On February 19, 2009, Rick Santelli helped create a movement whose political impact has not yet been fully realized. The "Rant Heard 'Round the World," as it has become known, was a profound, if hardly isolated example of the power of conservative pundits to enact political change.
That power has grown as Americans have become more sympathetic to the economic conservative argument--both the moral/spiritual element of it, and the strictly economic one. The American people have by and large come full circle in a short time, and the pundits that retain the most influence in our society have changed accordingly.
Santelli is the perfect example, as he was certainly not the prominent name he is now before he let loose on the floor of the Chicago exchange. Michael Barone explains the essential appeal of the rant. He wrote Wednesday that it "was both an economic and a moral argument."
While appearing before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was asked by newly-elected Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) whether or not the federal government has a plan to tackle the continuing financial crisis. Check out his answer:
Like tar balls on a Pensacola beach, doubts about Pres. Obama's leadership are beginning to accumulate even among his most avid supporters appearing in the MSM. Today's Morning Joe provided two prime examples of the phenomenon in the persons of Jeffrey Sachs and Donny Deutsch.
Both men are self-described Obama supporters. Yet each expressed disappointment at the lack of leadership the president has demonstrated on the oil spill and other issues.
Columbia U. professor Sachs went first, sounding like a serious candidate for a Zoloft transfusion. Sachs was reacting to Joe Scarborough's suggestion that PBO seize the moment by addressing a joint session of Congress and issuing a post-Sputnik like summons for America to rise to the current challenge by leading the world in clean-energy solutions.
CNN tried to downplay poll results it released on Wednesday which indicated continuing opposition to ObamaCare, while emphasizing how the poll also found "growing support" for the President's call for increased federal regulation of the financial institutions. The network and its partners at Opinion Research also took two weeks to publish the results of only two questions from the poll.
A protest noticed by the target's next-door neighbor who happened to be home at the time, namely journalist Nina Easton (who also took the photo at right), occurred in a Metro DC suburb in Maryland marked the next round of a national labor union's attempt at persuasion through intimidation.
IBD concisely describes what happens, and why it should cause so much concern:
Mob Rule From SEIU
On May 16, Washington, D.C., police escorted 14 busloads full of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members at least part of the way to storm the Chevy Chase, Md., home of Bank of America's deputy legal counsel, Greg Baer.
Talking with CNBC's Jim Cramer on the May 6 "Hardball" about the Greek fiscal crisis, everyone's favorite MSNBCer blamed "right-wing" dictators from the Cold War era for financial troubles in Greece, Portugal, and Spain [MP3 audio available here]:
I'm a political guy, you're a money guy. Let's crosswalk this thing. It seems to me that you and I grew up with the fact there were dictatorships in Europe. They were in the Iberian peninsula and in Greece. You had Franco, who overstayed the Second World War a bit, by about two generations. You had Salazar in Portugal, and of course you had the Greek colonels.
The right-wing governments in Europe seem to be the ones that are most precarious right now: Greece, Portugal, Spain.
What's the connection? Is this a complete coincidence, or is it old-line right-wing politics that never quite stabilized into serious social democratic countries? What happened?
CBS's local affiliate in Chicago today threatened to stop covering the Illinois Senate race if the Republican candidate continues to harp on an issue extremely damaging to his Democratic opponent.
If a candidate for the United States Senate was a senior loan officer for a bank that made over $20 million in loans to convicted bookies and pimps (while he was employed as a loan officer), is that candidate's opponent in the wrong for harping on the issue?
Chicago's CBS affiliate apparently thinks such connections should be off limits. A reporter from Chicago's CBS Channel 2 told Mark Kirk, the Republican opponent of former Broadway Bank loan officer Alexi Giannoulias that his channel is "not going to cover the Senate race, if it’s consistently only in your terms, is about Broadway Bank." (H/t Big Journalism, via Steve Gutowski)
A $787-billion stimulus. Liabilities of $356 billion for the TARP bailout on the federal government's balance sheet. And that's in addition to other unfunded liabilities from federal entitlements like ObamaCare, Medicare, and Social Security.
But that doesn't mean the U.S. is heading down the path toward socialism because they were one-time expenditures, according to CNBC senior economics reporter Steve Liesman.
On CNBC's "Squawk Box" April 29, as jobless claims for the week was being released on the floor of the CME Group in Chicago, co-host Joe Kernen asked for Liesman's opinion.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that so-called payday loans probably aren't the most reasonable option when it comes to short-term borrowing. But according to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, it takes the federal government to let you know.
On her April 28 program, Maddow charged that these lenders engage in unscrupulous practices, despite offering a service that their clientele is willing to buy.
"Last week we did our best to explain payday lenders - who they are and who they are, who they - what they do and who they are, excuse me," Maddow said. "Payday lenders are basically loan sharks with nice store fronts. They specialize in turning what look like short-term loans into ongoing obligations that rollover every two weeks, piling up fees until they're ultimately collecting 400 percent annual interest."
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith lamented Republican opposition to the Democrats' financial reform legislation: "The Senate is expected to vote for a third time on financial reform.Republicans blocked the previous two attempts. President Obama says he can't understand why, and plans to make his case once again later today."
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Chip Reid described the Democratic strategy against Republicans:
Of course, both parties have accepted millions of dollars in political contributions from Wall Street over the years. But now Democrats are doing everything in their power to portray Republicans as the party of Wall Street. It's an argument the President believes is especially effective here in the heartland. President Obama was back where it all started, Iowa, this time denouncing Senate Republicans for blocking debate on financial reform.
A headline on screen read: "Presidential Push; Obama Takes on GOP on Financial Reform."
Hitting from the left in an interview with Republican Senator John McCain on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith worried about the ability of financial reform legislation to expand government control over Wall Street: "How are you going to dis – how does any of this dismantle these giant financial institutions?"
On April 22, ABC Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner a similar question: "Why shouldn't those big banks be broken up?"
At the top of Tuesday's Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez put the GOP on the defensive: "Democrats continue to push for Wall Street reform. But are Republicans on board?" Smith later introduced the segment by portraying Democrats as fighting for reform: "Democrats refuse to give up on reforming Wall Street. Yesterday Republicans put the brakes on, but another vote could happen today."
In a report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes declared: "Senate Republicans voted last night against moving forward with debate on the massive financial reform bill. That drew angry recriminations from Democrats." A clip was played of Democratic Virginia Senator Mark Warner slamming Republican opposition: "I never got the memo that said our job wasn't actually to get stuff done."
Monday evening, Tonight Show host Jay Leno joked about Wall Street reform. As reported on The New York Times's Web site, he said:
Last week, President Obama gave a speech in New York City about his plan to reform these rules on Wall Street, you know? And one embarrassing moment. When the head of Goldman Sachs was going through security, he was asked to empty his pockets and five Republican senators fell out.
The truth, of course, is that Goldman Sachs has consistently given much more money to Democrats than to Republicans. For the 2008 election cycle, as detailed at OpenSecrets.org, 75 percent of the almost $6 million in political contributions made by the investment bank's political action committee and employees went to Democrats. Goldman Sachs's donations made it the second-biggest contributor to Obama’s presidential election campaign.
Leno's gag would have been funnier, I think, if it weren't so misleading.
Cramer told MSNBC's April 26 "Morning Joe" that Goldman really has no defense if, as the government alleges, Goldman misled investors when it established a mortgage-backed security in 2007 for a hedge fund client looking to bet against the housing market. And that's in addition to facing heat from shareholders for not revealing that it received a Wells Notice from the SEC.
At the top of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith referenced a possible Senate vote on the Democrats' financial reform bill and proclaimed: "Showdown in the Senate. Democrats are scrambling to get enough votes. Will anyone in the GOP break ranks?" It was just the latest example of a week of CBS coverage pressuring Republicans to sign on to the controversial legislation.
In a later report, correspondent Nancy Cordes explained: "both parties say they are for reform and they are deep in negotiations over it....But without a deal, many, if not all, Senate Republicans plan to vote 'no' today, blocking a floor debate on the bill." That was followed by a clip of Democratic Senator Chris Dodd declaring: "Here we are 17 months after someone broke into our house, in effect, robbed us, and we still haven't even changed the locks on the doors." A headline on screen read: "Financial Reform Showdown; Will Anyone in GOP Break Ranks?"
In his introduction to the report, Smith described the Democratic effort as a "test vote." Cordes pointed out: "this vote that Democrats have called for today could very well fail." She later concluded: "Even if the vote fails today, negotiations will go on and Republicans and Democrats seem confident that a financial reform bill will pass sooner rather than later." However, neither her nor Smith questioned holding the vote or suggested it was political theater to force a deal.
Does anyone remember when the liberal intellectuals decried populism coming from the likes of Glenn Beck and other conservatives that was aimed at the direction the country is going under the leadership of President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress?
Apparently it is OK to cry foul on so-called populist rants when the mouthpieces tend to be right-of-center. But now, with Congress debating financial regulation, this sort of above-the-fray approach has gone by the wayside, at least for Slate.com. On Slate's Political Gabfest podcast for April 22, moderator John Dickerson asked his panel consisting of Slate editor David Plotz and Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon, if Wall Street banks had a responsibility to self-regulate and do what's right as opposed to solely relying on legislation to set the boundaries. That inspired an "impassioned" populist response from Plotz.
In the past 20 months, liberal media members have routinely blamed 2008's financial crisis on George W. Bush, Republicans, Wall Street, and greed.
Someone that has hardly ever been accused of having a hand in what led to the tumult is former President Bill Clinton.
As NewsBusters has been reporting almost since the crash began, it was Clinton who signed into law two key bills -- the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 -- that ushered in the malfeasance that almost toppled the world economy.
On Saturday, a former editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal, George Melloan, made the connection even stronger as he pointed a finger at someone most in the media have shamelessly given a pass for his involvement in this crisis (h/t @RLMcMahon):
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared that when it comes to financial reform legislation, "Democrats have all the leverage right now." Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer appeared on the show and observed that "They think this is the time to picture Republicans as trying to protect fat cat bankers, as it were."
In her first question to Schieffer, Rodriguez wondered: "Do Democrats have anything to lose by going for a vote on Monday even though the Republicans have said they'd like a little bit more time to work on a compromise?" Schieffer replied: "No, they have absolutely nothing to lose. They want to get this out and get it on the table as quickly as possible."
Following his comment about the image of Republicans supporting "fat cat bankers," Schieffer added: "it's one thing to oppose health care reform, but on this case, I think most people would agree that doctors are more popular than bankers, especially at this particular time when you've had this lawsuit filed against Goldman Sachs." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Financial Reform Face-Off; Obama Takes on Wall Street, GOP."
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
That was the takeaway from an April 22 CNBC "Squawk Box" segment in which the network's Washington correspondent John Harwood explained the upside for the Obama administration in taking an aggressive tack on financial regulation and pushing it through Congress.
According to Harwood, public opinion on this issue favors President Barack Obama. He explained that Wall Street is very unpopular and that's causing some Republicans to be willing to compromise with Democrats on the issue.
"He knows that things are rolling his way on this issue," Harwood said. "You had battle lines initially drawn - both parties took to the trenches, started firing heavy ammunition. But the throw weight is with the Democratic side on this. The public wants financial regulation reform. They don't like Wall Street, just as they don't like Washington. So this is a case where Barack Obama, instead of being the target of public anger, can direct some of it somewhere else. That is what causes Republicans at the end to say, ‘OK, it's time to negotiate, get serious about a deal.' And they're going to get some concessions in that bargaining in exchange for their votes. And they will then be able to stand up and say, ‘This bill was headed to be a bailout bill. We stopped the bailout and everybody can hold hands and say they did something good for the country.'"
CNBC's John Harwood, in an interview aired on Thursday's Today show, pressed Barack Obama about the need to regulate Wall Street as he questioned the President if Americans needed to view them in the same way they view Big Tobacco as "companies whose core activities are harmful to the country?" Obama declined to make the comparison to the tobacco companies, but went on to insist Wall Street needed new rules to protect against "excess." [audio available here]
JOHN HARWOOD: Should average Americans think about big Wall Street institutions the way that some have come to think about tobacco companies, that is, companies whose core activities are harmful to the country?
BARACK OBAMA: No. We have to have a thriving financial sector. But, we also have to have basic rules of the road in place to make sure that investors, consumers, shareholders, the economy as a whole, are protected against excess. We have gotten into one of those places where we need to update those rules of the road, and if we do so, not only is that good for the economy, not only does it protect consumers and investors, it's also good for the financial sector.
Cheering some Republican support for Democratic financial reform legislation on Wednesday, CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "encouraging news out of Washington, that after a week or so of attacking this financial bill that the Democrats are proposing to regulate Wall Street, Republicans are changing their tone and they seem to be wanting to come on board."
Rodriguez turned to business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis and wondered: "Does it look, this morning, as though a bipartisan bill will emerge?" Jarvis replied: "Well, Maggie, it looks this morning like Republicans are warming up to the idea of a bipartisan bill on financial reform." She added: "With Obama, the President, coming here to Wall Street tomorrow to push the agenda forward, it looks like there will be a political expediency to getting the deal done." An on-screen headline read: "Financial Reform Push; Obama & Senate Take on Wall Street."
On Tuesday, the Early Show had on disgraced ex-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer to discuss financial reform. Co-host Harry Smith introduced him as "the sheriff of Wall Street."
President Obama has extensive ties to Goldman Sachs. Yet even given record-breaking financial contributions and sketchy relationships between Goldman executives and Obama officials at the highest level, the mainstream media will not afford Obama the same scrutiny it gave to George W. Bush during the collapse of Enron.
Obama's inflation-adjusted $1,007,370.85 in contributions from Goldman employees is almost seven times as much as the $151,722.42 (also inflation-adjusted) that Bush received from Enron. Goldman was one of the chief beneficiaries of the TARP bailout package -- supported by then-Senator Obama -- and has been a force for -- not against -- Democratic financial "reform" proposals currently under Senate consideration.
Despite the extensive connections between President Obama and Goldman Sachs, the same media that vaguely alleged unseemly connections between the Bush administration and Enron after its 2001 collapse have barely noticed the Obama administration's prominent ties to Goldman (h/t J.P. Freire).
Whenever you are bored or in need of a good laugh, help yourself to some mainstream media coverage of the economy under President Obama.
Each month we at NewsBusters wonder how the recession will be spun anew, and each month news outlets act with increasing hilarity.
First up for April was an earnest little piece by USA Today writer Matt Krantz published Thursday. Krantz insisted on reporting "optimism" and "confidence" in the economy thanks to a phantom supply of "new jobs."
Just one little problem, though: Thursday happened to be the same day the Department of Labor announced a surge in unemployment claims that hampered the stock market.
But no matter to Krantz. You see, Krantz wasn't talking about new jobs that actually existed - he was celebrating an announcement from two companies that they would be strong enough to hire a few people sometime in the future.
Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader, has moved on from the health care debate and found a new oppressed, downtrodden minority: student loan recipients. And naturally, the Huffington Post was happy to afford "the Reverend" a platform for his activism.
"A plan to earn debt forgiveness retroactively must be instituted at once as an acknowledgment that an entire generation is mired in tens of thousands of dollars in student debt," Jackson wrote. "Not every one of them will be able to write a blockbuster memoir to pay off student loans."
Although the federal government's latest takeover in student loans by "cutting out the middleman" pleased Jackson, he called on the Obama administration to take more drastic steps in today's "Second Great Depression."
"Students need more than good intentions," Jackson said. "They need a guarantee that the savings realized by cutting out the banks and Sallie Mae go mostly to them. There are lots of hands out for the income that direct student lending will generate. Some of it will go to subsidize universal access to health care. But most of it should go to students themselves," Jackson opined.
With summer driving season upon us, it's important to note that there's a traditional jump in gas prices. But will this seasonal adjustment benefit commodities, specifically oil and make the price of gasoline even higher? That could happen if those forms of energy lure investment from what seems to be an over-valued equities market, brought on by what some claim is cheap money.
On her April 5 program, "Closing Bell" host Maria Bartiromo asked CNBC's CME Group floor reporter Rick Santelli if a move higher in commodities was due to inflation. However, according to Santelli, it's not inflation but a move by investors out of a potentially over-valued equities market that will cause a rise in commodities.
"Well, you know, I don't like to link the two together," Santelli said. "I mean, many times you know, it is core [minus] food and energy. So I think throw all that away. I think the better question is, is that when people are afraid to put their money to work in treasuries, because rates may be going higher, maybe afraid that we are a little long in the tooth in the sugar-buzz rally of equities - boy, commodities is the place to be. Most of the good dollar trades probably already out there."
The Obama administration is trying out a second big-government remedy for people facing foreclosure, but NBC's "Today" failed to mention criticism of the initial program or provide any free-market solutions.
The White House has now tapped $14 billion in TARP funds to expand the administration's existing mortgage assistance program.
Matt Lauer introduced the "Today" show March 29 discussion of the program saying: "New help for millions of homeowners who are facing foreclosure. The Obama administration is rolling out new incentives to the federal mortgage relief program - so what's different this time?"
"If you're unemployed, this is going to give you an ability to have your monthly payments lowered for three months, maybe even six months," CNBC's Sharon Epperson told Lauer, before noting the requirements and assistance for those "underwater."
Did you know that the Obama administration owns stock in beleaguered financial giant Citigroup NOT the taxpayers?
You might have gotten that impression from a Washington Post article published Saturday.
Take a look at the second paragraph of David Cho's piece on speculation that there's an imminent stock transaction about to transpire involving Citigroup and the federal government (h/t NBer armyfool1):
Overshadowed in the ObamaCare shenanigans the past few weeks are provisions weaved into the Democratic health bill that would require all federal student loans to originate with the government - the largest overhaul in decades.
On the morning after the House passed the legislation, CNN Newsroom's Kyra Phillips did dedicate just thirty-four seconds to the government take-over of the student loan program.
"The measure also reaches beyond health care to education. Another one of President Obama's top priorities - it will offer new help to needy college students," Phillips stated.
The segment - tagged "Help for College Students" by the CNN Newsroom - promoted all the alleged benefits to students and families.
"It will actually expand direct-lending from the federal government; students would not have to pay fees to the banks that serve as the middleman; the White House says the expanded program will save the government $61 billion over ten years; and much of that savings will be funneled back into Pell grants - the increase will be pretty modest though - from $5,500 now to $5,700 in 2017," Phillips said.
The liberal media's favorite targets - Wall Street "fat cats" - have endured a firestorm of outrage and attack over bonuses since the financial meltdown. As some, like CNBC contributor Rick Santelli pointed out however, part of the screaming is the result of it is Obama and the White House whipping up political outrage.
Now we'll have a chance to see if it's also selective outrage.
Fox Business anchor Eric Bolling uncovered embarrassing and questionable bonuses being received by those charged with keeping an eye on banks - government regulators. But who watches the watchers?
Bolling told FNC's "Happening Now" that even as the economy has struggled, the government was handing out millions of dollars in bonuses to workers - and not even for a job well done.
On CNBC's March 15 "Squawk Box," co-host Joe Kernen raised this point - the Journal with its more pro-Wall Street point of view and the Times with a liberal pro-Democratic Party one.
"You - I like the way you highlighted the Journal's take, ‘Ohh, this thing is ahh, much worse,' but The New York Times - ‘consensus-building,'" Kernen said. "But The New York Times is talking about consensus-building within the Democratic Party, I think, right? I mean, normally that's who they're speaking to, isn't it?"