Tuesday, August 6, 2013

(Ferrari Shortage) These Guys Are Funny? No Mistakes Have Been Made (Disappearing the Bad News (10 Million Jobs Lost) :  The “New Economy” Is The No-Jobs Economy) Iceberg Rescues Titanic? (RICH Poisoned!)

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Don't relax just yet.

Summer's almost gone (no, not Summers - ever it seems) and it's time to get to work.

Cleaning out the (Augean) stables.


When I saw this item yesterday my first comment on Twitter was along the lines of "Do you think he and the Koch Brothers can just divide up what's left of print?"

Jeffrey Bezos
The Iceberg Just Rescued the Titanic
By Andrew Leonard
Jeff Bezos' shocking purchase of the Washington Post should set an example to his fellow Internet moguls

Caucus goers arrive and sign in for the 2012 Iowa Caucus
Iowa Voters: Expand Social Security!
By Alex Seitz-Wald
Progressives launch the first shot in the coming war for the Democratic Party's soul

And if you thought the Dims were having a few problems figuring out how to benefit their constituents . . . imagine the ones who have none.

05 Aug 2013

    Steven Rattner Can Understand Why You Might Think Larry Summers Would Be A Nightmare To Work For

    By Bess Levin

    He thought the same thing!
    Sayeth Steve:

    Let me start by getting the disclosure stuff out of the way. I’ve known Larry Summers for 20 years and have watched with particular interest as his multifaceted career has unfolded. More recently, I worked for him in the Obama administration, when he was director of the National Economic Council and I was the lead adviser on the auto bailout. As the debate has intensified over who should slide into Ben Bernanke’s chair as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Larry’s critics have been piling on, including dredging up examples of positions or decisions where they believe he was wrong.
    No one is perfect, but I score Larry’s batting average and qualifications at the top of the heap. There’s that extraordinary intelligence: the most brilliant, most analytical and most surgical brain of anyone I’ve ever encountered … Larry’s vivid and sometimes strong personality has been well chronicled. Even as a friend, I approached the prospect of serving under him with some trepidation. Boy, was I wrong. Working for him turned out to be stimulating, enjoyable and harmonious. I relished the give-and-take, the chance to watch that remarkable mind at work and the risk that if I said something undeniably stupid, he wouldn’t hide his displeasure.
    The Right Leader For The Fed [NYT]

    · 17 hours ago
    Larry was also somehow OK bossing around scum that bribed its way into pension AUMs.

    Mexi_Cant's avatar - Go to profile
    Sounds like they went from a bromance to full on cuddling while watching Shark Week.
    guest · 17 hours ago
    how about them apples....

    Bill T · 17 hours ago
    There is something about those apples.
    Can't put my finger on it but whatever it is, the apples are the most impressive thing in that photo.

    Quant me maybe ... · 2 hours ago
    Larry Summers is a fucking turd. Those apples are all poisoned. That's the intern test; have an apple they say. If you die no second interview.
    . . . · 17 hours ago
    Your first mistake was admitting that you'd said something stupid. Your second was admitting it was "undeniably" stupid. Your third was giving a shit if this guy was displeasured. 
    - guy who loves the iterative process that occurs when stupid people just keep talking to try to talk over the stupid shit they said a few sentences before

    Turnip Truck · 17 hours ago
    What are those guys staring at the phone for? Is this going to turn into that Sesame Street skit with the yup-yup aliens?
    Big guy · 15 hours ago

    Isn't Ratner supposed to be in jail?

    You gotta love Bess and Matt at DealBreaker!

    Don't you?

    PCR calls the true tune (of this age anyway) and uses the same words we've been using for years.

    The “New Economy” Is The No Jobs Economy

    By Paul Craig Roberts

    August 05, 2013

    One of my most popular columns was about escaping from the Matrix existence in which Americans live. It is a world of disinformation and misinformation in which facts are fiction, and abstract theories are substituted for empirical reality.

    Official government statistics are make-believe. The government makes inflation and unemployment disappear by how it defines inflation and unemployment, and it makes the economy grow by how it defines Gross Domestic Product. The definitional basis determines the statistical result.

    For example, in his report on the official GDP revisions released July 31, John Williams (shadowstats.com) writes that “academic theories, often with strong political biases, have been used to alter the GDP model over the years, resulting in “Pollyanna Creep,” where changes made to the series invariably have had the effect of upping near-term economic growth.” In other words, definitional changes produce economic growth whether or not the economy produces economic growth.

    Inflation is made to disappear by substituting lower priced items for higher priced items and by defining price rises as quality improvements. Thus, the higher prices don’t count as inflation.

    Unemployment disappears by defining discouraged workers who cannot find employment as people who are no longer in the work force. They simply are disappeared out of the ranks of the unemployed. It reminds me of Punjab’s magic blanket in the old cartoon strip, “Little Orphan Annie.” Punjab disposed of problem people by covering them with his blanket, or perhaps it was a rug, and they disappeared.

    Despite the absurdity of the government’s data, Wall Street awaits with baited breath each new release to decide whether markets should go up or down or stay the same. In other words, the financial markets themselves take guidance from make believe numbers. In short, capitalism is rudderless. It has no reliable indicators. Everything is rigged to support the Matrix which keeps the population in a stupor.

    Certainly the monthly payroll jobs number is misconstrued and has undeserved influence. If the economy is down, a jobs number significantly higher than the approximately 130,000 new jobs required to stay even with population growth is seen as a beacon of recovery.
    But the number is so distorted, as John Williams explains, by shifting and unstable seasonal adjustments and an average monthly add-on of 52,000 jobs from the “birth-death” model that no one really knows what the number is. Only a statistician like John Williams who is very familiar with the government’s data procedures can make much sense from the official statistics.

    I take a simpler approach. I look at where the reported jobs are alleged to be. In the 21st century, the jobs created by “the world’s largest economy” have been lowly-paid, non-tradable, domestic service third world jobs. Manufacturing and tradable professional service jobs such as software engineering have been moved offshore to low-wage, low-salary locations. The savings in labor costs have enriched corporate executives, Wall Street, and shareholders.

    I have made this point monthly for many years, and it has had no effect on economists, policymakers, money managers, or financial markets, all of which continue in their make-believe world of make-believe reality.

    Here we go, one more time. Of the 161,000 reported private sector jobs gained in July, 157,000 or 97.5 percent, are in non-tradable domestic services. A non-tradable service is a job that produces services that cannot be exported, such as waitresses, bartenders, hospital orderlies, retail clerks, warehousemen.
    Thus, no matter how large the number might be, it cannot reduce the huge US trade deficit. Most of these jobs are part-time jobs without health or pension benefits. People in these jobs tend to live hand-to-mouth. These jobs do not produce sufficient income to drive a consumer economy.

    Of these 157,000 reported jobs, 63,000 or 40 percent are reported to be in trade, transportation, and utilities. Of these 63,000 jobs, 60,500 of them or 96 percent are in wholesale and retail trade.

    Before we go to the next category, ask yourself if you believe that in an economy that has had no recovery, in which there are no new manufacturing or construction jobs, in which the labor force participation rate is down, in which shopping center parking lots are far from full, stores with such a poor sales outlook would hire so many people in July?

    Financial activities account for 15,000 of the reported new jobs. The Federal Reserve accounted for 80 percent of these jobs and bill collectors for the rest.

    Professional and business services accounted for 36,000 of the new reported jobs. About half of these jobs were temporary help services and services to buildings and dwellings.

    Health care and social assistance accounted for 8,300 jobs of which ambulatory health care services comprised 80 percent.

    Waitresses and bartenders contributed 38,400 jobs. I have previously noted the anomaly of a population without good employment prospects or rising incomes going out to eat and to drink more and more often, so often that waitresses and bartenders comprise each and every month a significant percentage of the new employees.

    In her commissioner’s statement accompanying the jobs report, Erica Groshen acknowledges that 8,200,000 or 6 percent of the currently employed are “involuntary part-time workers” who cannot find full-time employment.

    The July 2013 payroll employment level of 136,038,000 stands 2,018,000 below the employment level in January 2008, which was 5 years and 7 months ago. If it requires 130,000 new jobs each month to keep employment equal with population growth, the US economy is behind by 10,728,000 jobs. These missing jobs show up in the declining labor force participation rate and the large number of discouraged workers who are no longer counted as unemployed.

    Obviously, there is no economic recovery, despite the reporting of such by the presstitute financial press.
    Most likely the US economy is sinking further into a depression. The numerous indicators of economic collapse are ignored by economists and financial media busy at work weaving the Matrix to support The Lie.

    As former executives of the “banks too big to fail” and their proteges run the US Treasury, the financial regulatory agencies, and the Federal Reserve, US economic policy has been focused on bailing out the excessively large banks created by mindless deregulation. The purpose of US economic policy is to save the large banks from their bad bets on poorly understood new financial instruments in the gambling casino created by deregulation.

    The architects of financial deregulation, such as former Senator Phil Graham and President Bill Clinton were rewarded for their service with fortunes of their own. The free market dupes, who aided and abetted Bill and Phil and misrepresented the repeal of financial stability as a new beginning for laissez faire capitalism, still pretend that the crisis resulted from Congress requiring banks to make mortgage loans to poor black people who could not pay.

    The lack of reality in America is extreme. I do not believe anything like it has ever existed in the modern world. Essentially, no one in government or out understands anything.

    The combination of the power of vested interests with ideological thinking remote from empirical reality is destroying the US economy and the economic prospects of the American people. The employment profile of the US economy is increasingly that of a third world country.
    Economic security, except for the rich, has disappeared. A large and growing percentage of the population experiences the insecurity of poverty or near-poverty, while the waiting lists for $50 million yachts expands.
    The distribution of income is so skewed upward that people of enormous wealth bid up the prices of used Ferraris from the 1950s and 1960s to $12,000,000 and $35,000,000. I can remember when a used Ferrari was something that a person with a moderate income could afford to purchase. I have a friend who bought and sold for $9,000 in the 1960s the Ferrari that last sold for $35 million.

    Detroit, once the fourth largest American city and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world, is bankrupt. The populations of the cities that once were America’s thriving manufacturing base are declining. Cleveland has boarded up homes. St. Louis has 20 percent of its homes vacant. Welfare is under attack by the Republicans and even some Democrats as the plight of the population worsens and despair rises.

    Washington only responds to the half dozen powerful, rich private interest groups that fund election campaigns. The American people have no one to represent them. The American people have been placed outside the system of “democratic capitalism” which is only for the one percent.

    As Jeffrey St. Clair has made clear, America no longer has a left-wing. America is a right-wing world in which people, including “progressives” have been brainwashed into perceiving reality in racial contrast: the whites are well off and the blacks are poor and destitute.

    This is the false reality of the Matrix. As whites are a larger percentage of the population than blacks, there are more poor whites than poor blacks. Moreover, the percentage of poor whites is growing. The way the jobs-offshoring, bail out the rich, US economy operates today makes every one poor, including the remnants of America’s once flourishing middle class. It is not a racial issue. It is a class issue. A few people have the power, and they are driving everyone else into the ground. The US government is their agent.

    So go wave the flag, support the troops, believe the government’s and media’s lies, but unless you are the well-connected one percent, don’t expect any future for your children. You have been sold out by “your” government. Obama is making pretty speeches, but only the stupid will be fooled.
    Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

    Have I been mentioning the need to move for years?

    - C

    One more for yucks. (NOT)

    Seems like we strugglers have not been reading/following the real news.

    No wonder the "Tea Party" can't be dismissed (and Obama so easily explained).

    Turns out that no one (except the voters) takes any of them seriously. (Except for themselves, of course.)

    The Stench of the Potomac

    By Frank Rich, New York Magazine

    06 August 13

    Washington may be a dysfunctional place to govern, but it's working better than ever as a marketplace for cashing in. And that's thanks, more than anything, to the Democratic Establishment.
    ou'd think that the market for Washington-bashing would be saturated by now. Not counting the nightly Comedy Central duo, four anti-Washington television shows were showered with Emmy nominations last month. Apocalyptic anti-Washington books with titles like It's Even Worse Than It Looks and Throw Them All Out have become our daily bread in the Obama years - although none of them matches Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer's Truman-era Washington Confidential, an enormous best seller in 1951 and forever to be cherished for describing the town (my hometown, I must disclose) as "the nation's Forest Lawn, where is sunk its priceless heritage, killed by countless generations of getters and gimme-ers."
    Such bile never goes out of fashion. This is proving the summer of This Town, Mark Leibovich's jaundiced take on "America's gilded capital," which leapt up the best-seller list the week of its publication, where it's poised to end Sheryl Sandberg's lock on No. 1. As if to ratify its relevance, its release was greeted by a new NBC News–Wall Street Journal poll in which Congress's approval rating fell to an all-time low (12 percent) in that survey's history, raising the prospect that it could flatline to zero if the government shuts down come fall. Though President Obama's rating (45 percent) wasn't stellar either, do pity John Boehner, who would have been the most unpopular man in America had the field not included Edward Snowden and George Zimmerman, the only names that polled worse.
    Leibovich's survey of the swamp on the Potomac during the Obama years would be worth reading just to see him torture David Gregory of NBC News, whose naked ambition has so riled the locals you wonder if Marion Barry might be held in higher regard. But the humor of This Town is spiked with mortality. It opens in June 2008 with the invitation-only Kennedy Center memorial for Tim Russert, the departed unofficial mayor of what Leibovich calls the Club - the "spinning cabal of ‘people in politics and media' " that rules Beltway society. The book closes late last year, with a Christmas fête convened by the town's unofficial king and queen, Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, at their Georgetown manse. In Leibovich's telling, this A-list holiday gathering was more funereal than the Russert funeral.
    As he writes, at least "the room was alive" at the Russert send-off - alive with the greasy clamor of those trying to advance their status by proving that Tim loved them most of all. The Bradlee-Quinn soirée, by contrast, comes off like a waxwork, and not just because of the hostess's decision to dub it "the Last Party" in aspirationally au courant homage to the looming "end of the world" on the Mayan calendar. Greeting guests, the 91-year-old Bradlee, the godfather of Washington journalism for half a century, was visibly slipping away into dementia, fading much like his fabled newspaper in the new age of Politico. The crowd of invitees was "mostly old," with few journalists (or anyone else, with the possible exception of the help) under the age of 40 - "The Masque of the Red Death" minus the fashion sense.
    The principal players in This Town also trend old. Blacks (a few members of the Obama administration and two former Bush Cabinet officers excepted), Hispanics, and gays are in short supply. So is the 99 percent.
    The gaping demographic disconnect between the town's aging aristocracy and the rest of the city's citizenry, not to mention much of the nation beyond the District's borders, in some ways parallels the crisis of the present-day Republican Party. But the Club, unlike the GOP, is not in crisis. And to a large extent it is not Republican.
    For all the ink generated by This Town in its short life, its distinctive contribution to its genre has often been lost in the gossip. The book is as much an indictment of the Democratic Establishment as it is of the Washington Establishment. And the two are often synonymous.
    That's why the book is funny only up to a point. Delicious as it is to watch preening boldface names make asses of themselves as they network at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, the Aspen Ideas Festival, talk-show greenrooms, and the incessant book parties for books no one will open, what lingers from This Town is what will linger in Washington well after its current dinosaurs are extinct: the political culture owned by big money, Wall Street and otherwise, that the Democrats, no less than the Republicans, have done their best to perpetuate over the past two decades. At least Mitt Romney didn't pretend to care about the hoi polloi below. Democrats once did.
    Along with George Packer's The Unwinding, a journalistic distillation of Great Recession–era America that is anything but comic, This Town is the second best seller this year to emphasize the Democrats' role in Washington's corruption. Both are authored by staff writers at liberal publications. (Leibovich is at the Times, Packer at The New Yorker.)
    In both cases, this theme is secondary to the main narrative. That's why The Unwinding, a Dos Passos–inspired epic effort to convey "An Inner History of the New America," is better known for its poignant portraits of everyday Americans largely invisible to official Washington. It's also why This Town is getting more attention for its sightings of the inveterate Beltway hostess Tammy Haddad and the pathologically compulsive party attendees Alan Greenspan and Andrea Mitchell than for its mockery of behind-the-scenes characters like Mark Penn and Jack Quinn. If you read both books - and toss in The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins, a jeremiad by Jeff Connaughton, a longtime Joe Biden aide and former lobbyist who figures prominently in The Unwinding and briefly in This Town - you can piece together a depressing indictment of the Democratic Establishment pre-, during, and, in all likelihood, post-Obama. Like the disenchanted Connaughton, who turned on both Biden and Washington for good, you may end up with "a sneaking sympathy" for the tea party.
    The tale of how the Obama economic team was recruited en masse from Robert Rubin acolytes who either facilitated Wall Street's pre-crash recklessness while in the Clinton administration or cashed in on it later (or, like Rubin, did both) never loses its power to shock, and is revisited in all three books.
    Michael Froman, Rubin's chief of staff as Clinton Treasury secretary, not only served as the Obama transition team's personnel director but moonlighted as a Citigroup managing director while doing so. "Obama essentially entrusted the repairing of the china shop to the bulls who'd helped ransack it," Connaughton writes.
    Leibovich updates the story of the tacky prehistory of the Obama White House with its aftermath - the steady parade of Obama alumni who traded change we can believe in for cash on the barrelhead as soon as they left public service.
    The starry list includes, among many others, Peter Orszag (director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget, now at Citi), Jake Siewert (the Treasury Department counselor turned chief flack for Goldman Sachs), and David Plouffe (the campaign manager and senior presidential adviser who did consulting for Boeing and General Electric).
    In a class by herself is Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director "who was instrumental in helping Michelle Obama set up her ‘Let's Move!' program to stop obesity in children": She signed on as a consultant with "food manufacturers and media firms to block restrictions on commercials for sugary foods targeting children."
    "When I am president," Obama had said in 2008, "I will start by closing the revolving door in the White House that's allowed people to use their administration job as a stepping-stone to further their lobbying careers." Puzzling over how so many colleagues have strayed from this credo, the former press secretary Robert Gibbs has theorized that either "somehow we have all changed" or, alternatively, "maybe Washington changed us." Whatever the explanation, it's clear that the president himself has been either passive or ineffectual when it comes to exerting any moral authority over the White House alumni who've been streaming through the revolving door.
    But this syndrome didn't start with the Obama administration and won't end with it. Perhaps the more useful question to ask is when and why this change came over Washington's entire Democratic hierarchy. There have always been lobbyists in both parties, of course, and there have always been powerful Democratic influence peddlers to match their Republican counterparts.
    Clark Clifford, Robert Strauss, and Vernon Jordan - the respective pals of Truman, LBJ, and Bill Clinton - are among the most legendary Washington operators of the post–World War II era. But what once was an unsavory appendix to the legislative process has scaled up over the past three decades to become a dominant, if not the dominant, Washington private industry. And while some former office holders, senators and members of Congress included, have always joined the lobbying ranks, lobbying and its adjuncts have now become the career havens of choice for Establishment Democrats with government résumés, not just for Republicans traditionally aligned with corporate interests.
    There's more status than shame in joining this gold rush - as we see in This Town - and many of the Democratic practitioners barely pay lip service to the ideal of siding with working- and middle-class Americans against the plutocrats of finance and industry. They are too busy rushing to partner with Republicans in servicing the very same corporate accounts.
    No sooner did the Democrat Evan Bayh bolt from the Senate in 2010 with a sanctimonious Times op-ed decrying the "corrosive system of campaign financing" than he joined with Andrew Card, the former Bush chief of staff, in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to lobby against corporate regulatory reform.
    No sooner did BP despoil the Gulf than it effortlessly recruited what Leibovich calls a bipartisan "Beltway dream team" that included both a former top spokeswoman for Dick Cheney and the Democratic super- lobbyist and fund-raiser Tony Podesta, who was also a prominent ambassador for corporate interests at the 2012 Obama convention in Charlotte.
    In the past four years of partisan gridlock, it's become a lazy and tiresome trope of centrist Washington punditry that the city would work if only Democrats and Republicans got together for a drink after-hours the way Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan did back in the day. But the truth is that Democratic and Republican potentates do get together - every night, lubricated with plenty of alcohol - albeit to further their clients' interests rather than those of the voters.
    The relatively recent rise of lobbying as both a major industry and a full-time employment service for former public officials began in earnest in the post-Watergate seventies. The journalist Robert Kaiser, who tracked "the triumph of lobbying" in his 2009 book So Damn Much Money, discovered that the cost of a winning congressional campaign went up roughly fifteenfold between 1976 and 2006, empowering corporate money in the political marketplace more than ever.
    Over that period, he wrote, "the amount of money spent on Washington lobbying increased from tens of millions to billions a year." Last year, The Atlantic reported that while only 3 percent of retiring members of Congress became lobbyists in 1974, that number has now jumped to 50 percent of senators and 42 percent of the House.
    This time frame tracks exactly with the rise of economic inequality and the stagnation of the middle class, concerns that Obama has started talking about lately without acknowledging his own party's role in perpetuating them. As Packer writes, the period when Robert Rubin "stood at the top of Wall Street and Washington was the age of inequality - hereditary inequality beyond anything the country had seen since the nineteenth century."
    It was during the Clinton–Rubin–Greenspan–Lawrence Summers deregulatory spree of the nineties that the innovation of bipartisan lobbying shops also took off in earnest, obliterating any remaining distinctions between the financial interests and imperatives of the two parties. Before then, most Washington lobbying firms were affiliated with either one camp or the other - and suffered at the bottom line when their teams cycled out of power.
    So why not diversify the partnership pool as a hedge against defeat? What you'll never hear on Morning Joe, with its incessant "Why can't we all just get along?" bromides, is what Leibovich says in his opening pages - "that the city, far from being hopelessly divided, is in fact hopelessly interconnected."
    It's the friendly interconnectedness of special interests at the top more than the combative ideological divisions in the trenches below that makes the situation so hopeless. Two of the top three political-action-committee donors to Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are the same: Comcast and AT&T, one of our government's esteemed partners in domestic surveillance.
    The former Republican Senate leader Trent Lott and the former Democratic House leader Dick Gephardt are similarly united in lobbying for GE, best known of late for its remarkable record of ducking U.S. corporate taxes.
    Though there were earlier examples, the concept of a bipartisan lobbying and public-relations behemoth ramped up big-time with the formation of Quinn Gillespie & Associates in January 2000, at the start of the final year of the Clinton presidency. Quinn is Jack Quinn, who had been Clinton's White House counsel, chief of staff to Al Gore, and before that a Eugene McCarthy–George McGovern Democrat.
    The Gillespie is Ed Gillespie, a principal drafter of Newt Gingrich's Contract With America and a former aide to Dick Armey, the House majority leader famous most recently for walking away with $8 million in severance from the ostensibly populist tea-party organization he ran, FreedomWorks.
    Fittingly enough, Quinn and Gillespie first met in a greenroom at Fox. The theory of their new firm was simple: Governments may come and go, but we'll score no matter what. As Quinn said in 2004: "We never lost a wink of sleep hypothesizing what the effect of the election outcome might be on the firm. We have a great group of Republicans and a fantastic group of Democrats."
    The third founder of Quinn Gillespie was Jeff Connaughton, who had discovered, as he says, that "the rest of the country may be divided into red and blue, but D.C. is green." As an undergraduate at the University of Alabama, he was first inspired to enter politics when he heard Joe Biden deliver a rousing speech on campus in 1979.
    He would later work on Biden's ill-fated first presidential campaign, in 1988, and serve as a special assistant to Biden when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. After a stint as a lawyer in the Clinton White House, Connaughton went into private practice. When the Lewinsky scandal hit and Quinn, a tireless on-camera Clinton defender in the impeachment year, couldn't field all his television invitations, he sometimes sent Connaughton in his stead. Both quickly realized that impeachment was a boon to business. "My higher profile was enhancing my value," Connaughton writes in The Payoff. Quinn's role in a later Clinton scandal was another bonus.
    He secured a last-minute presidential pardon for his client Marc Rich, a fugitive whose ex-wife, Denise, had donated $400,000 to the Clinton Presidential Library. There was a firestorm, and Quinn ended up in the Club's doghouse for a while. But not that long a while. As Leibovich writes, Gillespie correctly predicted that the stigma would fade rapidly and that "after a few months all anyone would remember about Jack Quinn's little scandal was that he ‘got something big done.' And it would be good for business."
    The publication of This Town set off a lot of hyperventilating in Washington about the blowback sure to follow. A reviewer at the Times predicted that Leibovich "will never be able to have lunch in This Town again." A writer at Politico claimed that "not since Truman Capote's Answered Prayers" had "a book so riled a city's upper echelons." George Stephanopoulos promoted This Town on his Sunday show as "the tell-all that has official Washington scrambling." In reality, not so much.
    The Club has embraced the book and its author, and both the Post and Politico gave it more in-depth coverage in the weeks surrounding its publication than, say, the civil war in Syria. In his publicity rounds, Leibovich has named only one person who has complained about the book: Lanny Davis, the impeachment-era Clinton counselor turned flack for human-rights-abusing West African dictators; Davis's beef is that Leibovich didn't mention him at all.
    It just goes to prove Gillespie's point that as long as your name is out there in a Washington tsunami, you can monetize it in the end. The sleazebags populating This Town, however much lampooned in its pages, will ultimately be rewarded because they "got something big done," whatever it was and however unsavory.
    There have been a few mild critiques of This Town from young liberal bloggers whose careers, causes, and far wonkier Washington get as little attention in the book as Lanny Davis. Matthew Yglesias asserted that "the now dominant political paradigm is one in which ideology and partisanship carry more weight" than the old Washington of backroom deals. In an online discussion with Leibovich on the Post's website, Ezra Klein noted that the book didn't include congressional staffers who "think they're making the world a better place," or "people like Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who really is listened to inside the political system, and really does get up each day thinking about how to help poorer Americans." To Klein, the book was more "about the people who wield power in Washington's social world rather than in its political world."
    It is self-evident that ideology and partisanship have carried a ton of weight in the Obama years, as exemplified by the obstructionist Republican radicals in the House. And it's also true that there are people who care about making the world a better place throughout Washington. But the country's actual poor - some of them given strong voice by Packer in The Unwinding - might question just how much power these altruists have in a Washington when the corporate fix is in.
    Those deals are still made in back rooms - and front rooms. That's what Leibovich atomizes, sometimes indirectly and without always spelling out how the dots connect. Another liberal blogger, Alex Pareene of Salon, gets it right, I think, when in his approving appraisal of This Town he writes that, while hyperpartisanship is one reason everyone hates Washington, there's a larger and more enduring source of that hatred: the capital's "permanent, unshakable elite overclass, many of whom are involved in the process by which corporations and the rentier rich tighten their control over the levers of power and use that control to extract as much wealth from the nation's laborers and taxpayers and natural resources as possible."
    What can change it? Certainly not those supposed anti-Washington reformers in the GOP. The corrupt Bush-era Über–GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff may have done prison time, and Tom DeLay, the mastermind of his party's K Street Project, may have ended up as a freak show on "Dancing With the Stars, but their ethos and many of their protégés (e.g., Ralph Reed) survive them. Many of the populist tea-party revolutionaries elected in 2010 immediately hit the corporate fund-raising circuit and recruited lobbyists for their new congressional offices. The tea-party-backed freshman senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, hired an AT&T and Citigroup lobbyist as his chief of staff, yet another confirmation that, for all the polarization afflicting Washington in the Obama years, bipartisan cooperation can still be purchased for a big check.
    Among Democrats, the list of national politicians fiercely opposed to the existing order begins and ends with Elizabeth Warren. Even now Obama is toying with appointing Larry Summers as Fed chair, despite his past in Rubinomics during the Clinton era and his present as a paid consultant to Citigroup. The two most likely Democratic prospects to succeed Obama in the White House, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, both came of political age in the revolving-door Washington of This Town; many of the most successful fixers in the book are one degree of separation from one or both of them.
    Sometimes these alumni are one degree of separation from ethical conflict, too. The ubiquitous Clinton fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe, as inescapable as canapés in Leibovich's narrative, is currently running for governor of Virginia even as a Department of Homeland Security investigation into a disputed visa has ensnared a company with ties to both him and Hillary Clinton's brother, Anthony Rodham. Clinton's longtime aide Huma Abedin, best known now for her marital martyrdom, was discovered by Politico in May to have taken on other clients, including Teneo, a business and banking "global advisory firm" co-founded by the Bill Clinton majordomo Doug Band, in her final months in the taxpayers' employ as a part-time consultant at the State Department.
    This crowd is as intractable as it is incorrigible. There are no term limits, because Washington amnesia perennially wipes the slate clean. No one seems to remember anymore the furor kicked off by a 1998 Post "Style"-section piece in which Beltway grandees like David Broder and Cokie Roberts vented to Sally Quinn about how the impeached president had trashed their pristine city. "Regardless of whether his fortunes improve," Quinn concluded, "Bill Clinton has essentially lost the Washington Establishment for good." Well, that was then, and this is now. As This Town makes clear, these days Clinton alumni are the Washington Establishment, whether in the Obama administration or on K Street, and they can hardly wait for the greater dividends that will accrue should the former First Couple be restored to the White House in 2016. If that happens, Leibovich will not have to write a sequel, because it is already writing itself.

     Lying liars in charge always (except for the juicy writers of nonfiction D.C. novels).

    You can depend on it.


    It's up to us.


    Japan's Nuke Watchdog: Fukushima Water Is 'Emergency'

    Posted: 06 Aug 2013 06:00 AM PDT

    I have always been willing to consider nuclear power if it's removed from the poorly regulated, for-profit private sector - but since we can't even manage to pry health care away from the greedheads, good luck with that:
    (Reuters) - Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an "emergency" that the operator is struggling to contain, an official from the country's nuclear watchdog said on Monday.
    This contaminated groundwater has breached an underground barrier, is rising toward the surface and is exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge, Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) task force, told Reuters.

    Countermeasures planned by Tokyo Electric Power Co are only a temporary solution, he said.
    Tepco's "sense of crisis is weak," Kinjo said. "This is why you can't just leave it up to Tepco alone" to grapple with the ongoing disaster.


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