Sunday, November 30, 2008

And Now, Playing Center...

Via BooMan, all the news on Obama's expected unveiling of his National Security Team(tm) tomorrow, including SecState Clinton.
The national security team roll-out is coming tomorrow, and the reporting has not changed.

CHICAGO – President-elect Barack Obama will roll out his national security team at a news conference here on Monday morning, including his former primary rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, as his secretary of state, Democrats close to the process said. Mrs. Clinton is flying to Chicago to appear beside the man who beat her for the Democratic nomination, a person close to Clinton said. Friends previously said she was prepared to join his cabinet in hopes of having more impact than she would in the Senate, but the person close to her said the decision is now official. In addition to Mrs. Clinton, Democrats said, Mr. Obama plans to announce that he is keeping Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has run the Pentagon for the last two years under President Bush. And they said Mr. Obama will appoint Gen. James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant and NATO supreme commander, as his national security adviser.

Rounding out his national security team, Mr. Obama will also name former Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. as his choice for attorney general and Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona as secretary of homeland security, the Democrats said. Mr. Obama may also announce former Assistant Secretary of State Susan E. Rice as ambassador to the United Nations, a job that will be given cabinet rank in his cabinet, as it had under President Bill Clinton.

Bolstering the case that Clinton will be tapped for State, the New York Times and Washington Post are both reporting that Bill Clinton will release the names of over 200,000 donors to his library and foundation, paving the way for his wife's confirmation.

The former president has also agreed to allow the State Department and, potentially, the White House, to vet his personal business interests and speeches so as to avoid potential conflicts of interest, according to transition officials.

If the reporting is correct, one significant development is Susan Rice's appointment to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and the restoration of that post to cabinet level. Rice and Holder would be the first African-Americans to hold their respective seats in a cabinet. Joining with the president-elect and Bill Richardson at the Commerce Department, they will present an image of diversity to the world.

The retention of Robert Gates is being well received at the Pentagon, and I have not seen one peep of criticism of Hillary Clinton from the right (there's a lesson in there, by the way). Obama appears to be avoiding the problems that beset Bill Clinton at the beginning of his administration. He is not going to allow himself to get crossways of the military, which is something JFK never recovered from after the Bay of Pigs.

The arguments given for Clinton and Gates et al. are that they work at the pleasure of the President, and if they don't enforce Obama's policies, they will be replaced with someone who will. Obama himself has made this argument last week when he said that the policy is coming from the top..."Me."

The argument against is where BooMan continues:

At this point, I am more interested in the who will be staffing the deputy and undersecretary positions at Defense and State. You may recall that most policy meetings are coordinated at the Deputies level. When the Bush administration kicked Richard Clarke out of the cabinet they also kicked him out of the principals meetings, and Clarke found it very difficult to get his Al-Qaeda warnings heard at the highest levels of government. But the Deputies Meetings are still where most of the choices are formulated for presentation to the principals, and it is therefore very important to have good, solid progressives in the deputy positions.
In other words, if Clinton and Gates staff these important positions with neo-con hawks, the advice Clinton and Gates are going to get are that of neo-con hawk positions, and that's what they will in turn feed to Obama. If everyone is telling you the same thing, you tend to trust and believe your have to.

Twenty plus years of neo-con ossification hardened the lines at State and Defense. The appointments of Clinton and the retention of Gates aren't real conducive to breaking up that hardened, hard-liner position that got us into Iraq.

Gates I expect to keep all his deputies. It's Clinton I'm far more worried about. If even the diplomats are saying "war war is better than jaw jaw" then we could be in for a mess. The lack of progressive voices in the name of political expediency could turn into a nightmare...on top of the nightmares we're already facing in this country.

Hole-Digging In Opposite Land

The far right Investor's Business Daily still refuses to give up their pipe dream on what caused the financial crisis: Bill Clinton, poor black people, and too much regulation.
The Community Reinvestment Act is to blame for the financial crisis, but it so powerfully serves Democrats' interests that they'll do anything to protect it — including revising history.

The CRA coerces banks into making loans based on political correctness, and little else, to people who can't afford them. Enforced like never before by the Clinton administration, the regulation destroyed credit standards across the mortgage industry, created the subprime market, and caused the housing bubble that has now burst and left us with the worst housing and banking crises since the Great Depression.

The CRA should be abolished, along with the government-sponsored enterprises that fueled the secondary market for subprimes — under pressure from Clinton, who ordered HUD to set quotas for "affirmative action" lending at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But powerful Democrats in Washington want to protect the act — along with Fannie and Freddie — and spin the subprime scandal as the result of too little regulation, not too much.

"Repealing or weakening the CRA would be a mistake," warns Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who argues that the CRA should be strengthened.

Dodd, the top recipient of Fannie donations and himself a beneficiary of a sweetheart mortgage brokered by a subprime lender, recently invited one of Clinton's top enforcers of the CRA to testify.

"The notion that CRA has caused this problem is a pernicious thought," said former Comptroller of the Currency Gene Ludwig. "These are not truthful statements. The CRA has helped to create a better and sounder world for finance, not the opposite."

Dead wrong. But the mainstream media believe it, and have attacked those, including this paper, who dare to tell the truth about the crisis. Already the debacle has erased $13 trillion in wealth, while putting taxpayers on the hook for up to $8 trillion in bailouts.

It's amusing then that a rule Clinton "viciously enforced" in 1994 caused housing prices to collapse in 2006...12 years later.

Dirt cheap credit after Alan Greenspan cut interest rates to one percent in 2004 and 2005, massive bank and investment house mergers after Gramm-Leach-Bliley was passed in 1999, a torrent of greed in the financial sector and a stock market forming an unsustainable bubble economy due to even fewer regulations in turning subprime loans into securities all of course had nothing to do with it. Banks became greedy and played the markets, riding a huge bubble elevator on the way up that had nowhere to go but down this year.

So much of the financial sector's assets are now tied up in "off-balance sheet investment vehicles" that the banks themselves are largely insolvent. They all played the game. They all lost. They are now all being bailed out.

But gosh, it sure is fun to blame Democrats, poor black folk, and the Community Reinvestment Act for the crisis, and to rewrite history and pretend banksters were all forced to make billions in bad loans to people they knew that were broke instead of admitting a huge pecentage of folks given loans under the CFA -- minorities -- were in fact in much better financial shape than the average subprime borrower.

The article finishes up with facts that supposedly damn Clinton and poor ass negroes as the cause of wiping out $20 trillion of American wealth, facts like "Nearly 4 in 10 subprime loans between 2004 and 2007 were made by CRA-covered banks such as Washington Mutual and IndyMac. And that doesn't include loans made by subprime lenders owned by banks, which were in effect covered by the CRA."

Of course that leaves out the fact that these large mortgage lenders were covered under CRA because they were large mortgage lenders in the first place and being large lenders they made lots of subprime loans in order to make money and then bundle the risk into securitized vehicles, putting them off the balance sheets.

It's pretty idiotic, and any serious person rejects the argument that the CRA forced the banks into making loans they couldn't pay...including the lenders themselves.

But IBD plunges on into the darkness, admitting that even though Countrywide, the largest single subprime lender in America, was not covered under the CRA, it still "came under great pressure to loan to minorities".

No, it came under the pressure of its own greed.

And let's not forget banks like Citigroup that didn't make subprime loans at all, but still collapsed under the weight of their own bad investments they made by choice and had to be rescued with our money.

But IBD and their wingnut buddies keep digging that hole and keep screaming into the abyss that those damn Democrats forced the good Christian Republican God-Fearing white banks of America to loan to the damn negroes who wrecked our country by being too poor to pay the banks trying to fleece them.

There's a lot of blame to go around, but this is like blaming purse-snatchers and bad cooks who start grease fires in New York City for being numerous enough to require all those cops and firefighters to be around when they got the call on September 11, 2001, and then saying the bad cooks and purse-snatchers are the ones who really killed these brave heroes.

Does anyone actually believe the CRA caused $20 trillion in damage to the economy, and not greed, deregulation, and easy credit bubbles?

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