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Rule 5 Sunday – Sacrilege edition

January 24, 2010

Going to church this morning. A friends daughter is getting some award and I have been invited to come and watch and then have breakfast with them afterwords. Personally I think it is a ploy to save my heathen soul but they may be too late for that. I don’t even really know what to wear to church anymore. I would like to just wear jeans but that seems wrong so I will go with a skirt and blouse. I’ll take a jacket in case everyone else is wearing one. God I don’t even know what denomination they are. I’m such a horrible friend. I’ll tell you one thing though if they start speaking in tongues and handling snakes I am out of there.

Of course if the clergy looks like this I may become a regular church attendee –

I know, I know, I am going to hell for this one. For the religiously minded out there the priests are actually from a calendar put out by the Vatican. I don’t know who the nuns are but obviously their costumes aren’t church sanctioned. They may not be real nuns.


DoJ recommends Bush strategy for terrorist detainees – Where were they 12 months ago when Obama was busily making plans to shut Gitmo?

After the Massachusetts Massacre

…yet Tuesday’s special election was a dire omen for this White House. If the administration sticks to this trajectory, all bets are off for the political future of a president who rode into office blessed with more high hopes, good will and serious promise than any in modern memory. It’s time for him to stop deluding himself. Yes, last week’s political obituaries were ludicrously premature. Obama’s 50-ish percent first-anniversary approval rating matches not just Carter’s but Reagan’s. (Bushes 41 and 43 both skyrocketed in Year One.) Still, minor adjustments can’t right what’s wrong.

And the solution is? More of the same anti-business rehetoric-

Obama needs more independent economists like Paul Volcker, who was hastily retrieved from exile last week after the Massachusetts massacre prompted the White House to tardily embrace his strictures on big banks. Obama also needs economic spokesmen who are not economists and who can authentically speak to life on the ground. Obama must also reconnect. The former community organizer whose credit card was denied at the Hertz counter during the 2000 Democratic convention now spends too much time at the White House presiding over boardroom-table meetings and stiff initiative rollouts instead of engaging with Americans not dressed in business suits.

When it comes to economic substance, small symbolic gestures (the proposed new bank “fee”) won’t cut it. Nor will ineffectual presidential sound bites railing against Wall Street bonuses beyond the federal government’s purview. There’s no chance of a second stimulus. The White House will have to jawbone banks on foreclosures, credit card racketeering and the loosening of credit to small businesses. This means taking on bankers who were among the Obama campaign’s biggest backers and whose lobbyists have castrated regulatory reform by buying off congressmen of both parties. It means pressing for all constitutional remedies that might counter last week’s 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision allowing corporate campaign contributions to buy off even more.


Last year the president pointedly studied J.F.K.’s decision-making process on Vietnam while seeking the way forward in Afghanistan. In the end, he didn’t emulate his predecessor and escalated the war. We’ll see how that turns out. Meanwhile, Obama might look at another pivotal moment in the Kennedy presidency — and this time heed the example.


Kennedy didn’t settle for the generic populist rhetoric of Obama’s latest threats to “fight” unspecified bankers some indeterminate day. He instead took the strong action of dressing down U.S. Steel by name. As Richard Reeves writes in his book “President Kennedy,” reporters were left “literally gasping.” The young president called out big steel for threatening “economic recovery and stability” while Americans risked their lives in Southeast Asia. J.F.K. threatened to sic his brother’s Justice Department on corporate records and then held firm as his opponents likened his flex of muscle to the power grabs of Hitler and Mussolini. (Sound familiar?) U.S. Steel capitulated in two days. The Times soon reported on its front page that Kennedy was at “a high point in popular support.”

Can anyone picture Obama exerting such take-no-prisoners leadership to challenge those who threaten our own economic recovery and stability at a time of deep recession and war? That we can’t is a powerful indicator of why what happened in Massachusetts will not stay in Massachusetts if this White House fails to reboot.

I am not opposed to a return of Glass-Steagall although there seems to be some debate on whether it was the cause of the current financial crisis or whether it helped cushion the blow. What I do know is that by making banks the enemy you delay economic recovery. How are banks supposed to lend and businesses supposed to borrow if no one knows whether that bank will even exist the next day or if the feds will decide it needs to be broken up?

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