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What would FDR do?

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In 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the podium at Madison Square Garden to deliver a message to his critics. "We [have] had to struggle with the old enemies of peace," he said. "Business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred."

Earlier this morning, Barack Obama took the podium at Cooper Union and delivered a rather different message to organized money. He asked not for their hatred, but for their support. "I am here today because I want to urge you to join us," he said, "instead of fighting us in this effort. I am here because I believe that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of our financial sector." (For a full transcript, head here.)

The point of the contrast isn't to set FDR's stirring populism against Obama's preference for cooperation. It's to ask which is a better policy approach.

There's some reason to be skeptical of Obama's contention that these reforms will be in the best interests of the financial sector. If true reform of the derivatives sector passes into law, for instance, Wall Street will lose the remarkable profits it extracts from writing complex contracts that few can reproduce and no one can price. But that gets to the question of Wall Street's interests. The last few years have been good for the sector. Consider these two graphs, both of which come from James Kwak. The first tracks financial sector profits as a percentage of total domestic products. It begins after the 1929 crash.

finsectorporfits1929on.jpg

The second graph tracks the average wage in the financial industry against the average wage across all other industries. It begins before the crash of 1929, so you can see what the financial sector looked like before it melted down.

finwage.jpg

There are certainly many in the financial sector who would consider enormous profits and extremely high wages to be in their best interest. But it's not in the country's best interest for the financial sector to consume 40 percent of domestic profits. You can't regulate against that sort of incentive for taking risks. You can't legislate against the sort of political power that much money can buy.

But with a few exceptions -- notably the unexpected strength of the derivatives legislation -- it's not clear that the financial regulation bills under consideration in Congress do much to change the look of these graphs. Comparatively, you can see that after the Great Depression, the average financial wage lost a lot of its appeal in comparison to the average actual wage. Banking became, well, just another job.

The Dodd and Frank bills are not about changing how the financial sector works so much as changing how it's regulated. And there's a real need for regulation modernizing the powers of regulators, so that's not necessarily a bad thing.

But the question is whether that's a sufficient thing. Whether we also need legislation that is decidedly not in the financial sector's best interest. Legislation that brings down their share of total domestic profits and forces down their relative wages and makes it less lucrative for smart college graduates to rush into investment banks. Legislation that leaves firms that are smaller and easier to unwind and that doesn't offer massive rewards to people who develop complex and untested products and then sell them to other people who know even less about them. A financial industry, in other words, that looks more like the one we had after the Great Depression than before.

Photo credit: By Jim Young/Reuters

By Ezra Klein  |  April 22, 2010; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Comments

Ezra,
Good points you raise. But the big difference here between the numbers and quality of legislators that FDR had and Pres. Obama has to work with is vastly different. The bill can only be as strong as the most conservative Democratic congresscritter will vote for. So, yes Lincoln for inexplicable reasons introduced a strong derivatives regulatory bill. Will it survive in the main bill? Who knows.

The President sees that he cannot invest himself in components that the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus won't vote for. The Public Option wild goose chase in the HCR was an object lesson for him.

Posted by: zizi1 | April 22, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you're quite right to raise the issue of what are, essentially, the opportunity costs of the financial sector's outsize share of US profits. Your characterization of the Dodd bill as a retooling of the financial regulatory system rather than a retooling of the financial sector itself is similarly spot-on. However, you lose me a bit when you write that we need legislation that "leaves firms that are smaller and easier to unwind...".

The too-big-to-fail question is vexing because we know that size (as measured by book value, market share, or profits) is an insufficient diagnostic for a firm's potential to pose a systemic risk--it's about interconnectedness. I'd wager that we see pretty eye-to-eye on derivatives regulation, but I suspect that derivatives contracts, too, will be inadequate markers of a firm's too-big-to-fail status.

Have you spoken with folks who are thinking about any other means of identifying (and thereby being able to preempt) the TBTF problem?

Thanks for the awesome commentary and reporting,
dcr

Posted by: dcr_ | April 22, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

The financialization of the economy is barely understood by even the best heterodox economists. This is going to take long time to sort out.

BTW, in 1936 FDR had 71% of the senate and 74% of the house. And no 60 vote senate either.

Posted by: chrismealy | April 22, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

This speech by FDR, obviously quite stirring, is frequently cited these days. As a caveat, it is worth noting a couple of points. First, the speech was given, at least in part, because of FDR's fear of being outflanked by populists of the Huey Long type, not necessarily because he intended to take much action against Wall Street at that point. Secondly, FDR overestimated popular backing for the kind of activism implied by the speech and, in effect, real reform effectively died in the second FDR administration. Alan Brinkley's lucid history of this period is, in fact, entitled "The End of Reform."

Posted by: donaldslovin | April 22, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I give President Obama a ton of credit for this. Going right into the lion's den takes a lot of, well you know.

In many ways taking on financial reform is much easier than healthcare. At least with healthcare they were giving industry 30 million new clients each.

With FinReg all they're doing is asking Wall St to take a haircut for the most part and bail themselves out when they get into trouble.

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 22, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Since the effects of shadow banking have been disastrous to everyone but the bankers, the solution—besides separating investment banking from commercial banking and providing greater, stronger consumer protection—is more sunlight, in the form of requiring constant and detailed information of banks' financial conditions to their regulators. Do any of the proposed reforms effectively do this?

The concern is that regulators didn't know the state of what they were regulating. Was that because they weren't looking? Or that they didn't have anything to look at? Either is bad. Both are an invitation to further chicanery.

Supposedly, free markets work best—for BOTH sides—with full transparency, otherwise it's a con by one party or they other. Beginning with deregulation in the '80s and '90s, the banking system has used the shadows to hide necessary information from its customers and its overseers. The reforms of the 1930s, besides structurally altering the financial industry, required that it be public in its business.

Are these currently proposed reforms doings the same? Or is it going to be business as usual with a few limits imposed, with oversight by still blinded regulators?

Unless we really know that the banks are doing, we won't know what being done to us. And the banks will continue to profit at our expense.

Posted by: tomcammarata | April 22, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,
Lots of people are making smart points about the differences between FDR's challenges then and Obama's today. For my money, the best conversation happened in 2007 when Jonathan Alter countered Paul Krugman's reading of history, which has pretty much set the stage for misapplied FDR analogies in conversations on the left. Bottom line: I don't think FDR speeches four years into his presidency amidst an even greater depression should apply to an Obama less than two years into his presidency. http://www.newsweek.com/id/80882

Posted by: fbacon2 | April 22, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr, I don't even see that much of a haircut. Now a derivatives tax and/or a financial tranactions tax would put the screws to them in a much more effective way.

Posted by: srw3 | April 22, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

srw3,

i was referring to the eventual NEXT bailout that will occur on their dime instead of ours. That's a fairly substantial haircut but yes a transactional tax would be as well.

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 22, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

vision: "I give President Obama a ton of credit for this. Going right into the lion's den takes a lot of, well you know."

I give him credit, too. But Lions den? These folks gave him more money than they gave Hillary, and gave the Democrats plenty more than the Republicans in the last election cycle. And a lot of those folks are liberals--and serious ones, at that. Certainly not all of them. But plenty of them. Some of them may be liberals about everything but their own pocketbook, but I'd wager that plenty of them--ala Warren Buffet--think it's crazy they aren't taxed and regulated way more than they are.

Not that plenty of them won't resist serious reform, but at the end of the day I'm guessing most of them expect Obama to be much more with them than against them.

Plus, there's an election coming in 2012. He's gotta think about that. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | April 22, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama is naive beyond belief if he thinks Wall St. is going to "join" his reform efforts. This is just another example of his psychological shortcoming of being in deathly fear of having enemies, of having someone out there who doesn't like him. He needs to lose that attitude if he wants to succeed in this job. Drew Westin did a great psychoanalysis of him on this in Huffpost a few months back.

Posted by: rjewett | April 22, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I tend to think bloggers like Andrew Sullivan are right that Obama thinks very long term and very strategically.

My sense is that Obama gets that Wall Street is all about the next trading day, the next quarter, the next dollar (next billion).

But if Wall Street is allowed to run amok making rapingly big profits while unemployment remains at 9%, forclosures continue apace, or accelerate, and the general economic picture of the bottom 75-80% of America suffers, well, then the gig may well be up for Wall Street.

Accept mild regulation now, tolerate slightly circumspect pay packets, and tone down the tone-deafness. Or face REAL populist backlash and rage, and decapitating regulation and control in a few years.

That's my take on Obama's offer.

Posted by: RalfW | April 22, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

How about what would Teddy Roosevelt do?

Break up the big banks, they have a stranglehold on our economy, savings and debt.

The bigger they get, the lower interest they will pay depositors and the higher interest they will charge borrowers.

And don't forget to close down the Federal Reserve Bank.

Posted by: wesatch | April 22, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"Supposedly, free markets work best—for BOTH sides—with full transparency, otherwise it's a con by one party or they other. Beginning with deregulation in the '80s and '90s, the banking system has used the shadows to hide necessary information from its customers and its overseers. The reforms of the 1930s, besides structurally altering the financial industry, required that it be public in its business."

Very true. It is clear that the investment banks are in it solely for themselves and the public be damned. But now, after the debacles of auction-rate securities and derivatives and the like why would any pension system or municipality listen to these thieves? Why wouldn't investors be more skeptical?

Greed is at the root of all this, but it is pretty widespread.

Once again, I say go with the transaction tax and some real tax reform that would undo the skewing toward investment income of the last 10 years. Take away a little of the incentive or, at least cut Uncle Sam in. And can't the Fed stop lending to these thieves at zero interest? They obviously don't really need it except to make more money.

Posted by: Mimikatz | April 22, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

How about what would Teddy Roosevelt do?

Break up the big banks, they have a stranglehold on our economy, savings and debt.

The bigger they get, the lower interest they will pay depositors and the higher interest they will charge borrowers.

And don't forget to close down the Federal Reserve Bank.

Posted by: wesatch | April 22, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Kevin,

I would compare it to a conservative Republican making a speech before SEIU or the ABA. I'm sure those groups have given money to Republicans over the years as well but I would expect most lobbyists know that you give the most to who's in power and when power shifts, you shift who you give the most money to. Its only common sense.

And sure they know they've had it too good for too long but it doesn't mean they're wishing for the gravy train to end.

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 22, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget that the huge profits of the finance sector depended on huge bailouts - the AIGs and others on the losing side of the bets on derivatives had to pay up, but couldn't have done so without huge infusions of cash from the government. The profits - the winning side of the bet - wouldn't have materialized if the institutions who had to pay up had gone bankrupt. So if we end up with a bill that really ends bailouts, the financial sector is going to have to make money in a way that doesn't depend on others going bankrupt, and it won't be nearly as profitable.

Posted by: randrewm | April 22, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

This is so, so, so important.

Finance as a share of the economy is a symptom of a much bigger problem. We have spent 30 years running a terrible experiment in "trickle-down" economics, and the result is EXACTLY what its opponents warned it would be: bombardment of the middle class (two-income family now), wage stagnation, spectacular growth of the rentier class and the top 1%, unsustainable consumer and government debt, a choking off of vital public infrastructure and human investments, and ultimately an economic crash led by the financial industry desperate to generate returns on an economy that was completely out of whack--flooded with private capital, and starved of consumption money or public investment.

I agree Obama has gone not nearly as far as FDR did. This is for two reasons. First, FDR took office after the unambiguous collapse of our economic system. Obama took office at the economic equivalent of 1930, not 1932. Second, even if the election had been in 2012 instead of 2010, Republicans were not going to make the same mistakes they did 80 years ago. They were going to save the banks, which would have saved the economy.

What we've ended up with is a situation where the country is MUCH better off than in 1932, but it's harder to push for the major changes that are needed to repair our economy.

Because we have still not repudiated the fundamental "trickle-down" of the Banana Republicans whose agenda we've been implementing for the past 30 years.

When we see less money flooding Wall Street, we'll know that we're moving towards fixing that problem.

Posted by: theorajones1 | April 22, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Whatever he'd do, it would be absolutely torn apart by republicans at the time, then generally regarded as genius 40 years later. See a pattern here?

Posted by: semantic1 | April 22, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"And don't forget to close down the Federal Reserve Bank."

This statement reveals that its author doesn't know what he/she is talking about.

Posted by: thehersch | April 22, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Bringing up FDR does not help Obama very much because FDR almost did our country in just like Obama is doing. As soon as FDR past away the Congress & Senate jumped to pass a law that no one could ever serve as President that long again. After him we still had to fight Progressives & other Presidents that tried to take our Constitution away from us or ignore it. We need a man that follows the Constitution of the United States & the Declaration of Independence. Not a man that wants all of Americans in order to get a job become a union member, or have union leaders in the White House to help make decisions for Americans or go out & disrupt town hall meetings of the people. Obama does not need to take control of the regulation of Wall Street because it will be another power play for him & his 50B take over will only give him access to be able to view every Americans moves, just as how they spend their money & on what businesses they deal with, etc. A gross take over.

Posted by: egw7777 | April 22, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

ezra, like too many of my fellow democrats, you make the mistake in trying to compare someone like Obama with someone like FDR.
FDR was operating in an environment of daily newspapers and radio as the media. A time when republicans were normal for the most part.
Obama comes at a time when media is not very substantive and operates in this 24-7 Politico/Drudge style news cycle. Polls are taken daily and there is not a debate on issues.
You have the right going insane and those are the mainstream ones.
And a network dedicated to spinning 24-7 lies and propaganda to the masses in Fox.
Also, in the 30s the public blamed the right ones for the failure in Wall Street and bankers and the corporate world.
Now you have half the population defending these crooks and most blaming Washington instead of the bad guys.
People are manipulated into believing the bankers are the good guys and innocents.
You also have two men who have very different personalities.
Obama is an intellectual who is not a blazing populist. Besides, this is an era of overuse of the word and applying it to anyone who postures somewhat as one from Newt to Palin to the crazy teabaggers.
Obama is one who sees people as human and not as the enemy so, no, he is not going to demonize these guys. Besides, in this era of everyone you don't agree being demonized, it is a nice change of pace.
We need to stop trying to make Obama into someone else and accept the man for who he is and his own man with his own personality.

Posted by: greenbug2 | April 22, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse


Obama is naive beyond belief if he thinks Wall St. is going to "join" his reform efforts. This is just another example of his psychological shortcoming of being in deathly fear of having enemies, of having someone out there who doesn't like him. He needs to lose that attitude if he wants to succeed in this job. Drew Westin did a great psychoanalysis of him on this in Huffpost a few months back.
--------------------------

Obama is not being naive. He is simply giving people a chance to make a choice before anything is done. Offering someone the chance to either get on board or face tough stuff is not naive.
I think in this era of screeching, chest pounding and tough guy rhetoric along with constantly demonizing others, we fail to appreciate when someone has the intellect and class to present things differently.
We mistake a person who has some decency and speaks quietly, who doesn't strut and posture and make empty threats of dead or alive, as being weak,
In the movie High Noon, the bad guys made that same mistake with Gary Cooper.

Posted by: greenbug2 | April 22, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Good article, Mr. Klein. I'd be less concerned about passing good legislation for the financial "industry". They need behavioral modification, not rewards. Republicans are jumping on the legislative bandwagon because they don't want to be thought of in a country of lost homes, jobs, and wages as not being for the people. After all, elections are on the horizon. The current general mood is that a little punishment is in order, and a solid bipartisan bill might be just the thing. Is the current proposed legislation stout enough to fence in the rooting pigs? This is as yet an unknown, but laws in place now can be tailored in the future. Having nothing now would hardly redoun to the approval rating of Congress.

Posted by: sober1 | April 22, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

These graphs are consistent with the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve. There was a big inflation in the '20s, and we have had an even bigger one since the '80s. Inflation causes volatility in everything, esp. financial instruments. This is what has been happening. (FDR and Bush II were among the worst Presidents in US history. Obama is passing them up.)

Posted by: wpcharowhas | April 22, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Nicely done, egw7777! You successfully combined every single rightwing nutjob talking point into a single paragraph! Are you a real person or a computer algorithm?

Posted by: randrewm | April 22, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Lot of comments earlier made it very clear - to understand the over inflated share of finance in our profits & Wall Street wages is 'core' to what is wrong in America and few folks want to understand that.

You see America cannot be like Great Britain - a small country which can literally make living being a Financial Services Center for rest of the world. Even their that model did not work for them. For a large country like USA with so many military commitments (thought Palin does not like, I will quote Obama 'whether we like or not, we are Super Power' with world policing responsibilities); that is just not an option.

So when Paul Krugman or Tom Friedman complain that we are still not seeing America where going into Engineering / Science profession is not as lucrative as like going for Investment Banking; we have a problem.

Ezra is right, really good that he keeps harping on that point; that Obama's current FinReg does not solve this problem.

Since Derivatives bring the lion's share of profits for Banks; Sen. Lincoln Blanche's bill in an indirect way addresses this problem, at least to certain extent (unless I have misinterpreted some crucial points here). That is where I consider the important of 'derivatives regulation'.

Posted by: umesh409 | April 22, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

FDR opposed the creation of the FDIC and only accepted it as part of a larger banking bill. He made several public comments how it would contribute to what we know call "moral hazard". I think the S&L implosion, which had a FDIC like insurer proved him right. We should take heed from his warning and oppose this new FDIC style expansion. Its moral hazard writ large.

Posted by: iculus | April 22, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, great stimulating question. Having been born during the peak of the Depression and having been told by my parents of their survival via one or more of the Federal programs created, I have been a strong advocate of breaking up the big banks (BofA,Citi,et al) down to a $100B level. I also think that we need a new Glass-Stegal act. At age 73 it pains me greatly to see 40% of profits going to capital while we have a 13.4% unemployment level in my home county. This is morally wrong and I pray Obama will give these guys a really strong dose of salts. They are living in some other world reality. It simply wont work in future.

Posted by: JLF0425 | April 22, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Are we all idiots? The American taxpayer would not be on the hook for all this if Glass-Steagall had not been repealed. Investment banks should NEVER be allowed to use insured demand deposits for investments.Any regulatory reform not doing this is like giving a baby aspirin to an individual having a massive myocardial infarction. Rational people always attempt to do what is in their best self interests but long term self interests are not always obvious or POPULAR. May God help us all.

Posted by: jim0034 | April 22, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Dictator Obama has been busy destroying U.S. jobs and the U.S. economy. His current efforts to control Wall Street will contribute to kill additional jobs and further damage the U.S. economy.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | April 22, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, of course, you are right on the money concerning the President's failure to push hard enough. FDR did leave an example to be followed. Footdragging last year on HCR cost the Democrats credibility and nearly the present HCR-which nearly everyone says is only a step in the right direction. Endless negotiate was to get a bipartisan Senate Bill. What resulted was a quagmire that provided fuel for media and Tea Party criticism. Never to my knowledge was the opposition given the chance to make their case against a reform by proxy. That clearly contributed to the loss of the Mass. senate seat.

What's the plan this year to push through finance reform? It is again to negotiate with the GOP and Wall Street. Certainly, that strategy cannot be predicated on anything good that happened last year. The reality is that the Senate's filibuster rule makes real change impossible over any opposition.

Democrats must quickly get this bill on the floor to force a vote or filibuster. If they do block the bill, the President then has months to blast the GOP for obstructionism and shielding Wall Street. Only more Dem Senators can help the country.

To do anything else will just make democrats look impossibly inept at leadership. Also, the economy can't simply be trusted to Wall Street. It's not in their interest to help Democrats.

If the economy does not improve, the pundits can rightfully claim that it's all the President's fault. He's another Nero playing his fiddle as Rome burns.

Posted by: Reesh | April 22, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to Ezra Klein's somewhat thoughtful article, it is increasingly clear that nothing short of the full reinstatement of Glass-Steagall will effectively curb the criminal and immoral activities of the Wall Street-City of London Axis.

Mr. Klein characterizes FDR's 1936 re-inauguration speech as "populist" (as if Franklin Delano Roosevelt were some kind of rabblerouser). It is anything but "populist": rather, it reflects his faithful and patriotic defense of this republic against her most rabidly furious enemies.

Doesn't Mr Klein yet recognize what is at stake, here?

For, without the United States, as the fully functioning, future-oriented, can-do, science-driver, classical-humanist-educated, constitutional republic she is designed by her founders and greatest Citizens to be, the future, for civilization — for all mankind, is miserable indeed, as the ongoing general collapse of the failed, global-imperialist, feudal-oligarchical monetarist system proceeds apace.

The so-called economic "experts" and production-line, university-degreed incompetents, and Nobel-Prizener nincompoops, do nothing but whistle past the ghoul-ridden graveyard, and the president thinks he can treat the gambling-casino owners of Wall Street as if they were decent moral Citizens; that is what is commonly known as appeasement.

President Obama is as far from being a worthy successor to Washington, John Quincy Adams, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley FDR, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy as any of the worst incumbents to have disgraced that noble institution.

To recap: nothing short of a full reinstatement of Glass-Steagall — and that should be applied globally, among a concert of sovereign nations — with a concomitant New Pecora Commission, will serve to restore this great republic, the first of its kind in recorded history, to its original intent.

It will, over the coming days, weeks and months become more clear that that is what is needed: already, more commentators, and even Congressional Reps and Senators — at least those who are awake and who have a shred of moral decency — are uttering the unspeakable words ... Glass-Steagall.

Posted by: 1GFusionToMars | April 22, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Sane and just comments posted by jim0034 | April 22, 2010 6:17 PM and by: JLF0425 | April 22, 2010 6:04 PM: these are the only others who refer to Glass-Steagall.

Posted by: 1GFusionToMars | April 23, 2010 2:13 AM | Report abuse

First of all, I like the tone of this article. I believe that a financial regulatory bill must pass and the SEC must proceed against Goldman Sachs (who just handed out another few million in bonuses).
Secondly, I hate to be picayune but your use of the term "past away" is incorrect. It should be 'passed away'
Check your Funk & Wagnalls

Posted by: sankeen | April 23, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

FDR would (and did) the same thing as Ike and JFK in confronting arrogant and antidemocratic Empire, or as he called them "financial royalists" (harking back to the British Empire that American citizens rejected).

However, apparently Obama missed my lead letter to the Boston Globe in Jan 2001 regarding their question of Clinton's Legacy:

"Clinton's legacy? It will be as the Neville Chamberlain of the Democratic
party, and for the same reason; that he caved to fascism ---- not the old
personalized, nationalist fascism, but a newer 'friendly fascism' of global
corporate empire.

Clinton tried to triangulate corporate fascism with a slightly friendlier
version, that could feel our pain while applying it also. He learned too
late that you can't co-opt fascists by applying half their programs for
them. They will only grouse and continue to do the second half with rougher
hands on the controls." [As they proceeded to do with their W puppet for 8 years]

Obama apparently does not understand that a (small d) democratic president can not negotiate with corporatist Empire whether it is the overtly fascist old type, or the modern two-party and covertly guileful 'Vichy' "inverted totalitarian" empire of which Sheldon Wolin so accurately writes in "Democracy Incorporated".

Obama's speech to Wall Street, unlike Ike's courageous exposure of the MIC Empire and JFK's more courageous and career-ending American University outing of the corporate/financial/militarist Empire behind the curtain, proves that rather than a hero, Obama is nothing but our fifth successive pre-selected "emperor-president" [Andrew Bacevich's term].

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

Posted by: alanmd | April 25, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

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