Friday, February 20, 2009

Douchebags of the World Unite!

The funniest part about this might be how excited he gets taking up the fight for elitist douchebags everywhere. Personally I feel like an appropriate response would be to punch him in the face repeatedly, but since that's not possible, Dday gave a reasoned reply:
The government is promoting bad behavior... I'll tell you what, I have an idea. The new Administration's big on computers and technology. How about this, President and new Administration, why don't you put up a Web site to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the loser's mortgages, or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people who might have a chance to actually prosper down the road and reward people who actually carry the water instead of drink the water...
He gets a standing ovation from the traders at that point, and then he asks them if they want to pay for their neighbor's mortgages, and they boo. Then he goes off about how Cuba used to have mansions and when they went "from the individual to the collective, they started driving '54 Chevys." It's right-wing backlash stuff at its absolute best.

Lost from this complaint is the plain fact of predatory lending, that lenders got cash rebates to put people in crappy, high-interest mortgages, that they hid terms of the agreement and denied disclosure, and that all of those hardworking folks are seeing their property values plummet as a result of millions of foreclosed homes glutting the market. To the tune of $6 trillion dollars in home value.

But I digress. The more interesting part of the video is the part where he calls his buds on the trading floor part of "the silent majority."
These guys are pretty straightforward, and my guess is, a pretty good statistical cross-section of America, the silent majority.
This is all starting to sound very familiar. Paging Rick Perlstein...

It's also obvious that traders on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade are clearly the new face of the average lunch-pail working stiff, isn't it?

The revolution has begun. These workaday stock traders are going to take back this country for the laissez-faire capitalists who are entitled to it.
Sirota frames it as market populism vs. grassroots populism:
The gap, of course, is in the portrayal. If you watch television or read op-ed pages, the Market Populists get most of the attention. Indeed, Market Populism is portrayed as the "centrist" mainstream sentiment in the United States. Just look at David Brooks' New York Times column this morning. He non-sarcastically insists that Santelli's comments were "lustily" representative of mass popular anger at "these injustices" - not the injustices on Wall Street, mind you, but the supposed injustices of people now losing their homes. Meanwhile, Grassroots Populism - ie. seething populist anger at Corporate America - is depicted as the ideology only of a tiny fringe. It's as if the media is a funhouse mirror on society - a bizzaro world where up is down, black is white, and free market fundamentalism is portrayed as a mass-based movement.

When the macroeconomy was doing well, the disconnect between the media narrative and what's going on in the real world certainly caused regular people to lose confidence in the media, but it didn't incite outrage.

Now, though, with the economy in meltdown, I'm convinced that part of why the public is so angry is because what they see on television and in their newspapers is so fundamentally at odds with how they are feeling and what they are dealing with. As Santelli shows, large swaths of the media and political Establishment actively and publicly denigrate the people who are most hard hit by the downturn. Indeed, in the multimedia presentation I gave during my book tour for The Uprising, I have a whole section on this very phenomenon, using Fred Barnes' literally laughing at the "lower class" as my example.

This divide between the Market Populism people are fed through the media and people's own Grassroots Populism is a major catalyst that has turned the last two elections into backlash moments. And as bailouts and handouts now become daily news, and the Market Populists get ever more outrageous, that backlash is intensifying. Channeling it into something positive is the challenge of our time.

The elitist douchebag revolution begins! Get your hair gel and abercrombie shirts ready!

UPDATE: Santelli eviscerated by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs:

"I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives in," Gibbs said during the daily briefing. "But the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgage, stay in their jobs, pay their bills to send their kids to school, and to hope that they don't get sick or somebody they care for gets sick that sends them into bankruptcy. I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader, that it was good for main street. I think the verdict is in on that."

Ouch. But from there it got almost more personal. Gibbs picked up a hard copy of the housing plan from the briefing room lectern and implored Santelli to "download it, hit print and begin to read it." Gibbs added: "I would be more than happy to have him come here and read it. I'd be happy to buy him a cup of coffee, decaf." The press in the room laughed.


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