Summers Is Packing His Bags As The Recession Is Said To Be Over, Media Gears Up For An Election And Buries Reports on Financial Crime

As the November election approaches, the White House seems to be ending its Rip Van Winkle-like slumber and has begun crawling out of the bubble of its own making. Many fear it’s a bit late.

The shakeup of President Obama’s economic team is long overdue. As Larry Summers slithers back to Harvard to save his tenure and write his book, he is likely to be replaced by exactly the wrong kind of person—a business executive, appointed to try to appease the Repugs and the Right. (Summers was paid $586,996-a-year at Hahvard and picks up all kinds of consulting deals on the side from Wall Street.)

This maneuver won’t work of course because nothing Obama does will ever please them because they need him as their piñata, and a symbol of failure. He claims to see that but just can’t seem to get his appeasement gene in check, notes the Naked Capitalism blog:

“As much as some will be pleased to see Larry gone (he was a leading advocate of bank-friendly policies), his replacement is certain not to represent a change in philosophy…. he has made the cardinal mistake of trying to please everyone and has succeeded in having no one happy with his policies.”

Journalist Robert Scheer hopes:

“Summers will have time to reflect on the dismal arc of his split tenure in government service. Thanks to the banking debacle he did so much to initiate back in the Clinton years, the nation now has more people living in poverty, 43.6 million of them, than ever in our history. Americans have witnessed the disappearance of $11 trillion of their net worth, $1.5 trillion in the second quarter; the debt has risen alarmingly; unemployment is stuck at 9.6 percent; and trillions of dollars in toxic pools of housing stock are still held by the banks to be thrown into the housing market fire sale anytime home prices promise to edge upward. Behold what brilliance has wrought.”

To “balance” his appointment of Elizabeth Warren, the President has nominated Jack Lews to head the Office of Management and Budget. Bernie Sanders says he will not support him because “I found too many echoes of the failed policies of the past in his responses to my questions on trade policy, Social Security, deregulation of banks and other issues.”

Even as the rats jump ship. The National Bureau of Economic Research which took a year to admit that the country was in recession now says the Recession is over, a conclusion that is not widely shared especially because the structural, systemic and political problems that caused the crisis have not been remedied. The respected Chilean Economist Manfred Max-Neef says the US economy is ‘underdeveloping.” Others still fear a total collapse.

But now that recovery has been pronounced—even if there has been no job creation—the media has a good excuse to move off the subject, to assume the best, and avoid investigating how the crisis happened, who benefited and who lost and is still losing,

The issues I have been raising about the crimes of Wall Street have been brushed under the rug, even by filmmaker Oliver Stone from whom one might have expected a deeper critique in his new Wall Street film, “Money Never Sleeps.”

The Village Voice who you would expect would welcome it, says Stone lets the “bad guys off the hook”:

“If barely prosecuted, the real players in our last crash face a long pop-culture pillorying. That is not, however, how Stone works; regarding power, his conclusions are best summed up by the hippie chick at the Lincoln Memorial in Nixon: “You can’t stop it, can you? Even if you wanted to. It’s not you. It’s the system.” Floating off on a faux-naïve happy ending this time, one takes the lesson that there are no villains—or that villains are all there are.”

So a generic indictment of “the system” substitutes for any exploration of the way that system actually worked, not just to make greed good but to hurt millions of people worldwide who lost jobs, homes and hope, plunging millions worldwide and here at home into deepening poverty.

I personally gave Stone a copy of my investigative film Plunder: The Crime of our Time months ago, but he seems to have brushed it off, focusing instead on a miasma of slick Hollywood production values. (Disclosure: I made a documentary, Beyond JFK, for Oliver’s company and he was in it, back in 1992.)

I have been getting some visibility for my DVD and companion book The Crime Of Our Time: Why Wall Street Is Not Too Big To Jail but not in mainstream media. Earlier this week, at a book launch, a Tea Party activist showed up for my spiel and took me to task loudly for being dismissive of her movement. But after we talked, I was pleased that she became open to my concerns and even — get this — praised me as “fair and balanced.” I was surprised. You can hear some of our exchanges and a storm of debate on the Between The Lines radio show that I was also broadcasting on during my talk.

Short of a major deepening of the crisis in the next few weeks, the election will soon constitute all the news all the time.

While voters are said to be angriest about the economy and Obama’s failures to stem the tide, the media will not devote much time or energy to educating the public about the deeper issues. Not when so many pundits and election insiders are fighting for face time on TV. Political blather and polls are back.  Economic crime is downplayed.

Unfortunately, one of the most important stories of our time is about to be buried again.

Filmmaker and News Dissector Danny Schechter edits Mediachannel.org.
For more on his film Plunder: The Crime of Our Time and companion book The Crime Of Our Time: Why Wall Street Is Not Too Big To Jail, visit plunderthecrimeofourtime.com.

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  • 5by5

    LET the door hit you in the ass on the way out, ya douche.

    I said Summers was a crap appointment from day one. The last economy that DINO ran was Lithuania’s and he did such a crap job (unemployment exploded and the suicide rate tripled) that within two years, the people there voted BACK IN the Communists they’d spent the past 80 years trying to get rid of, because after ‘ole Larry, the Commies actually looked good.

    I hope Obama puts Paul Krugman into Summer’s position. We might actually get the economy running well again with a Nobel Prize-winning Princeton Economist in that role. I also hope Obama puts Howard Dean in to replace that putz Rahm Emmanuel.

    I can dream….

    It’s now up to Americans to buck that little trend, and not overreact by voting in Fascists (the authoritarians on the right) in response to Uncle Larry failing to act Liberal enough to actually FIX the economy while in that appointed position.

  • 5by5

    LET the door hit you in the ass on the way out, ya douche.

    I said Summers was a crap appointment from day one. The last economy that DINO ran was Lithuania’s and he did such a crap job (unemployment exploded and the suicide rate tripled) that within two years, the people there voted BACK IN the Communists they’d spent the past 80 years trying to get rid of, because after ‘ole Larry, the Commies actually looked good.

    I hope Obama puts Paul Krugman into Summer’s position. We might actually get the economy running well again with a Nobel Prize-winning Princeton Economist in that role. I also hope Obama puts Howard Dean in to replace that putz Rahm Emmanuel.

    I can dream….

    It’s now up to Americans to buck that little trend, and not overreact by voting in Fascists (the authoritarians on the right) in response to Uncle Larry failing to act Liberal enough to actually FIX the economy while in that appointed position.

  • Vox Penii

    >the White House seems to be ending its Rip Van Winkle-like slumber and has begun crawling out of the bubble of its own making. Many [i.e., Danny Schechter attempting to universalize his opinion] fear it’s a bit late.

    >The respected [citation needed] Chilean Economist Manfred Max-Neef says the US economy is ‘underdeveloping.” Others still fear a total collapse.

    Max-Neef (formerly of the People’s Democratic Republic of Berkely) can be charitably described as naive; his work, which has not been rigorously tested or proven to work, generally betrays an ignorance of how economics actually works and instead focuses on Marxist-lite warmfuzzies. These unnamed “others” who fear a total economic collapse are worthless unless they and their arguments are detailed.

    >The National Bureau of Economic Research which took a year to admit that the country was in recession now says the Recession is over, a conclusion that is not widely shared especially because the structural, systemic and political problems that caused the crisis have not been remedied.

    {{{Sigh}}} A recession can only be diagnosed retroactively, by detailed analysis of economic data … it’s not like peeing on a litmus paper in a pregnancy test. the fact that that a conclusion is “not widely shared” is irrelevant to its accuracy; a recession has a narrow definition, and the end of a recession does not imply that everyone farts glitter and has a fantastic job. “the structural, systemic and political problems that caused the crisis have not been remedied.” strawman.

    >But now that recovery has been pronounced—even if there has been no job creation—the media has a good excuse to move off the subject,

    A sad fact of life: when sliding into a recession, jobs are the last thing to go … meaning that in coming out of a recession, jobs are the last thing to arrive.

    >The issues I have been raising about the crimes of Wall Street have been brushed under the rug, even by filmmaker Oliver Stone from whom one might have expected a deeper critique in his new Wall Street film, “Money Never Sleeps.”

    Oliver Stone is a melodramatist, not a scholar. > http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/jfkmovie.htm <

    and don't forget that even thought the sky is falling and capitalism is going to collapse, you can buy Danny Schechter's polemical documentary from iTunes for only $9.99! (credit card required)

  • Vox Penii

    the fact that Krugman went to Princeton is irrelevant (and an appeal to authority). also, i doubt that it’s fair to expect that he was more responsible than 50 years of Marxism for Lithuania’s rough transition from communism (the fact that Lithuanians voted communists back into power doesn’t mean the communists were better any more than a battered spouse returning to an abusive partner means that partner has changed; rather, it means that people often prefer the devil they know)

    moreover, krugman’s lengthy record of failed predictions ought to give one pause about appointing him to any position of power:

    It started out as a gag here on the editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and soon became a superstition:

    Every time the stock market took a little dip, we’d reprint one of Paul Krugman’s dour columns from the New York Jaundiced Times about the imminent doom of the American economy.

    Almost immediately the market would bounce back and then some. It worked every time.

    But we may have overdone it of late. By now the Dow Jones has started to cross into 12,000 territory. A few more Krugman columns explaining how the economy has cooled off and the thing could overheat.

    We reprinted one of his columns last Thursday morning and, sure enough, by the end of the day, the Dow ended the day over 12,000 for the first time. AN HISTORIC HIGH! and all that jazz.

    Well, sure. The Krugman touch never fails.

    The more Professor Eeyore says the economy is going to hell, the more heavenly it gets. Can it be just a coincidence? The Dow seems to surge whenever it sees “Paul Krugman” in a by-line. It must be a kind of Pavlovian reaction by now.

    But the last column of his we ran wasn’t about the economy. It was about politics. Its burden — and it wasn’t a light one to bear — is that folks should ignore the individual candidates in this congressional election and just vote for the party. Anyone who knows something of the good doctor’s politics can safely assume he meant the Democratic Party.

    Why? Answer: “The really important reason may be summed up in two words: subpoena power.” With the power to call witnesses, the Democrats could investigate, investigate, investigate.

    As the good doctor explains: “Those who think it’s a good idea to investigate, say, allegations of cronyism and corruption in Iraq contracting should be aware that any vote cast for a Republican makes congressional investigations less likely. Those who believe that the administration should be left alone to do its job should be aware that any vote for a Democrat makes investigations more likely.”

    There you have it, folks. Give the Democrats control of the House or Senate, or both, and you won’t have to worry about any legislation of great import being passed — as Dr. Krugman was honest enough to note. Instead, boy oh boy, the country can spend the next couple of years as tied up in investigations as it was during the Clinton Era of Bad Feelings. Hot dawg!

    This could be the greatest thing since sliced bread — or at least since Monicagate.

    In short, as an argument for electing a Democratic Congress, Dr. Krugman’s column makes a pretty good case for re-electing a Republican one. If just to avoid wasting a couple of years on scandalmongering.

    Dr. Krugman’s politics turn out to be as thoughtful as his prose, samples of which I’ve begun to save, they’re so delicious. My favorite Krugmanism of all time remains this piece of purple-as-a-bad-bruise prose:

    “And when the chickens that didn’t hatch come home to roost, we will rue the days when, misled by sloppy accounting and rosy scenarios, we gave away the national nest egg.”

    As prose, that’s a lot of poultry. But it bears the ineradicable mark of the Great Krugman, which means there’s no way an editor could have saved that cackling sentence.

    Naturally, soon after that barnyard metaphor was published, the economy responded by getting better ‘n’ better — thanks in large part to the Bush tax cuts that the professor is always denouncing.

    There’s a name for Paul Krugman’s favorite figure of speech. It’s called an Irish bull — in honor of an 18th century Irish parliamentarian, Sir Boyle Roche, whose bombast kept getting ahead of his thoughts. As in his complaint that Ireland was “overflowing with absentee landlords.” Also: “The cup of Irish misfortunes has been overflowing for centuries, and it’s not full yet.” But he had great hopes: “All along the untrodden path of the future, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand.”

    An Irish bull is easier to illustrate than define. The term refers to any statement that, though we usually have a pretty good idea of what the writer meant to convey, becomes nonsensical when taken literally.

    An Irish bull, in short, is always pregnant with absurd meaning. (See?) Which is why all metaphors should come with a warning label: Do Not Use Before Visualizing. That was George Orwell’s test for a metaphor: Try picturing it.

    Professor Krugman is a master of this unconscious art. And his politics, like his economic forecasts, can be as reliable as his prose. Just as everything is coming up weeds for the Republican slate in these midterm elections, Dr. Krugman has contributed one of his classic boomerang columns to the GOP cause. Karl Rove ought to send him a thank-you note.

    If there’s any hope at all for the once Grand Old Party in these midterm elections, and there may not be, it’s that Paul Krugman can do for it what he’s consistently done for the stock market.

    http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/greenberg102506.php3

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