News that Makes you Go ‘Hunh’?

Simple explanations for perplexing news headlines.

* A poll shows that the US public blames politicians in Washington, D.C., more than they do Wall Street, for the bad economy. While legislative changes and lack of regulation, pushed in Washington, had a role, the economic crisis was mainly caused by criminality and/or criminal irresponsibility on the part of the banks and the securities industry.

So why is Washington taking the fall here (to the extent that a lot of people blame President Obama for the TARP bailout, which was Bush’s doing)? Because Wall Street owns the media corporations like Fox Cable News that bombard the American people with the propaganda message that government is bad and inept, whereas corporations are sleek and efficient. Of course, the Federal government is still here, but Lehman Brothers is not, which suggests the opposite.

* Only 9% of the media coverage of President Obama is positive in tone, whereas over 30% of the coverage of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann is positive, with other Republican candidates trailing closely.

Since Barack Obama is clearly a highly intelligent and competent leader who has done relatively well given that he became president when the US was going over the Niagara Falls in a barrel, it is on the surface baffling that he should be pilloried while a nut job like Bachmann and a nonentity like Perry are relatively feted.

But if you follow Media Matters fact checking regularly, you wouldn’t be surprised.

*Journalists are calling the Occupy Wall Street protests “unprecedented.”

This characterization can only be offered because the long history of democratic and progressive protests against Wall Street, going back to the Jeffersonian democrats, is typically not taught in American schools, and US television is careful to remain ahistorical and to teach people to think ahistorically. Everything is explained by character, emphasis is put on timeless celebrity, and social and historical causation is ignored. As Glenn Greenwald rightly puts it, “Anyone expressing confusion about why these protests are erupting or what the ‘message’ is is almost certainly someone invested in keeping things exactly the way they are.”

* Republican representative Cliff Stearns told NPR that the US “can’t compete with China to make solar panels.”

But General Electric is confident that it can compete, and is building a 400-megawatt facility in Aurora, Colo, to produce cadmium telluride thin-film solar panels. GE is confident that it has the technology and deep pockets and business expertise to compete in that industry.

So how come GE is more confident than Stearns? Hmm. Maybe Stearns is in the back pocket of Big Oil?

Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Responses | Print |

26 Responses

  1. When the BBC report the protests in the city of London, they use the phrase “anti-Capitalist” once every ten seconds. Are we being told that moral objections, to out-and-out gambling, criminal behaviour, and the refusal to comply standards of honesty expected from the rest of us, have nothing to do with it? Are we being told the protesters are all die hard Socialists who wish to give to place to productive private enterprise? Are we being told there is no viable alternative?
    Once upon a time I was perfectly happy to pay them my licence fee. I’m now not to pleased to subsidise them as they rehearse their skills as court ‘intellectuals’.

    • I listen to BBC podcasts regularly, and am generally struck by the way the business and financial reports tend to select the most right wing US businesspeople and hired economists to interview.

      Frankly, it’s become so disappointing that I’ve been sticking to comedy, history, and technology programs lately.

      • The BBC you’re receiving is the NewBBC. It is NOT OldBBC, which had a reputation as the worlds best and most independent public broadcaster. The NewBBC is a commercial broadcaster pretending to be a public broadcaster, i.e. its an imposter.

        The long & short of it is that NewLiebor under ToneDeaf Bliar told the OldBBC to scrap short wave and embrace NewTech. The NewBBC sells its product to US rebroadcasters for truckloads of US fiat dollar bills. As a consequence it now has CUSTOMERS, the US rebroadcasters and their masters, listeners and viewers arentt stakeholders in the NewBBC.

        So its a case of he who pays the piper calls the tune.

        The pillaging of the OldBBC continues under deCameron’s Condem(n) government. BillyTheVague has pilfered the funding the World Service did get from the Foreign Office, and told then to go and loot Campbell H’s licence Fee.

        It may all come out in a future episode of the “soap-opera tragicomedy virtual reality pantomime” known as the Revelations of The New British Establishment. Assuming there’s anyone left to tell it and anyone left (or interested in) watching & listening.

        If/when the Euro crashes next week the flash traders are likely to target all those CDS’s that Giethner’s sitting on; then the Occupiers will be out of a job, there won’t be a Wall Street to occupy, or not as we know it.

        That’s what Tim is scared of, flash trading of the Credit Default Swaps created in 2008 – they’re still where TARP left them in Tim’s back pocket – that’s why no one wants his job – ha ha ha.

        • Very interesting. As suspected, in one word, Blair.
          Sounds like we should be asking for a return on our licence fees.

  2. The MSM, its journalists, are the main culprit. Democracy can not function under a Goebbels-like propaganda. The movement should demand the MSM invites authors like Juan Cole to write columns in it.

  3. The reason Obama gets blamed for the economy is simple — he is in charge.

    When he was elected, within days he appeared with Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, architects of the Clinton-era financial “reforms”. Rubin was quickly dropped, but Rubin’s rancid policies were implemented by Summers and Geithner.

    Instead of using his mandate and high public support in 2009 to restore banking and finance to their proper roles (i.e., as regulated utilities, not TBTF casinos), Obama viewed his role as restoring the pre-Lehman excesses, which were largely successful.

    Look at what happened last December — large democratic majorities voted to extend Bush tax cuts. “Negotiated” by Obama… July and August were sick jokes on the public and the supercommittee promises more of the same (corporate tax cuts, huge national security spending, social welfare cuts).

    Healthcare is another example — the public option was quickly dumped and never really an option at all.

    Wars are expanded, new ones started. Civil liberties are taken as seriously by Obama as they were by Cheney.

    The best thing that could happen in 2012 is for Obama to get kicked out by anybody — left or right. At least with the republican nut jobs, they do as they promise and the democrats in congress are forced to grow a little bit of a spine.

    We really need third party alternatives, across the board, at all levels of government. Hopefully OWS continues through the winter and is not co-opted by corporatist hacks like Obama.

    • Well written and an accurate assessment of ‘recent’ history going back to Ronald R. As long as pols of either party can be bought off to insure re-election, needed legislation will always be obstructed by big money, media hacks and American voter amnesia/apathy. Maybe a military draft and 20 percent unemployment will wake the voter and cause him/her to be more receptive to another party that actually has America’s true interests at heart – those being truth, justice and a ‘new’ American way. The fact that the candidate pool is so anemic suggests that no one of any value (like Alan Grayson) feels they have a chance at overcoming opposition by both parties to effect dramatic changes.

      Democracy is for sale to the highest bidder and the average American is powerless, a bystander and at the mercy of the powerful forces that have hijacked America for the last sixty years.

    • The problem is, the Republican nut jobs are absolutely committed to revoking the right to vote of fast-growing minority groups the Democrats are counting on. They were actively suppressing minority votes under Bush, commanded by the sinister Hans von Spakovsky. But back then there was a tiny fringe of militia supporters who called minorities “14th Amendment citizens” with the implication that said amendment should be repealed. They are not a tiny fringe now.

      In other words, once a certain faction of the GOP gets in power, you won’t ever have a genuine election to kick them back out again. Notice that many recent authoritarian regimes have lasted about 40 years before popular uprisings took them down; the regimes imposed in Eastern Europe, the apartheid regime in South Africa, and the Gadafy and Sadat/Mubarak machines in northern Africa.

      Given that the corporate media will spin it so that the clock on the far-right regime will start fresh, instead of being properly dated back to Reagan’s election in 1980, do you think it’s worth laboring (and dying) the next 40 years building a full-scale revolution to overthrow it, rather than showing the initiative to escalate to full confrontation with the Right and the rich today while a weak, Weimar-like liberal regime dithers?

    • The reason Obama gets blamed for the economy…

      Obama isn’t blamed for the economy. Every poll ever done on the question shows that Wall Street and the Republicans are blamed by much larger segments of the public for the state of the economy than Obama.

  4. [ Only 9% of the media coverage of President Obama is positive in tone, whereas over 30% of the coverage of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann is positive]

    Meaning, not the tone is the real problem. And here we have the perfect storm of black propaganda both on economy and foreign policy.

    For example, 9-9-9 taxing plan and assassination plot against KSA are pure black agitprop. Do dems do anything to clear the atmosphere? No, they are playing the game. So, they don’t have much to complain about 9% and 30%…

  5. OpenSecrets.org shows who funds our politicians: link to opensecrets.org

    Summary: Wall Street goes both ways. My guess is they pick whoever they think has the best chance of winning, then ensure they always have the ear of that person.

    The NYT had an article a few months ago about how there were lack of prosecutions of financial crimes going all the way back to Clinton. Now, it’s hard to say how much illegal activity contributed to the crisis, but it’s a problem that the government isn’t investigating. I won’t go so far as Prof. Cole as to say that it’s the reason for the crisis, but my point is we’ll likely never know the role (if any) because the government is seemingly looking the other way regarding potential fraud. A few tidbits have come out here and there, but that information is borderline meaningless without real investigations by the SEC.

    • Summary: Wall Street goes both ways.

      Well, actually, Wall Street has given $350,000 to Mitt Romney, compared with $45,000 to Barack Obama, in the last FCC filing. That’s not exactly “both ways.”

      Nor is it a case of siding with the likely winner, since Obama consistently beats Romney in the polls.

      It’s pretty clear that Wall Street has a preference.

      • You should spend a few more minutes on the site, and actually look at the data. I think the fact that Obama has already raised a lot more than his competitors thus far explains a lot. The biggest reason is probably that the Republicans are in primary season, whereas the Democrats already have their nominee. The real preference won’t be revealed until after the Republican nomination is secured. That said, are you actually saying $350,000 is a significant amount in a presidential election?

        The relevant comparison would be the 2008 general election and the site shows Obama handily received more donations from finance than McCain: link to opensecrets.org

        • In 2008 the plutocrats were facing the risk of a full-scale 1929-level Depression; of course they were afraid of a doddering McCain and his health problems. In 1933 the elites were willing to give FDR a chance, but he couldn’t get results by giving them what they wanted (the National Recovery Act was actually price-fixing and other market manipulation and it proves a lot about how much capitalists really believe in free markets). So he went to the longstanding agenda of the Left during 1934-35, and the bastards turned on him with a vengeance when they saw he was literally governing around them instead of through them as they’d expected. The meanest of the bunch actually tried to create a Tea-Party militia to blackmail FDR into submission (Google the Dupont Plot or the Millionaires’ Plot). Then he turned back to the Right in ’37, then back to the Left once the War gave him carte blanche to truly reorganize the economy. However, a big faction of the plutocracy never forgave him, no matter what he did for them.

          Because of the bond FDR formed with the masses, by ’36 the GOP couldn’t win even with total Wall Street support; that is where Obama failed. However, the plutocracy must still consider the consequences of an insane neo-Victorian Christer in the White House now that the rest of the world is moving left and has leverage over a declining America.

      • Thanks, Joe! But remember, $1,000,000 to a Republican and $1.00 to a Democrat means “Both the Republican and Democratic candidates receive money…” under the current media style guide.

  6. “the propaganda message that government is bad and inept, whereas corporations are sleek and efficient”

    Oh, yes. Ask anyone who works, as I do, in an outsource role with large corporations. One client recently spent roughly $30,000 with us to create a suite of marketing materials which they never even unpacked from the boxes they were delivered in. Turns out an internal turf-war scotched the effort. “Sleek and efficient” corporations are little more than a fantasy of the Wall Street crowd.

    • I’m a contractor for one of the very biggest corporations in the world and I’ve seen it too.

      I’m not sure if the “sleek and efficient” lie is mostly manufactured so the white masses will believe it, or so they can cynically use it as a unifying mantra when they vote to destroy a government whose real sin in their eyes is that it lacks a righteous bias in favor of “good Americans”. In other words, the barbarian mind expects tribal institutions to enforce conformity and punish deviance, just as he does to his children and wife.

      Of course they are certain that a purge of minorities and queers will make things more efficient. Of course many are small businessmen or their henchmen and want to believe they can run the country better. But a lot of them probably are disturbed by corporate treason against the tribe, jobs going out and oil coming in. Right-wingers, back to Nazi times and before, deal with that cognitive dissonance by dividing the capitalist class into “good” capitalists – Protestant factory owners and landlords, versus “bad” capitalists – Jewish bankers and sin merchants. Of course there is no longer a difference; see GMAC.

      Perhaps the biggest reason they love the corporations is that they are pathetic addicts to the brands they consume. They mistrust the corporation but love Coke and Mickey Mouse. Addicts make up all kinds of lies about their favorite drug and the bastards who sell it, so thinking that the purveyors are more “efficient” than the government that just takes things away from good white Christians is an easy trap to fall into. I recall that Charlie Parker loved his pusher so much he named a song after him.


      • yes but

        charlie parker
        had it going on

        i defy any one
        to do what he did

        maybe we should
        have listened harder

        when you hear the truth
        you can’t close your ears

        when the universe sings
        you know we got to dance

  7. Blaming Wall Street is like blaming the fox for going after the hens. The blame goes to the government, i.e., the hen keepers whose allegiance is to the fox. The Democrasts are indebted to the big corporations no less than the Republicans.

    Behnam

  8. The Prof is correct. Listening to the Republican candidates debate last night, it was apparent that the only one who gets the blame, at least in those circles, is the present administration. The only candidate who tried to steer the debate in the direction of the banks, Ron Paul, was duly jumped on by the other candidates, and the audience dutifully booed the idea that the banks may bear some responsibility.

    The only “ideas” that emerged from that debate was to weaken government regulations and oversight even more, deny schooling and medical care to the children of illegal immigrants, cut foreign aid, but not to Israel, ask Iraq and Libya to reimburse the USA for “liberating” them, and of course cut taxes. So much from the graduates of Oral Roberts University.

  9. Seems to me part of being competitive in the this country is to ban cheaper imported products made under working conditions or equivalent pay that would illegal in the USA. That is truly unfair competition. Big capital has been busting international trade unions for over a century precisely so they could do this.

    The height of hypocrisy is when they turn around and complain about immigrant workers, which are in part a direct result of busting up unions.

    By making fair trade and and sustainable workplaces abroad into law (or even a strong voluntary standard), you make workers at home more competitive.

    • The USA should make stuff other countries & their consumers want to have and can afford to buy. Import replacement can only go so far, the US must increase its exports of both elaborately transformed goods AND raw material commodities. Few people outside the US will buy a tee shirt labelled “Made in USA” for $30 when they can buy 6 similar tee shirts labelled “Made in wherever” for the same $30. Foxconn is in the market for 1 million assembly line robots for its iPhone, iPad factories – it will probably get them from Europe, Taiwan and Japan.

      Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia etc are the countries against which the US should be competing, not countries with hundreds of millions earning less that $5 a day. Race to the top, not to the bottom. Beggar my neighbour policies inevitably lead to WAR.

      Here’s an interesting observation.

      US President Obama, ex Chicago community worker, former law professor – academic papers published and citations – zero. Voting record as a legislator – I wont go there, too embarrassing.

      German Chancellor Merkel, ex Minister for Environment, PhD in quantum physical chemistry – academic papers published and citations – dozens. Merkel suffered having to live in Communist GDR for the first 30+ years of her life.

      I cannot imagine a woman with a PhD in anything, let alone quantum science, becoming the US President in my lifetime. Mind you that’s true of most other countries, although I do recall that Mrs Thatcher was an industrial chemist.

  10. Although, for the most part, I deeply respect your opinons regarding the ME, you lost me on this one:

    ‘Since Barack Obama is clearly a highly intelligent and competent leader who has done relatively well…’

    Obama’s record is one of constant capitulation to corporate interests. He’s clearly demonstrated that his allegiance is to the wealthy and those not within the ranks of the elite can be damned. Hope and change may have been a great campaign slogan but the reality is that hope has vanished and nothing has changed.

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