Thursday, May 07, 2009

Gangster Government

Gangster Government

We can now see where this is going, and its not pretty. As Obama takes billions of dollars from one group and hands it over to another, more favored group, we are seeing a confluence of thought. From the right we have George Will and Michael Barone, from the left we have Matt Taibbi, all aghast at the sheer chutzpah of our new leaders. A massive takeover that renders any impulse to overstate things unnecessary.

From George::
When the president was recently asked what had "humbled" him in office, he mentioned that "there are a lot of different power centers" in America, so, for example, "I can't just press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want." Perhaps not a button, and not exactly what he wants, but in dealing with Detroit he pressed and they were accommodating.

It is Demagoguery 101 to identify an unpopular minority to blame for problems. The president has chosen to blame "speculators" -- aka investors; anyone who buys a share of a company's stock is speculating about the company's future -- for Chrysler's bankruptcy and the dubious legality of his proposal. Yet he simultaneously says he hopes that private investors will begin supplanting government as a source of capital for the companies. Breathes there an investor/speculator with such a stunted sense of risk that he or she would go into business with this capricious government?

From Michael:
Think carefully about what's happening here. The White House, presumably car czar Steven Rattner and deputy Ron Bloom, is seeking to transfer the property of one group of people to another group that is politically favored. In the process it is setting aside basic property rights in favor of rewarding the United Auto Workers for the support the union has given the Democratic Party. The only possible limit on the White House's power is the bankruptcy judge, who might not go along.

Michigan politicians of both parties joined Obama in denouncing the holdout bondholders. They point to the sad plight of UAW retirees not getting full payment of the health-care benefits the union negotiated with Chrysler. But the plight of the beneficiaries of the pension funds represented by the bondholders is sad, too. Ordinarily you would expect these claims to be weighed and determined by the rule of law. But not apparently in this administration.

Obama's attitude toward the rule of law is apparent in the words he used to describe what he is looking for in a nominee to replace Justice David Souter. He wants "someone who understands justice is not just about some abstract legal theory," he said, but someone who has "empathy." In other words, judges should decide cases so that the right people win, not according to the rule of law.

The Chrysler negotiations will not be the last occasion for this administration to engage in bailout favoritism and crony capitalism. There's a May 31 deadline to come up with a settlement for General Motors. And there will be others. In the meantime, who is going to buy bonds from unionized companies if the government is going to take their money away and give it to the union? We have just seen an episode of Gangster Government. It is likely to be part of a continuing series.

From Matt:
It's over - we're officially, royally fucked. No empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline - a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country's heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire.
Nor did anyone mention that when AIG finally got up from its seat at the Wall Street casino, broke and busted in the afterdawn light, it owed money all over town - and that a huge chunk of your taxpayer dollars in this particular bailout scam will be going to pay off the other high rollers at its table. Or that this was a casino unique among all casinos, one where middle-class taxpayers cover the bets of billionaires.

People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they're not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d'état. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.

The crisis was the coup de grâce: Given virtually free rein over the economy, these same insiders first wrecked the financial world, then cunningly granted themselves nearly unlimited emergency powers to clean up their own mess. And so the gambling-addict leaders of companies like AIG end up not penniless and in jail, but with an Alien-style death grip on the Treasury and the Federal Reserve - "our partners in the government," as Liddy put it with a shockingly casual matter-of-factness after the most recent bailout.
The government is already circling the wagons against any counterattack. Even as Obama's rhetoric reveal him to be hitting some obstacles in reaching his goals, his actions reach ever dooper into the controls of power. Under impending attack from both the right and the left, his next step must be to cut down - or off - protest, or even contrary speech. His first target will be radio. We know that because his plans are already well underway. But before long television and even print media must surely be on Obama's radar, as he seeks complete domination over any constitutional restraint on his "Change."