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Bankrolling a Presidential Brand: Why Wall Street Needs Obama - The Obama Bubble Agenda

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  • laquerencia33@sbcglobal.net
    Watch what they do, not what they say they ll do. DByron ******************* Senator Obama’s premise and credibility of not taking money from
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2008
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      Watch what they do, not what they say they'll do.
      DByron
      *******************

      <excerpt:>

      "Senator Obama’s premise and credibility
      of not taking money from federal
      lobbyists hangs on a carefully crafted
      distinction: he is taking money, lots of
      it, from owners and employees of firms
      registered as federal lobbyists but not the
      actual individual lobbyists.
      But is that dealing honestly with the
      American people?"

      <also:>

      "The Wall Street plan for the Obama-
      bubble presidency is that of the cleanup
      crew for the housing bubble: sweep all
      the corruption and losses, would-be indictments,
      perp walks and prosecutions
      under the rug and get on with an unprecedented
      taxpayer bailout of Wall Street."

      ******************

      Bankrolling a Presidential Brand:
      Why Wall Street Needs Obama
      The Obama Bubble Agenda
      By Pam Martens

      The Obama phenomenon has been
      likened to that of cults, celebrity
      groupies and Messiah worshipers.
      But what we’re actually witnessing
      is Obama mania (as in tulip mania), the
      third and final bubble orchestrated and
      financed by the wonderful Wall Street
      folks who brought us the first two: the
      Nasdaq/tech bubble and a subprime-
      mortgage-in-every-pot bubble.

      To understand why Wall Street desperately
      needs this final bubble, we need
      to first review how the first two bubbles
      were orchestrated and why.

      In March of 2000, the Nasdaq stock
      market, hyped with spurious claims for
      startup tech and dot.com companies,
      reached a peak of over 5,000. Eight years
      later, it’s trading in the 2,300 range and
      most of those companies no longer exist.
      From peak to trough, Nasdaq transferred
      over $4 trillion from the pockets of small
      mania-gripped investors to the wealthy
      and elite market manipulators.
      The highest monetary authority during
      those bubble days, Alan Greenspan,
      chairman of the Federal Reserve, consistently
      told us that the market was efficient
      and stock prices were being set
      by the judgment of millions of “highly
      knowledgeable” investors.

      Mr. Greenspan was the wind beneath
      the wings of a carefully orchestrated
      wealth transfer system known as “pump
      and dump” on Wall Street. As hundreds
      of court cases, internal emails, and insider
      testimony now confirm, this bubble
      was no naturally occurring phenomenon
      any more than the Obama bubble is.

      First, Wall Street firms issued knowingly
      false research reports to trumpet
      the growth prospects for the company
      and stock price; second, they lined up big
      institutional clients who were instructed
      how and when to buy at escalating prices
      to make the stock price skyrocket (laddering);
      third, the firms instructed the
      hundreds of thousands of stockbrokers
      serving the mom-and-pop market to advise
      their clients to sit still as the stock
      price flew to the moon or else the broker
      would have his commissions taken
      away (penalty bid). While the little folks’
      money served as a prop under prices,
      the wealthy elite on Wall Street and corporate
      insiders were allowed to sell at
      the top of the market (pump-and-dump
      wealth transfer).

      Why did people buy into this mania
      for brand new, untested companies when
      there is a basic caveat that most people
      in this country know, i.e., the majority of
      all new businesses fail? Common sense
      failed and mania prevailed because of
      massive hype pumped by big media, big
      public relations, and shielded from regulation
      by big law firms, all eager to collect
      their share of Wall Street’s rigged cash
      cow.

      The current housing bubble bust is just
      a freshly minted version of Wall Street’s
      real estate limited partnership frauds of
      the ’80s, but on a grander scale. In the
      1980s version, the firms packaged real
      estate into limited partnerships and peddled
      it as secure investments to moms
      and pops. The major underpinning of
      this wealth transfer mechanism was that
      regulators turned a blind eye to the fact
      that the investments were listed at the
      original face amount on the clients’ brokerage
      statements long after they had lost
      most of their value.

      Today’s real estate related securities
      (CDOs and SIVs) that are blowing up
      around the globe are simply the above
      scheme with more billable hours for corporate
      law firms.

      Wall Street created an artificial demand
      for housing (a bubble) by soliciting
      high interest rate mortgages (subprime)
      because they could be bundled and
      quickly resold for big fees to yield-hungry
      hedge funds and institutions. A major underpinning
      of this scheme was that Wall
      Street secured an artificial rating of AAA
      from rating agencies that were paid by
      Wall Street to provide the rating. When
      demand from institutions was saturated,

      Wall Street kept the scheme going by
      hiding the debt off its balance sheets and
      stuffed this long-term product into mom-
      and-pop money markets, notwithstanding
      that money markets are required by
      law to hold only short-term investments.
      To further perpetuate the bubble as long
      as possible, Wall Street prevented pricing
      transparency by keeping the trading off
      regulated exchanges and used unregulated
      over-the-counter contracts instead.
      (All of this required lots of lobbyist hours
      in Washington.)

      But how could there be a genuine national
      housing price boom propelled by
      massive consumer demand at the same
      time there was the largest income and
      wealth disparity in the nation’s history?
      Rational thought is no match for manias.
      That brings us to today’s bubble.

      The number one industry supporting
      the Obama presidential bid, according to
      the widely respected, nonpartisan Center
      for Responsive Politics, is “lawyers/law
      firms” (most on Wall Street’s payroll),
      giving a total of $11,246,596.

      This presents three unique credibility
      problems for the yes-we-can, little-choo-
      choo-that-could campaign: (1) these are
      not just “lawyers/law firms”; the vast
      majority of these firms are also registered
      lobbyists at the Federal level; (2)
      Senator Obama has made it a core tenet
      of his campaign platform that the way he
      is gong to bring the country hope and
      change is not taking money from federal
      lobbyists; and (3) with the past seven ignoble
      years of lies and distortions fresh in
      the minds of voters, building a candidacy
      based on half-truths is not a sustainable
      strategy to secure the west wing from
      the right wing.

      Yes, the other leading presidential candidates
      are taking money from lawyers/
      law firms/lobbyists, but Senator Obama
      is the only one rallying with the populist
      cry that he isn’t. That makes it not only a
      legitimate but a necessary line of inquiry.

      The Obama campaign’s populist bubble
      is underpinned by what, on the surface,
      seems to be a real snoozer of a story. It
      all centers around business classification
      codes developed by the U.S. government
      and used by the Center for Responsive
      Politics to classify contributions. Here’s
      how the Center explained its classifications
      in 2003:
      “The codes used for business groups
      follow the general guidelines of the
      Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)
      codes initially designed by the Office of
      Management and Budget and later replaced
      by the North American Industry
      Classification System (NAICS)...”

      The Akin Gump law firm is a prime example
      of how something as mundane as a
      business classification code can be gamed
      for political advantage. According to
      the Center for Responsive Politics, Akin
      Gump ranks third among all Federal lobbyists,
      raking in $205,225,000 to lobby
      our elected officials in Washington from
      1998 through 2007. The firm is listed as
      a registered federal lobbyist with the
      House of Representatives and the Senate;
      the firm held lobbying retainer contracts
      for more than 100 corporate clients in
      2007. But when its non-registered law
      partners, the people who own this business
      and profit from its lobbying operations,
      give to the Obama campaign, the
      contribution is classified as coming from
      a law firm, not a lobbyist.

      The same holds true for Greenberg
      Traurig, the law firm that employed
      the criminally inclined lobbyist, Jack
      Abramoff. Greenberg Traurig ranks ninth
      among all lobbyists for the same period,
      with lobbying revenues of $96,708,249.
      Its partners and employee donations to
      the Obama campaign of $70,650 appear
      not under lobbyist but the classification
      lawyers/law firms, as do 30 other corporate
      law firm/lobbyists.

      Additionally, looking at Public Citizen’s
      list of bundlers for the Obama campaign
      (people soliciting donations from others),
      27 are employed by law firms registered
      as federal lobbyists. The total sum raised
      by bundlers for Obama from these 27
      firms: $2,650,000. (There are also dozens
      of high powered bundlers from Wall
      Street working the Armani-suit and red-
      suspenders cocktail circuits, like Bruce
      Heyman, managing director at Goldman
      Sachs; J. Michael Schell, vice chairman
      of Global Banking at Citigroup; Louis
      Susman, managing director, Citigroup;
      Robert Wolf, CEO, UBS Americas. Each
      raised over $200,000 for the Obama
      campaign.)

      Senator Obama’s premise and credibility
      of not taking money from federal
      lobbyists hangs on a carefully crafted
      distinction: he is taking money, lots of
      it, from owners and employees of firms
      registered as federal lobbyists but not the
      actual individual lobbyists.

      But is that dealing honestly with the
      American people?

      According to the website
      of Akin Gump, it takes a village to
      deliver a capital to the corporations:
      “The public law and policy practice
      [lobbying] at Akin Gump is integrated
      throughout the firm’s offices in the
      United States and abroad. As part of a
      full-service law firm, the group is able
      to draw upon the experience of members
      of other Akin Gump practices – including
      bankruptcy, communications,
      corporate, energy, environmental, labor
      and employment, health care, intellectual
      property, international, real estate,
      tax and trade regulation – that may have
      substantive, day-to-day experience with
      the issues that lie at the heart of a client’s
      situation. This is the internal component
      of Akin Gump’s team-based approach:
      matching the needs of clients with the
      appropriate area of experience in the firm
      ... Akin Gump has a broad range of active
      representations before every major committee
      of Congress and executive branch
      department and agency.”

      When queried about this, Massie
      Ritsch, communications director at the
      Center for Responsive Politics, says: “The
      wall between a firm’s legal practice and
      its lobbying shop can be low – the work
      of an attorney and a lobbyist trying to
      influence regulations and laws can be so
      intertwined. So, if anything, the influence
      of the lobbying industry in presidential
      campaigns is undercounted.”

      Those critical thinkers over at the
      Black Agenda Report have zeroed in on
      the making of the Obama bubble:
      “The 2008 Obama presidential run
      may be the most slickly orchestrated
      marketing machine in memory. That’s
      not a good thing. Marketing is not even
      distantly related to democracy or civic
      empowerment. Marketing is about creating
      emotional, even irrational bonds
      between your product and your target
      audience.”

      And slick it is. According to the Obama
      campaign’s financial filings with the
      Federal Election Commission (FEC) and
      aggregated at the Center for Responsive
      Politics, the Obama campaign has spent
      over $52 million on media, strategy consultants,
      image building, marketing research
      and telemarketing.

      The money has gone to firms like
      GMMB, whose website says its “goal is to
      change minds and change hearts, win in
      the court of public opinion and win votes”
      using “the power of branding – with
      principles rooted in commercial marketing”,
      and Elevation Ltd., which targets
      the Hispanic population and has “a combined
      experience well over 50 years in
      developing and implementing advertising
      and marketing solutions for Fortune 500
      companies, political candidates, government
      agencies”. Their client list includes
      the Department of Homeland Security.
      There’s also the Birmingham, Alabama-
      based Parker Group which promises:
      “Valid research results are assured given
      our extensive experience with testing,
      scripting, skip logic, question rotation
      and quota control ... In-house list management
      and maintenance services encompass
      sophisticated geo-coding, mapping
      and scrubbing applications.”

      Is it any
      wonder America’s brains are scrambled?

      The Wall Street plan for the Obama-
      bubble presidency is that of the cleanup
      crew for the housing bubble: sweep all
      the corruption and losses, would-be indictments,
      perp walks and prosecutions
      under the rug and get on with an unprecedented
      taxpayer bailout of Wall Street.
      (The corporate law firms have piled on to
      funding the plan because most were up
      to their eyeballs in writing prospectuses
      or providing legal opinions for what has
      turned out to be bogus AAA securities.
      Lawsuits naming the Wall Street firms
      will, no doubt, shortly begin adding the
      law firms that rendered the legal guidance
      to issue the securities.) Who better
      to sell this agenda to the millions of
      duped mortgage holders and foreclosed
      homeowners in minority communities
      across America than our first, beloved,
      black president of hope and change?

      Why do Wall Street and the corporate
      law firms think they will find a President
      Obama to be accommodating? As the
      Black Agenda Report notes, “Evidently,
      the giant insurance companies, the airlines,
      oil companies, Wall Street, military
      contractors and others had closely examined
      and vetted Barack Obama and found
      him pleasing.”

      That vetting included his remarkable
      “yes” vote on the Class Action Fairness
      Act of 2005, a five-year effort by 475 lobbyists,
      despite appeals from the NAACP
      and every other major civil rights group.
      Thanks to the passage of that legislation,
      when defrauded homeowners of
      the housing bubble and defrauded investors
      of the bundled mortgages try to fight
      back through the class-action vehicle,
      they will find a new layer of corporate-
      friendly hurdles.

      I personally admire Senator Obama. I
      want to believe Senator Obama is not a
      party to the scheme. But corporate interests
      have had plenty of time to do their
      vetting. Democracy demands no less of
      we, the people.

      Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for
      21 years; she has no securities position,
      long or short, in any company mentioned
      in this article. She writes on public interest
      issues from New Hampshire. She can
      be reached at pamk741@....
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