It's Election Season, Time To Talk About Nothing Important

Summers Packs His Bags As The Recession is Said To Be Over And Media Buries Reports on Financial Crime

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.

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 Harvard and picks up all
kinds of consulting deals on the side from Wall Street.)

maneuver won't work of course because nothing Obama does will ever
please them because they need him as their pinata, 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:

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.

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."

journalist Michael M. Thomas believes that Summers like a gunslinger
hired to clean up a town did what he was hired to do arguing, "Summers is leaving because he made sure real reform was discussed--but not accomplished."

Summers was tasked with making sure the kind of backlash that in 1933
unleashed Ferdinand Pecora on Wall Street didn't happen in 2009. I think
Larry Summers was tasked with marginalizing Paul Volcker, who could
thus serve the new administration as moral window-dressing without
actually causing trouble. I think it was understood from the outset that
any meaningful economics program must involve taking Wall Street to the
woodshed, and that this must not be allowed to happen."

Woodward's book on Obama focuses on an internal war over policy for the
Afghan war. That may be mild compared to the revelations to come on the
debates over what to do about the economy. (Woodward offers one telling
detail about Obama's approach describing how he laid out his plan in
the form of a financial terms sheet used on Wall Street.)

"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."

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.

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,

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?"

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-naive happy ending this
time, one takes the lesson that there are no villains--or that villains
are all there are."

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.

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,
That was back in 1992.)

have been getting some visibility for my DVD and companion book The
Crime of our Time
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 Between The Lines radio that I
was also broadcasting over during my talk.

The Tea Party people, by and large, don't seem very angry with Wall Street. And
as for the Republicans, Huff Post reports, "The Republican Party's
21-page blueprint, "Pledge to America," was put together with oversight
by a House staffer who, up till April 2010, served as a lobbyist for
some of the nation's most powerful oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance
companies, including AIG."

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

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.

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