Wednesday, January 23, 2013

If I were a Republican, I'd start reading Rolling Stone....

Illustration for Rolling Stone by Victor Juhasz
I'll admit freely that I haven't often turned to Rolling Stone for political analysis or insight. Frankly, I'm old enough to remember when Rolling Stone was interested in music. I remember the song by Dr. Hook.

The last time I mentioned the magazine here was in 2010, in connection with the controversy over General McChrystal. That was probably the last time I looked at the magazine as well.

I may have to reconsider.

I saw a Facebook post to a Taibblog post on the Rolling Stone site by Matt Taibbi. The link was to a piece about Zero Dark Thirty and it was interesting. But it would not have prompted this post.

What got me hooked was a sidebar link to this article, in the January 17 issue of the magazine, "Secrets and Lies of the Bailout." It's a long piece, but worth your time.

As befits both his youth (Wikipedia says Taibbi was born in 1970) and his status as a writer for Rolling Stone, Taibbi desperately wants to lay the entire blame for the Wall Street Bailout on the Bush Administration. But, ultimately, he finds he cannot:
[T]he Bush-Obama bailout was as purely bipartisan a program as we've had. Imagine Obama retaining Don Rumsfeld as defense secretary and still digging for WMDs in the Iraqi desert four years after his election: That's what it was like when he left Tim Geithner, one of the chief architects of Bush's bailout, in command of the no-strings-attached rescue four years after Bush left office.
Taibbi's Wikipedia biography says that Taibbi has become recognized as an expert on financial shenanigans (footnotes omitted):
As financial scandals continued to rock the world during 2012, Taibbi's analyses of the machinations garnered him invitations to nationally broadcast television programs as an expert who could explain the events as they unfolded and their importance to viewers and moderators alike. In a discussion of the Libor revelations, Taibbi's coverage in Rolling Stone was singled out by Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, Inc., as most important on the topic, that had become required reading to remain informed.
Granted, of course, that Wikipedia biographies can be written by their subjects (or by their PR firms) but, on the strength of this bailout article, I can well understand why Taibbi might be recognized as an expert. (The Wikipedia article also says that Taibbi is considered polemical -- I can well understand that, too.)

Still, if I were a Republican, I'd make Taibbi required reading. But, then, I've said this before: If I were a Republican, I'd be taking the side of Main Street against Wall Street, the side of the Job Creators against the Economy Destroyers (and, Taibbi suggests, Permanent Economic Leeches, sapping any hope of prompt economic recovery). But I'm not a Republican: I live in Chicago, a place where I could just as easily become a credible Republican as I could become a real unicorn.

President Obama may surprise us, of course, in his second term, launching the criminal investigations of the Wall Street titans that he so scrupulously avoided in his first term. I'm not holding my breath. But if I were an ambitious prosecutor, hoping to nail some big pelts to the wall as I try to climb the cursus honorum, I'd start reading Taibbi as a blueprint. (Prosecutors, repeat after me: Going after 26-year old computer geeks for arguably exceeding his permission on a particular website, when the proprietor thereof was not interested in prosecuting, is a bad idea; going against the Too Big To Fail Banks that are squeezing us to death is a dead-cinch political bonanza. Think about it.)

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