First Draft of History Conference


There is a great meeting going on right now in Washington sponsored by the Atlantic Monthly, the Aspen Institute and the Newseum. The meeting is called “First Draft of History.”
Yesterday, speakers included Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, White House senior Obama adviser David Axelrod, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, General David Petraeus, and others.
I am going to post the live feed up above for those interested in following the balance of the excellent program left today.
Here is what we have today:
9:00 am
Steve Schmidt, Former McCain Strategist
Robert Shrum, Democratic Strategist
Interviewed by John King
9:40 am
Alan Greenspan, Former Chairman, Federal Reserve
Interviewed by David Leonhardt
10:15 am
Jeff Bewkes
Chairman and CEO, Time Warner
Interviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg
10:55 am
Carol Browner, White House Energy Czar
Interviewed by Ron Brownstein
11:35 am
Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark
Interviewed by Norah O’Donnell
12:00 pm
Lawrence Summers, National Economic Council Director
Interviewed by Maria Bartiromo
12:40 pm
Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana
Interviewed by Jacob Weisberg
1:45 pm
University Presidents Panel
Moderated by Howard Fineman
Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University
John Sexton, President, New York University
Ruth Simmons, President, Brown University
Shirley M. Tilghman, President, Princeton University
2:15 pm
Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google
Interviewed by James Fallows
3:15 pm
Media Panel
Moderated by Margaret Carlson
Panelists: Eugene Robinson and Walter Isaacson
— Steve Clemons


9 comments on “First Draft of History Conference

  1. pauline says:

    From a forthcoming online Rolling Stone story.
    Hold on, with the Treasury Secretary Geithner and Greenspan in attendance, this blockbuster story fits better than OJ’s glove. And it took a music magazine to cover it!
    “On Tuesday, March 11th, 2008, somebody – nobody knows who – made one of the craziest bets Wall Street has ever seen. The mystery figure spent $1.7 million on a series of options, gambling that shares in the venerable investment bank Bear Stearns would lose more than half of their value in nine days or less. It was madness – “like buying 1.7 million lottery tickets,” according to one financial analyst.”
    Bear’s stock would have to drop by more than half in a matter of days for the mystery figure to make a profit. And that is what happened.
    As Taibbi explains, “the very next day, March 12, Bear went into a free fall…Whoever bought those options on March 11th woke up on the morning of March 17th having made 159 times his money, or roughly $270 million. This trader was either the luckiest guy in the world, the smartest son of a bitch ever or…Or what?”
    Taibbi speculates (as has Deep Capture) that these options might have been purchased by somebody who was abusing the options market maker exemption to engage in illegal naked short selling. And Taibbi goes beyond speculation to state, as an obvious fact, that illegal naked short selling helped bring Bear Stearns to its knees.
    Presumably operating under that assumption, the SEC issued more than 50 subpoenas to Wall Street firms in the wake of Bear’s collapse, but “it has yet to indentify the mysterious trader who somehow seemed to know in advance that one of the five largest investment banks in America was going to completely tank in matter of days.”
    Taibbi continues: “The SEC’s halfhearted oversight didn’t go unnoticed by the market. Six months after Bear was eaten by predators, virtually the same scenario repeated itself in the case of Lehman Brothers – another top-five investment bank that in September 2008 was vaporized in an obvious case of [naked short sellers engaging in] market manipulation. From there, the financial crisis was on, and the global economy went into full-blow crater mode.”
    Taibbi notes that there were many other factors that made the economy weak. But he says that naked short selling is what pushed Bear and Lehman over the edge. If it weren’t for naked short selling – a massive “counterfeiting scheme,” in Taibbi’s words — those banks would likely have survived, and we might have avoided an all-out financial catastrophe.
    This cannot be stressed enough. Criminals deliberately destroyed two of America’s biggest investment banks, precipitating the greatest financial cataclysm since the Great Depression. And the government has done absolutely nothing to bring those criminals to justice. In fact, as Taibbi makes clear in his story and on his blog, the most likely culprits are feted by top government officials in closed door meetings.
    I’d call this the biggest financial and political scandal in the history of this country.
    Certainly, it is, as Taibbi writes, “one of the most blatant cases of stock manipulation in Wall Street history.” Certainly, it is, as Taibbi writes, “the two biggest murders in Wall Street history.” And, certainly, it is odd that this very big story has appeared in Rolling Stone, but has yet to be covered by a single mainstream news publication.
    The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, BusinessWeek – they have all known about naked short selling since Deep Capture reporter Patrick Byrne began hollering about it in 2005. But none of them write about it. Instead, we find a competent financial journalist, and the only major story about one the greatest financial crimes of all time, published in a slightly alternative magazine about music.
    I worry for the Republic.”


  2. JohnH says:

    Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked “you can’t get elected without the oil companies, but then you can’t govern with them.”
    Which kind of explains why foreign oil companies got kicked out of most major oil producing countries. It’s tough enough to deal with indigenous oil executives, impossible to deal with foreign ones protected by imperial powers.


  3. ... says:

    steve, i apologize for this comment and stand corrected on the example of bolton….i am sure there are other examples..
    perhaps it’s the double standard leveled towards iran with regard to israel that i put in the form of a question to you yesterday that i would have really liked a response on…the fact it was covered in the commentary but my question was ignored does make sense though as it is a sensitive issue that is regularly ignored by the folks in washington… only getting a response from you on this is unfortunate, but i understand your defensiveness on what i have suggested and stand corrected… i hope the rest of your day is more rewarding or productive..


  4. JohnH says:

    I am sympathetic to the difficulty of speaking truth to power in Washington. The atmosphere there probably resembles that of “Syriana,” the movie. It was based on the memoirs of a former CIA agent, so the atmosphere it describes is probably not that far removed from reality. Which is why I frequently refer to the “foreign policy mob” when I comment.
    Nonetheless, unless more insiders start speaking out, we’re all in BIG trouble.


  5. Steve Clemons says:

    …, how long have you been here as a lurker/reader? your note is seriously uninformed. go back and read a few thousand posts and then come back and register your views again. Read my first post — read about the Bolton Battle…read about Iran, Israel/Palestine, read about interpretations of the Obama team.
    You have seriously lost me as a fan of your comments with the one you just offered. Get informed — or ship out, please.
    Steve Clemons


  6. JohnH says:

    All that is needed for America’s foreign policy to bankrupt the country is for enough good men to remain silent…
    It’s already bankrupted us morally.


  7. Outraged American says:

    India could power herself by curry farts alone. Talk about natural
    For all you newbies, I’m from India, so calm the Vishnu down.
    And I’ll be simplistic and primitive here and say that the answer
    to JohnH’s question is the Israel/ Military/ Industrial / Terrorism
    complex — that’s what keeps the US in the Great Game, one
    that we should have folded our cards and left…some time before
    I was born, which was yesterday.
    We have more nuclear weapons and delivery systems than any
    other country, let’s just sit here and allow those alone to deter
    another attack, not that I think that 9/11 was done by lap-
    dancer-tipping ragheads.
    But going around and massacring Muslims will not make us
    Prom Queen. Even if Netanyahu is the power quarterback.
    Leave Steve alone — he’s surrounded by thugs, liars and
    Much like I am, damn kids.


  8. ... says:

    johnh – i note here at twn steve never touches anything that is challenging or controversial, perhaps unless he can see some benefit in doing so but i can’t remember this happening… that’s my impression though and others may see it differently… steve will discuss current ”topics”’ as they unfold, but never question why certain topics appear ‘on the agenda’ while others are not… too bad really, but it seems to be the nature of steve and twn..


  9. JohnH says:

    The Atlantic should do a conference called “First Draft of the Future.” Actually Pepe Escobar has already done it. It’s called Pipelinestan. And the movie of the week in Brussels is called “When NATO meets Pipelinestan.”
    At issue is whether Central Asian energy will flow west to Europe or east to China or south to India. So far Russia is best positioned to deliver gas to Europe. And this drives Washington nuts. But why should it? Why does Washington keep sticking its nose into business that Europe and Russia should be able to settle among themselves? And why should the American taxpayer shell out a $Trillion every year to insert its military into a great game in an area where it has absolutely no natural role to play?
    As usual, the American taxpayer is the last to know how his money is being gambled away on risky foreign ventures.
    Could someone besides Pepe Escobar please step up and talk about what’s going on before America is definitively bankrupted by this nonsense? Steve?


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