid-'80s, after Walter Mondale lost, I think the Democrats made a conscious decision that they were no longer going to rely entirely on interest groups and unions to fund their campaigns, that they were going to try to close that funding gap with the Republicans. And they made a lot of concessions to the financial services industry to big corporations. And that's who they are now. I mean-- 

ROBERT KUTTNER: That's a little too harsh. Just the pity of it is there are probably 40 Democrats in the Senate who are not corporate Democrats. And there are probably 200 Democrats in the House who are not corporate Democrats. If we could push a little harder, we can take back our political system and have a democratically elected set of officials who are the kind of counterweight to big money that we need in order to get reform. 

BILL MOYERS: So Democrats have their own obstructionists? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Yeah. You have Republican wall-to-wall obstructionism, which is partisan. And with a few exceptions, Republicans are totally in bed with big business. And you have just enough Democrats who are in bed with big business that it makes it much harder for progressive Democrats to follow the agenda that the country needs. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: It just takes a lot of guts. It takes a lot of nerve. It takes a willingness to be somewhat radical. 

BILL MOYERS: What you mean, radical? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: I mean, confronting the elite that really has a hammerlock on politics in this country and articulating the needs of ordinary people. Now, in Washington, that's considered radical. 

BILL MOYERS: I was thinking about both of you Sunday night when President Obama was on 60 MINUTES and he said... 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street

BILL MOYERS: Then on Monday afternoon, he had this photo opportunity in which he scolded the bankers and then they took it politely and graciously, which they could've done because the Hill at that very moment was swarming with banking lobbyists making sure that what the President wants doesn't happen. I mean, what did you think as you watched him on 60 MINUTES or watched that press conference? 

MATT TAIBBI: It seemed to me that it was a response to a lot of negative criticism that he's been getting in the media lately, that they are probably looking at the President's poll numbers from the last couple of weeks that have been remarkably low. And a lot of that has to do with some perceptions about his ties to Wall Street. And I think they felt a need to come out and make a strong statement against Wall Street, whether they're actually do anything is, sort of, a different question. But I think that was my impression. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: I was appalled. I was just appalled because think of the timing. On Thursday and Friday of last week, the same week when the president finally gives this tough talk on "60 Minutes," a very feeble bill is working its way through the House of Representatives and crucial decisions are being made. And where is the President? I mean, there was an amendment to put some teeth back in the provision on credit default swaps and other kinds of derivatives. And that went down by a handful of votes. And to the extent that the Treasury and the White House was working that bill, at all, they were working the wrong side. There was a there was a provision to exempt foreign exchange derivatives from the teeth in the bill. That-- 

MATT TAIBBI: Foreign exchange derivatives are what caused the Long Term Capital Management crisis-- 


MATT TAIBBI: A tremendous problem. 

BILL MOYERS: Ten or 12 years ago, right? 


ROBERT KUTTNER: Yeah. And, Treasury was lobbying in favor of that. There was a provision in the bill to exempt small corporations, not so small, I believe at $75 million and under, from a lot of the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requiring honest accounting. Rahm Emanuel personally was lobbying in favor of that.

BILL MOYERS: So you had the Treasury and the White House chief of staff arguing on behalf of the banking industry? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Right. Right. And so here's the president two days later giving a tough speech. Why wasn't he working the phones to toughen up that bill and, you know, walk the talk? 

BILL MOYERS: Get on the phone with the Chairman of the Committee and say, if you want that dam in your district, I want your vote on this. 



BILL MOYERS: And that's what you mean? 


BILL MOYERS: You might praise them in public, but you threaten them in private, right? 

MATT TAIBBI: Exactly, yeah. They have-- 

BILL MOYERS: Nobody's afraid of Obama, you know. You go to Washington as you do, report from Washington. Nobody's afraid of him. 


ROBERT KUTTNER: This style is rather diffident. His style is rather hands-off. He's very principled. But, if you're going to be a politician, you have to get in there and mix it up. And to the extent that his surrogates are mixing it up, when it comes to reforming Wall Street, they're mixing it up on the wrong side. 

BILL MOYERS: Well, explain this to me. What is your own take on why he chose Geithner and Summers and people from Goldman Sachs and Wall Street to come and be his financial advisors, instead of choosing Stiglitz-- 

MATT TAIBBI: Volker-- 

BILL MOYERS: Some of his advisors from the progressive wing of the Democratic system? 

MATT TAIBBI: Most people that I've talked to have taken one of two positions on this. One is that Obama was naïve, that he doesn't know a whole about the financial services industry, and he felt the need to rely upon people who'd been there before, people who've had these jobs before, and you know, who have this expertise. And there's another school of thought that look, he took more money from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate in history. Goldman Sachs was his number one private campaign contributor. And if you just look at the evidence, it's just really business as usual. This is what the Democratic Party has done since the mid-'80s. They've relied heavily on the financial services industry to fund their campaigns. And it's the quid pro quo. They gave a lot of money to help these guys run, and in return, they get the big jobs, you know, in the White House. 

BILL MOYERS: But here's how they repay him. This is on "The Huffington Post:" "Bank lobbyists launch call to action to crush financial reform. The American Bankers Association issued a call to action on Wednesday urging its lobbyist and member banks to make an all-out effort to crush regulatory reform in the Senate." This is how they reward his own tolerance towards them, right? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: Right. And you've got to play hardball against these guys now. I do not want to leave this show with your viewers thinking this has been just a council of despair. So will you allow me to play Pollyanna for 30 seconds? Because I think this guy is nothing if not a work in progress. He's nothing if not a learner. And I think there is a chance. I don't think I would bet my life on it but I think there's a possibility that by the fall of 2010, looking down the barrel of a real election blowout, you could see him change course, if only for reasons of expediency, but hopefully for reasons of principle as well, if he feels that the public doesn't have confidence that he is delivering the kind of recovery that the public needs. This is a guy who is a very smart, complicated man. And I think don't speak too soon, for the wheel's still in spin. I don't want to totally give up. 

MATT TAIBBI: Yeah. I mean, obviously, it's too early to completely abandon hope that he's going to turn things around. But I think that's a belief that's not really based on evidence. If you look at the evidence of how he's behaved so far, and who he's got, you know, working in the White House, and who he's getting his money from, and how the party has behaved over the last couple of decades. You're really basically relying upon the impression that he gives as a kind, decent, warm-hearted intellectual guy. That's what the basis of that faith that there's going to be this turnaround. It's really not anything that's actually concretely happened that would give you reason to think that. 

ROBERT KUTTNER: The other thing that's missing, if you compare him with Roosevelt or LBJ or Lincoln, the other thing that's missing is a social movement. In all of these great periods of transformation, you had social movements doing a complicated dance with the president, where sometimes they were working with him, sometimes they were beating up on him. That certainly describes the civil rights movement and Lyndon Johnson. It describes the abolitionists and Lincoln. It describes the labor movement and Roosevelt. Where's the movement? 

BILL MOYERS: Coming down to the office this morning, the cab driver turned and said, "You see the newspaper this morning?" And he turns and hands me the NEW YORK POST. "It's Wall Good: Wall Street Earnings Soar to $49 Billion in the First Three Quarters of the Year ... Profitability has soared because revenues rose ... Wall Street bonuses for employees in the city may be as much as 40 percent higher than in 2008." What would you say to the President about this? Does he know? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: I think, to some extent, the White House lives in an echo chamber. They do these public events that are intended to demonstrate that the president's listening, that he's feeling our pain. Congress gets a very bad rap. But I was invited to speak to the House Democrat caucus a couple a weeks ago. And they are furious. They can't publicly embarrass their president, but they go home on weekends and they talk to their folks and they hear the individual stories of suffering. And they feel that certainly the Treasury, to some extent the White House, just doesn't get it and the Republicans are going to end up with a narrative and the Tea Party folks, it's the far right that is on the march when ordinary people need a champion. 

BILL MOYERS: So, what are people to do? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: I think there are there are things that are not too complex for people to understand. If the value of your home is going down the drain because the government's not doing anything about an epidemic of foreclosures, that's the kind of thing that people can talk about across a kitchen table. They do talk about it across the kitchen table. And you need more leadership like a Marcy Kaptur or a Maria Cantwell, elected officials who get it, who have not been bought and paid for by Wall Street stirring up people and turning this into a movement. 

MATT TAIBBI: And that's really where Barack Obama's failings are the biggest. This is exactly where we need a president with the communication skills that he has. I mean, he's probably the one person who could help all of America make sense of all this stuff. And he's not doing it. I mean, he's doing these photo ops, you know, earlier in the week, with a couple of bankers. It's a kabuki dance to show that he's against Wall Street. But he's not explaining to people how all this stuff works. And that's the problem. 

BILL MOYERS: Are you a cynic after all your reporting this year? 

MATT TAIBBI: No, not at all. I mean, I think on the contrary. I think cynicism is accepting all this as, you know, politics, as the way it is. I think we have to not accept what's going on. And that's not being cynical. That's being helpful. 

BILL MOYERS: But is it naïve to think that in a country of so many clashing interests, we might get better results from the political system than we're getting right now? 

ROBERT KUTTNER: I think there are periods of American history when the political system rises to the occasion. It certainly did with the civil rights movement. It certainly did in the 1930s. But there's no guarantee that it's going to come out the way it needs their come out. So I wouldn't give up on the political system. I mean, you have to keep fighting and working to rebuild democracy. Democracy is the only possible counterweight to concentrated financial power. And ideally, that takes a great president rendezvousing with a social movement. One way or another, there is going to be a social movement. Because so many people are hurting, and so many people are feeling correctly that Wall Street is getting too much and Main Street is getting too little. And if it's not a progressive social movement that articulates the frustration and the reform program, you know that the right wing is going to do it. And that, I think, is what ought to be scaring us silly. 

MATT TAIBBI: We are starting to see signs of a little bit of a grassroots movement. I mean, the stuff, you know, people who are refusing to leave their homes after they've been foreclosed upon. There are little pockets of movements you know, groups that are organizing against foreclosures all across the country. And this is one small slice of the economic picture that where it's quite clear what's going on, and people can really understand the relationship that they have with the financial services industry. And I think if, you know, there it's possible to imagine a movement coalescing around something like that. 

BILL MOYERS: Matt Taibbi, Robert Kuttner, thank you for being with me on the Journal. 

MATT TAIBBI: Thank you. 

Social Media Consulting, Web Presence,
Call Center Technology
Book A FREE 1/2 Hr. Phone Consultation