A Sweet Profile



Lynn Sweet “Surprised” Obama Said Cambridge Cops “Acted Stupidly”

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It was not the first time.  Many individuals fear it will not be the last.  Last evening, during a Presidential press conference, millions witnessed the characteristic wonderment that is Lynn Sweet.  Whilst citizens in this country anxiously awaited more words from the President on what, for most is truly a tangible issue, Health Care coverage, Ms Sweet decided to move the conversation in her own memorable manner.  Provocateur , otherwise known as Chicago Sun Times Columnist Lynn Sweet did as she often does.  She changed the subject.  

For her, it seems entertainment, or that which might expand her now illustrious career is far more pleasurable than the tedious text that has the potential to improve life for every American.  Sweet might justify her stance by saying; “racial profiling” affects us all, or does it.  Perchance, her personal profile is the priority.

As she had done in the past, on the evening of July 22, 2009, this previously little known Journalist diverted attention.  Lynn Sweets said it was not a plot.  She had no intention of inciting the American people.  It was merely a matter of “timing.”  The White House Press Correspondent thought it “appropriate” to speak of what no one had throughout the night.  “Noted Harvard African-American studies Professor Henry Louis Gates Junior,” and his arrest at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts was, in her mind, the more meaningful matter.

For a long while, Lynn Sweet has defined what her readers must think of as imperative.  Her personal desires and chutzpah drive her.  “I do come from a place where people are not shy about mixing it up a little bit.” If Ms Sweet is not interested in a subject or a soul she will ignore what she thinks irrelevant.

In 1999, a  virtually unknown Illinois State Senator Barack Obama introduced himself to the Sun Times Washington Bureau Chief.  The author handed the Chicago tabloid Writer his autobiographical account, “Dreams From My Father.”  Five years later, in June, she belatedly began to leaf through the pages of the tome.  It was not until late in 2004, after United States Senator Obama  delivered his address at the Democratic National Convention, and the book was re-released that Sweet thought of the read as other than a bothersome endeavor.  

Once read, the Columnist offered quite a critical review of what had become a widely praised publication..   Perhaps, in 2004 and in July 2009, Sweet preferred to deviate from the norm, if only to distinguish herself as different.   No one can know with certainty.  Nonetheless, Americans were able to observe the Chicago Sun Times Correspondent created this distraction much in the way she had previously done.  Perchance, her style has helped advance her personal prominence.

Surely, she would later say, people have a right to know what the President thinks about issues other than Health Care reform.  Indeed, in her own blog post Lynn Sweet reminds Americans that two other reporters spoke on themes not related to Health care.  However, each of these asked what the Administration might do as it pertains to policy.  

The Sun Times Bureau Chief however, chose to ask the President for a personal perspective.  Intentionally, she presented a problem that evokes much passion. She stated, “What does that incident say to you and what does it say about race relations in America?” Certainly, Lynn Sweet defends; she did not consider how much the public loves to engage in divisive discussions.  The innocent bearer of information did not ponder the known veracity.  Conflict sells papers.  Assuredly, it never occurred to Ms Sweet she would garner greater visibility if her question were emotionally charged.  

However, history gives us pause.  We have seen in the past, when Lynn Sweet does what she does best; create a scene, her pocketbook and professional status profits.  A sensational story will cause her numbers to soar.   And so it was.

Damn the proposed reforms.  Forget what Americans think vital, possible alternatives that would improve medical practices.  Lynn Sweet wants to talk about race, racism, police, anything but policies that could benefit average Americans, Black, white, and every shade in between.

Friends, fellow reporters, readers of her articles, and of her blog understand.  Barack Obama was not able to charm Lynn Sweet.  she is not characterized as one who has an axe to grind.  Ms Sweet is sincerely on a mission.  She has her own plan.  The Correspondent’s mission began but a short time ago.  The Washington Bureau Chief said of herself.

“I started looking at a lot of blogs and I realized you need a sensibility!” she said. “Why am I here? What can I give you? I suppose I could make a blog on ‘Lynn Sweet’s thoughts about … whatever!'” . . .

“If I had choice between writing about something Bush did, or a congressman did, or Obama, why wouldn’t I go to something I saw people were backing? I just knew from the enormous amount of coverage Obama was getting that oooh, I knew I should be all things Obama. I never had a meeting; no one ever told me to do it. It was just like, I, I just smelled the coffee. I just understood that’s what I could be about.”

Thus, Ms Sweet became the news writer most closely associated with anything Obama.  Frequently, on radio, she speaks on the subject she claims to know best, Obama. The go-getter from the President’s hometown, Chicago, appears on most every television network.  The ascent of the man who now resides in the White House helped boost Sweet’s visibility.  Today, she is considered as she designed herself to be, an acknowledged expert on the President. As reported in The New York Observer,

When Andrea Mitchell introduced Lynn Sweet for her mid-afternoon show on MSNBC on May 16, she said, “Lynn Sweet is with the Chicago Sun-Times and has been covering him for years.”

That’s partially true. She has covered him for less than two [now near here] years. She has spent the majority of her other three decades covering any other number of political stories in Chicago.

Yet, the depth of her knowledge matters not.  Lynn Sweet has realized her dream.  She is the media and the message.  Since Barack Obama entered the scene, Sweet’s inquires have become the dominant news of the day.  

It matters not to Ms Sweet that each day, “If we do not act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance.”    She does not seem to think it exceedingly significant that “These are the consequences of inaction. These are the stakes of the debate we’re having right now.”  What the President might wish to say seems meaningless to someone such as her.  She rather know what Barack Obama thinks about topics that might propel her career. It appears, fame and fortune is her mission..

Americans might assume that this Reporter is not interested in what affects the electorate most.  She made no reference to a reality that affects all Americans.  Near fifty million citizens have no health care coverage.   2.3 million more people lose health coverage each year.  The tale that might titillate, was Sweet’s temptation.  What was the President’s reaction to a story on race.

She did not address the disparate treatment whites receive. Nor did she find her way to  studies that show the ranks of the underinsured are on the rise.  The invincible Lynn Sweet had other ideas.  While countless worry that the cost of such a climb could be disastrous, the Columnist with a stated singular focus acted as though this might be superfluous.

For Ms Sweet it would appear that a moment of personal fame, or public fury, is her preference.  Health Care reform will not be a concern for her as long as she remains popular.  Perchance, the better word for what Lynn Sweet hopes to achieve is the term that currently defines her calling.  She is without doubt a provocative and profitable professional.

References for the raiser of public rancor . . .

Tea Parties; Taxes and Torture Served

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

I am a discontent and distressed taxpayer!  “Disgruntled” is a word that might describe my deep dissatisfaction with how my tax dollars are spent.  Yet, on April 15, 2009, typically thought of as “Tax Day,” I felt no need to join my fellow citizens in protest.  I did not attend a “Tea Party”.  I too believe, in this country, “taxation without representation” is a problem.  One only need ponder the profits of lobbyists to understand the premise.  Corporate supplicants amass a 22,000 percent rate of return on their investments.  The average American is happy to realize a two-digit increase.  Nonetheless, as much as I too may argue the point, assessments are paid without accountability, what concerns me more is my duty dollars did not support what I think ethical projects.

My cash funded the unconscionable and the President stated “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”  

Had outrage for criminal intent and actions been voiced, I too might have rallied round bays and buildings with buckets of brewed leaves in hand.  Yet, it seemed amongst the tea teetotalers, no one was incensed by the illegal, and what I believe to be immoral practices.

Tea Tossed

The “Teatime” participants I heard did not mention the myriad of misery Americans inflicted on adversaries.  Fury for the previous Administration’s torturous policies did not appear in the papers, or, at least, I did not read these statements.  Talk of the recently released memorandums (pdf) did not evoke much discussion.  The current crop of “grassroots” demonstrators spoke of how the Obama budget might burden their personal lives.  Angry activists vocalized a preference not to pay levees.  Few, if any, reflected on the benefits received.  

While our grievances may differ, we share a conviction.  I too am troubled by what the Obama Administration, which I helped to elect, thinks correct.

Taxes Paid

However, unlike the anxious Americans who voiced their dissent for levees paid, I am happy to give my tax dollars to the government.  For me, funds that help supply public services are vital.  I welcome the opportunity to better ensure there will be police, firemen, and women. I take comfort in the knowledge children and adults may use libraries to peruse quality books. I embrace legislation intended to better instruction.  In my life the importance of education cannot be understated.  Bridges built and maintained, roads paved, traffic signs and signals, functional sanitary sewer systems, and diseases controlled and prevented . . . As a concerned citizen, I am glad I can contribute to these ventures.

I object to what I think unlawful and debauched.  I cannot condone interrogations authorized and acted upon, in my name.  My angst is exacerbated by the current Administration assertion; these crimes are not punishable by law.  Those who tortured only did as was commanded.  At the time, the Department of Justice declares, “superiors” stated such harsh techniques were legal.

Torture Tolerated

What I would call cruel and unusual punishment, the prior President, his Vice, and Cabinet thought proper.  Each Executive stated these torturous measures were necessary to protect Americans.  The people heard proclamations that what “we” did was justified.  It was effective.  Only months ago, Vice President Dick Cheney explained; “The professionals involved in that [so-called torture] program were very, very cautious, very careful — wouldn’t do anything without making certain it was authorized and that it was legal. . .  (I)t’s been a remarkably successful effort. . . .  I think those who allege that we’ve been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the terrorist surveillance program, simply don’t know what they’re talking about.”  (Memos aside.  Please peruse Torture Memorandums. )

Dick Cheney and his compatriots seem to distinguish between citizens of this country and those who might be identified as “foreigners.”  To further elucidate the spokesperson for the Bush White House stated; “These are not American citizens.  They are not subject, nor do they have the same rights that an American citizen does vis-à-vis the government.”

The newer Administration may concur; civil rights afforded to our countrymen may not be offered to individuals classified as combatants.  While I disagree with that contention, I do believe as the Obama White House  does.  International Law states, all living creatures have an inalienable right to be treated humanely.  

Thankfully, President Obama and his Cabinet condemn tortuous practices.  Yet, the current Administration announced there is no need to prosecute.  Mister Obama affirmed, “(A)t a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”

I must ask; does this declaration ensure history will be repeated?  Individuals such as I accept that tribunals will not transform what was.  Punishment may not convince those who engaged in criminal behaviors to change.  I seek no retribution.  Yet, I do think there is a need to prosecute the culpable.  Humanitarian principles lead taxpayers such as I to declare, torture, by any definition cannot be tolerated.  As a society, we have seen how people are easily numbed by what peers think, say, and do.  Studies show the prevalence of video violence has an influence on what we later think is acceptable.  

In America, ideally, not ideologically, we understand profound principles unite us.  The greater good, the commonweal, take precedence over individualism.  As is inscribed in the Preamble of the Constitution “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish” in this country, we care.  Our fellow citizens, and future generations matter to us.  

Perhaps this profundity explains why concerned citizens, those who happily contribute to tolls are distressed by the Obama Administration’s declaration, there will be no prosecution.

Persons such as I, who are troubled by torture, understand the past permeates the present and will be the future, if what is worrisome is avoided, accepted, or is left unattended.  We, the peaceful people who are proud to pay levees of love, are not comforted by an act of contrition.  Nor does the knowledge that President Obama released the memorandums as required by law reassure us.

If intentionally inflicted physical and psychological harm can be characterized as just, and some Conservatives, such as the former Vice President, Dick Cheney, thinks it does, then it makes sense to tax payers who supported the previous President to sanction the acts outlined in recently released memorandums as sound.

Many Conservatives share this sentiment, although not all.  Lest we forget former Presidential candidate John McCain’s succinct statement on one the techniques the Bush Administration authorized.  “They should know what it [waterboarding] is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.” A  man who lives with the memory of being a Prisoner of War, the Arizona Senator emphatically stated, torture is ineffective.  That is until Presidential politics altered his position.

Could it be that candidate McCain did as the current President has done, bow to a constituency that does not demand prosecution for what the United States has defined as criminal since its inception.

Opposition to torture was verbalized before the United States became a nation.  The Declaration of Independence reminds residents of this territory, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In 1863, in the midst of the brutalities of the Civil War, President Lincoln forbade his forces from acts of cruelty, including torture.  After the barbarities of World War II, America led an emergent community of United Nations to adopt in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with its provision that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment (Art.  5).”

In 1975, the United States aided in the United Nations adoption of a separate Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.  In 1988 President Reagan signed and in 1994 the United States ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the most comprehensive legally binding international treaty prohibiting the use of torture.  The U.N. Convention’s prohibition against torture is absolute, without exceptions.

It was only during the 2006 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (pdf) that the United States turned a blind eye on its history.  Perchance the topic of terror, or the threat envisioned as the Twin Towers fell turned Americans against principled actions.  

Tax and Terror Codes; Reviled, Renewed, or Rejected?

No one can know with certainty what caused a country or countless within the continent to reject the prescribed canon that is the United States Constitution.  Nonetheless, it is clear, the American people do not insist political power be checked.  Collectively, cynicism was and is adopted.  With that acquisition, the country accepted deplorable directives.  The American populace chose to forego authentic representation.  Hence, the electorate allowed for the more heinous atrocities that followed.  Today, only personal financial concerns bring people to their feet and out onto the streets.

The transition was subtle.  Distrustful of government, the public grew to expect the worse.  Now we receive it.  We pay for torture and are pleased  when a President proclaims of “a dark and painful chapter in our history,” this too shall pass.  Personally, I fear it will not.  My fellow citizens did not address my angst when they dumped dried evergreen shrubs on lawns or in a bay.  The President’s decision to disregard what he too called interrogation techniques outlined in the official communication that “undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer” does not bring me joy.

While I did gladly pay my financial assessments, and I did not voice my dissent for torture with tea, I remain a discontent and distressed taxpayer.

References for a dire reality . . .

Capitalism; Dead, Alive, and Broken

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

For but a moment, whilst the Group of 20 [G20] met in London’s ancient financial capital, ,”The City,” the roars of remorse, could be heard.  Words of woe had been whispered in hushed tones for quite some time.  Scholars spoke of various possibilities on occasion.  Whether Senior Economic Fellows from various think-tanks thought a system to be dead, alive, or near doomed, there was perhaps a bit of agreement.  “I see what you mean.  It is broken,” Economist Mark Thoma mused more than a year ago.  

The public screamed out in pain for decades; however, few cared about the cries of countless common folks.  Those who argued against principles that place profits before people were easily ignored for they had no power and less influence.  Much to the chagrin of corporate titans, even Economists warned; this could be the end of Capitalism.  Yet, until early in the day, only weeks ago, no one paid much attention to what has become a customary declaration for everyday workers.  Morning has broken, and Capitalism is shattered as well.  

America adopted and advanced a system that was unsustainable..  More than once, “systemic failures” revealed the folly of free enterprise principles.  Nonetheless, worldwide people were convinced to purchase damaged goods and premises.  Yet, as Journalist Professor, Robert Jensen contends, “most notably those in the business world and their functionaries and apologists in the schools, universities, mass media, and mainstream politics” do not want to admit that this is so.

Wanted; Dead or Alive

The evidence is everywhere.  What was a question rarely uttered, “Is Capitalism Dead?” has become a statement, or perhaps the dream of those who have been severely affected by this most devastating downturn.

Wealthy watch breathlessly as stock markets crash.  Banks fail.  Blue Chip companies crumble.  Foreclosures flourish, and people, those once thought prosperous, pour out onto the avenue in search of a job, or some sense of stability.

Perhaps, that is why, average citizens felt a need to break the silence, to speak of the broken Capitalist system.  In the shadow of powerful and prosperous Presidents and Prime Ministers, who gathered together for the G20 Conference, 4,000 demonstrators pleaded, not for pity, but for relief from a fiscal system that requires poverty.  

Frustrated and forlorn by an attitude that fosters further advancement of free market principles, at least in the United Kingdom, dissenters shouted in disgust.  It would not be wise to work within an economic structure that changed the global culture in ways that ultimately brought international institutions down.  

On a fateful day, early in April a young girl in the crowd, Aeyla Windridge pleaded.  I want “the death of Capitalism.”  The twelve-year-old spoke to what Heads of State had not for centuries.  “Capitalism isn’t in crisis, capitalism is the crisis,” so said another activist.  

Recovery, Reinvestment, and Rescue

Few of the principal players, those who represented the twenty participant countries were willing, or able to acknowledge the free market theory is flawed.  Most of the prominent Heads of State were, and continue to be, content with sanguine assessments.  Up to 85 percent of global gross national product comes from the shores of but a score of countries.  Eighty [80] percent  of world trade comes from these territories.  Americans, who might be thought of as the authors of Capitalism, saw and see no reason to change the status quo, at least not substantially.

Borrow and spend had worked well in the past for the superpower, or so the US government attempted to advocate.  While the President poses this philosophy cannot stand, America must move away “from an era of borrow-and-spend to one where we save and invest,” in the same breath, the Chief Executive who represents the country that gave birth to free enterprise, endorses the framework, just as those who preceded him did. (Please peruse the text What Ever Happened to Free Enterprise, By Ronald Reagan)

Capitalism, the Obama Administration states, was not the cause of the planet-wide monetary collapse.  Only greed, excesses, and a lack of regulations brought about the demise of the dollar, and the rate of exchange.  As he addressed other world leaders in attendance at the G20 Conference President Obama conceded, “the crisis began in the United States.  I take responsibility even if I wasn’t even president at the time.” However, Mister Obama contends all countries must be accountable for this massive macro-breakdown.  America’s Chief Executive proposes plans intended to strengthen a Capitalist structure.

In his April 4, 2009 Action to Address to the Global Economic Downturn, President Obama encouraged more regulations in an attempt to expand a consumer-based Capitalist theory.  With little regard for how the American way of life, which the President does not apologize for, cripples common, people throughout the world, Mister Obama declared.

“(W)e know that the success of America’s economy is inextricably linked to that of the global economy. If people in other countries cannot spend, that means they cannot buy the goods we produce here in America,  . . . if we continue to let banks and other financial institutions around the world act recklessly and irresponsibly, that affects institutions here at home as credit dries up, and people can’t get loans to buy a home or car, to run a small business or pay for college.

Ultimately, the only way out of a recession that is global in scope is with a response that is global in coordination.”

One is reminded of why, in earlier years, no one spoke vociferously of the crisis that is Capitalism.  Ordinary people were busy.  For centuries, regular folks worked day and night only to bring home a nominal paycheck.  Even in prosperous nations, people could barely afford to put food on the table.  People took trivial jobs just to secure shelter.  Millions felt forced to pursue professional paths that offer few rewards.  The only goal for the average Joe and Jane was to stay afloat.  Few have had the time or energy to protest their circumstances, or what the powers-that-be had and have imposed internationally.  Today, and in the past, worldwide economic slavery has sufficed.  That is until now.  

Lest the President and Prime Ministers elsewhere forget, in the States, and abroad, people are out of work.  The promise of an ownership society,where “people, from all walks of life,” would open the door of their private residence and say, “Welcome to my home” proved to be but a myth.  The pledge of plump stock portfolios for everyone through Capitalism was a claim never substantiated.  Contrary to the oft-voiced assurances, the American Dream could be achieved anywhere on Earth If people only invested in a free market economy, this current fiscal crisis has shown the world, words were but wishes promoted by the prosperous.

Regardless of how average people are punished by a fiscal formula that requires there be poor people, the current President intends to preserve the Capitalist principles that govern a global economy.  While Mister Obama may not profess a commitment to an “ownership society,” he too wishes to encourage people to possess what they cannot afford.  

Broken Beyond Benevolence

In contrast, more than a few Economists have begun to contemplate the wisdom of a system based on constant consumption.  Experts in monetary movements examine, What went wrong and, rather more importantly for the future, what did not. Other statistician who study the social science of fiscal affairs suggest there is ““Good Capitalism, (and) Bad Capitalism.”  Certainly, no matter the belief, with cause, “Capitalism is under fire.”  

William Pfaff, the author of eight books on American foreign policy, international relations, and contemporary history has pondered the depths of a paradigm profoundly broken. Mister Pfaff offers a perspective less limited than the simpler theories often presented by Administrations and Academics.  The  observer of intercontinental issues writes . . .

The essential question is, what capitalism are we talking about? Since the 1970s, two fundamental changes have been made in the leading (American) model of capitalism.

The first is that the “stakeholder,” post-New Deal reformed version of capitalism (in America) that prevailed in the West after World War II was replaced by a new model of corporate purpose and responsibility.

The earlier model said that corporations had a duty to ensure the well-being of employees, and an obligation to the community (chiefly but not exclusively fulfilled through corporate tax payments).

That model has been replaced by one in which corporation managers are responsible for creating short-term “value” for owners, as measured by stock valuation and quarterly dividends.

The practical result has been constant pressure to reduce wages and worker benefits (leading in some cases to theft of pensions and other crimes), and political lobbying and public persuasion to lower the corporate tax contribution to government finance and the public interest.

In short, the system in the advanced countries has been rejigged since the 1960s to take wealth from workers, and from the funding of government, and transfer it to stockholders and corporate executives.

There is ample evidence to support the author’s contention.  In 1970, the recipient of a Nobel Memorial Prize on Economic Sciences, Milton Friedman, encouraged an emphasis on corporate earnings. A culture that creates a vibrant community, Friedman insisted is counter to “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”

Decades later, his disciples of sorts, Presidents Ronald Reagan,  George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, each implemented plans that increased earned income for the influential and decreased available dollars for the already disadvantaged.  Policies designed to protect and promote an American entrepreneurial taxonomy, or Capitalistic interests, were proposed as a means to spread democracy.  Planet-wide, people and economic practices were transformed.

The second change that has taken place is globalization.  The crucial effect of this for society in the advanced countries is that it puts labor into competition with the poorest countries on earth.

We need go no further with what I realize is a very complex matter, other than to note the classical economist David Ricardo’s “iron law of wages,” which says that in conditions of wage competition and unlimited labor supply, wages will fall to just above subsistence.

There never before has been unlimited labor.  There is now, thanks to globalization – and the process has only begun.

The variance is vast.  Those who have possess so much.  The portion of population that owns little, have far less than even an average individual might imagine.  The wealthy cannot conceive of a life where food might be the most valuable commodity.  A world in which water is worth more than gold seems unthinkable to those who thrive in “civilized” communities,  Yet, this reality may come to towns in a Capitalist country.   Indeed, in some American communities, this truth appears today.

Nonetheless, agreements secured at the G20 summit ensure the adoption of a debt-driven American-style “democracy.”  An arrangement, in which all are not created equal, will continue to be the practiced and preferred economic system planet-wide.  People will once again forget assessments presented less than a decade ago.


Many of the radicals leading the protests may be on the political fringe.  But they have helped to kick-start a profound re-thinking  about globalization among governments, mainstream economists, and corporations that, until recently, was carried on mostly in obscure think tanks and academic seminars.

The reassessment is badly overdue.  In the late 20th century, global capitalism was pushed by leaps in technology, the failure of socialism, and East Asian’s seemingly miraculous success.  Now, it’s time to get realistic.  the plain truth is that market liberalization by itself does not lift all boats, and in some cases, it has caused damage to poor nations.  What’s more, there’s no point denying that multi-nationals have contributed to labor, environmental, and human rights abuses as they pursue profits around the globe . . .

(After a ten-year expansion of market capitalism around the world, as of the year 2000) The World Bank figures the number of people living on a $1 a day increased to 1.3 billion, over the past decade.

The extremes of global capitalism are astonishing . . .  If global capitalism’s flaws aren’t addressed, the backlash could grow more severe.

Indeed, the repercussions have been relentless.  Near a century of consumption, solely for the sake of profits, has weakened the world.  The current fiscal crisis reveals Capitalism was never the cure for what ails the people on this planet.  Persistent poverty, and the threat of increased insolvency, born out of a free enterprise system is an expense few, if any, can afford.  One need only look at Capitalism, and what it has wrought.  Acquisitive individuals may acknowledge one reaps what one sows.  Independently, or collectively, as a global community anyone might come to understand, “If my brother is poor, I/we too will suffer.  Ultimately, I/we will pay for the poverty I/we accept.”  

Without such a realization, and inspired by the spirit of an individualism that has flourished amongst free-marketers, people may, as President Obama proclaimed.  Worldwide, or here at home, we “want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that [has] been missing.”  However, it is not another glorious “morning in America.”  Nor is it a beautiful day in most neighborhoods.  Were the clouds to clear, globally people might avow, authentically, there need be an actual new dawn.  It is time to dream of economic structures that have never been.

The majorities in the States, and throughout the globe, are no longer silent.  Common folks have spoken.  Capitalism is broken.  It is not wanted, dead or alive.

Sources for economic and empathetic structures . . .

Obama; State Secrets A Shame



Countdown: Turley on Obama Administration Invoking State Secrets on Surveillance Program

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today, the Obama truth is revealed.  Change has come in the form of familiarity.  Some American’s are embarrassed.  Others embrace what, when presented by the previous Administration, they rejected.  Apathy helps most Americans to avoid a sense of shame.  It was announced;  Obama defends Bush-era secrets.  This Administration has gone further to establish government sovereignty.  As a nation, the Obama White House tells citizens, our country will be better protected if details about the surveillance program are considered “Top Secret – Sensitive Compartmented Information.”

Several knew this too would come to pass.  Authentic transformation was but a tease meant to achieve supremacy for Senator Obama.  In the Summer of 2008, the Illinois statesman voted to give George W. Bush more power than even the former President requested.  The issue; the  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA.  The controversial ballot cast by then Senator Obama did not capture the attention of most.  People were consumed by woes that were more personal.  Privacy is a right most in the United States take for granted.  Until an event in an individual’s life awakens awareness for what was taken away long ago, most do not realize in America the Administration is legally able to watch and listen to a residents’ every move.

The media did not devote much time to Senator Obama’s, measured move.  More importantly, from a business perspective, news stories that address surveillance do not receive a larger share of the audience.  Perchance, auspiciously, for our current President, last July campaign distractions dominated the news cycle.  In 2009, talk of the economy is thought most essential.  Indeed, the United States had already experienced an authentic transformation.

After the infamous attacks on September 11, 2001, the electorate accepted the Bush Administration’s truth.  That is why there are few cries of alarm for the White House’s current claim.  The two are close to the same Each Oval Office expounded; there is a constant threat of terrorist aggressions.  Presidents’ need to have the power to act on “Intelligence.”  Privacy for citizens must be forfeited.  The Patriot Act needed to be passed.  (Please read the text.)  The Commander-In-Chief must have all the authority he or she requests if the American people are to stay safe.  

Hence, convinced of the need to be forever vigilant, countrymen and women changed near a decade ago.  The public became accustomed to constant shadowing.  In the recent past and present, the press presumes correctly.  There is no need to question what collectively, the public concluded justifiable.

It was as it is, apt to assume there was no tale to tell when Congress, with Obama in the Senate authorized the wonderful world of unlawful White House sanctioned wiretaps.  Nor is there a public interest story when the current occupant of the Oval Office through the Department of Justice proclaims, undercover work, legal or not, is necessary.  Americans have come to acknowledge, in dire times such as these, perhaps, the Administration needs be above the law.  The people need not have the power to sue for improprieties or illegalities.

Perhaps, this explains what was and continues to persist.  Less than a year ago, little time was spent on what candidate Obama justified as wise.  The few who expressed apprehension were eschewed.  Thoughts that often, history is repeated, were rejected.  Fear that what occurred today might follow was thought folly.  Regard for the notion, a President with power will not likely relinquish authority bestowed upon him or her, was ridiculed.  Then, as now, those scant individuals who voiced distress were easily dismissed as cynics.  They were relegated to the position of people without faith in the greater cause.  

Supporters of President Obama, sustain hope.  Activists felt, and continue to believe; this time is different.  Barack Obama, or the people who coalesced to create a vibrant civically responsible community, will indeed prevail.  The population is the change we can believe in, or would be were it not for the fact that under the direction of the Obama Justice Department, the government can wiretap without a warrant and still, not be charged with a crime.

Only this week, loyalist recount the rhetoric and rejoice in the knowledge; in countries such as Turkey Obama is a hit! Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, on MSNBC‘s Hardball said Obama “is putting himself forth as . . .president to the world.”  Countless partisans are reassured, assured; as Commander-In-Chief, the man who promised to work for the people, would do what was “right” for everyone on this Earth.  

Yet, less than three months in office, the tide has turned, and not for the better.  Obama Administration quietly expanded Bush’s legal defense of wiretapping program.  Indeed, as President, Barack Obama did as he pledged not to do.  Candidate Obama had declared There would be No warrantless wiretaps if you elect me.  Yet, trust in that promise has become another American shame.

(L)ate Friday afternoon, the  Obama DOJ filed the government’s first response to EFF’s lawsuit (.pdf), the first of its kind to seek damages against government officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bush’s NSA program.  But the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the “state secrets” privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and  (2)  a brand new “sovereign immunity” claim of breathtaking scope — never before advanced even by the Bush administration — that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is “willful disclosure” of the illegally intercepted communications.  

In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad “state secrets” privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and — even if what they’re doing is blatantly illegal and they know it’s illegal — you are barred from suing them unless they “willfully disclose” to the public what they have learned. . . .

This brief and this case are exclusively the Obama DOJ’s, and the ample time that elapsed — almost three full months — makes clear that it was fully considered by Obama officials.  Yet, they responded exactly as the Bush DOJ would have.  This demonstrates that the Obama DOJ plans to invoke the exact radical doctrines of executive secrecy which Bush used — not only when the Obama DOJ is taking over a case from the Bush DOJ, but even when they are deciding what response should be made in the first instance.  Everything for which Bush critics excoriated the Bush DOJ — using an absurdly broad rendition of “state secrets” to block entire lawsuits from proceeding even where they allege radical lawbreaking by the President and inventing new claims of absolute legal immunity — are now things the Obama DOJ has left no doubt it intends to embrace itself.

Only days earlier an evaluation of the Obama White House evoked concern.  Obama Finds That Washington’s Habits of Secrecy Die Hard.  Might Americans particularly those who trusted President Obama would change an Administration’s corrupt practices, consider, as a candidate, an aspirant  Barack Obama built the foundation that now supports him.  The Obama Administration, the Government opts for secrecy in wiretap suit.  Those who today continue to purport, “I pledge my allegiance to President, Barack Obama,” or even only to his plans, may consider the thought.  Past is prologue.  

If Americans do not acknowledge the significance of early actions on the part of Presidential aspirants, if the people hold onto false hope, the electorate hurts itself.  Rights to privacy lost will  not only  be retained but also enhanced.  If citizens trust a challenger will be the change we can believe in, even when he reveals he is not, then, we can expect what will come.  Telephones will be tapped.  Surveillance will pass for security.  The fact that Americans allowed the same intrusive policies to persist is our shame.  

References; the loss of civil liberties restored . . .

Tim Geithner; Retention, Rewards, and Krugman Realizations



DN!>Paul Krugman (12) on $1 Trillion Geithner Plan to Buy Toxic Bank Assets

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Negotiations began in November.  Decisions were reached during the month of December.  By January, a retention bonus was awarded to the individual considered most superlative within the staff.  President Barack Obama presented the gift.  American International Group, Incorporated [AIG] executives did not receive the windfall.  Nor did someone “separate” from the previous President garner the honors.  Gold was not placed at the door of a New Deal Democrat.  No, dollars and command were delivered to a truly Progressive person.    Insider, Timothy Geithner was the recipient of a title that would sustain his service.  Mister Geithner was given a reward that was worth far more than mere millions in greenbacks.  Power and influence are priceless.

President Obama granted these “commodities” to one who worked to ensure banks and other financial institutions would continue to flourish just as they had in the Bush Era.  Now, the man with copious clout, wants more.

Indeed, Tim Geithner has already taken the reigns.  He has worked to set more rules.  Separate from Congressional approval for increased authority, and regardless of what regulatory standards the House and Senate might pass, Secretary Geithner, happily ensconced in President Obama’s favor, has begun to broaden his horizons.  He expresses his expansive preeminence, and all are a twitter.

New-found fame, a brighter, well-funded future befits the man whose face now appears everywhere.  Greater authority is as Tim Geithner was groomed to acquire.  Indeed, Secretary Geithner grew accustomed to attention and awards.

Perhaps, Timothy Geithner’s desire for further recompense, economically or emotionally, began when he was but a boy.  In his youth, the now Secretary of Treasury saw what could be wrought if one was well-connected.  His lineage allowed him to look into a world of affluence and advantages.  

Maternal grandfather, Charles F. Moore, was an adviser to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Mister Moore also served as a Vice President of Ford Motor Company.  “Dad,” Peter F. Geithner, was with the Ford Foundation.  Tim Geithner’s father oversaw the project that Ann Dunham, President Obama’s mother gave birth to.  Stanley Ann Soetoro and Tim’s Dad, developed microfinance programs in Indonesia.

This association alone might have helped Mister Geithner realize his path to the White House.  Some theorize, President Obama and Tim Geithner formed an invisible bond, one that ties them together today

Money, power, and privilege were given to Timothy Geithner from birth.  The more the lad “earned,” the more he hoped to receive in return.  A graduate of Dartmouth and John Hopkins, initially Tim Geithner worked for Kissinger Associates, Incorporated.  He then entered government, just as his forebears had.  Geithner first joined the Department of Treasury in 1988 and worked in three administrations for five Secretaries of the Treasury in a variety of positions.  He served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs from 1999 to 2001.  He was Director of the Policy Development and Review Department at the International Monetary Fund from 2001 until 2003.  Then, he headed the New York Reserve.  He befriended the acclaimed Economist Professor Paul Krugman.  The two are associates within The Group of Thirty, a Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs.  It is no wonder President Obama was impressed and wanted to retain the financial expertise of one so esteemed.

Previously, the Secretary had succeeded, even exceeded expectations.  With each step, the esteemed Economic wizard takes, greater gratitude and gilt are given.  Hence, he moves forward.

Secretary Geithner addressed Congress on March 24, 2009.  He and his cohort, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke affirmed a need to be endowed with exceptional authority.  The two concurred.  The AIG catastrophe confirmed “a basic and tragic unfairness – that those who were prudent and responsible in their personal and professional judgments are harmed by the actions of those who were less careful and less prudent.”  Many would agree.  

On paper, the proposed request for increased control over financial institutions, other than banks, seems reasonable.  If Congress approves of the strategy, Federal authorities could seize a failed fiscal establishment.  Many believe the measures are long overdue.  However, several hesitate.  When they consider the fact, Secretary Geithner might be the person to decide the fate of these firms countless express concern.  Perchance, he is not the person to have or hold such extensive power.  

Esteemed Economist, and colleague Paul Krugman expressed disappointment after Mister Geithner revealed his bailout plan.  Nobel Prize recipient Krugman wrote in The New York Times, “”In fact it fills me with a sense of despair.”

“The Geithner scheme would offer a one-way bet: if asset values go up, the investors profit, but if they go down, the investors can walk away from their debt,” the Princeton University Economist explained, as he cited specifics within the proposed strategy.

Might the man Professor Krugman long admired not be competent to oversee the fringe financial institutions? Those who were uncertain Tim Geithner was ever the best, the brightest, or the person to be retained, are now joined by others who originally had confidence in the now Secretary of Treasury.  Since the appointment, and ample intangible appropriations were bestowed upon Secretary Geithner, the choice issue may be a moot point.  Only the battle for a bigger role, increased responsibility to regulate remains a subject of contention.

The Obama Administration, mostly through Tim Geithner, has compared the proposed process to the work of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  This favored institution protects depositors from bank failures.  Regulators can take control of a troubled depository, place it under the authority of the FDIC, and then, quickly, and competently, restructure the reserve

Perhaps, that is the most significant difference.  With consideration of the current economic crisis, and crucial assessments, the Secretary made prior to this plea for greater rule, Timothy Geithner showed no evidence of being swift or skilled in his ability to seize the moment or reign in American Insurance Group’s excesses.

As the former president of the New York Federal Reserve, Mister Geithner is the one Obama Administration official who is associated with the Bush-era bailouts.  Once AIG was under Federal control, public servants say, compensation arrangements were rarely, if ever, discussed.  In December, long before Tim Geithner received his own abundant reward, an initial $55 million in bonuses was delivered to the Insurance Group executives.  

At the time, the glorious Geithner did not decry the greed.  Indeed, even on this date late in March 2009, as he answered questions before the House Financial Services Committee, Secretary Geithner stated, “It’s a difficult balance.”  He then further explained his belief; the government should not dictate detailed executive compensation limits to bankers.  Timothy Geithner empathized with those who had been given retention bonuses.  Indeed, while he did not give voice to the thought, the Secretary understood, he too was a very recent beneficiary of such graciousness.

Perhaps, opponents of greater government oversight appreciated the more individualist posture Treasury Secretary Geithner presented. However, a few felt a vital veracity must be pondered.  An individual Presidential appointee [Geithner], and an agency [FDIC] with ample autonomy, are not one and the same.

Intentionally, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, unlike the Treasury Department, was designed to be separate from the political process.  The bureau acts in accordance to law.  Should Congress consent to the Geithner request, a person who is profoundly affiliated with a partial, political body, would have the authority to take possession of a business that displeases the White House.  Granted, supporters assure those who challenge the proposal, only corporations in crisis would be seized.  Nevertheless, dissenters declare, corporate collusion with government insiders would remains a concern.  A poorly regulated financial institution potentially would corrupt the government [further?].

Policy-wonks state, the power to take over banks or other alternative financial entities need be part of a broader regulatory structure.  Limits are set on the risks that economic establishments can take.  Therefore, the need for seizures is, and must be, more fully linked to violations.  The Obama Administration has expressed a desire to increase regulations on firms that might be eligible for seizure under the proposed law.  However, specifics have yet to be furnished.  

For now, the focus remains solely on the Treasury Secretary.  Tim Geithner seeks greater power than was given to him in the form of a gift, his title.

Unequivocally, Tim Geithner has received many accolades.  Perchance, he was and is deserving.  Secretary Geithner offered a welcome plan to resolve the mortgage meltdown the day before his most recent plea.  Wall Street applauded the strategy, as evidenced by a record rise in stocks.  The headlines for the long-anticipated program that would remove bank toxic assets and revive the financial system, bedazzled those with money to spend.  Rescue Plan, With Fine Print, Dazzles Wall Street. Urged on by his success, Secretary Geithner had reason to  hope he could garner greater authority.  Those with big bucks see his increased powers as a bonus.

Yet, the apprehension Nobel Prize Economist, Paul Krugman expressed on March 23, 2009, the day before this recent hearing hangs over the head of Treasury Secretary Geithner. Thankfully, rancor for the subprime solution seems to receive less attention, at least amongst the House Financial Services Committee.  Possibly, acrimony over Geithner’s past performances is also forgotten.

For a time it seemed Professor Krugman too had been willing to forgive and forget.  There was a time the Princeton Professor was with those who sanctioned the selection of Tim Geithner to Treasury.  Doctor Krugman had thought as President Obama did; Tim Geithner should be retained.  His mere presence in the Administration would be a worthy bonus.  Only months ago, Krugman approved of Geithner and his work.  In his article, The grown-ups are coming, the stellar observer of economic policy sardonically noted the Tim Geithner was an improvement in contrast to the  Bush Best and the Brightest.  

Paul Krugman spoke highly of his associate from The Group of Thirty, a Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs.  That is, until Tim Geithner introduced his solution for toxic assets relief.

Perhaps times have changed.  Certainly, there is reason to think Timothy Geithner has not.  Nonetheless, earlier impressions and associations formed long ago linger in the present.

The New York Times Columnist and Economist publicly offered his “Despair over financial policy.” However, in a recent interview with Democracy Now’s, Amy Goodman, Krugman was reluctant to say the person who ascribes to lemon socialism, Timothy Geithner must go.

Paul Krugman as others may not have yet come to terms with contradictory views of the man who now Heads the Treasury.

Prior to the prize bequeathed on Mister  Geithner, all of his actions appeared above board and in alignment with the ethical standards President Obama set for his Cabinet.  The beneficiary of perks and power was perceived as an individual who had sacrificed much in order to serve his country.  Tim Geithner was subjected grueling to Senate hearings.  His records were scrutinized. To be certain no one would have reason to question the calculations, a highly respectable résumé was submitted.  

Before his selection, Mister Geithner served as President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.  In his career, he worked closely with former U.S. Federal Reserve Chief Alan Greenspan, Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and head of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, and oh yes, venerated Economist Paul Krugman.  

Overdue taxes were paid to ensure that all appeared proper and in order.  That is, at least some of the levees never accounted for were remunerated  Other outstanding tariffs, Tim Geithner was told, need not be paid,  The statute of limitations had lapsed.

Just as had been with much else in his life, Tim would be forgiven for his forgetfulness or failures to do what most think ethical.  No one would think to inquire of the enormous sums the Head of Treasury would garner for his friends, former colleagues, and himself.  People were expected to consider the pittance he “earned” as a civil servant and be reassured, Tim Geithner is committed to the good of the country.  After all, were he still with his previous employer, investment firm Goldman-Sachs,  Secretary Geithner’s salary would have been far greater.  

The power Timothy Geithner garnered throughout his life cannot be counted.  Personal financial gains for friends, former colleagues, and himself are ample.  Influence is near infinite.  Why not, some might say, give Geithner more authority to rule.  He has “earned” it.  Perhaps, one day in a sequel to Professor Krugman’s recent tome, “America the Tarnished”, the established Economist will reject the cry, “Why not indeed.”  He might even pen prose that state more directly  Timothy Geithner, his retention, and the rewards he has already received  are a significant part of “the crisis [that] has cost America much of its credibility, and with it much of its ability to lead.”

References for a Geithner Rule to be realized . . .

Updated Reference . . .