Will wonders ever cease? First, a NBC network airs its Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter making a call to action against all the populism that has inundated the political dialogue over the past six months. Now, the same reporter, Rick Santelli, has been invited by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to the White House.
On CNBC's "Street Signs" Feb. 20, Santelli told viewers he would accept Gibbs' invitation. And, although his critics thought he was over-the-top, he said he still felt good about his impassioned plea.
"Well, I tell you what Melissa Lee," Santelli said. "It's been a wild afternoon, but I do want to point out - I do believe I was invited to the White House by Mr. Gibbs and I want to let him know, I would love to. I would love to accept and the decaf sounds good, but I prefer tea, but thank you for bring this into the forefront. This is an issue that means a lot to everybody and I'm glad it's getting a high degree of introspection, debate and I think that's essential. I feel really good about that."
Updated below: Lucasfilm rep says Lucas backs Obama's economic policy, tax hikes on rich.
Noting that "the cornerstone of American capitalism is that you can make as much money as you want when you work for a company," filmmaker George Lucas told CNSNews.com*, adding that he thinks salary caps for corporate executives should be decided by corporate boards of directors, not politicians:
I think it would be a good thing for shareholders to unite and say, "We are not interested in paying our executives this much money." That would work. But it's not the government's job to do that. It's the stockholders' job, but of course, they don't seem to mind [high CEO salaries]. I'm not sure why. I wouldn't pay somebody that much money.
Lucas added that he earns his pay based on the success of his movies:
Rick Sentelli's rant for the ages (transcript here) on CNBC's Squawk Box yesterday criticizing the recently passed stimulus package and the Obama administration's mortgage modification program was marred somewhat by the studio hosts. Though their tone was semi-humorous, it's telling that their instincts were to characterize the traders present at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a "mob," and to assume that Santelli somehow controlled them ("putty in your hands"). When Santelli suggested a Chicago Tea Party, one of the hosts warned that Mayor Daley and the National Guard would be mobilized.
In October of last year, in a memorable exchange on the day that history may decide was when American free-market capitalism entered the point of no return, CNBC reporters seemed somewhat amused that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson had "put a (figurative) gun to the heads" of major bank CEOs to force them to accept government "investment."
Well if you don't mind my asking, will we see any reaction out of CNBC's studio folks to an example of real mob rule in the mortgage marketplace?
Before today, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer was known for his outlandish statements and crazed antics that would land him in the public spotlight.
However, Cramer got one-upped today by CNBC's Rick Santelli, calling for something like a "Chicago Tea Party" revolt against the redistributionism that is plaguing our federal government. Cramer, in his "Stop Trading" segment on CNBC's "Street Signs" on Feb. 19, remarked it was odd no one was talking about Exxon-Mobil (NYSE:XOM) downgrade, overshadowed by Santelli's revelation.
"I'm sorry not be screaming about class warfare and how you should have your house ripped out from underneath you, but I actually get excited about stocks," Cramer said.
What's really revolting about this is the studio reaction. While it's maybe half-kidding at times, the fact that strong opposition to government policies expressed by Santelli and the traders makes these reporters instinctively think of the them being "putty" in Santelli's hands and of "mob rule" is very, very telling -- especially since I haven't heard a peep out of any reporter worried about "mob rule" in ACORN's civil disobedience campaign designed to prevent the carrying out of lawful foreclosures.
Here's a transcript of most of what was said earlier today (I would add bolds, but I would have to bold almost everything):
It's been called "the rant heard around the world," after The Drudge Report linked to the video with a screaming red headline. However Rick Santelli may have given CNBC viewers a preview of what effects Obamanomics will have on the populace.
On CNBC's "Squawk Box" Feb. 19, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter, along with several traders, expressed his outrage about President Barack Obama's plan to "spread the wealth" for people that didn't deserve it. He said a stimulus should go to people who live responsibly rather than some sort of housing bailout to people that lived irresponsibly.
"I tell you what, I have an idea," Santelli shouted. "The new administration is big on computers and technology - how about this, President and new administration? Why don't you put up a Web site to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages, or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a change to actually prosper down the road and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water."
For the Chicago Tribune, Romney supporter turned Obama man Douglas Kmiec indulged in quite a litany of name-calling, finger pointing and demagoguery against the GOP that would have been amazing from the same man only one year ago. Hopefully questioning "The Death of the GOP," Kmiec has shown that he no longer cares much how he is viewed, going full Democrat Partisan at this point.
In his Tribune article, Kmiec outrageously says that Republicans don't care about "helping" the country, that they denigrate the "values, hopes and planning of others," and have "no interest in family, work or neighborhood." After heaping such calumny onto the GOP, he then does further damage to poor Mitt Romney by happily reminding us that Romney is a "flip flopper" that should join the Obama administration. Some friend he is!
So where did the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Sabrina Eaton go for opinions on what Michelle Malkin earlier today called "the massive mortgage entitlement campaign launched by President Barack Obama"?
Why, they went to "housing experts," of course.
But the people she quoted aren't builders, realtors, mortgage lenders, mortgage brokers, or economists. Nor, based on the area's results, are they experts in helping individuals and families make smart housing decisions, or in helping communities build property values.
No-no-no. The people Eaton consulted as "housing experts" were an "organizing project executive director," the head of the "Columbus-based Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio," and a county treasurer. Not surprisingly, these alleged "experts" liked Obama's plan, but conditioned their praise with the requisite "there should be more" caveats -- both in terms of money and coercion.
On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid described Barack Obama’s signing of the massive "stimulus" spending bill into law: "After a mere four weeks in office, the President today signed what he called ‘the most sweeping economic recovery plan in American history’...A new law that he described as a new beginning...In Missouri, the reaction was instantaneous. As the bill was signed, highway commissioners signed a contract, cut a check, and work began on the first project in the nation."
Reid dedicated only one sentence of his report to those opposing the legislation: "On the steps of the Colorado statehouse today, protestors condemned the bill, while Republicans across the nation vowed to analyze every dollar of spending in search of waste and fraud." Reid followed that up with: "The White House is already fighting back. Today launching a web site intended to instill public confidence in the President's plan." None of the protestors or Republican lawmakers were quoted in the story.
While many Hollywood stars may have raised a champagne flute yesterday to mark President Obama's signing of the stimulus package, actor Kelsey Grammer was not among them. The actor best known for his roles in "Cheers" and "Frasier" told NewsBusters's sister organization CNSNews.com recently that he was a "free enterprise guy" who feared that CEO pay caps included in the corporate bailouts were a "sort of a deal with the devil."
CNSNews.com staffer Nicholas Ballasy caught up with Grammer recently at a ceremony marking the reopening of Ford's Theatre where the actor panned the package as rewarding "evildoers" who have wrecked the economy:
Karl Rove was invited on Tuesday's "Today" show to discuss Obama's stimulus plan and NBC's Matt Lauer pressed the former Bush senior adviser about the one-sidedness of the vote on the bill by the GOP as he pressed Rove: "219, if you add up the House and the Senate we have what, 219 Republicans. All but three of them voted against this plan...do those 216 Republicans run the risk of being on the outside looking in, if this starts to work?" Lauer also went on to cite Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod ridiculing any member of Bush administration for offering economic advice as Lauer doubted: "Do you have credibility on this subject... would you say that the eight years of the Bush administration were lax on regulation?"
However this prompted Rove to hit back, in the following exchange, as he noted Democrats like Barack Obama were the ones who stood in the way of the Bush administration regulating some of the main culprits behind the mortgage mess - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
That House Democrats with barely any business experience deigned to pontificate to Wall Street executives drew criticism from an unlikely quarter -- top-rated liberal radio host Ed Schultz.
Schultz could barely contain his disgust with members of the House Financial Services Committee for their condescending treatment of Wall Street execs whose banks received TARP funds.
Here's what Schultz said on Friday's show, referring to financial sector CEOs testifying before the committee two days earlier and the dearth of business experience among its members (click here for audio) --
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Republican Congressman Eric Cantor about President Obama’s proposed housing bill: "Unlike the stimulus, will you urge your fellow Republicans in the House to support this?" When Cantor criticized the proposed bill and the passage of the "stimulus" bill, Rodriguez declared: "But Congressman, it's clear that Americans are begging for help with foreclosures. Corporations are begging for bailouts. Can the Republican Party accept that there are situations when large-scale government intervention is necessary?"
Cantor began to explain that Republicans supported some aspects of the "stimulus," but Rodriguez quickly interrupted him: "But everyone opposed it. Why? Where's the bipartisanship?" Before Cantor could respond, she added: "Are you afraid of being seen as obstructionist?" An on-screen graphic read: "Economic Crisis, Party Politics & Recovery Roadblocks."
Cantor replied by describing the lack of "bipartisanship" of congressinonal Democrats: "And if you look at the bill that was put together, it was brought to the floor after a couple of hours having just been printed. No one -- not one member of the Senate, not one member of the House -- was able to read the bill. And I believe the public's got a right to know. So the fashion in which this plan was put together by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader Harry Reid was just unacceptable."
Americans expecting a serious discussion about the soon to be enacted stimulus plan certainly didn't find it on Sunday's "Meet the Press" which instead was sixty minutes of some of the most disgraceful Obama sycophancy since Chris Matthews bragged about getting a thrill up his leg when the Democrat presidential candidate spoke.
Virtually every time host David Gregory or any of his guests opened their mouths -- with the possible exception of the Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel -- one could close one's eyes and envision the words emanating from a member of the Adminstration and/or the president himself.
Consider first what the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson said:
Everything is wonderful and peachy-keen in Obamaland if you rely on the reporting on the front page of The New York Times. Just ask CNBC's Jim Cramer. On his Feb. 12 program the "Mad Money" host dealt with the $789 billion stimulus package.
"Now if you were to believe what's in the papers, holy cow - except for the funny papers - you would think this package was wonderful," Cramer said he said of the reported agreement congressional leaders had reached on ironing out the package's details.
Cramer was referring to a front-page article by Richard W. Stevenson in the Feb. 12 Times, which gave a glowing account of this as a victory in the early stages of the Obama administration.
"Look at the front page of The New York Times today," Cramer said. "I love this one, ‘Measuring a Victory,' by this guy, Stevenson. He's a famous guy, you know? He's not Robert Louis Stevenson, he's Richard W. Stevenson. He writes - it's like a comedy routine - ‘It is a quick sweet victory for the new president and potentially a historic one.' Who edits this B.S.?"
If you needed an alarm to go off signaling President Obama's honeymoon with the press being over, you got it Thursday when former CBS "Evening News" anchor Dan Rather severely chastised the new administration for not doing enough to solve today's economic problems.
Writing for the Daily Beast, the man who once used a forged document in an attempt to bring down former President George W. Bush wondered why more people aren't outraged about how little has been done by Obama and Company to right what he believes is a sinking ship.
Caution -- you're about to enter a no kidding zone:
HARRIS: Let's make a deal. Negotiators say they could agree on a final version of the massive stimulus bill as early as today.
Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash is on phone from Capitol Hill.
Dana, really, by today? Is that possible?
DANA BASH, CNN NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPODNENT: Their cautiously optimistic. I think we should stress the word cautious. I'm sitting in the hall of the capitol down the hall from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office. And there is a huge meeting going on, it's even going on for 24 hours. The White House has said the budget director said many some of the key centrist Senators who really hold a lot of power between the House and Senate on the president's stimulus package.
How could anyone take a principled stand against the $789 billion economic stimulus bill? Any opposition to this massive expansion of the federal government must be sheer political posturing. Or so said Newsweek magazine's Jonathan Alter.
Alter said on MSNBC's Feb. 11 "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" that congressional Republicans oppose the stimulus bill based on an ill-conceived, low-percentage bet that the proposal would fail.
"Well, they're betting on the 30 percent chance, as Joe Biden put it, that it's not going to work," Alter said. "Then they can say, ‘I told you so, it didn't do any good.'"
While most people might be offended by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) saying bonuses are like bribes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) was so enamored with such talk that she actually posted a video of the Massachusetts Congressman's disgusting remarks at YouTube.
As NewsBusters previously reported, during Wednesday's House Financial Services Committee hearing, Frank chastised the CEOs in attendance for having the gall to receive bonuses:
Why do you need to be bribed to have your interests aligned with the people who are paying your salary?
Pelosi obviously wasn't offended by Frank's comments, for she posted a video of his remarks -- in her own name, mind you! -- at YouTube (video embedded below the fold):
Despite his tax problems, President Barack Obama's newly minted Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, was sold to Congress as the one who was going to save the fragile financial system.
However, in what was billed to be a big announcement, and Geithner's first major appearance, he failed to deliver. The Treasury Secretary was slated to outline his plan to rescue troubled financial institutions from the toxic assets they had on their books. But he failed to give specifics and the markets suffered; the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) nosedived 382 points.
CNBC "Fast Money" host Dylan Ratigan had his own description of Geithner's performance. In an appearance on MSNBC's Feb. 11 "Morning Joe," he likened it to "soiling a bed."
Capitalism Derangement Syndrome was on full display during Wednesday's House Financial Services Committee hearing when Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) accused the financial industry executives present of needing to be bribed with bonuses to do their jobs.
That's right: a bonus is now the equivalent of a bribe as far as Frank is concerned.
Given the beating capitalism and the free market have been getting from the press on a daily basis since the financial crisis began in September, it seems a metaphysical certitude that Frank's rant to the CEO's of America's leading financial institutions will get a lot of play in the next 24 hours:
Imagine for a moment an American newspaper publishing a column with the following opening sentence:
Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?
Not in a million years, right?
Well, on Wednesday, one of the most respected international publications, the Financial Times of London, published such an article written by its associate editor and chief economics commentator Martin Wolf.
In it was an astonishingly frank analysis of what the Obama administration has done and not done to solve the current financial crisis (picture courtesy FT):
In excerpts aired on Tuesday's World News, of Terry Moran's interview with President Barack Obama for Nightline, Moran was as sycophantic toward Obama as he was during the campaign, lamenting Obama “got no honeymoon” and bemoaning the new President had been “too nice” to Republicans. “Mr. President,” Moran rued in overlooking the ongoing honeymoon from the media, “you got no honeymoon. Not a single Republican vote in the House on your first major piece of legislation.” Moran speculated: “I wonder in coming into the presidency, maybe you were too nice? If I'm a Republican Senator or a Republican Congressman, I think you're a very nice guy but maybe I don't have enough reason to fear you.”
Earlier, Moran cued up Obama: “How close do you think the country is to the kind of economic catastrophe that you're warning about?” In the ABCNews.com transcript, which does not include the “honeymoon” lament, the tri-anchor of Nightline suggested the banks should just be nationalized: “There are a lot of economists who look at these banks and they say all that garbage that's in them renders them essentially insolvent. Why not just nationalize the banks?” (That did not air on World News, but was part of what Nightline ran later.)
Audio:MP3 clip which matches the video (45 secs, 275 Kb)
The Obama-loving media might adore flowery rhetoric with little substance, but stock investors sure don't.
That's what traders and market professionals said was responsible for Tuesday's stock market collapse after Wall Street was tremendously disappointed with the lack of specifics in the highly-anticipated bank rescue plan presented by newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
As such, it's going to be fascinating to see how sycophantic press members spin the market's almost 400-point decline.
Will it resemble how Bloomberg reported the event:
Time magazine is clearly dispensing with "news" reporting this week. Michael Grunwald started his article "How to Spend the Stimulus" with this sentence: "It's hard to take Republican leaders too seriously when they criticize the recovery plans for the economy; it's sort of like those geese criticizing the evacuation plans for US Airways Flight 1549."
That would be the geese that were ground into the jet engines of the airliner that crash-landed in the Hudson River.
Clearly impressed with his own comic stylings, Grunwald continued: "Their critiques seem even more comical when you see their alternatives. They warn that President Obama's stimulus package will explode the debt – so they want to make George W. Bush's debt-exploding tax cuts permanent. They say Democratic spending plans are full of pork – then they propose an extra $24 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal equivalent of Oscar Mayer. Let's just say their idea bank could use a bailout."
Obama's critics who claim the new president is a closet socialist lusting to seize profits have nothing to fear, according to liberal radio host Ed Schultz.
Look at Obama's experience as an author, Schultz suggested on Friday, for evidence that Obama is as much capitalist as the next entrepreneur.
But Schultz quickly leaped from conjecture about Obama's book deal for "The Audacity of Hope" to allowing those uncertainties to morph into hard fact. Not only that, Schultz got the title wrong and appears unaware Obama has written more than one book.
Here's what Schultz initially said (click here for audio of the excerpt) --
On Tuesday's "Good Morning America," financial correspondent Bianna Golodryga promoted the efforts of a radical housing group run by CEO Bruce Marks, a self proclaimed "bank terrorist." Of course, Golodryga skipped that description and glossed over the extreme actions of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America [NACA]. Instead, she simply asserted that the organization tries "to help keep people in their homes."
Golodryga neglected important information, such as the fact that NACA has picketed outside the schools of children whose parents work for banks that are not acquiescing to the group's demands, which include insisting that mortgages be given to high risk individuals. In an April 2, 2008 column, Michelle Malkin quoted Marks as saying, "We will go to their neighborhood, we will educate their children on what their parents do. They should be ashamed." A December 2007 article by The Globe (featured on NACA's web site) unabashedly touted Marks as "a controversial character who once infamously called himself a 'bank terrorist.'"
Golodryga ignored this when she talked to the CEO. Instead, she highlighted non-confrontational quotes such as this one from Marks: "The thing that is so important is to say to the American people, don't give up. There's help on the way." The ABC financial correspondent did admit, "The group is also protesting the banks they feel are not helping struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages," while video of such a protest appeared onscreen. However, she grossly minimized the radical nature of NACA.
A week ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that government bailout recipients General Motors and Chrysler had horrible sales in January, and that their declines are accelerating. GM was down 49% year over year in January, compared to -32% in December; Chrysler was down 55% in January, compared to -53% in December.
Meanwhile, the companies' main foreign competitors turned in January sales declines of roughly 30% that were just as bad, but at least not worse, than December. As a result, those companies took another 4% or so of market share from their US-based rivals.
Of course, no media outlets attempted to make any connection between the GM-Chrysler declines and the idea that consumers might either resent their bailed-out status, or might be worried about their survival and the potential impact of their bankruptcy or even disappearance on warranty and repair costs. Nor did any media reports that I'm aware of consider the idea that declining sales at those companies might jeopardize their ability to repay Uncle Sam's bailout "loans."
Now, despite the cash infusion from Uncle Sam, Reuters reports an analyst's belief that a bankruptcy filing by GM remains a possibility. More importantly, the wire service also claims that the government is actively involved in exploring that option. Finally (put down your drinks first), we learn that taxpayers aren't even first in line to get repaid:
The winter in Alaska has been a particularly harsh one this year. The early winter piled on top of economic hard times has caused some troubles for native people and those that live in remote areas in Alaska. But this is not a new tale of woe, it IS Alaska, after all. While nothing to entirely dismiss, one wonders, why CNN suddenly found this story so compelling? Could it be that they want to portray Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as just as harsh as the winter?
Native peoples and their neighbors in Alaska have been surviving for generations in the same manner. They hunt, fish, and store foods in the summer to survive the harshness of winter, and since becoming a state, they marshal their money to buy fuel and other items brought to them by American ingenuity. Not an easy life, but a life they are used to nonetheless. It hasn't really changed much for a long time in that remote part of the world. Yet, despite the sameness of it all, suddenly CNN finds Alaskans are "struggling to survive."