An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Obama vs. Habeas and Obamaniacs vs. reality

Glen Greenwald has a post today that sums up better than anything I can write the current situation with civil rights in the U.S. Which is to say we may not have any before long. Maybe I'm over-reacting. I hope I'm proven wrong.

President Obama has taken the same position on Habeas Corpus as President Bush: he's against it. Read Greenwald's post on this development. Obama's Dept. of Justice has argued that Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan lies beyond the law, that detainees flown there have no right to contest their detention. Same as the Bush administration.

Now here's the scary part. Obamaniacs, in the comments on Juan Cole's blog and other places, have made much the same arguments in support of President Obama running roughshod over the rule of law and effectively abolishing habeas corpus that Bush's admirers made in support of former President Bush running roughshod over the rule of law and effectively abolishing habeas corpus. For summaries of the comments in question see here and also here.

What is it on both sides of the political spectrum that leads people to so adore leaders even in the face of evidence of a monumental betrayal not only of promises that carried the leader into office but of bedrock principles of the civilized world?

Yikes! I say, yikes!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The ones who caused the crash remain in power

Bill Moyers Journal on Friday April 3 had William K. Black, economics professor and former regulator, give a fresh perspective on the current financial crisis and its origins. Black describes how the entire financial industry perpetrated a fraud, how "Liars loans" constitutes an organized criminal enterprise and how specific individuals directly responsible for the current financial crisis occupy positions of power. Tim Geithner in particular, has kept the same CEOs and CFOs who ran their banks into the ground in their current jobs. Black argues that the Obama administration has chosen to do this in order to contain from the public the extent of the damage in an effort to restore public confidence and prevent worse problems. Some of Black's statements still require verification. But see for yourself. From this link you can watch the video or read a transcript.

As a follow-up to that broadcast, Glenn Greenwald wrote a post, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Wall Street's ownership of government that provides a very complete and eloquent summation of the corruption of the Obama administration's officials (and don't forget Alan Greenspan). He uses facts publicly available to illustrate the revolving door between the government and private sector linking the gutting of laws and regulations that resulted directly in the crash (and in profits for the Obama administration officials) to the actions of those individuals: Geithner, Lawrence Summers and others. The mainstream media has not touched any of this.

Greenwald cites this article from Stanford magazine about Brooksley Born and how Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers and Alan Greenspan successfully blocked her attempts to regulate exactly those derivative financial instruments (Credit Default Swaps) that everyone now agrees caused the economic disaster we all have to face.

Greenwald's summation states the case better than anything I can think of:

Just think about how this works. People like Rubin, Summers and Gensler shuffle back and forth from the public to the private sector and back again, repeatedly switching places with their GOP counterparts in this endless public/private sector looting. When in government, they ensure that the laws and regulations are written to redound directly to the benefit of a handful of Wall St. firms, literally abolishing all safeguards and allowing them to pillage and steal. Then, when out of government, they return to those very firms and collect millions upon millions of dollars, profits made possible by the laws and regulations they implemented when in government. Then, when their party returns to power, they return back to government, where they continue to use their influence to ensure that the oligarchical circle that rewards them so massively is protected and advanced. This corruption is so tawdry and transparent -- and it has fueled and continues to fuel a fraud so enormous and destructive as to be unprecedented in both size and audacity -- that it is mystifying that it is not provoking more mass public rage.

This is the Obama Administration?! Does this look like change to you?

One last piece of priceless snark from A Tiny Revolution: Lawrence Summers in 1999, when he was Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, on the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act.

And speaking of the repeal of Glass-Steagall, Mike Taibbi wrote a great article in Rolling Stone that gives a good background: The Big Takeover. For those keeping score, this travesty occurred under the Clinton Administration. This is also only one of the reasons that the thought of Hilary Clinton as President struck terror into my heart. Not that President Obama has proven much of an improvement, having enshrined the thieves and liars who now cover-up their misdeeds and raid the treasury again and again with impunity. Great way to restore confidence. Oh well.