Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Tom and Baracky Show

The latest installment of the Tom and Baracky Show appeared today on Meet The Press. Taken at face value, this was an interview. But in reality this was nothing more than an infomercial starring Tom Brokaw and Barack Obama. Personally, I think the old Tom and Jerry was much more fun. But this is the Great Depression of 2008 – fun is a rare commodity these days.

The last time we saw an episode of Tom and Baracky was at the Presidential Debate in October. But did you know there was a previous installment of the Tom and Baracky show? It occurred on May 3, 2007 at MOMA – that's the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This was a private dinner for Goldman Sachs traders only.

The dinner was not a fund-raiser for Obama, then in the early stages of his Democratic primary campaign launched February, 2007. Brokaw interviewed Obama for about 45 minutes on mostly international issues. Brokaw received an honorarium, donated to charity. The Obama campaign called the event a "moderated conversation" when I inquired on Monday.
So Tom and Barack are quite comfortable with this type of reality show. They've had plenty of practice conducting sham interviews. Whether or not Obama will admit it, it was clear that there were no surprise questions in today's Meet The Press “interview”.

T&B have great chemistry together and the results prove that they are a great sales team.
Bundled together, by Sept. 28, 2008, the latest figures available, Goldman Sachs members or their families contributed $739,521 to Obama, making the firm [the] number one source of donors to the Obama campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
And you thought that Henry Paulson exit would be the end of Goldman Sachs running the nation's economic policy. No such luck. In fact there is another Obama-GS connection that is pointed out in this article. One of Obama's biggest fund-raisers was James Johnson, a Goldman Sachs board member and former chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae.
Johnson was originally tapped by Obama to lead his vice presidential vetting squad until he quit because of his own controversies.
Here's more about James Johnson from Wikipedia.
An Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) report from September 2004 found that, during Johnson's tenure as CEO, Fannie Mae had improperly deferred $200 million in expenses. This enabled top executives, including Johnson and his successor, Franklin Raines, to receive substantial bonuses in 1998. A 2006 OFHEO report found that Fannie Mae had substantially under-reported Johnson's compensation. Originally reported as $6-7 million, Johnson actually received approximately $21 million.
Yeah, I guess that would be considered controversial given that Fannie Mae is at the center of the current financial crisis. Expect Johnson to keep a low profile. But behind the scenes, he has the clout to affect key Obama decisions on the economy. I wonder to what extent he lobbied Obama with regards to his economic team?

Obama's Goldman Sachs Economic Team

As has been widely reported the Obama Economic Team of Summers and Geithner is the beginning of another chapter of Goldman Sachs dominated economic policy.
The president-elect's choices for his top economic advisers — Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary, Lawrence Summers as senior White House economics adviser and Peter Orszag as budget director — are past protégés of Rubin, who held two of those jobs under President Bill Clinton.
And former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin is of course a former co-CEO and co-Chairman of Goldman Sachs. Rubin has also been involved in some recent controversy himself with regards to his role in the Citibank debacle.
After leaving the Treasury, Rubin, 70, became a senior adviser to the top executives at Citigroup, which on Nov. 23 became the latest financial institution to get a government bailout.
Geithner is currently the President of the New York Fed. As I detailed in a previous article, the Chairman of the New York Fed is another GS executive – Stephen Friedman. (In fact, Friedman was the co-Chairman along with Robert Rubin from 1990 to 1992.) This gives Friedman considerable influence in choosing a Geithner's replacement as President of the New York Fed. And Friedman still sits on the Board of Goldman Sachs which makes for a very cozy relationship – don't you think?

What can I say? It's a small world, financially speaking. And that financial world is dominated by former executives of Goldman Sachs.

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