Archive for the 'corruption' Category

03
Nov
10

The real winner was gridlock, and why we should be happy

Randy, Ronnie, Barry

As is typical, the most concise and most biting analysis of the recent Electiontainment Follies comes from Mr. Cockburn over at Counterpunch. “America the Clueless” is guaranteed to raise the hackles of partisans of all stripes (a good thing).

The American people have spoken, but it’s impossible to decode their incoherent message. Drunk with their capture of the House of Representatives, the Republicans thunder that the verdict of ballot boxes from Maine to Hawai’i is clarion-clear: the ultimate evil in America is government, specifically government as led by President Barack Obama. But when exit pollsters questioned voters on their way to those same ballot boxes, as to who should take the blame for the country’s economic problems, 35 per cent said Wall Street, 30 per cent said Bush and 23 per cent Obama. The American people want a government that mustn’t govern, a budget that must simultaneously balance and create jobs, cut spending across the board and leave the Defense budget intact. Collectively, the election makes clear, they haven’t a clue which way to march.

A couple of choice snippets:

On Harry Reid and the bizarre challenge mounted by Ms. Angle:

It should be added that the powerful corporate and labor interests in the state of Nevada , most notably in the gambling and entertainment and construction sector, were all aghast at the possibility that economically stricken Nevada might cease to have its cause promoted in Washington DC by the most powerful man in the U.S. Senate, and instead have as their tribune a racist dingbat with zero political clout. If ever there was a need for the fix to be in, and seasoned fixers available to face the task, it was surely in Nevada. But that said, Angle and the Tea Party may have engineered defeat all on their own.

And the Rand Paul/Reagan nexus (or disconnect):

The second craziest victory speech of the evening came from a Tea Party man, Rand Paul, now the Republican senator from Kentucky. “We’re enslaved by debt,” he screamed at his cheering supporters and followed this by savage diatribes about any constructive role for government. Now it’s possible that Paul, inflamed with libertarian principle, could actually try to filibuster the next vote in the US Senate to authorize an increase in the US national debt. As awed commentators swiftly noted, he could plunge the United States into default, bring economic devastation to the world.

On the other hand, the history of the Republican Party is supposed crazies, like Ronald Reagan who campaigned against the deficit in 1980, coming to heel and plunging the United States into a vast new ocean of red ink, courtesy of his tax cuts. It’s what drives the Tea Partiers crazy. They do know one basic truth – that to govern is to betray and they are in line for betrayal.

Nor does Cockburn sugar-coat things for the strikingly (still!) large contingent of Obama loyalists. (But if the die-hards can overlook the fact that the only peep to emerge from the White House on the night the President’s party was being slaughtered was a statement in praise of the defeat of Prop 19 (“screw you, young people“), this will probably roll off their backs as well):

The landscape has changed. The Republican swing in the House was as dramatic as in 1994, after two years of Bill Clinton. Democrats who entered Congress on Obama’s coattails have now been ousted. What lies ahead is a war of maneuver, between the White House and the Republican leadership. Obama has been weakened — deservedly so, because a large part of Tuesday’s disaster for his party can be laid at his door. He laid down no convincing political theme, mounted no effective offense, relied on a team of advisors of dubious competence, which had run out of steam. He himself tried to run for and against an effective role for government, made the same childish equations of domestic and federal budgets, sent out mixed messages, lost the confidence of the young and of a vital slice of the independents.

All the same, after two years, the polls show Obama is no more unpopular than was Clinton in 1994. By 1996 Clinton had outmaneuvered the Republican leadership and won reelection in 1996. Today the economic situation is far worse than it was in 1994. No effective political and economic strategy for recovery is on the cards in the current atmosphere. As always, these days in America, our last best friend will be gridlock.

He’s saying we can pretty much count on the incompetence of politicians of both classes. I wish I were as optimistic as he is.

By the way, Counterpunch needs MONEY!

26
Oct
10

Hedges: America more or less screwed, thanks to the liberal class. Have a nice day!

UPDATE BELOW: A defense of liberals!

Chris Hedges continues to hammer on the failure of the liberal class. And I can’t say I find much with which to disagree—either in the video above or his recent piece “The World Liberal Opportunists Made.”

I get so tired of the fearmongering about the threat to Democracy posed by Rush, Beck, Christine O’Donnell and Palin. It is absolutely true that they are are clowns, dangerous clowns. But at the moment they hold zero real political power. One wishes the Democrats would stop talking about how awful their opponents are, and just run things, as they were elected to do. But that is the only weapon left in their arsenal. Unwilling to actually enact changes that live up to their purported ideals, all they can do is say, “Look over there. What if those bad people actually took power!?”

Not that there’s any chance of the Dems finding their spine at this point, but even if they did, Hedges says it’s already gone too far.

An ineffectual liberal class, in short, means there is no hope, however remote, of a correction or a reversal through the political system and electoral politics. The liberals’ disintegration ensures that the frustration and anger among the working and the middle class will find expression in a rejection of traditional liberal institutions and the civilities of a liberal democracy. The very forces that co-opted the liberal class and are responsible for the impoverishment of the state will, ironically, reap benefits from the collapse. These corporate manipulators are busy channeling rage away from the corporate and military forces hollowing out the nation from the inside and are turning that anger toward the weak remnants of liberalism. It does not help our cause that liberals indeed turned their backs on the working and middle class.

 

UPDATED: “In defense of liberals, though, we…uh. Yeah, I got nothing.”

08
Sep
10

Are the Dems stupid? Or not?

rahm

"Either way, I win." REUTERS/Jim Young

Money makes the Democrats stupid is a pretty decent rant by Eli at Firedoglake.

The Republicans, he observes, have a big advantage in terms of money because the ideology of conservatism lines up perfectly with giving rich people and corporations more money and power.

Not because they have more [money], although they usually do.  No, it’s because their base is almost completely aligned with their corporate and wealthy big-money donors, while the Democratic base is the complete opposite.

Republicans can deliver their megadonors tax cuts, deregulation, corporate welfare, and protection from prosecution, all cocooned in a conservative narrative of supply-side economics, free enterprise, and independent frontier can-do spirit that their base just loves.

Contrast this with the Dems, who, with a few exceptions, are pretty much on the same level in terms of greed and lack of scruples. But they have this nagging problem with their party’s (purported) ideology, which isn’t a good fit. They have to be sneaky because “there’s simply no way to spin pro-corporate, pro-wealth policies as congruent with progressive values.”

The best they can manage is to play the DLC/Third Way game of pretending that capitulation is really some kind of principled pragmatic centrism which is the only way to win elections or get anything done against the all-powerful GOP and its 55 49 40 41 Senate seats.

Some of the base reluctantly goes along with this because half a loaf is better than the enemy of the good or whatever, but none of us are particularly happy about always settling for a compromise of a compromise of a compromise. Think how much leverage Obama and the Democrats had after two huge electoral landslides, a huge Republican-branded financial crisis, and a huge congressional majority… and how little they did with it. They didn’t deliver on progressive priorities because that wasn’t what their big campaign donors wanted.

And now they’ve failed so miserably, sold out so blatantly, demoralized their base so completely, and ceded the populist ground so thoroughly to the Tea Party, that they’re on the brink of losing the House and maybe even the Senate. All of the Democrats’ kabuki to protect their corporate friends so they could rake in campaign cash and get re-elected will end up costing them their seats instead. Because it is possible to fuck up so badly and so obviously that all the money in the world can’t save you. Just ask the Republicans.

I like this, and I’m down with Eli’s disgust, but wonder if he might be missing something, like maybe the fact that it’s on purpose?

Not sure about this, but I’ll throw it out there and wonder aloud if perhaps we are in for a few decades where control of Congress (and maybe the Presidency) will swing from party to party with every election.

The Party Out of Power promises Change, gets in power, doesn’t change anything, and is sent packing. Or it promises to reverse the Mooslem Socialist Mismanagement of this Once-Great Nation. Until the voters realize they get screwed there too. Rinse and repeat.

Either way the party pros win. If in power, hey, you’re In Power. Out of Power you can make massive amounts of money in the private sector. (Think of Rahm’s waltz with hedge fund Magnetar Capital. Think Tom Daschle. Bob Dole.) Leverage your public service. G’head. You earned it. Take a position with one of the corporations you’ll be in charge of “regulating” when you get back into power. Money’s much better, and you will probably get to spend a little more time with the family.

And don’t worry. You’ll be back in D.C. before you know it. Count on the Other Party not satisfying those pesky voters either. Because there’s no way the non-rich 95 percent can be satisfied–unless legislation happens that actually reverses the flow of wealth.  And both parties have shown how firmly they are allied on the issue of wealth distribution.

At the moment, polls indicate voters will throw the current regime out, WITH AUTHORITY as Marv Albert used to say…. To replace it with a regime that makes no bones about its intention to give an ever bigger piece of the pie to the wealthy and powerful.

Does that makes sense? Not so much. Will it work for a few more election cycles? I wouldn’t bet against it.

26
Dec
09

Rahm sez: “NAFTA = Good Times!”

Easy credit ripoffs. Good times!

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been telling Democrats a win on the health issue will reverse the slide in public opinion, just as passage of another controversial proposal, the North American Free Trade Agreement, lifted President Bill Clinton in the polls.

Wall Street Journal, “Democrats pin 2010 hopes on bill”

In an only slightly different context a wise person said, “It’s scary to think that people this obscenely stupid are running the country.”

26
Dec
09

More on Jane, Grover and Rahm

Vodpod videos no longer available.

All I know is the Hamsher/Norquist joint venture caused many Obama loyalists to pee their pants, and got a lot of positive comments on Jane’s own site. Not exactly surprising.

Someone asked about it on the President’s plane and was met with a predictably smug reply, that the Chief of Staff’s job was “very safe”.

And also: over the Christmas weekend the White House announced that the caps on Fannie Mae and Freedie Mac losses would be lifted. There was talk that they would be raised from $400 billion to $800 billion, but no. They have been raised, to, uh, infinity.

Did Jane Hamsher really whack Rahm Emanuel upside the head, as Cenk Uygur claims? If so, was it with a Nerf bat, or a 2 by 4 with a nail sticking out of it? Is he PISSED? Just mildly annoyed? More important, Will this be enough to shame the White House into taking any real judicial/investigative action with regard to Freddie Mac, like letting Inspector General Ed Kelley get back on the job? You know, 6 trillion dollars is a lot of money.

more about "Jane Hamsher Hits Rahm Emanuel Over t…", posted with vodpod

23
Dec
09

odd couple: jane and grover join forces against rahm

Hugely unlikely bedfellas Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist have teamed together to demand Rahm Emanuel’s resignation, over the White House Chief of Staff’s “activities at Freddie Mac, and the White House’s blocking of an Inspector General who would look into it.”

This is sure to raise the hackles of lefties who despise Norquist and of conservative-identified folks for whom Hamsher is the SheDevil incarnate. But after that settles down, what will it mean? Will a coalition of ideologically opposed outsiders be able to gain any traction at making life difficult for America’s Number One insider political figure? And will it change anything about the corporate ownership of the political process?

Honestly, I have no idea. My hope is that it will.  And I’ve become comfortable with this for some time.  As a longtime reader of antiwar.com, whose masthead bears the names of both Pat Buchanan and John Pilger, and represents an alliance of libertarian, paleocon, and old-school lefty antiwar sentiment. Sometimes it gets weird.

Eventually, the corruption of the Washington D.C. political/corporate united front will collapse in on itself, and the two-party system will have a hard time containing the fallout. This move by Hamsher and Norquist might still be too early, or it might be perfectly timed. It remains to be seen.  But the contempt of the political class for what used to be called democracy has never been greater.  Whatever her motivations may be, I’m glad to see Jane rolling the dice on this one.

Update:  Didn’t take long for the firestorm of reaction, hurt feelings, and name-calling to break out (read the comments to this post), nor did it take long for Jane to issue what is sure to be the first of many apologia (I am not entirely sure what the plural for apologia is, sorry):

Rahm Emanuel is destroying not only the Democratic majority but the Democratic Party.  There isn’t enough pork in the world to hold his “Blue Dogs” in office with the legacy of bailouts that he has engineered, and that’s why his “big tent” is now collapsing in his wake.  Parker Griffin, and now (possibly) Chris Carney, may blame Nancy Pelosi for their defections to the GOP, but that’s pure demagogurery. The mess they are fleeing — the corrupt back-room deals, the endless bailouts — belong to Rahm.

The ground is shifting. You can feel it. And the Rahm dead-enders have become no different than the Bush dead-enders, completely unaware that the President whose malfeasance they are defending on the basis that one must not “consort with Republicans” is the one who ran on — consorting with Republicans.  It is knee-jerk authoritarianism in the extreme. Rick Warren is okay because Obama says so. Principles? Who needs them.

If Obama/Rahm want to triangulate against progressives (and they do), they’re not the only ones who can make cause with people on the other side of the aisle.  If that’s what it takes to shake up the corporate domination of our political system, we’ve done it before and we can do it again. Because working within the traditional political order to support “progressives” whose conviction lasts only as long as it doesn’t matter just doesn’t seem to be working.

She’s good. And she’s got my vote.