Matt Stoller: Elizabeth Warren Versus Barack Obama on Leadership

By Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.  His Twitter feed is @matthewstoller.

Last week, I caught some of the grilling of Elizabeth Warren by GOP Congressmen during the House Oversight Reform Hearing. At one point, a Republican Congressmen asked Warren if she was “running a campaign” to convince people of the validity of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she is in the midst of setting up. The two of them went back and forth, because she didn’t really understand the question. He was trying to peg her as overtly political, using government resources to travel the country and do advocacy. Suddenly, she got the nature of the question, and turned to him and said, pointedly, “I always try to convince people that I’m right.”

There was some laughter in the room, but she wasn’t kidding. Warren believes that consumer protection is necessary for a just society, and spends a great deal of time trying to persuade the public of the necessity and legitimacy of government. Imagine that – a public servant who thinks that communicating with and persuading the public of the merits of their ideas.

Contrast this with Barack Obama, a person who never fails to wrap his true agenda in gauzy opaque process jargon. Obama won’t back his own NLRB or Boeing workers, or even Boeing itself; he thinks that neither side should waste time in court. He won’t announce Social Security or Medicare cuts, he wants it to be part of a Grand Bargain for whom no one has to take responsibility. He demands an end to earmarks, or something, but we need an infrastructure bank or something. As a result, the Democratic Party is enmeshed right now in a guessing game about the true goals of their leader, paralyzed and unable to govern. When Warren is present, by contrast, the Republicans are able to argue strongly that they do not believe in government as an agent of good, while Democrats are able to articulate the opposite. It’s a real, open, honest debate. There’s no sliding around with 11 dimensional chess nonsense, it’s straight up democracy.

The books written by Warren and Obama reveal their differing styles. I spent some time reading Warren’s The Two Income Trap, which she co-authored with her daughter, and it’s remarkable pre-crisis work. She wrestled with the guts of our society, with debt and bankruptcy, with how America treats you not when everything works well, but when everything fails. She tells the story of how Hillary Clinton stopped the bankruptcy bill when she was in the White House, but voted for it when she was in the Senate because of campaign contributions (Update: As first lady, Mrs. Clinton worked against the bill. She helped kill one version of it, then another version passed, which her husband vetoed. As a senator, in 2001, she voted for it, but it did not pass. When it came up again in 2005, she missed the vote because her husband was in the hospital, although she indicated she would have opposed it.). She talks about the problems of the housing bubble in the context of a failing education system, and the flip side of the Reagan revolution – the economic persecution of women and families. She named names, but more than that, she grounded her book in real data and the pain of millions of people she tried to protect. It is this research that led her to note that the stimulus, absent debt restructuring, would not work.

I’ve seen Warren in crowds before; they love her, they feel like finally, here’s a person who is stronger and smarter and better than the bankers. They crowd around her, tell her their stories, of bankruptcy, of joblessness, of sick kid or parent, as if to say “finally someone is listening”, someone who understands. It’s who she is. It’s real leadership. And it’s why she’s been able to coherently assemble a bureaucracy that has already won accolades for its attempts to simplify lending regulations, and why the Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel served as a remarkable oasis of intellectual honesty in Washington during the bailouts.

Obama could have chosen Warren just as easily as he could have chosen anyone else, since the GOP has vowed to filibuster any nominee. He just doesn’t think she’s right for the job. But again, this shouldn’t be surprising.

Many people are “disappointed” with Obama. But, while it is certainly true that Obama has broken many many promises, he projected his goals in his book The Audacity of Hope. In Audacity, he discussed how in 2002 he was going to give politics one more shot with a Senate campaign, and if that didn’t work, he was going into corporate law and getting wealthy like the rest of his peer group. He wrote about how passionate activists were too simple-minded, that the system basically worked, and that compromise was a virtue in and of itself in a world of uncertainty. His book was a book about a fundamentally conservative political creature obsessed with process, not someone grounded in the problems of ordinary people. He told us what his leadership style is, what his agenda was, and he’s executing it now.

I expressed skepticism towards Obama from 2005, onward. Paul Krugman, Debra Cooper, and Tom Ferguson among others pegged Obama correctly from day one. Obama broadcast who he was, through his conservative policy focus (which is how Krugman pegged him), his bank backers (which is how Ferguson pegged him), his political support of Lieberman (which is how I pegged him), and his cavalier treatment of women’s issues (which is how Debra Cooper pegged him). He is doing so again, with his choice to effectively remove Elizabeth Warren from the administration.

The news that Elizabeth Warren won’t be leading the CFPB isn’t good news, but it isn’t surprising. It’s more of a clarification, in fact, that Obama has illiberal beliefs. And where Warren goes from here is a good guessing game. Many Democrats are trying to distract from Obama’s choice by pretending that a risky Senate run in Massachusetts for a freshman seat in a broken institution is a step up for Warren. It may be. I suspect it could be tough for her to run for the Senate in a party in which the party leader has already shown he simply cuts against your core beliefs; inherently a Senate Democratic candidate will have to defend the administration’s record of the last few years. Regardless, I hope she continues to project her views widely in the broadest platform possible.

Obama has constructed a Presidency around the glory of radicalism through inaction, and has dominated our politics so thoroughly it’s hard to recall any other mechanisms of governance. Still, It is important to remember what real leadership can look like, which is why Elizabeth Warren can be a pivotal figure. After all, we may need real leaders one day.

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  1. Z

    Hillary Clinton did not vote in favor of the final passage of the bankruptcy bill; she didn’t vote at all on it. I believe that her husband had an operation that day and she was not present at the vote.


    1. CMike


      Yves Smith has her facts right. True, Sen. Clinton missed the vote for the Bankruptcy Bill of 2005 (S.256). However, at this link which cites Garance Franke-Ruta as the journalist passing along the pro-Clinton response in this matter there is a “Note” at the bottom of the post.

      The Note reads:

      >>>>>this post was written about the Bankruptcy Bill of 2005 (S.256) which became law, not the earlier Bankruptcy Bill of 2001 (S.420) which did not.

      Several commentors correctly noted that Hillary Clinton supported the earlier bill…<<<<<

      I'll type up the relevant passage from The Two-Income Trap.

      1. Three Wickets

        The full footnote reads:

        “Several commentors correctly noted that Hillary Clinton supported the earlier bill (although she voted for amendments adding consumer protections in that bill as well). She wasn’t the only Democrat to change her position (voting for the 2001 bill and against the 2005 bill) and I’m not qualified to compare the differences between them.”

        Presumably the earlier bill had stronger consumer protections.

    2. CMike

      The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke
      by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi

      ****Copyrighted Material follows****

      [p. 124] …Mrs. Clinton stayed firm in her fight against “that awful bill.” She was convinced that the bill was “unfair to women and children,” and she intended to stand by her principles, even if it cost some Democratic party candidates campaign contributions. Over the ensuing months, she was true to her word. With her strong support, the Democrats slowed the bill’s passage through Congress. When Congress finally passed the bill in October 2000, President Clinton vetoed it. The following summer, an aide explained to me the abrupt about-face: “A couple of days after Mrs. Clinton met with you, we changed sides [on the bankruptcy bill] so fast that you could see skid marks in the hallways of the White House.” Thanks to Mrs. Clinton, families still had one financial refuge left — at least for the moment.

      But the story doesn’t end there. The banking lobbyists were persistent. President Clinton was on his way out, and credit card giant MBNA emerged as the single biggest contributor to President Bush’s campaign. In the spring of 2001, the bankruptcy bill was reintroduced in the Senate, essentially unchanged from the version President Clinton had vetoed the previous year.

      This time freshman Senator Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the bill.

      Had the bill been transformed to get rid of all those awful provisions that had so concerned First Lady Hillary Clinton? No. The bill was es-

      [page 125] sentially the same, but Hillary Rodham Clinton was not. As First Lady, Mrs. Clinton had been persuaded that the bill was bad for families, and she was willing to fight for her beliefs. Her husband was a lame duck at the time he vetoed the bill; he could afford to forgo future campaign contributions. As New York’s newest senator, however, it seems Hillary Clinton could not afford such a principled position….

  2. Patriot

    President Obama is in love with his powers of “compromise.” There is a certain kind of minority striver that can go very far if he can speak the language of student radicals but in the end give establishment figures most of what they want. This dynamic is in play at any elite educational institution. By being the nice minority who makes the powerful feel comfortable (and non racist), the striver can advance himself. Of course, this also requires lip service to the student radical types, who mostly will give that up by graduation. Those who don’t go to the non-profit sector, in the main, and although they are important in the beginning of one’s career, can be safely ignored once the striver reaches higher office.

    And this is exactly what Obama did. Make nice with the radicals as a student, and then be the “big compromiser,” getting himself elected to the presidency of the law review at Harvard. We can also see that Obama chose to attend church at Jeremiah Wright’s congregation– nominally. Wright’s church was known as a place for the left leaning activist types, and a good place for the unchurched to demonstrate religiosity, necessary for elected office. However it is pretty clear that Obama did not regularly attend services, otherwise he would have heard some of Wright’s sermons that he later condemned.

    In the end, we have a President who has spent his entire professional life making powerful people feel comfortable– exactly the wrong type of person for the times in which we find ourselves.

    1. mp

      Why don’t you just say it?

      We’ve got a president who could be a character in a Harriet Beecher Stowe novel.

      1. ambrit

        As I commented earlier about this point; the word is out on ‘the Street.’ He ain’t the one out on the ice either. I wonder what his wife really thinks about all this?

  3. mp

    I suspected there was a problem with Obama’s bona fides when I learned that Bob Rubin’s son was his campaign finance manager, but was willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt.

    His subsequent appointment of Summers and Geithner concerned me even more.

    This essay by Matt Stoller–and the events of the last few weeks–clinches it for me.

    There’s a lot I could say, but it all comes down to this:

    In my opinion, Obama is a ringer and the people have been played like a fiddle.

    I didn’t think the guys in lower Manhattan were that smart, but I guess they are.

    1. ECON

      Salvo, no truer words spoken about America since Reagan to 2011. The smell has been detected in Canada, too.

    1. ScottW

      No–yet another reason that Romney will bring merely an extension of the Obama policies with the only difference that Democrats may actually object to some of those policy proposals. The same way that Republicans who voted to increase the debt ceiling and increase government spending during Bush’s regime suddenly became deficit hawks.

    2. curlydan

      No. I live in Kansas, so it’s an easy choice. I’ll be voting third party or, more likely, for myself. If I lived in Missouri, I’d have to think about it. The Prez’s only virtue to this point is less bad Supreme Court nominations, and that’s the only effective ring in this cow’s nose that the Dems are leading me around by.

  4. Jessica

    I would like to see Elizabeth Warren run for President in 2012. I can’t help but believe that having an option other than Calvin Coolidge vs. Herbert Hoover would at least help us educate each other for further in the future.

    1. ambrit

      Mz Jessica;
      I second your motion. Mz Warren would have to have a ‘grassroots’ coalition to raise funds and do the legwork though. Could she co-opt Move On and the other “Lefty” networks? More importantly, would she want to? I don’t know enough about her core beliefs yet. She could even run as a Reform Republican, like Teddy Roosevelt and the Bull Moose Party. It might be too close to 2012 to establish an independant political ;machine’ though. Barring her embracing one of the existing partys, 2016 might be a better bet. The dust will be settling from the upcoming Collapse, and the nation will not be able to ignore reality any longer. That’s her window of opportunity.

      1. Jessica

        I think someone actually on our side should run in 2012 in order to move things forward for 2016.
        It is unlikely that anyone could unseat the “Dynamic Duo” legacy parties yet but we need people to start to see what actual pro-ordinary people policy might look like.
        A lot of the power of the current system comes from the intense narrowing of what can be discussed. And also from the assurance that elected Democrats can go as far to the right as they want with no consequences whatsoever.

        1. Jason Rines

          To run a successful candidate requires funding an independent news organization or the ideas of the candidate will arely, if ever be syndicated.

          1. ambrit

            Mr Rines;
            Good point, though I feel the definition of ‘news organization’ is becoming fuzzier, given the internet. Absent a strong push by the elites to ‘protect’ the internet from ‘evil forces’ I see this growing as time goes by. So, if Obama could start a ‘grassroots’ web based funding regieme to bankroll his original push for primacy, why not a ‘grassroots’ internet information source too? A modern “Committees of Correspondence,” over the net. Tom Paine would have loved the net.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      I totally agree, with the caveat that she should initially do so by challenging Obama for the Democratic Party nomination, and billing her campaign not a a personal contest with BHO but as a battle for the soul of the party. And in doing so she should make it clear that she felt under no obligation to support the eventual nominee if it is not herself.

      I believe that although Obama is more likely than not to be reelected if he gets renominated without serious opposition, 2012 will be a disaster for down-ticket Democrats because he has eviscerated the party’s ability to formulate a winning ‘master naarrative’, to use Drew Westen’s term. ( The left-leaning independents who came out to work for Obama and Democrats by the hundreds of thousands in 2008 will be no where to be found, and to the extent they vote at all it will be against loony Republican candidates as opposed to for Democrats. People whose long-time party membership is informed by the progressive values of FDR and his successors, as opposed to knee-jerk party loyalty, will only half-heartedly participate in the campaigns. Thus, down-ticket candidates will have no coat tails to latch on to and will have a hard time recruiting volunteers. Meanwhile the Republican base smells blood in the water and will turn out in huge numbers. The evangelicals may even hold their noses tightly enough to vote for Romney.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        And in doing so she should make it clear that she felt under no obligation to support the eventual nominee if it is not herself.>/blockquote>

        Such a stance may offend legacy party loyalists, those whose fealty to it are not informed primarily by values. However so many people are disgusted with politics as usual in the USA that we could well be approaching an inflection point such as we did shortly before the War Between the States, leading to a major political realignment. Warren needs to make clear that she is committed first and foremost to progressive values and reform, where ever it may lead.

      2. Jessica

        “And in doing so she should make it clear that she felt under no obligation to support the eventual nominee if it is not herself. ”

        I would rephrase that to say “no obligation to support any eventual nominee who is on the side of Wall Street not on the side of Main Street”.
        That way, even when the predictable attacks are made, it is clear what the fight is about.

  5. attempter

    All the “decent elitists” who dream of “better elites” can keep extolling the pro-bailout Elizabeth Warren who has done nothing so far but willingly collaborate with the banks in every role they’ve planned for her.

    I’ll pay attention when she renounces the system and truly does go to the people as one of us (instead of descending here and there to tell us how the banks are basically good but need to be reformed).

    I’ll be impressed when she does embrace “straight up democracy” in principle and practice. So far she’s done neither, no more than Blankfein or Dimon themselves.

    I’ll simply ask anyone who’s open to questions: How much time and psychological energy have you expended on Warren so far? Tome and energy that could have been better spent? And what have you gotten for it? Anything? I think the banksters and Obama understand those questions, and the evidence is that so does Warren herself.

    1. Foppe

      You do realize that Warren actually did research first, and that it was because of that “elite” research that she came to hold her current intellectual as well as ‘government’ position, right? And that, by by documenting what was going on and then publishing her findings, she has helped quite a few other people come to the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong about the way the system works currently? And that it was because of the work of “elite” people like her that you that people like you can read about what has been going on? And that, by trying to set up the CFPB and then not being nominated to head it, she is now showing even more people that there really is something wrong within both parties? (Since more people are seeing how she was treated for trying.)
      All of these things seem fairly useful to me, if, apparently, not to you.
      In any case, while I’m sure it gives you great pleasure to be able to tell us that she is wrong for trying, as “it could never have worked anyway,” and because “no action taken from inside the system can subvert it,” you are quite wrong in that last sentiment especially, at least insofar as you are suggesting that this is categorically true.
      Lastly, even if the CFPB does not last, it seems to me that any work that is done to reign in some of the worst abuses is good, as it might keep at least some ordinary americans from those institutionalized loan sharks. So to suggest that she shouldn’t even have tried “because it maintains the system” imho is little more than intellectual arrogance, resting on the flawed idea that because you think the system is corrupt, it must go, while any suffering that hastens its demise is justifiable because it does so.

      1. Hugh

        Much of the impetus for the creation of the blogosphere came out of the realization that elite research was wrong and was really propaganda promoting elite positions and justifying why we needed elites.

        To repeat a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr from Moral Man and Immoral Society which DownSouth has often cited:

        The reason why privileged classes are more hypocritical than underprivileged ones is that special privilege can be defended in terms of the rational ideal of equal justice only, by proving that it contributes something to the good of the whole. Since inequalities of privilege are greater than could possibly be defended rationally, the intelligence of privileged groups is usually applied to the task of inventing specious proofs for the theory that universal values spring from, and that general interests are served by, the special privileges which they hold. The most common form of hypocrisy among the privileged classes is to assume that their privileges are the just payments with which society rewards specially useful or meritorious functions.

        The criticism of Warren is not that she has only spouted evil all her life but rather that, as with all Establishment liberals, her analysis fails because it pushes for reform at the margins while leaving a corrupt system in place.

        1. Foppe

          This is all well and good, but
          1. credit reform is not a marginal issue; it is a cornerstone of the current system
          2. pragmatically, until such time as there can be reform, is it not preferable to try to help people in small ways (showing them that good government agencies do still exist) rather than (as attempter would have it) make life as uncomfortable as possible hoping the revolution will come a day early?
          3. don’t you think that Warren can do more damage by making the failure of the dems as a party more evident by showing to what lengths the party will go to protect banker interests, than by “calling out the administration at every turn”? It may be that she has more of a platform than Kucinich, but the fact that Nader (who was a quite effective consumer advocate in his own day) was sidelined so easily should tell you that institutionalized power is hard to fight indeed.
          Therefore — and I admit that Warren’s endorsement letter of the guy who has been nominated strains my argument a bit here — it seems to me that increasing awareness of the rottenness of the system is more important than her running for senator or whatever right now. Because right now there simply is no platform on which she could run yet. And whereas back in the 1940s there were at least the unions and churches which could spread subversive information, the only sources of news/activism nowadays are corporate-owned newspapers and the internet. But on the internet the problem is that most of the most well-known websites (daily kos, fdl to a lesser degree, etc.) are populated by the same liberal twits who voted in Obama and who even today keep praising his ability to play 11-dimensional chess. So where is this widely read and influential place (or where are the many small places) where subversive thought and talk is possible? Because I don’t see it.
          Now, I am in no way saying that this isn’t a shame, and that I wouldn’t prefer a Warren who was more outspoken about the Democratic party’s failings, but at the same time, (and as a non-American) I simply do not believe that she could start pushing such a narrative to a mass audience yet without being marginalized before she’d gained a more meaningful foothold. Perhaps she could convince people face to face, but where on earth would she be able to get the money for that?

          1. JTFaraday

            Professor Warren should return to Harvard and collect her tenure, PRONTO.

            That accomplished, she should immediately this fall–with very clearly and carefully articulated arguments– lead a faculty movement to remove Robert Rubin from the Harvard Corporation.

            This campaign should drown out the 2012 election wind up, which is all kabuki theatre anyway. Even our newest and most enthusiastic citizens, the Tea Partiers, acknowledge that Obama reads from a teleprompter.

            Time to start going back to the source. After she removes Rubin and puts the fear of God into Harvard Business School, Professor Warren can do whatever she wants.

        2. Foppe

          And while the Niebuhr is a nice generalization, I would emphasize that it is also unfalsifiable (especially “inequalities of privilege are greater than could possibly be defended rationally” — from the fact that they are greater than is justifiable it does not follow no amount of variation is defensible), while I don’t think the part about how “the elites feel they are due respect” can fairly be said of Warren. Moreover, it seems to me that this argument rests on the application of a double standard — by definition some people belong to the upper strata of a society, so it seems rather spiteful to argue that none of them is there because of personal merit. Certainly luck and help by people whose contributions to their success will remain unacknowledged plays a huge role in this, but this does not mean that they are not allowed to claim any respect at all for their own contribution.

          1. Hugh

            The rich own 85% of the stock market. The top 1% owns a 1/3 of the private wealth of the country. The top 10% own 2/3 of it. These are our elites. Do you seriously think they are worth this? What have we gotten from this inequality except a multi-trillion dollar costing meltdown, decaying infrastructure, poor schools, spotty and overpriced healthcare, high unemployment, wage stagnation, gutted retirements, and the prospect of another crash. These are their contributions. And you really want to raise a merit argument? What does merit mean in a kleptocracy when the person of merit has not even acknowledged that it exists?

            Consider these things and then consider Warren’s milquetoast efforts at reform. The two barely occupy the same universe.

          2. Foppe

            Niebuhr wasn’t alive when the US started its turn for the worse again in the mid-70s, so he wasn’t describing the current problems.
            Having said that, it seems to me that, by so strongly focusing on the fact whether or not someone belongs to the “elite” or not, you’re ignoring the fact that bad and selfish people can be found everywhere. (And that you’re forgetting about how easily Nader was marginalized.)
            Anyway, are you familiar with David Harvey’s work, specifically The Enigma of Capital?

          3. Foppe

            (Having looked him up, I see the book DS quotes from so enthusiastically was written somewhere during the GD.)
            However, Wiki also mentions this about him:

            In the 1950s his position became so anti-communist that he believed Senator Joe McCarthy was a force of evil not so much for disrespecting civil liberties as for being ineffective in rooting out Communists and their sympathizers.[30] In 1953 he thought the Rosenbergs should be executed, stating “Traitors are never ordinary criminals and the Rosenbergs are quite obviously fiercely loyal Communists…. Stealing atomic secrets is an unprecedented crime”.

            Shouldn’t this tell you that this idea that it is possible to neatly distinguish between “elitists” (who must never be trusted) versus “grass-roots analysis” (which will supposedly set you free, but only if you refuse to accept help from “elitists” who work to preserve the status quo), as this is itself a false/unhelpful dichotomy?

          4. Foppe

            whoops @ grammar.
            Anyway, that fact alone should, it seems to me, tell you that it is counterproductive to neatly distinguish between “elitist reformers” who only act to maintain the status quo, and true revolutionaries/democrats or whatever you might want to call Niebuhr who will diligently work to expose the elites or proffer viable alternatives.

          5. attempter

            only if you refuse to accept help from “elitists” who work to preserve the status quo

            Who said anything about refusing to accept help or work with other groups where real help is actually forthcoming?

            I dispute that Warren’s attempts to secure a bogus office (let alone this notion that she should run for senate) help with anything.

            And I reject that we can ever be helped by “Leaders”. Work with others, yes. Repose power and faith in them and relegate oneself to follower status, no. That doesn’t work and even if it could it’s unworthy of a citizen.

    2. Jason Rines

      Power is shared either willingly (seldom) or forcefully (often). Attempting to share power without the violence is actually noble; it lessons the losses even when not successful. That is because eventually, the pain reaches even the top and it is pain that is the catalyst of our evolution.

      If you want to take matters into your own hands to attempt to rebalance power, what is stopping you, Attempter? I believe it will crash and burn but between now and then I plan on networking with as many people as possible. That INCLUDES some of the misguided Bankers seeking redemption. Go ahead Attempter, flame away just because I don’t call for a hanging party everyday.

      The cornerstones of a Republic are Truth, Freedom and Justice. When a Republic goes dreadfully awry it goes awry in that order, the perversion of truth, the shackles of slavery imposed and blatant injustice.

      Liberty is restored in that same order. The Justice sequence comes last and trying to force it first just gets more people killed than necessary.

      1. attempter

        I already answered this exact comment from you a few weeks ago, and you retracted it. Now here you are again. Are you manic-depressive or something?

        But just out of curiosity, who among the powerful is showing any willingness to share power with the people (whose sovereignty is the only legitimate source of any power)? On the contrary, their every action without exception has the exact opposite intent. (And who, praytell, are these banksters who “seek redemption”? Like I said above, show me someone whose actions demonstrates it.)

        I, of course, want all power to repose with those who are the source of it. I want an end to elite parasitism. I want true democracy. You evidently disagree. So there we are.

        1. JasonRines

          Consider our conversations an ongoing dialogue Attempter. What we seem to be trying to discuss is the means of how power is rebalanced. We can all have wish lists for how power is rebalanced. I don’t think we disagree that power doesn’t merely relinquish itself.

          But let me ask you, what do you or anyone else gain by criticisizing those with the spine to do more than talk on the Internet? I have a problem with your analysis of things Attempter, not your intent. Painting a broad brush of us or them causes more casualties than necessary Attempter. Trying to frame the debate as me not believing in Democracy has failed. My point was for the readers of this board to consider risk as that power shifts. When elephants fight, ants get trampled. You seem to advocate that anyone not willing to run under the elephants hooves are either wasting time or are cowards. EW should not require a defensible position for running toward the elephant hooves. Do you get what the debate between us should be about?

          1. attempter

            I think you’re saying that you think Warren has done worthwhile things. I’m saying that so far as I can see she’s done little more than astroturf false hope in “better elites” for over two years now. I asked in my first comment above for people to tesify that the time and hope they’ve expended on her has paid off, that it’s been anything but a waste. I don’t see anyone doing that, but merely shooting the messenger.

            I think you’re also saying that if Warren were to publicly reject the system and embark upon a national tour of town hall meetings to describe the true nature of the Bailout and call upon the people to jubilate their bank debts (which is what I’ve been saying for two years now is what she would do if she were truly the people’s champion and not a cadre of kleptocracy), that would somehow cause her to be destroyed. My reply to that:

            1. Among those who aren’t super-rich, who has more freedom to do and say anything one wants than a tenured academic? That goes for Krugman as well, to name another whose sycophants are always bogusly claiming he “can’t” say the things he allegedly really wants to say.

            2. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Warren or anybody else actually opposes kleptocracy. What’s the good of that if one doesn’t put one’s neck on the line to fight it, to the extent of one’s ability? Good intentions mean nothing. Good actions mean everything. Indeed, wherever one has the power to act, good actions are the one and only measure of goodness itself.

            The fact is, we cannot have “better elites” because the problem is elitism itself. It has no moral or rational legitimacy, and on a practical level it’s been proven to fail at everything elites claimed they would do. The only thing elitism has left is might-makes-right and the inertia of the masses who still acquiesce in the existence of elites, out of laziness, cowardice, and refusal to take adult responsibilities for themselves. The Warren cult is merely an example of that among the “real progressives”.

      2. Hugh

        So tell me how does one share power with a kleptocrat? How does one share with those who don’t have the concept or only use it to steal from us?

        Separating out truth, freedom, and justice sounds very rational, very Enlightenment, and very wrong. And even if we could, your restorative order is wrong. People can know the truth but without justice they still will not be free.

        The central question here is if our system is basically sound or not. Those of us who say it’s not have 35 years of political and economic history, a meltdown, and a business as usual post-meltdown that we can point to. What do you have? If ever there was a moment for the system to show it was reformable and worth salvaging it was in the wake of the meltdown. Instead we got Dodd-Frank and all of this Mickey Mousing around with Warren non-nomination. If this is the best the system can do, then it proves our point, not yours.

        1. JasonRines

          The people know the truth? Who? Me? You? Sure, but we are a tiny minority.

          How about the citizenship? Quick Yves, shut your site down, the people know the truth!

          Your point was about EW specifically, wasn’t it? Did you want to widen the debate between us to the institutions? Believe it or not, I am a fan of both you and Attempter. But you both have the balls to criticize anyone in leadership trying to speak sanity to other leadership? EW is succeeding, she is drawing publicity to the point that the people are unrepresented in this country. Her effort isn’t good enough for you. Fine, I get that.

      3. Nathanael

        Jason, you’re wrong, historically.

        Liberty is restored in the OTHER order.

        Justice (fairness) comes first.

        Look at the history of England; they got trusted courts who were respected for their impartiality LONG before they had anything resembling democracy, freedom, a free press, or general honesty. The courts were the basis of everything else.

        This is normal. Fairness, justice, is a prereq for practically everything else.

  6. Andre

    Maybe she should be the person who primaries President Hopey-changey. She would be wasted in the senate, but she would start to pull President Hopey-changey back towards the center, if she primaried him. I wouldn’t dare to think anybody could pull him over to the left. But it’s what made FDR work so hard on the New Deal, major pull from the left.

  7. mhebert

    Elizabeth Warren should challenge Obama in the Democratic primaries. If she fails, she should pursue write-in candidacy in the general.

  8. ScottW

    The Republicans hate Warren because she is trying to educate all of the folks who sunk themselves into hopeless debt by jumping into mortgages they could not afford–those same folks the Republicans condemn as bringing the economy down. Obama hates Warren for the same reason, yet once again he can use the Republicans as cover by claiming they never would have confirmed her so he is making the pragmatic choice. The last distraction Obama wants is someone pointing out how his decisions on the financial front are screwing the middle class. Keeping the average American stupid and prey for the financial elite is a full-time job.

  9. arby

    President Obama has delivered change “Chicago style.” It is what the Windy City calls chump change.

  10. LeeAnne


    “As a result, the Democratic Party is enmeshed right now in a guessing game about the true goals of their leader, paralyzed and unable to govern. When Warren is present, by contrast, the Republicans are able to argue strongly that they do not believe in government as an agent of good, while Democrats are able to articulate the opposite. It’s a real, open, honest debate. There’s no sliding around with 11 dimensional chess nonsense, it’s straight up democracy.”

    To use ‘real’ and ‘honest’ to push a Republican agenda on this blog is like believing people on this blog can’t wait for Fox every night for their talking points.

    What passes for debate in this presidency is briar patch politics. While vilifying Obama for being a zero president is accurate, Republicans do their part as bad cop -nothing more complicated than that. There is no ‘real and honest’ debate to be found on the corporatist ‘leadership’ level while Republicans are putting out feelers for making the presidency a dictatorship as in autonomy over the budget; nor has there been between any of the clowns now on stage.

    You’ll have to look elsewhere for honesty and openness I’m afraid.

    Meanwhile you’re doing a disservice to the reform that most urgently needs to take place. Its a reform that will take courage.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Great insights, LeeAnne: “briar patch politics”; good cop-bad cop; and “clowns now on stage” cpature current democracy theater well.

      It’s hard for mortals to fathom tsuch dishonesty and corruption of reptilian power. Recalls the words of the apostle Paul:

      “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:12)

  11. LAS

    If Obama is mostly about appeasement, then he needs a lot more action from the left to convince him there’s something over there worth appeasing. Right now the vast majority of the noise and categorical demands are coming from the right. This Tea Party is the biggest pile of nonsense altogether — that somebody with big bucks is paying for to make it look grass roots.

    Teaching the public a new vision is hard to do because of structural obstacles and probably one of the best things that might be done. Right now, there are places in the US where the only news on TV is Fox news. That’s all they hear.

    Obama is not the biggest obstacle to change; he’s just not the solution he might have been. It’s a shame to hold such a bully pulpit and not use it, but there you are.

  12. b.

    I find increasingly tiresome the rehash of standard issue excuses – Incompetence Dodge, “weak and spineless”, we failed to Make Him Do It etc. – whether it be applied to Bush, Democrats before 2006, Democrats after 2006, or Obama.

    Stoller is one of the standard issue purveyors of published opinion that “talk left”, now advancing the “But He Told Us” apologism. At least, Bush – compassionate conservative that he called himself – was not covered by an Honesty Dodge. Yes, the case can be made that Obama could be read – by their sponsors know them. Daschle, Lieberman gave it away before FISA amnesty did.

    But that kind of reverse “mea culpa” posturing is brazenly glossolaliaing over the campaign. Obama intentionally positioned and sold himself as somebody that he is not, he made explicit promises, and he broke them – whether it is the absence of him and his most comfortable shoes at the labor protests in Wisconsin, or small issues such as wars, torture, or even Bush tax cuts.

    The man is a fraud, a liar, and an oath breaker. That more or less informed voters might or might not have seen through it does not change the depth of the betrayal, esp. on an entire generation worth of naive first time voters that are now being sold into structural unemployment, presumably because their skills are “outdated”.

    As for Warren, as much as I like her, I ultimately measure her with the same yardstick I measure e.g. Feingold with – those that could run a primary against an intolerable, detestable fraud, no matter how pointless it might be, are morally obliged to do so. The Feingolds of the world, endorsing an incumbent who has worked against everything they claim to stand for, cannot reasonably contemplate Senate or Governor runs while endorsing Obama – because in endorsing him, they endorse the apparatchik’s posture that he embodies, and join the rank of the apologists of rank corruption.

    At the end, being a Do Gooder is no longer good enough. The damage done is too sweeping, too lethal, and too lasting. Warren has an opportunity to take a stand, just like Johnsen and others did. Those that joined the administration not recognizing what the Stollers of the world always knew, have gone quietly and without a principled stand. When Mukasey was appointed by Bush, Scott Horton vouched for his integrity – yet the Principle of Association proved right once more. Anybody who is willing to remain in, or worse join, the Obama administration at this point carries a taint not too dissimilar from those that choose to associate themselves with Bush. Warren needs to think hard about who and what she might facilitate trying to continue to do good within a temple run by the money changers.

    1. Matt Stoller

      As for Warren, as much as I like her, I ultimately measure her with the same yardstick I measure e.g. Feingold with – those that could run a primary against an intolerable, detestable fraud, no matter how pointless it might be, are morally obliged to do so.

      This is a very powerful statement.

      1. duffolonious

        I’m trying to think how to grok this. So Feingold should have ran against Obama’s policies? Without actually headbutting against Obama himself?

        What it sounds like to me is the same problem with moderate Republicans – there is no place for them in the party. And so in some way/shape/form they are pushed out.

        Btw, Feingold was the only politician I’ve given money to – ever. I think come 2012 I’ll write in Darth Vader for president.

        1. doom

          Run a primary against an intolerable, detestable fraud? That’s kind of paradoxical. Party primaries are intolerable, detestable frauds. The parties are the first line of defense in restricting the scope of discourse. The place for people with integrity, like Warren and Feingold and Greyson, is in a parallel government.

      2. b.

        “powerful statement”

        Look at it this way: Warren is not a prisoner. She belongs – by her own hard work, outstanding abilities, and a good deal of chance events – to a group that has more choices than the vast majority of us. The same is true for Feingold.

        The voters in this nation are not prisoners. Yes, the right to vote is being eroded in countless ways, but at the end of the day, the vast majority of the vast majority can make it into the voting booth on the scarce days where it matters, and an increasing number no longer has jobs to keep them off the streets.

        The chokehold on democracy is the lack of choice. One might argue that tribal behavior, simplistic published discourse and ill-designed vote counting rules bring about a collapse into a 2-party system, but unlike e.g. Germany party membership is not a treshold to entry. No, the one lever that the elites have in steering the votes is depriving voters of choices. Maybe elections outcomes would look different if a majority of votes for “NONE OF THE ABOVE” would force a re-run, starting at the primaries. Outcomes certainly would look different eventually with instant run-off, as the emergence of the Green Party in Germany demonstrated.

        However, ultimately the lack of choice is not a demand side problem – it is the supply that is lacking. In my mind, this whole debate has to be grounded in the notion of duty and responsibility. Voting is a legal right, but it is also a moral obligation, an obligation that goes beyond picking a choice from the prepared menu. Elections, like law, are means, not ends. The Founders understood this aspect of legislation – jury nullification is a revolutionary concept – and Nazi Germany demonstrated it – how do you prosecute the legislators and rulers for following their own twisted laws? The UCMJ – just as the laws governing current German military – struggle with this: When is it illegal to follow orders – to operate within the rules?

        But if voting is a moral obligation, then so is running for office. In our society, candidates self-select from the narcisstic, sociopathic, greedy, power-hungry – who would want to put himself through the strain, stress, and outright inanity of a public campaign? Who, in his right mind, would want to be Senator or President? Only a brain off balance would entertain the notion, especially if the true power lies elsewhere. Those are the ranks from which we are to choose our representatives.

        Mind you, anybody willing to step up will be afflicted with a healthy ego. Take, for example, Helmut Schmidt, possibly the most competent post-war chancellor Germany had. There is no doubt in the man’s vanity, but at least it corresponded with his competence. Furthermore, Schmidt was the top expression of a post-Nazi Germany that had been ordered – by the victorious Allies – to become a democracy, and Schmidt, the former Lieutenant of the Wehrmacht, stepped up to make it work. His generation saw public duty as *duty*, as a factual and moral obligation. If each is to be taxed according to his means, if of those who have much, much will be asked, then this is true of any kind of wealth – including an individual wealth of abilities and experience.

        I remember reading that Isaac Newton was to some degree posturing in subtle vanity with his line about “the shoulders of giants”. But I am sure that, to some degree, Schmidt was not *only* posturing when he repeatedly characterized his role as the most powerful man in the German parliamentary system as “the nation’s topmost civil servant”. That is was elected representatives are: the most important civil servants of an open society.

        From that very notion follows that “yardstick” I referred to. That is why I believe not a single incumbent – no, not even the Feingolds – should be re-elected. Because, when push – illegal war, torture, wiretapping – came to shove, every single one of them opted to work within the rules, follow the procedures, confine themselves to token gestures. The Gang of Eight wrote confidential CYA letters about secret violations of the law, playing by arbitrary procedures regarding a “right to keep crimes secret” that Senator Gravel would not have recognized, when they should have publicly broken their silence. Who, if not the topmost members of the Senate, with as much legal immunity as the law grants, can be expected to risk censure, loss of support, loss of incumbency in service of the people?

        And that is why I find it galling to read about Feingold considering running for governor or Senate, when what we need more than anything else is somebody to run against a President that, like his predecessor, is committing crimes of illegal war, torture, and is breaking his oath to defend the constitution. Or, if you want to argue in terms of self-interest, who is setting up the economy for the next crash of the Great Recession, with an entire generation headed for continued unemployment and economic ruin.

        My argument is that Feingold has to run against Obama, or never again, not because I am convinced of his integrity – he was in the Senate from 2001 onwards – not because I want him to be President – I’d rather have Warren – not because he has a chance of winning – he does not, but because sometimes, all that matters is setting an example, and offering a choice. If an incumbent runs without a challenger, then that is not democracy. Nobody is that good, nobody is that representative – not of 300 million people. There is a lot of operational blather about Overton windows and changing the debate. If you do not recognize that, at the end, these are quixotic notions – that you will have to keep failing until you win, that “all progress depends on the unreasonable man”, then you still do not understand how the last 30-plus years have led this country to ruin.

        If you decide to run for office, run where you are most needed, not where you are most likely to win, and use “the bullhorn” of the candidacy to articulate your principles as loudly and as often as you can. If you are not willing to do that, you are the wrong person for the job.

        Warren has every right to decide she is needed elsewhere, not in public office. But those “supporters” that try to talk her into a Senate run have their eyes set on the wrong target, and they are arguing to do what, as Yves argues elsewhere, is shaping up to be her biggest mistake – to continue to work within the established channels. And frankly, I believe that this kind of “support” led to the hero worship that carried a dishonest and vain Obama into the White House, and that it is, ultimately, the voter’s equivalent of a letter of indulgence. “Liz, go out there and get them, so that we don’t have to.”

        Make yourselves do it.

    2. Jessica

      I second Matt Stoller’s comment.
      If she runs in Massachusetts as a “loyal” Democrat, that would be immoral in my book too.
      I think she has still been evolving and has stayed true to her principles even while being in the current administration. I wait to see if she continues to develop or falls back into the safe confines of the illusion that the Democratic party is in some way on our side.
      I want to acknowledge that you seem to see her differently so that there is no danger of my seeming to put words in your mouth.
      Thank you for the powerful phrasing of something I think many of us see.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Hear, hear, b! — a compelling indictment of Obama’s fundamental and calculated duplicity. His supposedly telegraphed hints of conservative values in ‘Audacity’ were merely boilerplate fine-print weasel words from a poison-ivy-league lawyer trying to have it both ways. I read the (mediocre) “’Audacity’ of [Nope]” some time ago and the gist of his worldview was substantively different from what revisionist apologists are now rereading in hindsight on the minutiae of his obscure qualifiers.

      Also, for the real test of Warren’s mettle, her acquiescence, so far, to being dissed and dismissed is ringing my ears. By remaining mute she seems to be broadcasting her collaboration in a charade. I know too little of the CFPB to deny what my betters say is a positive bureaucracy, but I can’t imagine anything sharing a roof with the Criminal Reserve Cartel could be anything but more palliative window-dressing for the rubes.

      I must say, though, I like Matt’s article, including the wry ending: “After all, we may need real leaders one day.” (Groan)

      1. Jason Rines

        Warren is attempting to influence the influencers. You don’t make a lot of friends that way at the very top but what it does do is lay the groundwork for structural reform later.

        The U.S.A. could become the next Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia OR everything in-between. Unchecked radicalism on either end of the spectrum is not the best option.

  13. joe

    Elizabeth Warren for President.

    “When Warren is PRESIDENT, by contrast, the Republicans are able to argue strongly that they do not believe in government as an agent of good, while Democrats are able to articulate the opposite. It’s a real, open, honest debate. There’s no sliding around with 11 dimensional chess nonsense, it’s straight up democracy.”

  14. shoogie

    Most of these discussions “will she/wont she” and “could she/should she” sound reminiscent of this old skit….

    What does Ms. Warren say herself?

    “…make no mistake: this agency still has enemies in Washington, D.C. And they have a plan.

    In May, forty-four Republican Senators wrote a letter saying that they will block anyone from serving as CFPB Director. Many of them don’t like the agency or the ideas that led to its creation. They lost that fight last summer in a straight-up vote, but they say they will use a filibuster over a Director nomination to undercut the agency. Without a Director, however, the agency’s authority over payday lenders, debt collectors and other non-bank financial companies can be challenged. The Republicans say that they will permit a Director only if the agency is amended to make it less independent and less likely to act.

    I remain hopeful that those who want to cripple this consumer bureau will think again and remember that the financial crisis — and the recession and job losses that it sparked — began one lousy mortgage at a time. I also hope that when those Senators next go home, they ask their constituents how they feel about fine print, about signing contracts with terms that are incomprehensible, and about learning the true costs of a financial transaction only later when fees are piled on or interest rates are reset. I hope they will ask the people in their districts if they are opposed to an agency that is working to make prices clear or if they think budgets should be cut for an agency that is trying to make sure that trillion-dollar banks follow the law. I hope they will ask their constituents if they are opposed to the confirmation of someone who saved $2 billion for retirees, investors, and business owners as Ohio Attorney General and who has worked hard on the front lines fighting against fraudulent foreclosures and abusive lending practices.”

    Seems like she is quite consistent in her message.

    Even knowing it’s a helluva lot easier to tear people down than it is to live up to your own ideals doesn’t stop us from going there anyway, after all it’s how old Murdoch built an empire…

  15. Hugh

    “the Democratic Party is enmeshed right now in a guessing game about the true goals of their leader, paralyzed and unable to govern.”

    Does anybody with two neurons firing believe such a load of horse hockey? The Democratic Party knows exactly what Obama’s goal is, kleptocracy, because it is the same one they have. They aren’t paralyzed at all. They have been quite successful in pursuing this goal.

    “It’s a real, open, honest debate.”

    There hasn’t been a real open honest debate in Washington in living memory.

    The thing about Warren is that she is an Establishment liberal. There is this tendency to hagiographize any member of our elites who does or appears to do anything positive for the rest of us. We are starved for heroes, so invent them. But the bottomline is that our Establishment is a kleptocracy and Warren works for it. If Warren really stood with the people she would be opposing Obama, not working for him.

    Kleptocracies can not be reformed. By pushing the case for reform, Warren is implicitly making the case that our political and economic systems are legitimate. But they are not. They are criminal enterprises. So if Warren is for us, why is she supporting the systems which are against us?

      1. Hugh

        As I said, we are starved for heroes and so invent them. What you are describing is a pipedream. Warren has not indicated that she will publicly oppose Obama, let alone run against him. Even if she did, do you have any idea what her position is on the macroeconomy, jobs, the mortgage/securitization/foreclsoure mess, the deficit, healthcare, the surveillance state, and the wars to name but a few areas?

        I have heard this line literally for years. Someone does something good or says something good on one issue or in what area and suddenly it is “Warren for President,” or “Sanders for President,” or “Feingold for President,” and on and on. But none of these guys are the real deal. None makes a thoroughgoing critique of the system of which they are a part. There is even a name for this: revolving heroes. Progressives cheer them on, feel good about doing so, and waste their time doing so because next week they will say or do something that isn’t progressive at all. But not to worry, there will be some new hero of the moment next week that they can all go and say “X for President!” After the first 20 or 30 times, I feel comfortable in saying I can see a pattern.

    1. Jason Rines

      The duopoly propoganda has worked far more effectively Hugh than Goebbels could have dreamed in.

      It is not an “A” “B” solution set or “you’re either with us or against us”. That is a lie. People have other options, how about door number three?

      She has demonstrated to me she is opposed to the Mussolini- Style Fascism. What, does she have to public and call the President a chicken shit, a sell-out or something to that effect? How do you suggest opposing the Fascism Hugh? It is a serious question.

      1. Hugh

        The fundamental choice is binary. It is fascism or not fascism. Within not fascism there are many possibilities and it is up to what we as a society want. However, if I am presented with Mussolini-style fascism and Mussolini-lite fascism, I reject both because they lead inevitably to the same place. It is lesser-of-two-evilism and it is this which has brought us to our current situation where our democracy faces death by Democrat or death by Republican.

        So the first step in resistance is education, to know what you are resisting and why.

        The second is knowing what you want and why.

        The third is no compromise on your values. This is lesser-evilism. You gain nothing and lose your credibility. Ultimately you just lose.

        The fourth is to organize, or as Frederick Douglass said, “Agitate, agitate, agitate.”

        Once you realize that Republicans and Democrats, singly and as a group, are part of the problem, then you stop voting for them and you take the next step. What that next step is depends on who you are. But to go back and vote for them again is to vote for the problem.

        And this is not theoretical. We experienced in September-October 2008 a critical moment in our history. Capitalism didn’t just have a bad day or set of days. It failed and along with it our political classes, academics, and the media. Our elites failed. Going back to these elites and looking for leadership from those that have not rejected, and have no intention of rejecting, the system of which they are a part, and which has in so many cases rewarded and validated them, is to choose their failure.

        Warren has not rejected her class. She has said nothing about the three great issues of our times: 1)kleptocracy, 2)class war, and 3)wealth inequality. Maybe someday she will, and when she does we can talk. But the idea that these issues will be resolved by someone who has never addressed them is ridiculous.

        1. Jason Rines

          Did my commentary state “Warren for President!” No Hugh, it did not so why are you painting my commentary in with others?

          Did I ever suggest Kleptocracy would step down? Again, no I didn’t. I said power is seldom shared. Like Attempter, your trying to frame a debate into two polar camps.

          OK Hugh, let’s organize! Shall we organize for the Fascists or organize for the Communists? No door number three Hugh, no middle road to consider?

          I guess if I am not with you in on one polarized camp I must be against you eh? How Bush of you Hugh, tsk-tsk.

          Both you and Attempter think that because an official like EW is trying to influence a more middle-ground outcome rather than radical over the long-haul that she is wasting time? How would you know, at least at this point? It is your opinion which is fine. I will keep mine, you keep yours.

          She has far more nut than yourself, I or Attempter combined! She is actually DOING in person, going to work every day and taking arrows from the most powerful group of people in the world while we chat about it online.

          So tell me Hugh since you feel my sequence is wrong, in what sequence is liberty restored?

          1. Hugh

            The issues are not separable so there is no sequence. Attempter and I have our own voices, but we both agree, I think, that the problems our country is facing are systemic in nature, and that looting is a great part of it.

            Speaking for myself, I have no patience left for what I call Establishment liberals who offer analyses and solutions that are less than systemic. They waste time and energy by directing attention away from the system. They act as an escape valve for frustrations with the system and, as a result, allow the looting to continue even longer.

            How is it unfair to note that they have benefited from this same system which they just happen not to challenge? And here the crucial point is that yes, they do criticize aspects of the system, but they do not question the system itself.

            What Attempter, others, and I try to point out is that there is not a continuum in views but a discontinuity precisely at this point of the system. Reformers like Warren just get played and thrown away. I mean look at the history of the CFPB. Its scope and function were severely limited in Dodd-Frank. Then Obama and Geithner beat up on it some more. Now, completely neutered, it is being consigned to oblivion in the depths of the Fed. And this was just one piece of “reform” and a fairly small one at that considering the many other larger changes that are needed, and were not addressed at all.

            Aside from some kabuki political theatre, what did we gain from Warren and her efforts when all is said and done? Nothing. Not only did she not denounce Obama she went to work for him. She did not denounce the system but went to work for it. So how do her actions lead us to a deeper understanding of what is going on? The short answer is they don’t.

          2. and i

            This is a reply to Hugh. Chill out Man. She’s a good, honest lady who’s in a position of power. Be happy, don’t whine. Good god, are you waiting for a mars attack to be satified with anyone but yourself and attempted?

            Fricking tiresome!

          3. attempter

            Jason, I notice you still adhere to the obsolete notion that fascism and communism are at “opposite poles” of something. This was always a scam.

            Here’s the only spectrum that matters, stated several ways:

            Democracy vs. elitism (fascism, communism, conservatism, liberalism are all forms of anti-democratic elitism).

            Civil society vs. neoliberalism.

            Citizen vs. criminal.

            Humanity vs. corporations.

        2. Mike

          No, Hugh, the binary choice is centralized control or freedom. Fascism and socialism are cut from the same cloth. Fascists just wear Snazzier uniforms.

          Hayek described in great detail in The Road To Serfdom how centralized planning is inefficient, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s far right or far left.

          Warren is a planner, and she’s not smart enough to know that her well intentioned policies had deleterious consequences for the very people she’s trying to protect, and unintended consequences for those of us who made responsible choices and actions. Worse than a would-be champion, she is an anti-business zealot. She writes books, but she’s never actually run a successful business.

          Agitation is counter productive. In most cases it fails, and in most cases it’s wrong. Instead of complaining about how GDP is divided, why don’t you go out and actually create some GDP?

  16. Don Lowell

    I’m glad Warren didn’t get that job as she is too good to serve in this administration. I also hope we can get her to run for Prez in some way whether write in or 3rd party.

  17. Jimmy Dean Dimone

    Warren has the opportunity now to go bat-shit-crazy and attack the entire system. Will she do it?

  18. Morzer

    Until progressives and liberals realize that you win the game by forcing your senators and congress critters to vote the way you want, they are doomed to rehash the same futile narratives of betrayal. If you want change, work for it, don’t whine for it. The GOP are deranged – but they get what they want because they threaten defectors with primaries. Until Democrats do the same, they will always be a coalition without real power for good. Don’t waste time deconstructing Obama – make the Senate and Congress your battle-ground.

    1. Faltulence Nichols

      I keep reading these statements of stunning apologism for a system that is broken and wonder whether they aren’t a DOD project of some sort. Congress serves as only as a facade, even more so with the radicals on the Supreme Court as a facade for industry. No, this doesn’t mean “violent revolution”.

      1. Morzer

        So what is your great insight, non-advocate of violent revolution? Where’s your solution?

        1. JasonRines

          Growth has stalled globally, the LBO game is over. You sell sustainable investments to those with reason. For the genetically challenged sociopaths, the Fascists kill each other and you as an individual must ascertain geopolitical risk to protect yourself and family.

          As an individual one can always support the local system where organizing sustainable investments are easier to sell and political impact is quicker in terms of measured result.

  19. Mike

    Ms. Warren might be book smart, but she is a typical ivory tower academic who really doesn’t get how businesses operate and how her well intentioned prescriptions lead to devastating unintended consequences.

    My first exposure to her was in the 2004 hatchet job of the credit card industry on PBS Frontline. She claimed that despite being a lawyer, she was unable to understand credit card terms and agreements. Well, I’m not a lawyer and I understand them perfectly well.

    She, along with Chris Dodd, advocated for credit card issuers to publish a payback period at minimum payments. That seems reasonable. However, everything else demonstrates she doesn’t understand credit.

    I’m sure she understands what a revolving line of credit is, but she’s more concerned about criticizing the industry than educating the public. She advocated ending universal default, whereby if you default on one credit, you could have your rates go up on performing credit. If you’re defaulting for one creditor, it increases the probability you’ll default on other creditors, so it’s proper to price that risk by raising interest rates.

    She wanted to eliminate over the limit fees and other default fees. Fine, but then all those costs will be priced into interest rates. Good credit individuals mit even end up cross subsidizing the non payers.

    I have no doubt that the credit card industry had practices that needed to be cleaned up, but Warren is more Quixotic than crusader. She is an ideologue who doesnt consider the counter party in credit contracts. She’s not fighting against consumer fraud against all consumers, but rather against those who were culpably ignorant and irresponsible in their use of credit – the stupidest people in the room. If you’re defending morons, you are a moron.

    I’ve had some bad experiences with credit card companies, but they were nothing a call to customer service didn’t remedy. In a few cases, it was even my fault the payment didn’t get there on time. But the issuer waived the penalty in appreciation for my good credit behavior.

    It is precisely the mindset of people like Warren that led to this crisis. A lot of buyers bought homes they could not afford, and cried foul when they couldn’t refinance. The fact that most mortgages are non recourse gives borrowers a cheap at- the-money option. If prices go up, they win. If prices go down, they default and get to keep their other assets. This is outrageous underwriting!

    Warren is dangerous to America, and needs to be kept as far from DC as possible.

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