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Not my apparent willingness. I'm not a party in this. But you are insinuating, and it's your manner I'm complaining about.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 04:09:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry,but the insinuation is from Smith.  This is what is known as insinuation

Even so, this story does not quite add up. Why did Obama not follow the usual, well greased path of becoming a Supreme Court clerk, and seeking to exert influence through the Washington doors that would have opened up to him after that stint?

That's just a sleazeball rhetorical device. Why did Obama go to work for a labor  law firm instead of become a Supreme Court Clerk? WOOOO! SUSPICIOUS! Why was he representing victims of police brutality rather than helping write opinions for Steve Breyer? Come on. Pathetic - and it's an attack that I've seen before. It's based on ignoring the actual work Obama did for Minor-Barnhill in favor of an implication based on bullshit.

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/01/04/barack-obama-was-once-a-lowly-law-firm-associate/

by rootless2 on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 04:19:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rootless2:
Smith, a Wall Street consultant, may find it suspicious that he chose to represent victims of police brutality and racial and sexual discrimination

That's an insinuation based on the supposed nature of Wall Street consultants. It wouldn't be hard to throw one out about Harvard law graduates, either, would it?

It's so simple to make the point that Obama was in fact defending "victims of police brutality and racial and sexual discrimination" without creating more heat than light.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 04:30:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And then there is the rest of the Fitch speech. But we can trust you to find some string of pejoratives to hang on him also. They will probably be of a nature comparably compelling to your dismissal of Yves Smith based on her self description as a liberal Republican back in the '80s.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 04:41:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Fitch was wrong, but he was undoubtedly a quite perceptive writer and critic. Please don't put words in my mouth.
by rootless2 on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 04:43:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please don't put words in my mouth.

That is, apparently, a tactic you arrogate unto yourself.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 11:22:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if you have an example of me using that tactic, please provide a link. Otherwise I will put it down to your use of personal attack to defend an indefensible smear by someone you admire.
by rootless2 on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 08:14:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And, BTW, a self-described 'liberal Republican' who advocates imposition of rule of law on finance, comes with a long history as a financial insider and shows that she knows of what she speaks is someone I would be happy to welcome into any organization I am involved with. And my opinion is based on four years of reading her posts and her responses to comments at naked capitalism.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 04:48:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Liberal republican" is essentially libertarian in the current age. Which is why Smith's pages are filled with gibberish about the Despotic Federal Reserve Bank and silly conspiracy tales along with a kind of dewy faith in market prices that accompany this ideology.

The intellectual capture of "the left" by right wing economics is really an astounding development.

by rootless2 on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 05:01:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The intellectual capture of "the left" by right wing economics is really an astounding development.

Yes it is. That is why so many diaries and comments have been on those subjects. But you appear not to have noticed or understood what has been said.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 11:25:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have misunderstood. Smith claims it is suspicious that Obama went to work for a Chicago law firm and implies that it was connected to all sorts of unsavory real-estate manipulation. However it's readily verifiable that Minor, Barnhill was a highly respected do-gooder law firm. I'm not suggesting anything about Smith's attitude towards police brutality, her ideas on that subject is a topic I have no opinion about, I am exposing her rhetorical sleight of hand.

So Smith waves "real-estate" around and then exclaims it is suspicious that Obama went to work for a law firm. But when we look at what he did for the law firm, we see that Smith is being dishonest.

My point about her career as a Wall Street consultant is to simply note how odd it is that she has come be be such an authoritative source of supposedly "left wing" financial criticism.

by rootless2 on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 04:41:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Fitch speech goes considerably further than just associating Obama with real estate. He argues rather convincingly that Obama sacrificed the interests of his black supporters to the profits of those real estate interests, that he trades on his ethnicity and than betrays those who support him on that basis. Those supporters need to see the 'higher interest' at stake, you see.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 04:53:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm responding here to Smith's rhetorical dishonesty in the "doesn't add up" line. Whatever the merits of Fitchs speech, they cannot excuse Smith.
by rootless2 on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 04:57:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm responding here to Smith's rhetorical dishonesty...

No. You are misrepresenting what she is doing. She is merely summarizing Fitch's conclusions and quoting some of his speech. So your argument is with Fitch. And I think you are too smart not to know what you are doing. Misdescribing Smith's summary of Fitch as Smith employing rhetorical dishonesty is, itself, and example of rhetorical dishonesty.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 11:31:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fitch did not make that argument, so "summarizing" is not what she was doing. Smith is the one who found it suspicious that Obama didn't go after the easy path and went to work for this suspect law firm.
by rootless2 on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 11:48:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fitch's argument was that Obama rode his ethnicity into a position of influence in Chicago and then sacrificed the interests of that ethnic to the interests of Pritzker Realty, J P Morgan Chase, etc. From Fitch:

In the 1950s, big swaths of urban renewal were ripped through the black belt,demolishing private housing on the south east side. The argument then was that the old low rise private housing was old and unsuitable. Black people needed to be housed in new, high-rise public housing which the city built just east of the Dan Ryan Expressway. The Administration of the Chicago Housing Authority was widely acclaimed as the mostcorrupt, racist and incompetent in America. Gradually only the poorest of the poor livedthere. And in the 1980s, the argument began to be made that the public housing needed tobe demolished and the people moved back into private housing.

For a while, the election of the city's first black Mayor, Harold Washington,blocked the demolition. But Washington died of a heart attack while in office, and after abrief interregnum, the Mayor's office was filled in 1989 by Richard M. Daley--whose father had carried out the first urban renewal. Daley was his father's son in many ways. By 1993, with subsidies from the Clinton Administration's HOPE VI program, the publichousing units began to be destroyed. And by 2000 he'd put in place something called The Plan for Transformation. It targeted tens of thousands of remaining units. With this proviso: That African Americans had to get 50% of the action--white developers had to have black partners; there had to be black contractors. And Daley chose African Americans--as his top administrators and planners for the clearances, demolition and re-settlement. African-Americans were prominent in developing and rehabbing the new housing for the refugees from the demolished projects--who were re-settled in communities to the south like Englewood, Roseland and Harvey. Altogether the Plan for Transformation involved the largest demolition of public housing in American history, affecting about 45,000 people--in neighborhoods where eight of the 20 poorest census tracts in the U.S. were located

But what does this all have to do with Obama? Just this: the area demolished included the communities that Obama represented as a state senator; and the top black administrators, developers and planners were people like Valerie Jarrett--who served as a member of the Chicago Planning Commission. And Martin Nesbitt who became head of the CHA. Nesbitt serves as Obama campaign finance treasurer; Jarrett as co-chair of the Transition Team. The other co-chair is William Daley, the Mayor's brother and the Midwest chair of JP Morgan Chase--an institution deeply involved in the transformation of inner-city neighborhoods thorough its support for--what financial institutions call"neighborhood revitalization" and neighborhood activists call gentrification.

But what does this all have to do with Obama? Just this: the area demolished included the communities that Obama represented as a state senator; and the top black administrators, developers and planners were people like Valerie Jarrett--who served as a member of the Chicago Planning Commission. And Martin Nesbitt who became head of the CHA. Nesbitt serves as Obama campaign finance treasurer; Jarrett as co-chair of the Transition Team. The other co-chair is William Daley, the Mayor's brother and the Midwest chair of JP Morgan Chase--an institution deeply involved in the transformation of inner-city neighborhoods thorough its support for--what financial institutions call "neighborhood revitalization" and neighborhood activists call gentrification.

If we examine more carefully the interests that Obama represents; if we look at his core financial supporters; as well as his inmost circle of advisors, we'll see that they represent the primary activists in the demolition movement and the primary real estate beneficiaries of this transformation of public housing projects into condos and townhouses: the profitable creep of the Central Business District and elite residential neighborhoods southward; and the shifting of the pile of human misery about three miles further into the South Side and the south suburbs.


Fitch then lists the Pritzker, Crown and Levin families, the foundations, the elite academic support and the non-profit community developers which he aggregates as the 'Friendly FIRE'.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 01:12:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then again, there's a big problem with this line of criticism.

1 - Poor people live in crappy neighborhoods, because that's all they can afford.
2 - Crappy neighborhoods are cheap because they are crappy, and that's why poor people can live there.
3 - Fighting effectively to improve the neighborhoods of poor people by dealing with environmental pollution and negligent landlords results in the neighborhood being less crappy.
4 - The less crappy neighborhood is now worth more, and is more appealing to richer people, who can move in and displace the poor people.

So, if it will inevitably result in displacement, should one never work for the improvement of poor neighborhoods?

by Zwackus on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 02:59:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not unreasonable to be concerned with the poorest among those who are displaced. Fitch does treat that subject to some extent:

Valerie Jarrett is another black real estate executive. Described as "the other side of Barack's brain," she also served as finance chair during his successful 2004 U.S. Senatecampaign. Jarrett was Daley's deputy chief of staff - that was her job when she hiredMichelle Obama. Eventually Daley made her the head of city planning. But Jarrett doesn'twork for Daley anymore. She's CEO of David Levin's Habitat--one of the largest propertymanagers in Chicago--and the court-appointed overseer of CHA projects.6Habitat alsomanaged Grove Parc, the scandal-ridden project in Englewood that left Section 8 tenants,mostly refugees from demolished public housing projects, without heat in the winter butinundated with rats. Grove Parc was developed by Tony Rezko, who's white. And his long-time partner Allison Davis, who's black.

Let's look at Rezko and then Davis. It was Rezko's ability to exploit relationshipswith influential blacks--including Muhammad Ali--that enabled him to become one of Chicago's preeminent cockroach capitalists. Altogether, Rezko wound up developing over 1,000 apartments with state and city money. There was more to the Obama-Rezkorelationship than the empty lot in Kenwood. Rezko raised over $250,000 for Obama's state senate campaign. While Obama was a state senator he wrote letters in support of Rezko'sapplications for development funds. But Obama ignored the plight of Rezko's tenants whocomplained to Obama's office.

....

In 1994, the LA Times reports, Obama appeared in Cook County court on behalf of WoodlawnPreservation & Investment Corp., defending it against a suit by the city, which alleged that the company failed to provide heat for low-income tenants on the South Side during the winter. There were several cases of this type, but as the Times observes, Obama doesn'tmention them in
Dreams from My Father.


This may strike some as ticky-tac, but it does give at least some specifics for the accusation that Obama favored the interests of the well-to-do over the interests of the poor - in this case a question of profits for Woodlawn vs. heat for low-income tenants. And that says nothing about the large number of low-income former public housing tenants who left the area, most of whom are likely to be less well off than before. But we can take consolation from the fact that the dispossession of the poor by developers and city officials is much worse in China.

There is, of course more, but this is an election year and perhaps most don't want to hear this about the Democratic standard bearer. And, even knowing this, I still plan to vote for Obama, as I did in 2008, because I expect him to be the better choice over all. That is not a very high standard, but it is what it is. And, while I certainly do not expect it, I would be pleasantly surprised were the Obama Administration do something on the enforcement front in finance when the next big crash comes. This is a non-trivial problem, IMO, as we are unlikely to recover economically so long as the current financial system remains in control of the economy and politics of the country.
.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 7th, 2012 at 03:16:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And further - because some people benefit from something, that something is bad?  

Either the projects needed to be demolished, or they didn't.  If relocation and demolition (the two go hand in hand, as construction does not happen overnight and the people living there need a place to live) was the right step, then poor people were going to be moved.  Yeah, some people got rich off the deal - short of a Soviet style command economy, it's hard to imagine a big real estate deal not being profitable for the people involved, given that the providers of all necessary services are for-profit enterprises.

But the argument

1 - Poor people were moved
2 - Developers made money developing
3 - Evil!

does not hold.  One has to compare the before and after situation - is the housing situation really and markedly worse?  Is it really worse, given that poor people will always live in crappy neighborhoods, because if their neighborhood wasn't crappy they couldn't afford to live there?

I just don't see the argument against Obama here.  He's not a communist.  I know that.  

by Zwackus on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 03:08:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fitch's argument was that Obama is a gifted politician who chose to employ his gifts representing a poor, black section of Chicago. In that capacity he worked with a 'notoriously corrupt' Chicago political machine and with wealthy families with interests in real estate development to demolish the housing that the poorest of his constituents inhabited, replacing it with more upscale developments and displacing the bulk of the former residents further from the city and leaving them less well off while participating in the co-opting of  black elites who made their careers, in no small part, by disappropriating poorer members of their own ethnicity of their housing and thereby forcing them further from the core of the city.

This was highly profitable to the Pritzker, Crown and Levin families and to the banks involved, profit based on the redevelopment of a former public good, but seems to me to leave the former residents of the public housing likely paying significantly more of their meager incomes for rent and transportation, displaced further from jobs and city amenities and, as they are now dispersed over several communities, deprived of the political influence they once had in the now gentrified district Obama had represented. The overall effect is similar to what happened to the poorer black residents of New Orleans post Katrina.

Obama came out of this with solid backing from the wealthy elites of Chicago and moved on to the US Senate and then the White House, accompanied by some of the black professionals and others who had participated and personally profited from this redevelopment. But how were the interests of the bulk of Obama's former poor black constituents served?

Fitch could say this to the Harlem Tenants Association days after Obama's election as POTUS because the members of that association had seen similar results from developments in Manhattan. The only element that fails to benefit is the majority of the constituents.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 10:04:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Every part of that argument is at best dubious starting with the first sentence. Obama represented a mixed district in Chicago that includes Hyde Park which is the home to the University of Chicago and a lot of middle class and rich people of multiple races. During the time he was in the State Senate, he was involved in such issues as the death penalty and payday loan regulation - not real-estate.  

Fitch has zero to say, and lots to imply, about the results of the redevelopment work in Chicago. 90% of what he discusses happened when Obama was in college or a junior attorney.

And in 2008 there were a lot of white "leftists" who wanted to wag their fingers at foolish black people who supposedly lacked objective analytical skills and had been led astray by their emotional attachment to a guy with black skin. Not impressed.

by rootless2 on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 10:43:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that Obama was only elected in 1997 to the state senate. This article seems to make him into Daley senior and junior combined.

"But what does this all have to do with Obama? "

That is indeed the question here. And the article doesn't answers it.

As far as your claim of riding his ethnicity into a position of influence in Chicago: We are talking about Chicago Illinois here. That is hardly a place were just being black gives you any advantages. If Daley jun. needed black allies, there was a already established black power structure there. Nobody needed especially Obama.

by IM on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 04:31:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This article seems to make him into Daley senior and junior combined.

What Fitch actually said is this:
In fact, as Obama knows very well, for most of the last two decades in Chicago there's been in place a very specific economic development plan. The plan was to make the South Side like the North Side. Which is the same kind of project as making the land north of Central Park like the land south of Central Park. The North Side is the area north of the Loop--Chicago's midtown central business district--where rich white people live; they root for the Cubs. They're neighborhood is called the Gold Coast.

We would hope that the State Senator representing that area would be aware of the existing development plan for the area he represents, especially given his prior involvement in that subject in that area.

Fitch then provides a summary of Chicago's demographic history:

For almost a hundred years in Chicago blacks have lived on the South Side close to Chicago's factories and slaughter houses. And Cellular Field, home of the White Sox. The area where they lived was called the Black Belt or Bronzeville--and it's the largest concentration of African American people in the U.S.--nearly 600,000 people--about twice the size of Harlem.

So Fitch is providing a history back to the early 20th century. Clearly he is not insinuating that Obama was involved in most of that history, including that of Richard Daily, Sr. Then in 1985, from wiki, ...
...Obama was hired in Chicago as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Roseland, West Pullman and Riverdale on Chicago's South Side. He worked there as a community organizer from June 1985 to May 1988. He helped set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization in Altgeld Gardens. Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, a community organizing institute....

In late 1988, Obama entered Harvard Law School.... During his summers, he returned to Chicago, where he worked as an associate at the law firms of Sidley Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990. After graduating with a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, he returned to Chicago.


So Obama had personal awareness of community development and community organizing at least since 1985 and Fitch is not trying to lay responsibility for the entire Chicago public housing debacle since the 1950s on him. You may take that from Fitch's speech, but it would have to involve assumptions you made, not just things Fitch said.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 09:56:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see what you are doing here: You try to turn this into a debate about urban renewal and the black community in general and in Chicago in particular. Arranging on one side Fitch, expert on the politics of urban renewal and on the other side poor me. Whose knowledge of present day Chicago is derived from reading V.i.warshawski novels.

I think that game is a bit unfair, even if arranging one-sided games is part of the Chicago tradition.

That said,  "The North Side is the area north of the Loop--Chicago's midtown central business district--where rich white people live; they root for the Cubs. They're neighborhood is called the Gold Coast."

that much even I know.(these crime novels) So I am aware of the situation too, just like Obama! Does that makes me responsible? I don't think so.

And that truism:

"For almost a hundred years in Chicago blacks have lived on the South Side close to Chicago's factories and slaughter houses. And Cellular Field, home of the White Sox. The area where they lived was called the Black Belt or Bronzeville--and it's the largest concentration of African American people in the U.S.--nearly 600,000 people--about twice the size of Harlem."

is a bit misleading. He makes it seem like the South Side isn't black today, thanks to Obama. But that is nonsense. Even the middle-class Hyde park is 35% or so black. And the rest of the South side, including parts of Obama's old senate district, are full of 97% black community areas.

So that is Fitch doing here? First he claims that Chicago is just like Manhattan, fitting Chicago, its history and its politics into his area of expertise. Then he makes very broad claims about the development plan in Chicago: turning the (entire?) South Side into Manhattan or the North Side. And then he blames State Senator Obama, because he did represent a part of the South Side.

But Obama wasn't the major or even an alderman. And a lot of the development was happening then Obama didn't have any office and was organizing tenants.

The actual state senator Obama was occupied with:

 "In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, after six years on the committee and four years as its minority spokesman. The new Democratic majority allowed Obama to write and help pass more legislation than in previous years. He sponsored successful efforts to expand children's health care, create a plan to provide equal health care access for all Illinois residents, and create a "Hospital Report Card" system, and worker's rights laws that protected whistleblowers, domestic violence victims, equal pay for women, and overtime pay.[28] His most public accomplishment was a bill requiring police to videotape interrogations and confessions in potential death penalty cases. Obama was willing to listen to Republicans and police organizations and negotiate compromises to get the law passed.[38] That helped him develop a reputation as a pragmatist able to work with various sides of an issue.[27] Obama also led the passage of a law to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they stopped."  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_Senate_career_of_Barack_Obama

I don't see anything about housing or urban development here. So Fitch, for all his expertise, is mostly doing guilt by association. "Some democrats in Chicago did this, Obama was was a democrat in Chicago too, so he is responsible."

I don't think that works; hang Obama for his own sins, not for those of the Daley machine.

 

by IM on Mon May 7th, 2012 at 03:33:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No. I was defending the integrity of Fitch and responding to this:
This article seems to make (Obama) into Daley senior and junior combined.

If Fitch is not credible then nothing he says is valid.

Fitch is arguing that Obama was furthering the interests of wealthy elites who made great profits out of community development - at the expense of his constituents - while ignoring the complaints of those constituents to his office - much as he now ignores the demands for investigation and prosecution of financial sector executives such as his major contributor and 'bundler' Jon Corzine of MF Global and the executives of Wall Street and the executives of the TBTFs.

Fitch noted that Obama has often left few tracks or fingerprints in the process. His public efforts were indeed concerned with interests of his constituents - the concerns that did not threaten the profits of his contributors - and he did indeed serve on the boards and was otherwise involved with organizations that pushed that redevelopment forward. Fitch is showing that Obama is clearly involved with and benefiting from people and organizations that were pursuing policies that were damaging to the interests of the poorest among his constituents. I have accused Obama of providing 'air cover' for looting by Wall Street and Fitch is showing that he learned that art in Chicago fronting for and protecting the interests of wealthy contributors at the expense of the poorest of his constituents.

Fitch's argument is much more robust than "Some democrats in Chicago did this, Obama was was a democrat in Chicago too, so he is responsible." He does what he set out to do which is to demonstrate that Obama favored the interests of large wealthy contributors at the expense of poor blacks by serving as the elected representative of those poor while  doing nothing about the complaints of constituents arising from the activities of his backers- all the while continuing to mouth soaring rhetoric and supporting his constituents in ways that did not impinge on the financial efforts of his backers. I think our UK contributors would easily recognize that behavior as they suffered from similar behavior from Tony Blair for over a decade.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 7th, 2012 at 09:40:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I said nothing about the integrity of Fitch. How could I judge? I just pointed out that his judgment of Obama during political career in Chicago rests on a lot of general history reaching back to the fifties, a lot of guilt of association and almost nothing particular to Obama. That is disagreement, not judging integrity.

"Fitch is arguing that Obama was furthering the interests of wealthy elites who made great profits out of community development "

Let's rather say he is asserting it. I can see no supporting evidence.

"Fitch noted that Obama has often left few tracks or fingerprints in the process. His public efforts were indeed concerned with interests of his constituents - the concerns that did not threaten the profits of his contributors - and he did indeed serve on the boards and was otherwise involved with organizations that pushed that redevelopment forward. Fitch is showing that Obama is clearly involved with and benefiting from people and organizations that were pursuing policies that were damaging to the interests of the poorest among his constituents."

Yes, he turns his involvement with Ayers on education into a proof that Obama is a right winger; that is a new one. (The teachers union supported him in the senate primary ,by the way). And the rest is guilt by association. And inference from Obama not doing things like (Fitch):

<Is Obama a minion of Richie Daley? It's true that Obama has never denounced<br> Daley.>

You have to admit that is pretty weak.

Then there is some work - three years or so as a lawyer in a firm with a long civil rights tradition. That also works for non-profit developers. Making a lawyer responsible for his clients is pretty nonsensical, but I admit speaking pro domo here.

And on his actual political work Fitch just says:

>How has Obama earned the support and allegiance of friendly FIRE? Where does
he stand on the Plan for Transformation? Generally speaking, he's been careful not to leave
too many footprints. If you google Obama and public housing, nothing comes up.<

In other word, nothing. That veers into "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence territory."

Fitch in the end did not say much about Obama. He did just take his complaints about urban renewal and did fit Obama in, like a square peg into a round hole.

by IM on Mon May 7th, 2012 at 10:45:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The rabbis had a joke about arguments like Fitches. The question is whether Moses wore a kippa (those little caps the Orthodox Jews wear). The argument is, of course he did and we can prove it because in Exodus it says "and then he [Moses] went out" and who can imagine that Moses, the father of his people, went out without wearing his kippa?
by rootless2 on Mon May 7th, 2012 at 11:16:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The specific "doesn't add up" argument is Smith's own addition. Try to address that.

The exploited his own ethnicity argument, however, is too disgusting for me to address right now.

 

by rootless2 on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 08:04:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Smith's argument:
A central component of the seemingly impenetrable Obama mythology is his personal history: a black man, son of a broken home, who nevertheless got on the fast track to financial success by becoming editor of the Harvard Law Review, but turned instead to working with and later representing a particularly disadvantaged community, the South Side of Chicago.

Even so, this story does not quite add up. Why did Obama not follow the usual, well greased path of becoming a Supreme Court clerk, and seeking to exert influence through the Washington doors that would have opened up to him after that stint?

A remarkable speech by Robert Fitch puts Obama's early career in a new perspective that explains the man we see now in the Oval Office: one who pretends to befriend ordinary people but sells them out again and again to wealthy, powerful interests - the banks, big Pharma and health insurers, and lately, the fracking-industrial complex.


So Smith is claiming to deconstruct the personal story of Obama and claiming that Fitch's speech "explains the man", not that he or she is proving anything. This is political commentary, not Euclidean geometry or, even, a court of law. And what does Fitch have to say about Obama's choice of career path?
Rezko's Grove Parc partner, Allison Davis, was a witness in the Rezko trial, he's pretty radioactive too. But you could see why Rezko wanted to hook up with him. Davis was the senior partner in Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland, a small, black law firm, where Obama worked for nearly a decade. As the editor of the Harvard Law Review, Obama could have worked anywhere. Why did he choose the Davis firm?

Davis had been a noted civil rights attorney and a progressive critic of the first Daley machine. But in 1980 Davis got a call from the Ford Foundation's poorly known,but immensely influential, affiliate LISC--the Local Initiatives Support Corporation--that had just been founded. LISC, whose present chair is Citigroup's Robert Rubin, connects small, mainly minority community non-profits with big foundation grants and especially with bank loans and tax credit-driven equity. LISC wanted to co-opt Davis in their ghetto redevelopment program. He agreed and the Davis firm came to specialize in handling legal work for non-profit community development firms. Eventually Davis left the firm to go into partnership with Tony Rezko.Meanwhile, Obama did legal work for the Rezko-Davis partnership. And for Community Development Organizations like Woodlawn Organization.

In 1994, the LATimes reports, Obama appeared in Cook County court on behalf of WoodlawnPreservation & Investment Corp., defending it against a suit by the city, which alleged that the company failed to provide heat for low-income tenants on the South Side during the winter.


In both cases the emphasis is my addition to highlight the areas to be compared.

Smith's 'addition' consisted of offering a more readily recognizable, reasonable career path available to Obama rather than trying to provide the context that would make Fitch's treatment comprehensible in isolation. And all of your invective against Smith dissolves like a smoke screen in a breeze.

Again, neither Smith or Fitch are trying to 'prove' anything. Fitch is offering a deconstruction of some of Obama's rhetoric and putting the career path choices Obama made in their specific context. Obama supporters are free to denounce this a scurrilous and/or find nothing there. I found it interesting enough to paste some parts into an ET diary which I had not even decided to post, but apparently did by accident. C'est la vie. I hope some on ET at least found it interesting.

I could have posted the article without reference to naked capitalism, knowing your dislike of Yves Smith, but that would have been false to how I actually found Fitch's speech. Knowing that you were likely to fling a load of shit stirring invective Smith's way was not going to deter me, nor should it. But I do feel an obligation to defend her against what I consider unwarranted attacks that I may have occasioned.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 7th, 2012 at 04:01:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an old slander but calling Minor Barnhill "a small black law firm" is pretty disgusting. The kind of thing one might expect from the far right - and got.


    The firm of Miner Barnhill & Galland, many of whose members have Harvard and Yale law degrees, has a reputation that fits nicely into the resume of a future presidential candidate.

    "It's a real do-good firm," says Fay Clayton, lead counsel for the National Organization for Women in a landmark lawsuit aimed at stopping abortion clinic violence. "Barack and that firm were a perfect fit. He wasn't going to make as much money there as he would at a LaSalle Street firm or in New York, but money was never Barack's first priority anyway.
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/02/20/obama_got_start_in_civil_rights_practice/

So the interesting question is why we get racist right wing smears of Obama from the supposed "left".

by rootless2 on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 09:38:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just a moment, since we are almost back on topic:

"In 1993 he joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 13-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obama

So wikipedia mentions neighbourhood economic development as a focus. And 13-attorney law firm is I think considered small in the US.

So the description Fitch uses is not to far off. (His interpretation is another matter)

by IM on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 09:48:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The issue here is whether Smith's "doesn't add up" or the similar argument we see above is a respectable critique or a smear. The  claim is that there is something suspicious about why a highly qualified attorney like Obama went to work for shady real-estate development law firm like Minor,Barnhill. That's not incidental to the argument above or to Smith's argument: they want to make the case that Obama was/is a shifty character who deserves their suspicion/disdain. But the reality is that Minor, Barnhill is an exceptionally prestigious, labor union affiliated, law firm that has won a number of the most prominent cases on sex and race discrimination. Why would an ambitious and highly sought after law school grad go to work for a small black law firm that was associated with all sorts of supposedly sleazy real-estate operators? And the answer is that that's a false story: if you want to do labor law on the side of workers in the USA, a job with Minor,Barnhill is a prize.
by rootless2 on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 10:06:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So your argument is, if Obama wanted to work in labour law or civil rights, Miner, Barnhill & Galland was a first class address.

I just asked the beast itself:

http://www.lawmbg.com/index.cfm/PageID/2763

Eleven practice areas, three labour law related. One other is civil rights/voting rights.

But also:

"Real Estate/Housing Development/Non-Profits

Transactional Practice

Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C. offers legal services in the areas of real estate, community development financing, corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies and related areas. Over the last 25 years, the firm has developed a wide and varied practice relating to community development. With its depth of experience, the firm's transactions group is able to offer high-quality, cost-effective service, tailored to the needs of each particular client. The transactional practice group currently includes partners Laura Tilly, William Miceli along with associate Tiffany Glanville ."

So three lawyers out of fourteen work in this area.

"Inner-City Development. The firm has represented a large number of developers, both for-profit and not-for-profit, focusing on work in the inner city. Development in low-income neighborhoods presents unique challenges, ranging from multiple-layered financing and equity structures, to deteriorated building conditions, to working with public agencies. The firm is very experienced in managing these issues with its clients. Lawyers at the firm have helped to provide thousands of units of housing and substantial commercial space in inner-city communities."

So non for profit developers is indeed their thing.

That said, we don't know what Obama was actually doing there in the three years that he was associate there. But I guess he joined a civil rights-labour law- development law firmbecause of its civil rights fame. Law firms dealing in property law are quite common after all. And he did go on teaching constitutional law, not real estate law.

by IM on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 11:29:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we do know what he was doing there. If you go to the firms web page, though, and look at practice areas, you see some really impressive stuff. For example:

Miner, Barnhill and Galland is one of the nation's leading employment law firms. Partners Judson Miner, Charles Barnhill, Sarah Siskind,  Jeffrey Cummings , and George Galland, all devote a substantial percentage of their time to this practice group. The firm is known particularly for its representation of plaintiffs in large-scale, high-profile class actions or multi-plaintiff cases brought under the federal employment discrimination laws. Some of the matters handled by the firm over the years include:

    Evans v. Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America ( George Galland ). The firm represented the 27 private plaintiffs in this lawsuit, which was settled in 1997 and which was perhaps the largest and most widely publicized sexual harassment lawsuit in the nation's history.
    In re Burlington Northern, Inc. Employment Practices Litigation ( Charles Barnhill ). The firm was counsel for the plaintiff class in this nationwide class action, which was settled for approximately $60 million in damages and injunctive relief and remains one of the largest pre-trial settlements of any race discrimination case.
    Ridgeway v. Local 134, IBEW ( Judson Miner ). The firm has represented the plaintiff class in this race discrimination class action against the Electrical Workers' Union, which was settled through a decree that has opened the Chicago area electrical construction industry to blacks.
    Orlowski v. Dominick's Finer Foods Inc. ( Judson Miner , Jeffrey Cummings ). The firm is counsel for the plaintiff class in a sex discrimination lawsuit against one of the midwest's largest grocery store chains.
    Isaacs v. Caterpillar, Inc. ( George Galland ). The firm represented 69 plaintiffs in this "opt-in" class action under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act challenging a series of reductions in force. The case was settled in 1992.
    Hany v. General Electric Co. ( Charles Barnhill , George Galland ). The firm was counsel for ten plaintiffs who lost their jobs in a series of reductions in force. After a series of victorious jury trials and an appeal, the case was settled in 1993.
    Liberles v. Miller ( Charles Barnhill , George Galland ). The firm was counsel for the plaintiff class in this race discrimination case on behalf of African-American employees of the Illinois Department of Public Aid. The case resulted in what was at that time the highest race discrimination judgment in Illinois history.
    Mays v. Motorola ( Charles Barnhill , Judson Miner ). The firm represented the plaintiff class in this race discrimination class action challenging the hiring practices of the defendant. After plaintiffs won the liability trial, the case was settled during the appeal for approximately $15 million.
    Meiresonne v. Mariott Corp. ( Sarah Siskind , Charles Barnhill ). The firm represented the plaintiff class in this sex discrimination class action involving dsicrimination in the promotion of women, which was settled in 1991 for $3 million.
    Allen v. Marshall Field & Co. Inc. ( Charles Barnhill ). The firm was counsel to 64 plaintiffs in this case, which was one of the first age discrimination "opt-in" class actions settled in the midwest.
    Anderson v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc. ( Charles Barnhill ). The firm represented 39 plaintiffs in this opt-in class action brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which was settled in 1987.
    Chaffee v. A&P Tea Co.  The firm was counsel to the class in this race discrimination class action involving the improper segregation and layoff of black meat-cutters, which was settled after plaintiffs prevailed in a liability trail.

In addition to these large class action cases, the firm has handled hundreds of claims by smaller groups of plaintiffs or individual plaintiffs.

and


The firm is one of the best-known and most experienced firms in the country in large-scale voting rights cases. This practice, led by Judson Miner and which includes Jeffrey Cummings has achieved important victories in race discrimination lawsuits challenging redistricting of Chicago's aldermanic districts and Illinois congressional districts. These cases include:

    In re Congressional remap , 81 C 3915 (N.D.Ill. 1981).
    Ketchum v. Byrne , 740 F.2d 1398 (7th Cir. 1984) (Chicago ward remap).
    Prosser, et. al v Elections Board, et. al , 92-C-0078( U.S.D.C., W.D. Wis. )( Wisconsin legislative remap ).
    Hastert v. State Board of Elections , 777 F. Supp. 634 (N.D.Ill. 1991); 794 F. Supp. 254 (N.D.Ill. 1992), aff'd in part and rev'd in part , 28 F.3d 1430 (7th Cir. 1994) (Illinois congressional remap).
    Barnett, et. al., v. City of Chicago, et. al. , 835 F. Supp. 1063 (N.D.Ill. 1993), rev'd , 32 F.3d 1196 (7th Cir. 1994), on remand , 969 F.Supp. 1359 (N.D.Ill. 1997), vacated and remanded in relevant part , 141 F.3d 699 (7th Cir. 1998), cert. denied , 118 S. Ct. 2372, on remand , 17 F.Supp. 2d 753 (N.D.Ill. 1998).

The firm has also represented plaintiffs in a wide variety of other civil rights litigation, including police misconduct litigation and First Amendment cases. The firm is now involved in a highly publicized case, challenging strip-searches performed by Customs agents at O'Hare Airport.

And we know that Obama was involved in some of these voting rights cases.

by rootless2 on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 11:42:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I agree that these are all worthwhile and laudable activities. The point Fitch made and I have tried to bring out is that these efforts did not conflict with the profits being made in the redevelopment efforts in which they were also involved. So it is a complex picture.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 12:06:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But we do have a serious issue underlying. Suppose you are unhappy with slum conditions in South Side Chicago and wish to do something. You can choose to engage with the property system, raise funds, get grants, lobby for government help, work with sympathetic managers of capital (like the south street bank) and so on to try to build housing. Such a course has 100% chance of involving grossly ugly compromises, and an enormous temptation to make self-rewarding decisions - a temptation that is hard to resist for most people and exceptionally easy to rationalize. However, you have also a chance to improve lives, build communities, "empower" your own community etc. Or you could choose to spend your time exposing the criminal behavior of the developers who will not at all be deterred or even inconvenienced by your expose. Many people "on the left" are more happy with the moral consequences of the second choice. I'm dubious and think of Zizek's analysis of the protests against the Iraq war.

What V.I. Warshawksi would say, is something I'd like to know.

by rootless2 on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 10:53:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem, as you know, that it is quite possible to remove slum conditions but at the same to remove the slum dwellers. Who will move to another slum. That is the paradox of gentrification: A quarter in bad condition is put into good condition, but most of its former inhabitants don't profit from this change.

Is a important discussion in Berlin right now.
But I have no solution to this problem as of yet. The usual solution is public housing, but that way was left in Daley administration and some of the old projects even torn down. (And it didn't seemed to work in the US earlier)

"Or you could choose to spend your time exposing the criminal behavior of the developers who will not at all be deterred or even inconvenienced by your expose."

You mean like Obama did as an community organizer?

"What V.I. Warshawksi would say, is something I'd like to know."

No Sara Paretsky fan?

Now, V. I. Warshawksi actually is a lawyer, but found out early on that the only way to fight for justice is of course being an P. I. She did took on unions (brotherhood of knifegrinders), insurance, medicine, the prison industry, I think also the media, but I never remember a explicit real estate angle angle. Rather surprising, now that I think about it. But than I haven't read everything.

by IM on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 11:53:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The track record of such redevelopment in chicago seems to be mixed. There are, however, a lot of low income people who live in much better housing than before.

Community organizers are not addressing the audience of The Nation readers.

I am a big Sarah Paretsky fan. I think her novels do a good job of illuminating some of the difficulties of working within a setting where corruption and injustice are so rife. But mostly I enjoy where she shoots or beats up some bad guy.

by rootless2 on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 12:08:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IM:
The problem, as you know, that it is quite possible to remove slum conditions but at the same to remove the slum dwellers. Who will move to another slum. That is the paradox of gentrification: A quarter in bad condition is put into good condition, but most of its former inhabitants don't profit from this change.

I think the analysis looks simple here: It's not the neighbourhood, it's the poverty. Or well, it's the neighbourhood too, but mainly it is the poverty.

I am reminded of the city housing company in Malmoe that a decade or so ago struck a deal with the tenants association that improvements that can be postponed (change of wallpaper and such) will only be done when the tenant asks for it, but that will also be reflected in the rent. Now the city housing company feels there is a problem, because to many tenants choose not to have wallpaper and similar changed, preferring the low rent. It is quite easy to understand the city housing company not wanting to get slum on their hands, but it is also easy to understand tenants that choose low rent over improvemtns. I would guess that looking at incomes of the tenants who choose low rent you would find the real problem.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 02:29:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the reputation of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland as a boutique black civil rights law firm was based largely on the work of Davis in the 80s, before he was co-opted by LISC, not to say that some of that activity might not have continued, even in pro bono work. And, if you have a potential rising star, as Obama was, you might want to deploy him in career burnishing roles.

This is not to say that Barack and Michelle Obama were not personally concerned with the welfare of poor blacks, but they clearly did not identify with them and were prepared to impose sacrifices on them, such as the loss of public housing, perhaps in a 'higher interest' that also benefited their future career paths. Nor were they vigilant that the process did not damage the lives of the most vulnerable among these poor, as with Obama defending Woodlawn against charges of their not providing heat in winter to former public housing tenants who were now Woodlawn's tenants. Everyone wants to be able to have a good opinion of themselves and their activities. Often this involves selective blindness.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 12:00:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/06/nation/na-obamalegal6

So the sum evidence is that Smith's "does not add up" is a smarmy bit of mendacious smearing. One does not need to show that the Law Firm was angelic or that Mr. Obama worked their on only the most laudable cases to see that it's bullshit.

As for your psychoanalysis of the Obamas, I am not interested. How about this: try some concrete criticisms of actions - ones while in office would be good - instead of engaging in lurid speculation about who was friends with whom and what they really thought.

by rootless2 on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 12:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That seems to settle it. If these three minor cases make Obama a lawyer working for Big development, you could say the same about me.
by IM on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 01:01:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point was less his work for the law firm than his activities and contributions from the development interests, coupled with a lack of any actions in any areas where the financial interests of the contributors were impacted.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 01:11:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the sum evidence is that Smith's "does not add up" is a smarmy bit of mendacious smearing.

So it does not impress you. But your quoted comment itself is an example of the pejorative labeling which I have noted before. I doubt that you would admit anything on this subject is convincing.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 01:21:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just tried to google the firm, to get additional information. Apart from the website of the firm itself I did find page after page of right-wing conspiracy theory. Mostly quite racist. (And some Pumas).

Is that really a company you want to join?

by IM on Tue May 8th, 2012 at 12:32:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rootless2
That's just a sleazeball rhetorical device.

And that is just crude pejorative labeling.

Further, what makes you think that any of the participants on this blog value opinions you state without substantiation. You attack her credibility by assertion and pejorative labeling or pick out a sentence and claim it to be outrageous or silly. If you want any credibility you need to do better than that. I suspect that most on this blog find her vastly more credible and informative than they find you.

I know from following diaries and Salons that many on this site follow naked capitalism, amongst other financial blogs and have respect for Yves. I  I can not say the same for your contributions here. Credibility is earned over time - or not. As to liberal Republicans, Susan Eisenhower, who until recently self identified as a liberal Republican, came out in support of Barack Obama in 2008. People's opinions can and do evolve. I suspect the same is true for Yves Smith, again from having read her posts and her responses to comments.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 11:16:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's just accurate spotting of a rhetorical sleight of hand that you want to excuse for some reason.

The fact is that that particular line written by Smith attempts to create an impression of moral turpitude based on nothing at all.

Liberal Republicans are all very swell, but they are not in a position to explain why someone is a fake leftist.

by rootless2 on Sat May 5th, 2012 at 11:52:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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