Posted by: John Gilmore | September 16, 2006

Volcker Makes a Comeback as Part of Obama Brain Trust

Do you ever wonder why the same people always seem to be recycled into new positions of power? We now have a Presidential candidate who is seeking economic guidance from someone who led the institution that is systematically destroying our economy. Does anyone see a problem here?

jg – Oct 21, 2008
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OCTOBER 21, 2008

Volcker Makes a Comeback as Part of Obama Brain Trust
By MONICA LANGLEY

NEW YORK — At 81 years old, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker is getting a second chance to shape his legacy with a presidential hopeful more than 30 years his junior.
Mr. Volcker has emerged as a top economic adviser to Sen. Barack Obama during a presidential campaign dominated by a global financial crisis. Their growing bond is paying dividends for each man.

Mr. Volcker delivers gravitas and credibility to Sen. Obama, people in the Obama camp say, as well as ideas and approaches to the economic crisis. “Volcker whispering in Obama’s ear will make even Republicans comfortable, because he’s a hero of the right and a supporter of a strong dollar,” says John Tamny, a supply-side economist and Republican.

On Tuesday, Mr. Volcker is scheduled to appear on the campaign trail with Sen. Obama for the first time. At a round-table discussion with voters in Lake Worth, Fla., he’ll “give his view on the state of the economy and the credit markets, and what needs to be done to fix them,” says one campaign adviser. Longtime Fed watchers are amused that Mr. Volcker, known for his muttered statements during Fed meetings in the 1980s, will be in a political role on the stump.

For Mr. Volcker, a connection with Sen. Obama could help burnish his record as Fed chairman. The cigar-chomping central banker from 1979 to 1987, he received blame for driving up interest rates and tipping the U.S. into the deepest recession since the Great Depression. But Mr. Volcker is just as well known for taming the runaway inflation of that era. His stock has risen in recent months as his gruff warnings about the risks of deregulating the financial sector have come to look prescient. His successor’s reputation, meanwhile, has come under a cloud. Alan Greenspan is under criticism that the low interest rates and deregulatory ideology of his tenure contributed to today’s crisis.

With nearly every day presenting a fresh financial emergency, Sen. Obama has persuaded Mr. Volcker, who travels the globe for economic meetings and occasionally disappears on fly-fishing trips, to be at the ready; Mr. Volcker now keeps a cellphone on him at all times. And though he still doesn’t own a computer (his assistant prints out emails for him), he’s gotten used to Sen. Obama’s rapid-fire messages sent from a BlackBerry device.

The Obama-Volcker relationship continues to evolve, campaign advisers say. At the start, Sen. Obama sought advice from Mr. Volcker and other outside voices through his economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, a 39-year-old University of Chicago professor. But starting with the demise of Bear Stearns Cos. in March and continuing today, Sen. Obama speaks directly and often with Mr. Volcker about the intricacies of the financial crisis and possible solutions. They’ve become “collaborators,” as one aide puts it.

For example, when the U.S. Treasury put forth a plan to set up a $700 billion rescue fund to buy up toxic assets, Sen. Obama quickly backed it on the advice of Mr. Volcker. Like other prominent economists, Mr. Volcker also advocated early on for the recapitalization of banks. On this advice, Sen. Obama proposed direct equity infusions in banks in his frequent conference calls with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The idea, initially rejected by Mr. Paulson, was finally proposed last week by the administration, in an effort to get banks lending again to businesses and each other.

Sen. Obama’s team of economic advisers includes two former Treasury secretaries, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, and in some decisions, Mr. Volcker doesn’t reign supreme. The candidate’s latest proposal, for example, a $60 billion stimulus package, was initially fought by the former Fed chief on the grounds that Americans were already overspending. Moreover, he is unlikely to take a long-term role in any Obama administration.

Paul Volcker, delivering a lecture last week in Singapore, where he warned that the U.S. and Europe are facing recession from the financial crisis.

But for now, and going into the campaign’s final weeks, aides say Sen. Obama is increasingly relying on Mr. Volcker. His staff now routinely reviews policy proposals and speeches with Mr. Volcker. Conference calls and face-to-face meetings of the Obama economic team are often reorganized to accommodate his schedule. When the team discusses the financial crisis, “The most important question to Obama: What does Paul Volcker think?” says Jason Furman, the campaign’s economic-policy director.

The two men have developed an ease with each other, say aides, even as their styles appear to differ: Sen. Obama, who tends to use the Socratic method from his law-school training, examines all points of view and debates them. With a more formal and direct demeanor, Mr. Volcker likes to go straight to solutions.

In last week’s final presidential debate, after Republican John McCain raised questions about his rival’s ties, Sen. Obama said, “Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker…who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House.”

Some Democrats have speculated that, if elected, Sen. Obama could name Mr. Volcker to a post, possibly even as Treasury secretary, for a limited time. Banking and Wall Street executives are pushing the two campaigns to name a new secretary shortly after the election to reassure markets during the transition. The Obama campaign wouldn’t comment on possible appointments.

“I just want to be helpful, because I believe Sen. Obama — in his person, in his ideas and in his ability to understand and articulate both our needs and our hopes — brings the strong and fresh leadership we need,” Mr. Volcker said in an interview in New York. Mr. Volcker wouldn’t provide details of his policy suggestions or his personal relationship with Sen. Obama.
After leaving the Fed 20 years ago, Mr. Volcker stopped smoking cigars, became a professor at Princeton University and spent more time fly-fishing. His corner office overlooking Fifth Avenue is filled with photographs and statues of fish, as well as a pillow inscribed: “Work is for people who don’t know how to fish.”

Following a stint as chairman of a boutique investment-banking firm, Mr. Volcker largely steered clear of joining any Wall Street companies. He set up his own office in Rockefeller Center, where he consults for companies and governments. He has served on a few corporate boards, such as UAL Corp., Prudential Insurance Co. of America and Nestlé SA. He also participated on commissions including the United Nations committee to investigate corruption in its oil-for-food program, and an inquiry launched by Swiss banks to determine which accounts belonged to Holocaust victims.

The bond between Messrs. Obama and Volcker started with a dinner invitation. In June 2007, Mark Gallogly, co-founder of Centerbridge Partners, a New York private-investment firm, and an early supporter of Sen. Obama, invited a dozen financial executives to meet the senator, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. President Gary Cohn, Merrill Lynch & Co. President Greg Fleming and Mr. Volcker.

Along with the invitation, Mr. Volcker received from Mr. Gallogly a “briefing package” containing some speeches by Sen. Obama and news articles about him. Mr. Volcker also read the two books written by the senator.

In the private dining room at a Capitol Hill restaurant, Mr. Gallogly seated Mr. Volcker directly across from Sen. Obama, who at the time was considered a long shot to win the Democratic nomination over Sen. Hillary Clinton. Returning late that night on a flight to New York, Mr. Volcker told the group he was “genuinely impressed” with the Illinois senator.

That message was eventually passed along to Sen. Obama’s advisers in New York, Michael Froman, a friend from Harvard Law School and a Citigroup Inc. executive, and Jenny Yeager, a fund-raiser. Ms. Yeager told Obama headquarters in Chicago that Mr. Volcker seemed “interested” in the candidate, but in two months no one had followed up with the ex-central banker for fund raising or anything else.

When Sen. Obama’s economics adviser, Mr. Goolsbee, heard about Mr. Volcker’s interest, he immediately got excited. “Paul Volcker is a legend! We don’t want to use his contacts for money, we want to pick his brain,” he recalls saying to a campaign operative.

Starting in late summer 2007, Mr. Goolsbee had regular discussions with Mr. Volcker. He incorporated Mr. Volcker’s ideas, including his early concern that the housing downturn would snowball into a larger financial crisis, into Sen. Obama’s policy positions. In a September 2007 speech at Nasdaq, Sen. Obama predicted that because of oversight lapses and abusive practices that cause the public to doubt financial results, “the markets will be ravaged by a crisis in confidence.”

In early January 2008, when Sen. Clinton was pounding her rival over his lack of experience and stature, Sen. Obama phoned Mr. Volcker to ask for his endorsement. (At that time, billionaire investor Warren Buffett had refused to take sides between the Democratic contenders, saying he would support whoever got the nomination.) Mr. Volcker, a long-time Democrat who had mostly stayed out of partisan politics, agreed, and wrote out his statement in longhand.

The presidential candidate’s first big economic address took place in March at Cooper Union in New York. Mr. Volcker’s fingerprints were evident in the speech. The onetime central banker had long been vigilant about strong regulatory oversight; as Fed chairman he rejected big banks’ attempts to repeal Depression-era laws to engage in more risky practices like investment banking. New financial institutions and instruments have since led to the repeal or relaxation of those laws, and Mr. Volcker told Sen. Obama that the U.S. regulatory structure must be strengthened and updated for the 21st century.

With Mr. Volcker sitting in the front row, Sen. Obama told the audience at Cooper Union that the current financial-regulatory framework must be “revamped.” He faulted deregulation for the growing economic crisis. “Our free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it.”

Once Sen. Obama became the expected Democratic nominee in June, and the economy became the central campaign issue, his chats with Mr. Volcker picked up. Mr. Goolsbee would get emails from Sen. Obama’s traveling aide Reggie Love or his senior strategist David Axelrod with the message: “BO wants to call Volcker. What’s his number again?”

In the past two months, financial crises have come one after another, picking up speed with the federal government’s July effort to bolster big mortgage insurers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As the contagion from the subprime mortgages and risky mortgage credit swaps threatened to topple other institutions, Sen. Obama asked for “emergency meetings” with his economic team, about a dozen advisers including Mr. Volcker and Mr. Buffett.

At the first group meeting in Washington in late July, Sen. Obama said he wanted to hear from each adviser on the worsening economic downturn and asked Mr. Volcker to go first. “The very health of the credit markets is at stake,” Mr. Volcker said, according to one attendee. He urged strong action to restore confidence, particularly in the U.S. banking system.

When Sen. Obama raised the prospect of a package of spending and tax measures to “stimulate” the economy, Mr. Volcker disapproved. “Americans are spending beyond their means,” he told the group. A stimulus package would delay the belt-tightening and savings needed, he added, proposing instead better regulation and assistance to banks.

Laura Tyson, economics adviser for President Bill Clinton and a professor at University of California, Berkeley, disagreed. “Americans can’t help but spend beyond their means because they’ve had no income growth while their costs on gas and food have skyrocketed.” She suggested spending money to rebuild infrastructure and create jobs. Even as some others agreed with Ms. Tyson, Mr. Volcker didn’t budge. Sen. Obama delayed putting out a new stimulus package, but stressed that he wanted to find the “right balance” of possible assistance.

When the bailout bill became a political football and the markets seized up, Sen. Obama called the second in-person meeting of his financial team on Sept. 26 in Miami. Mr. Volcker initially said he would have to call in because he was leaving for Europe that day. Sen. Obama, according to campaign aides, called him with a personal plea.

The next morning, the senator seated Mr. Volcker beside him, an arrangement that was photographed by the media entourage covering the campaign. Mr. Volcker told the group he had changed his mind about an economic-stimulus package due to the global recession, but he couldn’t stay to hear the discussion about the approach because he had to catch a plane to Europe.

In the past two weeks, with the stock market’s drastic volatility and weak economic indicators, Sen. Obama presented his $60 billion package, which contains tax cuts and spending to provide public-works jobs to struggling Americans.

On Monday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke endorsed the idea of another stimulus package, giving a boost to Democratic lawmakers who are considering one. But congressional Republicans have so far shown little interest in a second spending bill.

Write to Monica Langley at monica.langley@wsj.com
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February 10, 2009

Here’s another article that relates to the article above. This is an article from the Loose Change website. I encourage you to research these things on your own.

jg

Obama’s Trilateral Commission Connections, Council on Foreign Relations Sellouts and Wartime Military/National Guard Draft Re-Instatement Issues that the Republicans Don’t Even Talk About

By Patrick Wood, EditorThe August Review, Global elite research center
January 30, 2009

[Ed. note: For clarity, members of the Trilateral Commission appear in bold type.]
As previously noted in Pawns of the Global Elite, Barack Obama was groomed for the presidency by key members of the Trilateral Commission. Most notably, it was Zbigniew Brzezinski, co-founder of the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller in 1973, who was Obama’s principal foreign policy adviser.

The pre-election attention is reminiscent of Brzezinski’s tutoring of Jimmy Carter prior to Carter’s landslide election in 1976.

For anyone who doubts the Commission’s continuing influence on Obama, consider that he has already appointed no less than eleven members of the Commission to top-level and key positions in his Administration.

According to official Trilateral Commission membership lists, there are only 87 members from the United States (the other 337 members are from other regions). Thus, in less than two weeks since his inauguration, Obama’s appointments encompass more than 12% of Commission’s entire U.S. membership.

Is this a mere coincidence or is it a continuation of dominance over the Executive Branch since 1976? (For important background, read The Trilateral Commission: Usurping Sovereignty.)

Secretary of Treasury, Tim Geithner
Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice
National Security Advisor, Gen. James L. Jones
Deputy National Security Advisor, Thomas Donilon
Chairman, Economic Recovery Committee, Paul Volker
Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis C. Blair
Assistant Secretary of State, Asia & Pacific, Kurt M. Campbell
Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg
State Department, Special Envoy, Richard Haass
State Department, Special Envoy, Dennis Ross
State Department, Special Envoy, Richard Holbrooke

There are many other incidental links to the Trilateral Commission, for instance,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is married to Commission member William Jefferson Clinton.
Geithner’s informal group of advisors include E. Gerald Corrigan, Paul Volker, Alan Greenspan and Peter G. Peterson, among others. His first job after college was with Henry Kissinger at Kissinger Associates.

Brent Scowcroft has been an unofficial advisor to Obama and was mentor to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Robert Zoelick is currently president of the World Bank. The World Bank Group is comprised of five agencies that make loans or guarantee credit to 177 member countries. Its stated aim is to help countries reduce poverty by making long-term loans to governments for large-scale projects such as dams or pipelines, or to back economic reform programs. However, World Bank loans have often had very negative effects on countries putting them in situations of precarious debt and setting conditions on which countries can receive loans, conditions which often have a devastating impact on the lives of citizensLaurence Summers, White House Economic Advisor, was mentored by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin during the Clinton administration.
There are many other such links, but these are enough for you to get the idea of what’s going on here.

Analyze the positions

Notice that five of the Trilateral appointees involve the State Department, where foreign policy is created and implemented. Hillary Clinton is certainly in line with these policies because her husband, Bill Clinton, is also a member.What is more important than economic recovery? Paul Volker is the answer.What is more important than national intelligence? Gen. James Jones, Thomas Donilon and Adm. Dennis Blair hold the top three positions.

What is more important than the Treasury and the saving of our financial system? Timothy Geithner says he has the answers.

The State Department is virtually dominated by Trilaterals: Kurt Campbell, James Steinberg, Richard Haass, Dennis Ross and Richard Holbrooke.

This leaves Susan Rice, Ambassador to the United Nations. The U.N. is the chosen instrument for ultimate global governance. Rice will help to subvert the U.S. into the U.N. umbrella of vassal states.

Conflict of interest

Since 1973, the Commission has met regularly in plenary sessions to discuss policy position papers developed by its members. Policies are debated in order to achieve consensuses. Respective members return to their own countries to implement policies consistent with those consensuses.

The original stated purpose of the Trilateral Commission was to create a “New International Economic Order.” Its current statement has morphed into fostering a “closer cooperation among these core democratic industrialized areas of the world with shared leadership responsibilities in the wider international system.” (See The Trilateral Commission web site)

U.S. Trilateral members implement policies determined by a majority of non-Americans that most often work against the best interests of the country.

“How,” you say?

Since the administration of Jimmy Carter, Trilaterals held these massively influential positions:

Six out of eight World Bank presidents, including the current appointee, Robert Zoelick
Eight out of ten U.S. Trade Representatives
President and/or Vice-President of every elected administration (except for Obama/Biden)
Seven out of twelve Secretaries of State
Nine out of twelve Secretaries of Defense

Is this sinking in? Are you grasping the enormity of it?

Endgame is at hand

For the Trilateral crowd, the game is about over. The recent reemergence of original members Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and Paul Volker serves to reinforce the conclusion that the New International Economic Order is near.

The Trilateral Commission and its members have engineered the global economic, trade and financial system that is currently in a state of total chaos.

Does that mean that they have lost? Hardly.

In the article Chorus call for New World Order, they are using the crisis to destroy what remains of national Sovereignty, so that a New World Order can finally and permanently be put into place. Sovereignty is the principle that the state exercises absolute power over its territory, system of government, and population. Accordingly, the internal authority of the state supersedes that of all other bodies.

Conclusion on Obama’s Trilateral Commission Connections

The Obama presidency is a disingenuous fraud. He was elected by promising to bring change, yet from the start change was never envisioned. He was carefully groomed and financed by the Trilateral Commission and their friends.In short, Obama is merely the continuation of disastrous, non-American policies that have brought economic ruin upon us and the rest of the world. The Obama experience rivals that of Jimmy Carter, whose campaign slogan was “I will never lie to you.”

When the Democrat base finally realizes that it has been conned again (Bill Clinton and Al Gore were members), perhaps it will unleash a real political revolution that will oust Trilateral politicians, operatives and policies from the shores of our country.

If the reader is a Democrat, be aware that many Republicans and conservatives are still licking their wounds after finally realizing that George Bush and Dick Cheney worked the same con on them for a disastrous eight years of the same policies!

A who’s who guide to the people poised to shape Obama’s foreign policy.

U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good.
Obama has a momentous opportunity to do what he repeatedly promised over the course of his campaign: bring actual change. But the more we learn about who Obama is considering for top positions in his administration, the more his inner circle resembles a staff reunion of President Bill Clinton’s White House. Although Obama brought some progressives on board early in his campaign, his foreign policy team is now dominated by the hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990s. This has been particularly true since Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the Democratic primary, freeing many of her top advisers to join Obama’s team.

“What happened to all this talk about change?” a member of the Clinton foreign policy team recently asked the Washington Post. “This isn’t lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time.”

Amid the euphoria over Obama’s election and the end of the Bush era, it is critical to recall what 1990s U.S. foreign policy actually looked like. Bill Clinton’s boiled down to a one-two punch from the hidden hand of the free market, backed up by the iron fist of U.S. militarism. Clinton took office and almost immediately bombed Iraq (ostensibly in retaliation for an alleged plot by Saddam Hussein to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush). He presided over a ruthless regime of economic sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and under the guise of the so-called No-Fly Zones in northern and southern Iraq, authorized the longest sustained U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam.

Under Clinton, Yugoslavia was bombed and dismantled as part of what Noam Chomsky described as the “New Military Humanism.” Sudan and Afghanistan were attacked, Haiti was destabilized and “free trade” deals like the North America Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade radically escalated the spread of corporate-dominated globalization that hurt U.S. workers and devastated developing countries. Clinton accelerated the militarization of the so-called War on Drugs in Central and Latin America and supported privatization of U.S. military operations, giving lucrative contracts to Halliburton and other war contractors. Meanwhile, U.S. weapons sales to countries like Turkey and Indonesia aided genocidal campaigns against the Kurds and the East Timorese.

The prospect of Obama’s foreign policy being, at least in part, an extension of the Clinton Doctrine is real. Even more disturbing, several of the individuals at the center of Obama’s transition and emerging foreign policy teams were top players in creating and implementing foreign policies that would pave the way for projects eventually carried out under the Bush/Cheney administration. With their assistance, Obama has already charted out several hawkish stances. Among them:

– His plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan;
– An Iraq plan that could turn into a downsized and rebranded occupation that keeps U.S. forces in Iraq for the foreseeable future;
– His labeling of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist organization;”
– His pledge to use unilateral force inside of Pakistan to defend U.S. interests;
– His position, presented before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), that Jerusalem “must remain undivided” — a remark that infuriated Palestinian officials and which he later attempted to reframe;
– His plan to continue the War on Drugs, a backdoor U.S. counterinsurgency campaign in Central and Latin America;
– His refusal to “rule out” using Blackwater and other armed private forces in U.S. war zones, despite previously introducing legislation to regulate these companies and bring them under U.S. law.

Obama did not arrive at these positions in a vacuum. They were carefully crafted in consultation with his foreign policy team. While the verdict is still out on a few people, many members of his inner foreign policy circle — including some who have received or are bound to receive Cabinet posts — supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Some promoted the myth that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. A few have worked with the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, whose radical agenda was adopted by the Bush/Cheney administration. And most have proven track records of supporting or implementing militaristic, offensive U.S. foreign policy. “After a masterful campaign, Barack Obama seems headed toward some fateful mistakes as he assembles his administration by heeding the advice of Washington’s Democratic insider community, a collective group that represents little ‘change you can believe in,’” notes veteran journalist Robert Parry, the former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter who broke many of the stories in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.

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