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02:37 PM on 09/15/2009
" But in a crisis -- faced with depression or war, our history tells us, many become one. We join together for the common good. "
Tht is simply no longer true; I admit it began on the far left during the Sixties, but whatever the origins, many Americans no longer see themselves as part of the nation - whether it's global corporatists who know they can move to Argentina (and move their factories to Mexico), or right-wing loonies who refuse to accept having an African American President; or it's disenchanted Hispanics made to feel the brunt of our anxiety over "aliens," - many people just don't want to unite aymore, not even during crisis. This is a "me first!" and often a "mine only!" stew of frightened people wanting desperately to find any collective identity other than America.
We really blew it. Your article provides interesting tl work as to the state of chaos in which we live, but if you're hoping the 'better angels of our nation' are going to fly in anytime soon... their wings got clipped during the Bush years.
Divided we fall; perhaps some other angels can catch us on the way down.
08:07 PM on 09/15/2009
Well, yeah, after the Sixties the Establishment figured out that the people were a little too successful and don't you think of trying anything like that ever again. Forty years of psychology used against us by the rich can do that.
Retired, Sassy, Senior Citizen
02:33 PM on 09/15/2009
It's amazing how the conservatives and their media outlets have portrayed all our troubles starting on January 20, 2009. There was no Bush43 and his policies, no Clinton and his policies, and surely no Reagan/Bush41 12 year rule of our govern't. No, our downfall started on 01/20/2009. How is it that Leihamn Bros failed on September 14, 2008 creating economic meltdown but President Obama is blamed for TARP funds, auto bailout, stimulus bailout, crashing of housing markets. How quickly we forget...
There is no common good among thieves and crooks. The character of american is thievery, liars, crooks, I got mine attitudes. It's only been after so much plundering of our treasure by conservatives where everything is in shambles that the people elect progressive democrats to upright and put the country back in good stead. This is one of those times. Once the country is economically healed, the conservatives will be back to plunder again. There is a good reason why PresObama made several trips aboard - put a progressive face on america.
03:46 PM on 09/15/2009
Like Charles Wrangle, bribing the ethics committee and not declaring hundreds of thousands in investment and not paying the resulting taxes. Thats progressive for you does anyone on the democratic side have any problems with this?

Its a culture of corruption run amok now and it was supposed to be transparency.
02:30 PM on 09/15/2009
You're giving the president too much credit. If he really cared for the public good over the interests of Wall Street, he wouldn't have appointed Geithner and Summers. He wouldn't have funneled trillions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street with no strings attached, he wouldn't be waffling on a public option for health insurance. He gives good speeches, and more and more it appears, that's all he does
03:05 PM on 09/15/2009
hear hear.
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03:22 PM on 09/15/2009
02:08 PM on 09/15/2009
Nothing in my lifetime (47 yrs) has stopped the multi-national corporations from getting their way to the detriment of the average working American

Democrats will fail, and then disillusioned lefties will turn to the right. Right now what the Dems should be doing is going down swinging. Obama, if he really is what he claims to be and not a shill, and the few Dems he can get on his side should take a hard line on radical reform-breaking up corps that are too big, the public option, etc etc. At least then history will look back on him fondly as someone who tried but was stopped by the forces that destroyed America.

All empires fall. And every one had brilliant people who knew it was happening. It still happened. The irony in all this is that my parents came here looking for a better life. Now I'm looking to get out in search of a better life. If it wasn't so sad it would be funny
06:44 PM on 09/15/2009
" Now I'm looking to get out in search of a better life..."

America is going to lose its educated, its talented. Never in my lifetime has it seemed a better -- if not necessary -- opportunity to be somewhere else.
08:11 PM on 09/15/2009
He who takes a hard line behind radical reform doesn't even make the shortlist for the next step up on the career ladder -- not the Presidency, mind you, but the lucrative consulting positions with megacorps.
02:05 PM on 09/15/2009
We have learned in the last few months that there is no common good in America, only guaranteed and obscene profits for "TOO BIG TO FAIL" mega corporations. Congress can't serve two masters.

Corporations first, last and always. Privatize profit and stick the public with the risk and eventually, the bill..
01:57 PM on 09/15/2009
Part of the problem is that we have a business community with no ethical standards. They've taken to calling themselves professionals, but they have no licensing procedures, no boards of review, and you cannot formally sue for malpractice when injured or have a bad businessman stripped of his ability to practice his trade.

Doctors and lawyers possess the kind of knowledge that can easily be abused by unethical practitioners. The same can be said for bankers and brokers. The former chose to clean up their trades and created professional organizations to monitor and discipline wayward members, while the latter has simply appropriated the term "professional" and gone on a rampage undermining the global economy.

I realize that having licensed business professionals is probably a pipe dream, but it seems to me that the two issues go hand in hand. Without ethical restraints (at least the fear of losing one's livelihood) corporate interests will continue to put the corporation first and everything else (except maybe their own personal bottom line) second.
08:13 PM on 09/15/2009
Well, states and many countries used to license business and require that the risks of limitations of liability come attached to a genuine chance at improving the general welfare.
01:48 PM on 09/15/2009
The problem is not what president Obama wants to do. Here is what he said:

"It's useful to remind ourselves that our free market system is the result neither of natural law nor of Divine Providence... And although the benefits of our free market system are mostly derived from the individual efforts of generations of men and women pursuing their own vision of happiness, in each and every period of great economic upheaval and transition we depended on government action to open up opportunity, encourage competition, and make the market work better."

He understands that without proper government oversight, markets bounce wildly between booms and busts. Individual participants in a market economy can do little to influence the overall stability of the system, but government must act to assure our financial markets remain strong and stable.

The problem is how to do so with a hugely divided country and a weak, lazy Congress. More important than that, I'm afraid Obama tarnished his creds by letting Geithner and Summers oversee the greatest transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Wall St. in history. Now, people are wary of his abilities, if not his aims.
08:15 PM on 09/15/2009
If he'd actually explicitly said "punish cheaters" he could cause serious schism in the Tea Party movement. That he didn't might lead one to believe that he's not into punishing people of his own class.
01:35 PM on 09/15/2009

Wow, Mr. Borosage,
you hit homeruns with every point about the issues faced and the decisions ALREADY MADE
by our majorities in Congress and atop the White House.

The evidence is in. The pattern is clear. But you say:

"These next months are the reckoning. The president and the Congress will step up to the reforms the country needs -- or they will fail the nation in a time of peril."

The "reckoning" happened already. Past tense. Real reform didn't happen. The jack@ss&s (and elephants) are going to keep sh!tt!ng like they already sh@t. No doubt.

Conclusion: Founding Father and President Thomas Jefferson said he expected that a "rebellion" would be necessary from time to time in this country of competition and corruption.

NOW is one of those times.
Robert L. Borosage
Director Campaign for America's Future
02:11 PM on 09/15/2009
Not so. It is too easy to give up.

Health care is still to be determined, with the Speaker thusfar standing strong for a good plan.
Energy doesn't look good, but again remains yet to be decided.
The financial reform debate has only begun. Wall Street has shown its clout to be sure.
Budget priorities will be the next big battle.

Concerted public mobilization -- and the willingness to go after those in both parties standing in the way -- can make a difference. For example, it is simply obscene that the two Senators from Maine are standing with R obstruction on health care -- Maine, like many more rural states, would beneft immensely from comprehensive reform that worked. It is worth still fighting for that.
02:38 PM on 09/15/2009
I admire the poster who interacts with commenters.

Thank you, sir.

btw, obviously I did not "give up."
03:23 PM on 09/15/2009
I'm guessing you are one of those "glass half full" guys?
I love you Thomas and I miss you like crazy RIP
01:34 PM on 09/15/2009
Unless and until we get corporate money out of our elections the American people will always lose. If ever we needed proof of that health care reform is it. The health industry has spent $360 million since January on lobbyists and campaign contributions. Who pays for that? We do, with higher premiums and deductibles and denied claims. This is nothing more than legalized bribery.

We arrest street walkers for taking far less than these clowns in Washington take.

Shame on our elected representatives for putting money before the lives of their fellow human beings.
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01:52 PM on 09/15/2009
You're right.

Unfortunately, that is liable to only get worse:

"[Supreme] Court Signals it May Loosen Campaign Spending":
Vote Libertarian
03:42 PM on 09/15/2009
The only way you can do that is by giving government less power over said entities.

If you running say a pharmaceutical company would you just sit idly by and just let government do what ever they want to your business?
01:27 PM on 09/15/2009
President Obama is appealing to "our better angels" at a time when the _devil_ - that "rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born."
Veritas vos Liberabit
01:17 PM on 09/15/2009
The inspiration for the "tea party" thinking that represents close to a majority of Americans right now is that we see the problems and challenges that the author lists above and then we see a federal government that is doing things that won't help, and in many cases will hurt, our current situation.

Cap-and-Trade is bad for the economy. Increased union strength is bad for the economy. The health care solutions being proposed will be bad for the economy. Deficits are bad for the economy. Trillions pumped into Wall Street seem to have little effect on the economy.

If the government were concerned with the "common good", they would be looking at short-term help for small and medium-sized businesses, stabilizing the dollar, and calming the dividing influences that are threatening our culture and our people. They are not.
01:28 PM on 09/15/2009
Or Obama might try the Cal Coolidge approach for a few months and stop sticking his nose into everything. We need less government, not more Bush/McCain big govt conservatism.
Robert L. Borosage
Director Campaign for America's Future
02:17 PM on 09/15/2009
Really? Can you really go through the last crisis where untrammeled financial speculation drove us off a cliff and call for less regulation? Can you look at soaring health care costs, and suggest that doing nothing is an alternative. The status quo in health care, finance and energy is "bad for the economy." If you don't get that, you don't get it.

And as for deficits, much of the deficit is the natural result of the downturn -- with tax revenues declining and expenses of unemployment etc rising. Some of it is the cost of the recovery plan which is in fact putting people to work. Withdraw that and the economy would sink once more.
Deficits at a time when consumers are reeling, businesses are laying off folks, and interest rates are already near zero aren't "bad for the economy, " hey are the only thing holding the economy up.
Veritas vos Liberabit
02:34 PM on 09/15/2009
I wasn't suggesting, and none of the Republicans are suggesting, doing nothing. More regulation on Wall Street is appropriate. Controlling costs in health care is appropriate. Lowering costs of energy is appropriate. Unfortunately, none of the actions proposed by the current administration move us toward any of these immediate needs.

Your take on the deficit is dangerously inaccurate. Obama's own budget plan, which is based on the most optimistic assumptions, has permanent, unprecedented, sustained deficits through 2019 - and that is before any of these additional programs, like health care, add their permanent billions to the expense line. The effect on the dollar, which we are already seeing today, will do long-term damage to the entire economy, but especially to those in the middle who are struggling.
Vote Libertarian
04:18 PM on 09/15/2009
You liberals seem to have 2 nothing or government intervention. There is a vast area of solutions that don't have to involve the heavy hand of government or at least a minimal input.

And sometimes the best answer IS to do nothing.
01:12 PM on 09/15/2009
Obama's speech was more about grandstanding than anything else. Can you imagine he said he was for the "free markets". Had to laugh.

Wall Street know his policies will not only not reform them, but will also weaken America's ability to compete abroad. Obama, if the mugging was bad, the cure will kill us.
01:29 PM on 09/15/2009
Of course he is for free markets. He loves anything that is free.
01:51 PM on 09/15/2009
With that statement, you just went from someone who has legitimate policy differences to a teabagger- and all that code word implies.
Robert L. Borosage
Director Campaign for America's Future
02:19 PM on 09/15/2009
When Wall Street was running amok, the US was borrowing $2 billion a day from abroad. Unregulated financial markets were not exactly strengthening "America's ability to compete abroad."

Eventually, the ideology has to absorb the reality of what just happened.
Vote Libertarian
08:33 PM on 09/15/2009

You are not taking into account the other forces involved. What about the FED (very poor rate management)? What about the pols constantly touting "home ownership for all" for the last 20 years? What about Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac? What about bailouts using taxpayer money that has rewarded inprudent behavior? What about government printing money whenever it needs it?

Wall Street deserves its share of blame but government policy also has its fingerprints all over this thing. The financial markets have been anything but unregulated since the 30's.

I am not opposed to a few well placed rules to guide the market...but our current regulatory system has devolved into a confusing mishmash. I think we should wipe the slate clean and start all over again.
01:08 PM on 09/15/2009
Memo to Mr. Borosage- global warming is a hoax. While ice MAY be getting thinner at the North Pole (with only 30 years of recordings), it appears to be getting thicker at the South Pole. I realize that the younger set may fall for these Chicken Little tactics but those older than 35 can clearly remember the 1977 Time cover predicting the next Ice Age. We just had a chilly summer here in central Penna and the evenings are getting colder. Uh-oh- global warming again!
01:32 PM on 09/15/2009
You're opinion has been discredited by 95% of scientists. I'll stick with their assessment, but you can think whatever makes you happy.

Oh, and BTW- try to think outside of Pennsylvania, for Pete's sake.
02:23 PM on 09/15/2009
Actually, you should try to find any recent scientific article about "Global Warming". It's now called "climate change" so that the chicken little's can blame anything at all in the weather on whatever they don't like that week. Did you see that a recent paper detailed the importance of sunspots and solar flares on the Earth's temperature and explained the mechanism behind this? They went all the way to the brink of discounting CO2 as the enemy but dissembled to avoid the inevitable vicious backlash. Anyway, 95% of scientists never agreed to AGW and they never "proved" a darn thing. You are obviously not a scientist and do not understand the difference between a proven fact and a theory. How did you explain the ice thickening in the Antarctic, Max Planck?
02:26 PM on 09/15/2009
" appears to be getting thicker at the South Pole."

Or not:

Aug 21, 2009 -

"The thinning of a gigantic glacier in Antarctica is accelerating, scientists report. The Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica, which is around twice the size of Scotland, is losing ice four times as fast as it was a decade years ago.
The research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, also reveals that ice thinning is now occurring much further inland. At this rate scientists estimate that the main section of the glacier will have disappeared in just 100 years, six times sooner than was previously thought."
03:57 PM on 09/15/2009
Bruce, you do understand that geologic time is usually measured in thousands of years and not a decade, right? How do we know that the glacier has not merely assumed a normal rate of thinning as opposed to it's previously unusual slower rate? We don't. Do you not get a little queasy with suspicion when some of the same people predicting a coming ice age in the late 70's are now predicting catastrophic elevations in the Earth's temperature? They're not even catastrophic, they are quite mild, even if you believe in this claptrap. Do you think that NASA or the UN know what the ideal temperature for the Earth is? Do you know how rudimentary their modeling predictions are? The computers have not yet been invented that could properly account for all the known variables, let alone any new wrinkles to be determined. And you think it a good idea to cripple our economy to possibly help alleviate (it won't) a problem which is not likely to be an actual problem (it's not). I'm not a luddite and global warming/climate change is all about control, not the environment.
01:05 PM on 09/15/2009
When I think about the situation going on right now with Obama and Wall Street I am reminded of how long it took Teddy Roosevelt to reign in Vanderbilt and the other robber barons of his time. He wasn't able to do it right away.
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Conservatism = selfishness
01:00 PM on 09/15/2009
"Taxpayers won't cover your bets or your bonuses. "
We have been so far.

"He does believe that everyone -- from billionaire hedge fund operators to insurance company CEOS to conservative legislators -- will in a crisis put the country first." -WRONG!

Republicans, despite the shattering of their conservative shibboleths, have chosen, with lockstep unity, obstruction over compromise. -Best line of the whole article! I hope voters are paying attention.