Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

September 29, 2008

Fire (Or Impeach) Paulson and His Stooges!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 2:02 pm

Now that the first vote on the bailout has shot it down (thanks to the urging of Mike and me–see post below–actually thanks to the rare working of representative government by those on both sides of the aisle who rejected it), it’s time for some accounting. First of all, Treasure Secretary Paulson should have been fired when he sent Congress a flagrantly unconstitutional bill that would make him tin-pot dictator with no judicial review for his actions. As if the constitution were toilet paper.

Then he should have been fired yesterday when it was revealed (on the front page of The Times) that he brought a fellow stooge from his old firm, Goldman, Sachs–the chief executive!–into an emergency meeting about the fate of A.I.G.–a fate in which Goldman had huge undisclosed (to the public) stake–and one from which all other corporate finance stooges were excluded.

This is breathtaking contempt for the rule of law (the no judicial review provision) and then an astonishing, shameless naked display of crony capitalism corruption. Where were the law school profs to protest no judicial review? An astonishing dereliction of civic duty.

Paulson should be kicked out of his office forthwith and all his papers and e-files locked down so the Feds can see the full extent of his corruption. And anyone else who signed off on that original blatantly unconstitutional bill should be identified and fired as well. It was the well-earned bad faith created by these acts that were the final nails in the coffin of this attempted “shock doctrine” coup. (The reference by the way is to Naomi Klein’s book of that title (The Shock Doctrine) which I once thought was a disturbing account of the kind of things plutocrats got away with only in banana reublics. Paulson tried to turn us into one.

Yes I know both parties and both campaigns are riddled with corporate stooges who are complicit in this crisis. So purge them! Now! Whichever campaign is the first to insitute a fire-all-investment-banker policy can win the election. Yes it’s too late but it will have symbolic value.

But I’m sick of hearing it blamed on would-be homeowners. No, it’s the fault of those who spun derivatives out of derivatives out of derivatives from the bad paper and turned the economy into a casino. It’s the culture of greed.

Once again: put Ralph Nader in charge of the clean up. If you’ve stilll got 700 billion kicking around (as aparently we did) then distribute it (proportionately) to the poor.

I Don't Always Agree With Michael Moore, But on the Bailout…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:50 am

…but I like the enraged populist spirit of this screed which he calls The Rich Are Staging a Coup this Morning”.

My solution is less populist/nihilistic than what I’d call populist constructive: the (likely) Obama Adminsitration should make Ralph Nader Treasury Secretary. He’s the only one smart enough to untangle the scams and identify the perps and refer them to Attorney General Spitzer (kidding! but wouldn’t that be a deserving humiliation for the greedheads who gave us this meltdown?)

Perhaps an even better humiliation might be to force every Wall Street executive who dips his hand in the bailout honey pot to exchange his Park Avenue co-op with a foreclosed family in Buttkick, Missouri. It may take a little while to adjust to the shift from Nobu to Taco Belle, but I hear the chicken-nugget burrito is tasty.

Re those execs, I’m sure you’ve been to family gatherings whee some curmudgeonly uncle will say “If you’re so smart why aren’t you rich.” As the world economy goes down the tubes because of these thieving bozos I think we’re all justified in asking them: “If you’re so rich how come you’re not smart?”

September 24, 2008

Beverage Blogging: Yerba Mate and the Wisdom of the Ancients

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 3:28 pm

Having thoroughly dissed Starbucks’ plans to bet their future on the atrocious “Pike’s Place” as their de-fault brew (see 9/6 post) I feel a responsibility to offer readers something to substitute for at least some of their energizing caffeinated needs.

When I say Yerba Mate, I know a lot of people will shrug and say, tried it, what’s the big deal? I did too when I drank it in teabag form. I sensed something there, trying to speak to me, but it wasn’t strong enough to get through.

Then I discovered Wisdom of the Ancients. No, not the actual wisdom of the ancients which I’m sure is too elevated for me, but Wisdom of the Ages brand.

More specifically Wisdom of the Ancients powdered extract of Yerba mate. So okay you don’t get the much-hyped cult mystique of drinking mate through a silver straw. But–and your mileage will vary, so use caution–the extract allows you to make it really strong. And for me that makes all the difference. I getyerba mate now. it doesn’t have the straight ahead speedy rush of coffee, that powerful locomotive force. But it does have a strong awakening thing going and–here’s where it really different from coffee–a gentle but insistent, uplifting, euphoriant effect. Just right for morning at time of the day when you’re still groggy it’s got a “keep hope alive!” feel to it. And that means something in the landscape of hopelessness in which we live.

Yes it takes some getting used to the smoky taste and if you like choose the variety (Yerba Mate “Royale”) sweetened with stevia. Vitamin Shoppe stores in New York can order it for you, as Iimagine health food stores everywhere can–or get it through the website. But make sure you get the extract, not the tea. Otherwise you might as well be drinking Pike’s Place although you won’t get the Pike’s Place headache. (May be we can drive Starbucks to withdraw the acrid swill).

Anyway try it morning and evening in place of coffee and you’ll thank me I think. Always glad to be of service

September 19, 2008

Obama's Next Move in This Crisis Should Be…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 10:38 pm

…to announce that he will ask Ralph Nader to be his Secretary of Treasury and make Nader czar of the vast purge of Wall Street schemers we need.

Nader is the only prominent public figure who’s been predicting this disaster for years. He has no allegiance to the Wall Street greedheads who may well have destroyed the American economy. (And Obama should fire any advisor on his team with any ties to Wall Street, investment banks, other “culture of greed” people and institutions).

Not only does Nader know where the bodies are buried in this ruinous scandal, calliing on Nader may be the only way to prevent voters from the Democratic party from voting for Nader for President (thus costing Obama the election) out of revulsion over the way what was once the party of the working people has–like the GOP– been corrupted by its ties to big money.

Indeed it might be even better to appoint Nader Attorney General so he can find a way to throw the book at the bankers who brought us this disaster. Class action suits to seize their assets and sell them to pay off the mortgages of the foreclosed working class might be a start. Let them know what its like to trade their big houses for The Big House.

September 18, 2008

Thoughts on "The Culture of Greed"

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:29 pm

That was a phrase Obama used some time ago, long before the culture of greed threatened the imminent destruction of the economy. We are now learning what it means in practice that market capitalism is “the worst system in the world except all the others”. I’ve never been able to understand how conservatives reconcile belief in “values” with their exaltation of the amoral values of “the market”.

At least on this point history seems to be behind Balzac when he wrote “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.” And if it’s not a crime it’s a contemptible materialism. Conservatives are supposed to be anti-materialist; after all, marxism is materialism. And yet materialism is contemptible as a way of viewing and living life–and the very heart of the market system.

Perhaps its time for both parties and their supporters to stop for a moment and re consider their values. Exessive wealth is not a sign of health, it’s a sign of sickness and disgrace. After you’ve set up your children’s trust funds (fair enough), excessive wealth should not be illegal, but it should be shameful when a billion people on earth live in the daily torment of near stavation.

I think this is what Obama meant by “the culture of greed”, the way we actually admire and celebrate the “values” of the rich which are now so repellantly on parade.

September 15, 2008

Obama Campaign Adopts My Strategy: Victory in Prospect

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:15 am

This blog, September 11:

What the campaign needs to do is focus on Wall Street. On what FDR called “the malefactors of great wealth”. On the fact that the Republican party through its obsessive, greedy, lobbyist driven fetishizing of financial de-regulation has allowed the economy to be turned into a casino for the super-rich which has driven us into ruin by turning the hard earned money of the rest of country into mendacious instruments of greed on a vast scale–the entire “derivatives” scam that is behind the subprime crash-threatening fiasco going on now.

Today:

Obama blames Wall St. crisis on Republican policy

Sep 15 07:26 AM US/Eastern
By TERENCE HUNT

CHICAGO (AP) – Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said Monday the upheaval on Wall Street was “the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression” and blamed it on policies that he said Republican rival John McCain supports.
“This country can’t afford another four years of this failed philosophy,” Obama said after the shock-wave announcements that financial giant Lehman Brothers was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy while titan Merrill Lynch was being bought by Bank of America for about $50 billion.

(via Bretibart)

Better late than never. I’ll take the Ambassadorship to the Bahamas.

Dump Biden! Hillary Would Guarantee a Win

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:04 am

My post below, advising Obama to run a populist campaign against “the malefactors of great wealth” in both parties–written before the bottom dropped out of the markets–has gained some traction among the commentariat (scroll down to Sept. 11). And I have to say, judging by today’s collapse of the house of cards the greedheads on Wall Street fabricated, it seems even more relevant.

But it may be too little, too late, as the Dems–my party; I’ve never voted Republican–dig themself deeper by ignoring the greatest financial scandal in history. An issue begging to be exploited–it was idiot heartless Phil (“mental recession”) Gramm and his de regulation policies who bears the greatest blame for this monumental fiasco, a financial Katrina that will devastate the lives of ordinary Americans. Make Phil Gramm and his corrupt cohorts the target! Instead Dems are self-destructively making themselves look smug and hysterical and blind to reality (the economy collapsing around them) with their Palin derangement.

It now looks to me like the only way they can achieve an immediate reversal of fortunes and save the election is by accompanying a change to a new aggressive line of attack on the “hedge fund creeps” by dumping the egregiously clownish Biden, a drain on the ticket, a shill for the finance industry–the Democrats’ very own Phil Gramm–that brought us to this state.

And, yes, replacing him with Hillary. Biden’s already suggested it, but doing it (Biden would have to make it seem it’s his initiative) would electrify the entire campaign, dominate the news cycle stolen by Palin and hand Obama the battleground states he’s now looking to lose.

I say this as someone who is no fan of Hillary (having recently referred to “the Clinton crime family”) but I think the election of Obama can be world-historically important for what it says about America and the face America represents to the world. And sometime syou gotta do what you gotta do to win.

There’s still time left, but not much. From the moment Obama’s party hack advisors somehow convinced him he ought to call attention to his foreign policy inexperience (of the conventional Washington variety) by nominating one of the worst hacks in the party, a laughingstock parody of conventional wisdom, deeply implicated as an enabler of the greatest financial scandal in history, his campaign has gone into a death-spiral no “ground game” is likely to rescue him from.

It will be difficult to orchestrate and there will be static about “panic” in the beginning. But if it’s to be done it’s got to be done this week, when it can be seen as a response to a national emergency, the financial panic. And there will be time left for people to re focus. But eventually people will come around to the view that it’s refreshing for a politician to be able to admit he made a mistake rather than stick to it despite all the evidence.

Bye bye Biden!

September 11, 2008

The Line of Attack Obama Should Take

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 12:04 pm

I think it’s time the Obama team turns the stategy reins over to me. Ever since the misbegotten selection of the clownish Joe Biden, Obama and the entire Democratic party seem off their game. (Did I not predict Biden would be a continual embarrassment? What a lost opportunity!) They have no game. They have no line of attack. It’s either been conceding that George Bush was right about the surge (as Obama admitted to Bill O’Reilly, rather than focussing on the mismanagement of the war from about Day Three in a way that required the enormous unnecessary loss of life for five years). Or it’s gotten itself obsessed with their opponent’s vice presidential pick in exactly the snotty elitist way that seems to confirm what I believe to be a mistaken impression of Obama.

What the campaign needs to do is focus on Wall Street. On what FDR called “the malefactors of great wealth”. On the fact that the Republican party through its obsessive, greedy, lobbyist driven fetishizing of financial de-regulation has allowed the economy to be turned into a casino for the super-rich which has driven us into ruin by turning the hard earned money of the rest of country into mendacious instruments of greed on a vast scale–the entire “derivatives” scam that is behind the subprime crash-threatening fiasco going on now.

Yes, it’s true that the Clintonians were in bed with them (and Biden was a shill for the credit card industry) but six years of pure Republican rule handed the economy to the hedge fund creeps, virtually turned the economy into a hedge fund, a huge financial scam. Rather than re tooling it for the new century, they retooled financial instruments for their own disgraceful enrichment.

This is the year for a populist assault on these greedheads who once again have demonstrated that their unchecked, unregulated chicanery outruns their sense of responsibility. So what if many are Democrats, the more the shame. Obama should run against them too. I think there is a vast untapped resentment out there against the sharpies who have ended up bankrupting and selling out our economy. It’s time to hold them responsible, and in a democracy a presidential campaign is the time and the way to do it.

This is a huge story and it fits into a century’s old Democratic populist narrative that could have great appeal to the people who are now drawn to Sarah Pain because of resentment against the elites who have put working people onto the street.

“Change” is no longer enough. Even if you don’t buy the “maverick” meme of the GOP ticket (I don’t), it appeals to the vast majority of the country who know that the scam artists of great wealth have screwed up and screwed up bad. And that while they won’t go broke or go to jail (most of them), they have plenty of resources to fall back on while a great majority of voters don’t.

The biggest financial scandal in American history is going on entirely unacknowledged by both campaigns, but especially by the Democratic party which is supposed to be the guardian of the little people against Big Finance. It sounds old fashioned, “Big Finance”, and maybe the Democratic Party has been too complicit and populist have appealed before. True most people don’t hate the rich, they want to be rich. But most people have a sense of decency that the malefactors of great wealth have shown they lack. And here’s where Obama can–should–be a change agent. He’s not complicit. He should get angry about this. He should denounce those in his own party who have gone along on the lobbyist greased road to ruin. It should be his big issue. Otherwise, is there any real difference between the two parties except empty slogans.

Exchange “change” for a focus on the Exchanges and you’ve got a winning issue. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

September 6, 2008

Why Starbucks Was Failing–And How it's Getting Worse

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:16 am

I’ve had a long-time love/hate relationship with the place(s). Well it never reallyu got to ‘love”. Though I really like the people at my local place, in fact i’ve always liked the baristas, it was the mega-cup corp. that was a constant source of irritation.

But this post is not about the people or corporate culture; it’s purely about the coffee. At first when they originlaly began to expand in New York City, they were relatively small and the coffee was bracingly fresh. Not the mediocre expresso, the in-store brews. And the beans they ground and sold by the bag were strong and fresh.

But then as the corporation grew, time and again I’d find I’d brought home a bag of stale or less-than fresh beans. Once when I complained to the manager I got into one of those (verbal) fights that got me permanently banned from that store–until I wrote a column about it and got the district manager to “re instate” me. (The fight grew out of my saying the beans I’d bought were stale and the manager responding by saying he’d have to go into the back office and check its freshnes date, and my telling him I didn’t care what he found in the back room, it wouldn’t change the fact that the coffee he’d sold me was stale..

Anyway, not long after that they began putting expiration dates on the bags (I’m claiming credit for my column doing that), but the problem wasn’t solved. They still had too much inventory or poor inventory control to keep maximally fresh beans in stores and I stopped buying it for home although I kept drinking it in-store. The fact that their numbers were tanking had something to do with this failure of their core business, I b elieve.

Then they came up with the wrong solution to their problems. The hideous Pike’s Peak blend. For some reason they listened to the wrong critics of their in-store coffee. All the thin-blooded people who said it was “over roasted”, when, I think, they just can’t handle strong drink.

So what they did is come up with this incredibly medicore weak blend, this “Pike’s Place” brew, thin and under-roasted, with an awful acrid stale-before-it’s-time taste even when it wa fresh, and made it their standard, sometimes the only brew available in-store. (You still can order a “bold” blend, but it’s not always available.

So they’ve trashed the one thing they built their entire brand on for this weak coffee- flavored hot water. It’s a huge gamble. A bet on the bad taste or who-has time-to-care taste of the American public.

I hope they come to their senses before they lose big. Not for their sake but for yours and mine.

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