Sunday, November 16, 2008

Michael Scherer's Swampland post The Silent Change to Section 382 addresses only a small part of the secret billion dollar spending sprees. Bloomberg News is filing a lawsuit to force the Federal Reserve to release details on the nearly 2 trillion dollars in emergency loans it has given to unknown financial institutions:

Members of Congress, taxpayers and investors urged the Federal Reserve to provide details of almost $2 trillion in emergency loans and the collateral it has accepted to protect against losses... Bloomberg News has sought records of the Fed lending under the U.S Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure... In a separate FOIA request, Bloomberg asked for details of the collateral the Fed accepted against a $29 billion loan to facilitate the merger between JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bear Stearns Cos. to prevent the investment bank's collapse. The bank rejected that request in a letter dated Nov. 7.

We're talking about trillions of dollars. I'm not an economist and I have no idea how much of this is necessary, and what kind of collateral is appropriate in this situation. But do the Feds know any better? Their actions have contributed to the economic collapse, and now they're asking for carte blanche in cleaning up the mess.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Lot of discussion in Swampland comments about the selection of Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff. Emmanuel is seen by many in the netroots as an enemy--a DLCer, insider, opponent of the 50 state strategy, worse, trying to win purple seats by choosing candidates who don't support progressive principles, and, worst of all, supporting incumbents is solid blue seats who don't support progressive principles.  In some ways, the "better Democrats" formulation is directed against Emmanuel and others of his ilk in the Congress.

Others (I fall more into this camp) are happy to see him out of the Congressional leadership, and in a staff role. This is, in part, because of the effect he has had in selecting and funding Congressional candidates, and in part because he seems to be a natural fit for the role of a tough-minded chief of staff in what will be  a hostile, hard-knocks political environment.

There are other positives. It's good, in my opinion, to see Obama turning to people he was worked with along the way, to see a Chicago axis running through his key appointments, to know that he will dance with who brung him.  It reinforces the image that Obama has cultivated of a president comfortable in his own skin.

But like so much else in this incipient presidency,  it's pretty much impossible to know what this  means.  Is Obama's chief of staff going to play a policy role?   Most of us are confident that the  era of policy subjugated entirely to politics is finally over, but Obama's support for ethanol subsidies, "Clean coal," the FISA and other politically expedient positions leaves room for doubt of the impact of having a chief of staff for whom political expediency is a watchword.

Or is Emmanuel going to be an enforcer, leaving policy decisions to the President and his specialized advisers?  The presence of Axelrod and Gibbs in the group of advisors suggests that Emmanuel's political role may be in a circle somewhere outside the center.  Obama's "Team of Rivals" theme, would also indicate a minimal policy role for Emmanuel.  

In every administration, the slots in which the most influential advisers will occupy is pretty much impossible to predict.  The Chief of Staff slot has been filled by the leading adviser in the past,  but the leading adviser has been found in any number of slots from ranging from the head of the NSA (Kissinger) to Attorney General (RFK) to seemingly insignificant offices (Rove).

So does Emmanuel pick really does us much of anything about what we can expect from the new administration?  As with Obama's comment that people see him as a mirror, I think much of the reaction to Emmanuel's selection is projection.  The only thing we can say for sure is that this is more evidence that Obama is not afraid to choose challenging personalities,  rather than sycophants, for key roles.  That alone is  a welcome development.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shelter from the Storm

Just a post to create space for lonely hearts unable to comment at swampland.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A commenter at Swampland

Said this about a pogniant Joe Klein post re: Obama's Grandmother

What a way to distract from the real issues at hand.

This is my response:

Interestingly enough, while there are many specific issues that need to be debated and that people can find themselves on several sides of, this campaign has unfortunately become a referendum on whether hatred and fear will continue to sell.
It actually touches on all the other important issues, because when we deal with terrorism and threats abroad, it will be important that we deal rationally and with the knowlege that we are dealing with fellow human beings and not demons, and as we tackle a sinking economy, it will be important that we realize that we are all in it together and that by sharing the burden and working together we can lift ourselves out of the difficulty, but if we insist that it's every man for himself, we're doomed to do more harm to everyone.

I have faith that most Americans realize this and that this will become evident as the day wears on.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Swampland Troll

Cross posted because of the moderation control at swampland, re a commenter trying to equate media coverage of pregnant Palin teen to intruding on Obama's Halloween evening.

This is such an amusingly rich incident of wingnuttery that it deserves comment.
First, we've got the classic "Clinton did it too" argument. This is the twisted hypocrisy argument. Here, it seems to take the form of "Vile people in internet comment threads and open diaries spread baseless rumors about Trig's parentage and therefore it's okay for the traditional media to harass Obama and his kid on Halloween."
Second, of course, it's inaccurate. The only reporting in the traditional media I saw about the Trig pregnancy came from the McCain campaign, blaming those rumors on the need to tell the public about the teenaged pregnant drop-out.
Third, it's kinda stunning they should say that the coverage of this has been unduly negative. The fact that the Palins represent a living, breathing example of the effects of abstinence only pregnancy prevention, with two high school drop outs as the result, has not been spoken about much, speaks to quite a bit of self-restraint. When one tries to imagine the firestorm that would have erupted if even a sibling of one of the Obama's had a pregnant teenaged daughter, it's literally laughable that they could complain about the restraint the traditional media has shown.
Finally, and seriously, this is a reminder of what digby said earlier this week. These people do not blink at hypocrisy, at all. They will, turning on a dime, violate the principle they are accusing you of violating five minutes ago. We are going to suddenly be told about the importance of divided government, of voting against party, and, most important, of the perils of a jack-booted all powerful executive. In the most lurid and dishonest terms, at the same time they try that the pursuing exactly the same issues in the past administration is entirely political in nature.

[crossing fingers. No preview. Long post. Did I say @ss by accident somewhere?]