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The Kabuki Congress and Presidency

2010 December 15
by Ian Welsh

Ok, another edition of pointing out the painfully obvious.

Most votes in Congress are Kabuki.  There was never any chance that Bush tax cuts weren’t going to be extended, and this was obvious far before the election, for example.  Unions were never going to get the Employee Free Choice Act.

Also, stop paying attention to who votes for what.  If a Dem votes against an obnoxious bill, it is almost always because leadership has released them to vote against it.  Close votes almost never really are.

Dozens of Dems in the House promised not to vote for a health care bill without a public option.  Leave aside what you think of it, given that they broke that promise as a group, why would you trust them on anything?

Obama in specific, and the Congressional leadership in general thinks that their problem in 2010 with the base was because they didn’t have enough show votes which failed.  So they’re going to have a lot of show votes.  But virtually everything that passes is essentially what Obama wants to pass.  (For example, the stimulus bill was essentially identical to Obama’s original stimulus bill.)

If Obama wasn’t black, he’d be a “moderate” Republican.  He is not a progressive, not a liberal and neither is Harry Reid.  Pelosi would be liberal in a different world, but she will do what the President tells her to do, she’s a good soldier.  Originally she wasn’t going to pass TARP, for example, unless an equal percentage of Republicans voted for it, but when Obama came out in favor of it, she fell into line.

There is no constituency in Congress for liberal policy.  None.  Even those who prefer liberal policy, like Sanders and Pelosi, will not do anything to actually make sure it happens, or to stop conservative policy.

This is why I generally don’t write about legislative fights any more. There is no point, the outcome is usually determined long before the actual vote, and everything you see is just theater for the rubes.

We are past the point where legislative actions matter.  At this point, assuming the political system can be reformed at all, you require new leadership, capable of holding legislators to principles.  You require outside groups who will hold legislators responsible, which means not micro-politics groups.  Virtually ever micro-politics group, that is any group which looks after one interest or one constituency, will sell out liberal interests.  So you have teachers unions accepting wages paid for by cutting food stamps (ie. starving the children they teach) and you  have the auto workers endorsing the Korean-US trade deal which is bad for everyone but them.

A movement of the left made up of self-interested groups is no movement at all.  The first, second and last rule of movement politics is solidarity.  Any movement made of people or groups which will sell out the rest of the movement is not a movement, and they will be played off against each other to give cover for the worst sort of policy.  If you are interested only in your own issue, whether that is environmental, gay rights, women’s rights, immigration, trade, unionization or whatever, then you are part of the problem and your willingness to betray is why the left fails over and over again.

Hang together, or hang separately, as Ben Franklin said.

The left has chosen to hang separately.

80 Responses
  1. Notorious P.A.T. permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Would you write more about the (needed) effort to primary Obama? I don’t see anyone out there trying to boost this idea; all we get is “when a president is primaried it directly causes the other party to win” crap. Like in 1992, when the only thing that doomed Bush was Pat Buchannan’s primary challenge. Meanwhile Obama would lose to Romney if the election were held today.

  2. December 15, 2010

    Ouch, Ian.

    I’d argue that primarying is a topic of conversation only because of the dynamics Ian’s pointing to, which remind me “Ain’t It Awful”:

    3. “Water Cooler,” or “Coffee Break,” is the Child pastime, with the slogan “Look what they’re doing to us now.” This is an organizational variant. It may be played after dark in the milder political or economic form called “Bar Stool.” It is actually three-handed, the ace being held by the often shadowy figure called “They.”

    Of course, as a blogger, I’m an expert player of all these games. But they get old after awhile, no?

  3. December 15, 2010

    heh, i had that conversation with him too, Ian.

    and to be fair, wasn’t it just the head of the UAW, and not union rank and file, who was all sunny about that korea deal? i’m pretty sure i read that even his own inner staff circle was telling him not to endorse it. i’m happy to be corrected if wrong.

    but overall, yes. movements require solidarity. which is seemingly impossible in our current system, given how leadership defines itself by access and celebrity, and not integrity or ideology.

  4. Ian Welsh permalink
    December 15, 2010

    So what? It means something that the staff and rank and file are against it if they launch a movement to get rid of him. If they don’t, their dislike means nothing.

  5. DupinTM permalink
    December 15, 2010

    I thought that in this post you’d link to Stirling’s Corrente piece, b/c it’s of a piece with his. Though I guess everyone who reads your blog would read Corrente as well – just in case, b/c they’ve put up a lot of posts lately and it might’ve been lost down the memory hole, here’s the link:

    http://www.correntewire.com/truth_open_letter_why_america_and_left_are_doomed

    Obviously he agrees with you, and names some names. Now that I think about it, I’m kinda surprised he didn’t link to any of your ‘get out while you still can’ posts, since you posted in his comments.

    Regardless, you’re right. The fake filibuster that (sadly) Sanders did garnered no attention. As the folks at Virtually Speaking have pointed out in the past few weeks, the Beltway narrative of the moment is that Obama went too far ‘left’, and must now appease those sensible deficit hawk independents to get a 2nd term. If they say so, it must be true! Same goes for all the polls about Wikileaks and how 68% of Americans don’t like them – it certainly helps that the news has been chanting ‘they’re killing us’ over and over and over again.

    You know the type – the millions upon millions of Americans who cry for tax cuts for the rich (look at all the jobs they’ve created! Nevermind they’re in China) while yearning for the deficit to be reduced on the backs of the serf class.

    We’re all Michael Bloomberg now. After McGovern lost in 1972 Hunter S. Thompson said something like “We’re all a nation of used-car salesmen now”. I guess now we’re all a nation of would-be billionaires, and as Stirling said about Obama and the elites who rule us, we prove our worth by how many serfs we have underfoot. Well, I’ve got none, I guess I don’t count.

    I’ve started to wonder if anything would change at all if all the Sunday show hosts got drunk/found god one day and actually based their whole hour on the many things you’ve discussed over the years. Would it matter, or would it be swept under the rug?

  6. Tom Hickey permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Riots have already started in the UK and Europe. Anyone taking bets on how soon we’ll see them in the US?

  7. December 15, 2010

    Yep. The fix was always in on the health care file, at least when it came to any solution that involves an acknowledgement that the private insurance intermediaries need to be, to put it euphemistically, phased out. And “public option” and “single payer” were basically equivalent from this perspective and were never going to happen.

    Unsurprisingly, this is also true of the tax cuts. And frankly, the legislature is far more aligned with the public on this than a lot of online leftist/liberals/progressives are willing to admit.

  8. December 15, 2010

    ok, Ian. you are so truthful and harsh. i’m mostly playful about it, these days. but you’re not wrong. i grok that. mea C.

  9. senecal permalink
    December 15, 2010

    The implication of Ian’s claim is that the “left” is either genetically incapable of coming together, or the right has been especially clever at splitting us up. If the first is true, why was there a successful left in the thirties and forties? Arguing by analogy, it’s obvious that in Europe, the left was particularly strong after the war because their societies were devastated, psychologically and physically, and governments faced revolt, or communist victory in elections, if they didn’t attend to the needs of their citizens. It also helped that there was a long and vibrant history of socialist politics in Europe. Now, if those are the conditions of a viable left in general, it’s pretty clear that we are far from them in the contemporary US. And, to make matters worse, what revolt there is is much more likely to occur from the right. And by right I mean not just “those people over there”, but a big section of the former middle class, including democrats, who are starting to think like the right, i.e. “look out for number one.”

  10. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Ok, another edition of pointing out the painfully obvious.

    An open question not considered by this post is (some variations): What are congressional Democrats thinking? Are they going to continue to commit political suicide by following Obama? Were the 2010 election results not a big enough signal to them about what his political strategy means for them? Where is their sense of self-preservation? How long will they continue to follow someone who has been wrong on both policy and politics (military occupations, torture, indefinite imprisonment, cutting soc. sec. & medicare, protecting the medical-services industries, protecting the financial industry, not helping the unemployed, not helping reduce foreclosures)?

    Or are the answer to these questions painfully obvious to everyone but me?

  11. December 15, 2010

    Were the 2010 election results not a big enough signal to them about what his political strategy means for them?

    Sure. It was spun into a need for more bipartisanship by the media. If the behave like they believe it, they probably do.

  12. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Riots have already started in the UK and Europe. Anyone taking bets on how soon we’ll see them in the US?

    Maybe after those riots bring about some changes. So far, none of the riots, strikes, or protests have. Message the politicians take from those actions: Wait it out. They’ll get tired, hungry, and cold, and then go home.

  13. Notorious P.A.T. permalink
    December 15, 2010

    “Where is their sense of self-preservation? ”

    Al Franken said it was “hard” to vote for those tax cuts. So I guess I’ll write him a check come re-election! ! ! ! !

  14. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    It was spun into a need for more bipartisanship by the media. If the [sic] behave like they believe it, they probably do.

    So, the democrats are politically stupid — unable to see and think for themselves and gullible to corporate media campaigns? And some people wonder why we don’t support them with our votes…

  15. CEO permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Senecal,
    Once the Germany was vanquished, the rulers went after the left globally. They are not far from being done.

  16. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Al Franken said it was “hard” to vote for those tax cuts.

    Even harder for Franken: voting against those tax cuts.

    “I would like to vote against this tax policy. I really, really would. But it is too hard for me.”

  17. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    In related News, Franken’s office released a statement that “the heat in the kitchen had gotten really, really hot.”

  18. CEO permalink
    December 15, 2010

    R’s and D’s are the same kind of people going for the same prize. They must have a different line/story/sthick in order for there to be two of them. The prize? Corporate money which is power.

  19. David H. permalink
    December 15, 2010

    What are congressional Democrats thinking? Are they going to continue to commit political suicide by following Obama? Were the 2010 election results not a big enough signal to them about what his political strategy means for them? Where is their sense of self-preservation?

    The don’t need a political sense of self-preservation. There is very little cost to them personally in losing an election or losing control of Congress. They’ll be fine. They have well-paying jobs waiting for them on the outside. Why rock the boat until that time comes? Apart from severe public pressure to vote certain ways, this will not change. And that pressure is nowhere to be seen.

    Maybe after those riots bring about some changes. So far, none of the riots, strikes, or protests have.

    The current “riots” won’t fail if they don’t bring about changes right away. Their purpose now is to enlarge the movement, to gain strength in numbers, to cooperate in pursuit of common agendas. Losing a few battles is less important than preparing for the longer-term war. Judging the current protests solely on whether they bring about changes right away is to focus too narrowly. The media will carry that narrative, “well, they’ve failed to stop the rise in tuition fees, so the movement is dead.” But it’s not. You don’t stop simply because you lost the first battle.

  20. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Corporate money which is power.

    Not just corporate money. The reduction in the estate tax shows that the oligarchy hopes to create an aristocracy. “Not only am I rich, but my ‘line’ is assured, too.”

  21. S Brennan permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Agree Ian, to me, the coalition was irrevocably broken when Nixon ended the draft. Once the upper middle & upper class were freed from any civic concerns their self indulgence was free to grow unfettered. Friedman/Reagan/Jarvis watered that weed and now nihilism is the state religion.

  22. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    The current “riots” won’t fail if they don’t bring about changes right away…Judging the current protests solely on whether they bring about changes right away is to focus too narrowly.

    The original question was: “when will riots occur in the U.S.?” My answer was that they might not occur in the u.s. until they are successful at bringing about change in europe. They have not been successful yet in europe. Saying that is not the same as saying that people in europe have given up. You’re arguing against an argument (“Judging the current protests solely..”) that wasn’t made.

  23. December 15, 2010

    Yup. Painfully obvious, but it needed to be said.

    That is why on balance, I haven’t written about any legislative fights in a long time. I accepted years ago that nothing good was going to come out of a Democratic Party led by Barack Obama. There are no surprises with him, ever. He will always do the exact opposite of what I would want a Democrat to do. It’s the end of “fauxpe.”

    Even if the Congressional Dems wanted to do something good for the bottom 98%, Obama wouldn’t let them. The Dems allowed him to take financial control of the National Party and move it to Chicago in 2008, before he was even the nominee. This was the worst mistake they ever made. This Machine politician is now in charge of the pursestrings. Go against “The Family” and you will be primaried or financially starved out of a job. Every Dem Congresscritter knows this.

    I do believe that Obama will not be primaried in 2012, but he may be forced to not run for re-election in favor of Hillary Clinton. Obama has lost so much support in his own Party that his re-election chances, at this point, look slim. The Dems will lose everything in 2012 if they do not get rid of Obama. This is becoming more and more clear.

    As for the left joining together, one would think it would be easy to fight for economic justice. Poll after poll shows that Americans understand that as a nation, we must take care of our poor, elderly and sick, and that taxing the wealthy and spending on job creation in order to do so is the right thing to do. Economic justice is social justice, so this frame would cover all of us feminists and LGBT activists as well. And let’s face it, what is the patriarchy but the “soft” arm of the oligarchy? Dismantle the oligarchy and the patriarchy cannot stand.

    But the left is too busy staying in its Stockholm syndrome relationship with the Democratic Party and fulminating about Sarah Palin to do anyone any good.

    I don’t know what it will take to get people to stand up for themselves. Maybe we never will – we’ll just all disappear in the coming societal cataclysm. Or, maybe we are taking the first steps after Obama unmasked the corporatist and patriarchal nature of the Democratic Party. I’m hoping option #2 is correct.

  24. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    …the coalition was irrevocably broken when Nixon ended the draft. Once the upper middle & upper class were freed from any civic concerns their self indulgence was free to grow unfettered.

    Ending the draft was a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. It was also necessary to protect the rentier/monopoly industries. This created a socioeconomic class large enough to populate the gov’t. and lobbyist jobs. If, for example, Obama’s socioeconomic class did not have guaranteed access to medical services, then the Medical Services Protection Act of 2010 could not have been passed. Likewise, members of the class are guaranteed sufficient income to see that they have access to housing, education for their children, and longer vacation than the one-to-two-weeks that the rest of the population gets, if employed.

  25. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    This was the worst mistake they ever made. This Machine politician is now in charge of the pursestrings. Go against “The Family” and you will be primaried or financially starved out of a job. Every Dem Congresscritter knows this.

    I do believe that Obama will not be primaried in 2012, but he may be forced to not run for re-election in favor of Hillary Clinton.

    These two assertions, above, are at odds with each other.

    “Obama controls the party with an iron fist.”
    “The party will force he who controls it with an iron fist not to run.”

    Some more thinking (and writing) needs to be done if these statements are to somehow be made to agree.

  26. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    The [sic] don’t need a political sense of self-preservation. There is very little cost to them personally in losing an election or losing control of Congress. They’ll be fine. They have well-paying jobs waiting for them on the outside.

    1) Why are politicians concerned about the Citizens United decision?

    2) Why do politicians spend so much time fundraising (and complaining about it amongst themselves and to reporters)?

    What does campaigning and winning matter to them if they aren’t concerned about losing?

  27. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    And frankly, the legislature is far more aligned with the public on this than a lot of online leftist/liberals/progressives are willing to admit.

    The legislature is aligned with the public how? In agreeing that taxes for the wealthy should be raised, or in agreeing that taxes for the wealthy should not be raised. Because the millionaires’ club (senate) clearly believes that taxes for the wealthy should not be raised.

  28. Ian Welsh permalink
    December 15, 2010

    If you actually dig into the polls there is strong opposition to not raising taxes on rich people, and strong support for raising taxes on rich people.

    In policy terms, I guarantee that this will not help ordinary people one bit. Every cent of tax cuts they get will be taken away from them. (For those who get a tax cut, it looks like taxes will rise for the bottom third of Americans).

    You’ve had 30 years of tax cutting, and somehow it just hasn’t worked out for the vast majority of Americans.

    But hey, don’t let me stop you from cutting your own throats. Lord knows, no one has been able to convince you not to slash yourself open with the tax cuts you love so much.

  29. beowulf permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Man, Stirling is just venomous there. Not sure why he’s sending lead downrange at people basically on his side except perhaps they happened to be walking past his back porch. I don’t know what the back story is between him and Jane, but there’s no angle where the guy who appears to be picking on the cancer survivor for being a cancer survivor is going to look good.

    As for the “public option” (the civil unions of healthcare reform), except for Lambert who saw where the train was headed long before it went off the rails, most people got conned by the fake civic “public option” campaign and I haven’t seen any evidence that Jane was part of the magic show. Lesson learned, its easier to explain why everyone should have Medicare when we remember to call it Medicare.

  30. December 15, 2010

    anon525 – I don’t see a contradiction. The power Obama holds over the Congresscritters is that of their re-election. If they don’t think he will be able to get them re-elected, then he has no power over them.

  31. jeer9 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    As horrific as Obama is, he will not be primaried nor will he receive a serious non-crazy opponent in 2012. He’s a lock to win another term, because the oligarchy love him. His only threat comes from the Left which means there isn’t one. The idea of him trying to re-implement the pay roll tax in two years is laughable. It will hurt the working poor, he’ll argue – though not as much as the end of Social Security which will require necessary reforms in the future once current funds are no longer being added. It’s all part of the duopoly’s grand strategy. Opinion polls are for people who think they still reside in a democracy.

  32. madisolation permalink
    December 15, 2010

    We should start a movement from the left and the right to impeach Obama. So we replace him with Biden. Who cares? It’s all the same, anyway. So Romney wins in 2012. Who cares? It’s all the same, anyway. What calls for impeachment can do is send a message to this and any other president: we’ll tarnish you for the history books. Calls for impeachment from the left and the right will make the pompous Obama sweat..alot. This is a clear, easy and emotional issue. As gas prices go up and the people see that middle class tax cut eaten up at the pump, people are going to be angrier than ever. This movement could be the start of other movements to come.

  33. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    If you actually dig into the polls there is strong opposition to not raising taxes on rich people, and strong support for raising taxes on rich people.

    Could you clarify this statement? Does your term “strong” mean “a majority”, or does it mean “is firmly held”? Because if it means “a majority”, then you are saying that polls have measured that most people support and oppose raising taxes on the wealthy, in which case, I think that we have to look at the pollsters and their methodologies to decide who is measuring well and who is not.

    Poll:

    Question 1: Do you think that taxes on the wealthy should be increased?

    A. Yes
    B. No
    C. Yes and No

    Pollster: The majority answered ‘C’.

  34. beowulf permalink
    December 15, 2010

    “the coalition was irrevocably broken when Nixon ended the draft. Once the upper middle & upper class were freed from any civic concerns their self indulgence was free to grow unfettered…”

    You know, that’s such a damn good point. There’s no way we’d still we have troops in Afghanistan or Iraq if Selective Service were still calling up inductees by draft lottery.

    I think we could move back to the political benefits (in the anti-war sense) of the draft without being too disruptive (to either the lives of the draftees or the Army regulars). Back in the 80s, MS Congressman Sonny Montgomery proposed an Army Reserve draft. Every year, 200,000 or so inductees selected by draft lottery would undergo basic infantry training.

    Once the inductees completed the 4 months or so of 11B training, they could go home with no further training obligation for the rest of their 8 year term… unless there was a war and the President called up reservists. So simply by lottery, 200,000 new families a year would suddenly become very concerned about who and where the President wanted to to invade next.

  35. December 15, 2010

    “Do you like X policy?” is not enough of an opinion analysis. Obviously, the tax cuts have been a terrible policy and will continue to be so. Yes, it was in the bag, but you may notice that Americans still voted for a majority of reps who also publicly and noisily espouse the tax cut concept including at the state level. So it’s kabuki to be sure, but kabuki that is quite congruent with expressed wishes and the orientation of the public.

    So policy preferences expressed on poll questions are not enough to tell us what the American voter wants.

    That doesn’t mean it’s not terrible policy. It’s terrible policy.

  36. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    most people got conned by the fake civic “public option” campaign

    They got conned, but it was still useful because it revealed the con-game.

    Related: Julian Assange (from a statement read by his mother): We now know that Visa, Mastercard and Paypal are instruments of US foreign policy. It’s not something we knew before.

  37. December 15, 2010

    I’m really quite surprised that everyone seems so convinced that obama will run for reelection, so let me be the first to predict that he won’t. Maybe he doesn’t even realize this yet, but he will at some point in 2011. This whole presidency thing just hasn’t been emotionally rewarding enough for the narcissistic bastard … it hasn’t been as nourishing to his ego as he had expected … it hasn’t been the celebration of his obama-ness that he thought it would be. Coz we’re just not getting how great he is and appreciating how fortunate we are to have him to listen to.

    He is now being questioned with increasing frequency, which he doesn’t like … he finds it offensive … and he’s not going to enjoy trying to defend his horrendous record on the campaign trail in 2012. And we are in for a very tough year … a dispiriting year … becoz the economy is going to get worse with all these 99er folks … with 5 unemployed persons for each job vacancy … coming off of the unemployment rolls. The states are not going to be able to absorb all of these people and put them on welfare so a lot of these folks … and their families, THEIR CHILDREN … are going to suffer in a large way, which is primarily due to obama becoz he’s the one that starved these states by purposefully neglecting them in his initial stimulus bill. He’s the one that decided to let the states whither and die … and people along with it … by opting for business tax cuts instead. And it’s just a matter of time before the dems … led by the pope of hope … “compromise” to the republicans on deconstructing social security and other safety nets. So what is obama going to run on in 2012? Hope again?! Ha ha ha.

    No, rather than risk the embarrassment … the humiliation … of losing, the head pr man for the establishment will decline to run in 2012 and express his disappointment in us all and the partisanship in our government. Though he was elected on his promises of delivering substantial change and hardly anyone gives a fuck about bi-partisanship, he’ll deceitfully posture that he was elected to end partisanship. But, unfortunately, the rest of the government is not as noble and well-intentioned as he so he wasn’t able to accomplish that and, again, it was we and dc that let this fine man down. He will try to portray himself as a brave man that was willing to risk re-election just so that he could serve us so well by taking care of the deficit.

    So, by 2012, it will be time for him to cash out on the celebrity-hood of being this country’s first black president. And to the demo-zombies, he’ll go down as a courageous man of vision who was unfortunately forced to compromise by the nasty republicans on his noblest of intentions. To the semi-objective, he’ll go down as our most incredibly self-absorbed president … and that’s saying a lot … which is being way too kind to him. To the informed and objective, those whose heads aren’t permanently embedded up either of the party’s asses so tightly that it affects their brain’s circulation, he’ll go down as someone who purposely deconstructed the progressive movement and deceived tens of millions of people with hopes of change, while acting as the biggest barrier to it all once he got elected, just so that he strut and preen on the world’s biggest stage and have the masses join him in a celebration of himself … a vacuous, lying lowlife whose ego demands a large audience and who catered to the corrupt, immoral power structure of this country becoz he believed that it was the most essential element in gaining that platform … a man that was so arrogant and had such disdain for the American people that he thought he could fuck us over for 4 years and still have us love him on the basis of his empty, empathetic words … a deceitful piece of garbage that not only was a bad president, but a terrible human being.

    Z

  38. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    So simply by lottery, 200,000 new families a year would suddenly become very concerned about who and where the President wanted to to invade next.

    The proposal to bring back the draft in order to influence u.s. military and foreign policy has been around for a long time, but it shows a lack of insight into the cause-and-effect relationship of military actions. They are taken because there is a domestic industry (weapons makers and military “contractors” (the mercenaries)) that exists because of single-source, highly-paid gov’t. contracts. This has been on-going since WWII. So long as this interest group is paid and lobbies, there will be wasteful military spending and military actions that kill children/women/men in foreign countries, along with u.s. military employees. It is a domestic spending program disguised as a foreign policy program.

  39. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    But hey, don’t let me stop you from cutting your own throats. Lord knows, no one has been able to convince you not to slash yourself open with the tax cuts you love so much.

    Next up: spending cuts, federal edition. To be followed closely by states and municipalities. Herbert Hoover Lives!

  40. anon2525 permalink
    December 15, 2010

    The power Obama holds over the Congresscritters is that of their re-election. If they don’t think he will be able to get them re-elected, then he has no power over them.

    What good is an iron grip if you can’t use it when you need it? But you’ve cleared up the contradiction — he doesn’t have an iron grip on congress; the consequences of his policies do.

  41. jomaka permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Obama needs to recover 29 million votes he lost from 2008 to 2010, which ain’t gonna happen. He might be able to get there if he can get at least 200K net new permanent jobs per month from now until October 2012. That would get the UE rate to around 7.2% to 7%, which is the breaking point for reelection (Reagan was at 7.2% and falling right before November 1984), that’s a total of 4.6 Million new permanent jobs, virtually impossible in our current state. Obama will not be around in two years, This tax cut plan was a Hail Mary to the independent voters that left him in droves from 2008 to 2010.

  42. S Brennan permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Beowulf,

    Surprisingly, I do not want a return to the real draft because while morally correct, I believe it politically impossible. Instead, I want to see an “optional draft”.

    Here are the options:

    1] You sign up to be drafted at age 16, at this point you must go at 18 for one year + Basic & AIT time under criminal punishment [3.5 year federal prison with good time and penalties listed in option two. An honorable discharge completes your service. Failure to complete in time of war is subject to the above penalty.

    2] a) You don’t sign up to be drafted at 16 and nothing happens to you!

    b) BUT, if you don’t sign, you are not allowed to apply/work at ANY federal job, or on any federal contract either directly or as a subcontractor, nor may you be an officer of a company that receives a federal contract. Nor may you work in broadcast services that require FCC license. Further, you may not work at any STATE job under the executive [Governors office] of that state.

    In this manner those who will not serve will never be in a position to direct of those who are willing to war. Those who will not serve will be publicly marked and unable to perform leadership roles in this society [think Senate, Congress, President, Federal judges…], not only will this prevent war, it will make a better officer corp, a more cohesive society [a common experience in life], a more equitable allocation of Federal Jobs to those who shared the burden of service.

    This draft would apply to all mentally fit persons, even paraplegics, some how some way we can make use of all those who are willing.

    Politically, if this were to develop legs, anybody who stands in the way can easily be tarred.

    I’ve polled regular bars [nobody opposed] & bars inhabited by the elite “creative class” types [just under 50%], so let’s see what Ian’s clan thinks?

  43. December 15, 2010

    Anon525 –

    What good is an iron grip if you can’t use it when you need it?

    He did use it when he needed it. Now, he doesn’t need it. He’s One and Done. That’s why he made that tax deal with the Repubs behind the Dem Congresscritters’ backs. He doesn’t care what they think any more. He no longer needs their support. He is paving the way for Romney/Rubio 2012. That was what it was always about for him – oh, and playing with all the neat toys and perks being President gets you. Air Force One! The Possum Seal! Taking Michelle to a Broadway show! Being worshiped and adored all over the world! Best job EVER!

    Z is not the first to predict Obama won’t run again. I said it earlier in this thread. He won’t. He may have to be “convinced,” but he won’t.

    He has said often that he’d rather be a great one-term pres than a mediocre two-term pres. Well, he’s gotten the business of the oligarchy/partriarchy done. He’s shoveling all our money into the top 1%’s pockets. He will do as much damage as possible to the New Deal, with the help of the Repub Congresscritters his policies helped elect, then he’ll f*ck off to Davos or somewhere else, make speeches and have more books ghost-written about him.

    He just doesn’t care, you know. He never has. As I say sometimes, he is a bad person who does bad things. And he will be happy to leave the country in the hands of Bush IV.

    I hope that Hillary can be persuaded to take up the reins instead. There was a reason Obama was shoehorned into the nomination instead of the person who was the choice of the working class base of the Democratic Party. Hillary wanted to raise taxes on the rich like Bill Clinton did. She refused to honor the idea of benefit cuts for Social Security and said that Soc Sec being in crisis was a “rightwing talking point” in one of the debates. She had a plan to bail out homeowners and was against the TARP. Economically, she and Obama were polar opposites. The top 1% did not want anyone diluting their power or wealth, and Hillary would have done that.

    Not to say that she was perfect or is perfect, and she is working in a very corrupt system. But she would be a hell of a lot better than Romney or any other random Repub you could pick from a hat.

  44. December 15, 2010

    S Brennan: Strongly disagree unless some forms of alternative national service are instituted, and maybe even then I’d have to think about it. Military organizations and training are well-known to be unfriendly to social and political nonconformists, including at the comradely level.

    Anyone who suffered from outcast status in junior high or Last Pick syndrome would have a serious problem with your proposal, if to avoid that they must give up their political rights. Perhaps such people have a disproportionate tendency to make up the much-maligned Creative Class?

  45. David H. permalink
    December 15, 2010

    You’re arguing against an argument (“Judging the current protests solely..”) that wasn’t made.

    My apologies. I only meant to add to the discussion of riots/protest in Europe, not to contradict or argue.

    I don’t know what it will take to get people to stand up for themselves. Maybe we never will

    I’ve always felt that those most pressed-upon should/would be the ones to eventually stand up for themselves, the people who have nothing left to lose. So far this is not the case. Maybe even the lowest economic orders in this country still have further to fall. More likely they’re looking for someone to blame, be it Mexicans, Muslims, welfare queens or whatever, and see no one with which to make common cause, blinded by their bigotry in whatever form.

    What does campaigning and winning matter to them if they aren’t concerned about losing?

    Power for it’s own sake, the spectacle of the battle, and the little battles they fight amongst themselves across the most narrow of spectra — “do we give up a little bit of health care to the little people? Do we give them a little bit of a tax break or just keep it all to ourselves? How much can we get away with w/o provoking civil unrest?”

    They’re all pulling in the same direction, they argue over the best path to that destination. Mostly these little battles have nothing to do with anyone but themselves. The media does its part in distracting us by convincing us that these little battles do actually concern us. While the policy outcome of these battles most certainly do concern us, the end result is never in doubt. It’s just dressed up in one way or another depending on who won.

  46. S Brennan permalink
    December 15, 2010

    I served and I didn’t find this true at any level:

    “Military organizations and training are well-known to be unfriendly to social and political nonconformists, including at the comradely level.”

    Most of my NCO friends were definitely outside the norm as were my CO’s.

    Did you serve? And if you didn’t, how did you get your info…media? Aren’t you making my point above. What’s more, nobody said you had to serve, what I am saying is , if you don’t serve, you don’t get the opportunity to force others to serve in your place…you don’t get to order others to die in your place.

    But okay Mandos, you think you should be able to order others to their deaths without running the risk yourself. Let’s see how many others agree with your elitist position?

  47. December 15, 2010

    [M]ost people got conned by the fake civic “public option” campaign ..

    They got conned, but it was still useful because it revealed the con-game.

    I don’t know that I agree with that. There’s so much bullshit circulating in the body politic, and it never seems to get purged. All you get is bullshit bloat. There were actually people at FLD who were proposing “public option” as a write-in candidate in the mid-terms.

    NOTE I really don’t want to take credit for being prematurely correct on [a|the] [strong|robust]? public [option|plan]. PNHP, in particular Kip Sullivan, were way ahead of me there with much more powerful analysis. As far as Hamsher, two words: “Jason Rosenbaum.” All you need to know is that she handed over The Seminal to shill for HCAN who didn’t disclose his affiliation until forced to by commenters, and who ran a column called “Health Care News” that suppressed all single payer coverage. Think that won’t happen again? Sort of bringing up the question, solidarity with whom for what. The age old questionn

  48. December 15, 2010

    If any of you know of any bloggers who need some assistance this holiday season, please mail me links to their blogs. (I’m talking eviction desperate, cat food desperate, next stop the streets desperate, no place to go desperate. No matter much I feel I’m in that class, sheesh, I’ve got food and firewood, a dedicated server and a huge honkin Mac. Sure, it could all vanish in a few months, but I’d like to help some bloggers who are much more in trouble than that… TIA.)

  49. December 15, 2010

    madamab,

    Yes, I noticed after I wrote my post … there were only 9 posts in reply to Ian’s initial article when I started it … that you had also predicted that obama wouldn’t run in 2012. You’re first, but I call seconds!

    As far as your hopes that hillary “can be persuaded to take up the reins instead”, I don’t share those hopes … at all.

    As far as her husband is concerned, the big corporate lap dawg, you do know that he supports obama’s deal on the tax cuts and defended it as the best deal that obama could get, don’t you? … even though he has no possible way of knowing that since his stance was primarily based upon obama’s account of a negotiation in which bill was not present at nor involved in. And you do know that he capped his afternoon off by lavishing charlie krautheimmer … a man that has been wrong about damn near everything for the past decade … with a hardy ball-washing? And you do know that bill clinton had a deal with newt gingrich to “reform” social security before the Lewinsky situation made it politically untenable?

    But hey, hillary is not bill, right? Buuuut, according to the author of The Pact, she, along with bill, “implored” erskine bowles … the corporate hack that obama assigned to be the democrats’ head to his deficit commission … to stick around for bill’s second term so that he could help “fix” social security. http://firedoglake.com/2010/05/18/how-monica-lewinsky-saved-social-security-clinton-gingrich-bowles-and-the-pact/
    And you do know that from the wikileaks that we know that the state department, which hillary heads, was trying to push African countries into accepting genetically modified foods? And you do know that she voted in favor of the initial tarp? And don’t you believe that hillary’s campaign … run by dlc darling mark penn, who she hired … wasn’t a little bit responsible for obama’s success in the primaries?

    Oh yeah, some adversary of corporate amerika is she. And though corporate amerika and the plutocrats definitely got their money’s worth from their backing of obama … and I personally believe that it was a better payoff than it would have been from hillary … the rich and powerful hardly feared 4 years of hillary clinton

    But like you say, she isn’t perfect … therefore decreasing what you have to defend.

    Z

  50. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Excellent analysis. Solidarity is something sorely lacking, and I don’t see it anywhere on the horizon.

    In regards to riots in the U.S., not a chance. You can’t make formidable bricks from mud and straw, and that’s about all “Americans” are these days…..soft, entitled and clueless. Witness the Beck and Stewart charades in Washington. If “Americans” attempted to riot, it would look like the guinea pig soldiers in those military clips where they were administered LSD and then were required to perform simple maneuvers. Everybody would be running around aimlessly shooting each other…..and that’s before the police and military would bring in the big guns, i.e. the sonic cannons.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfOIhKlkUy8

    http://www.livescience.com/technology/090925-sonic-cannon-crowd-control.html

  51. December 15, 2010

    Morocco, it’s hard to imagine a better demonstration of why the only way forward, if there is a way forward, is non-violence. People do tend to forget that the US is by far the world’s greatest military power, and all that power can be deployed domestically by, say, Northern Command. So I’m not sure if would ever make sense to attack where one’s opponent is strongest… Just thinking out loud here, and no, I don’t have a “plan.”

  52. December 15, 2010

    Most of my NCO friends were definitely outside the norm as were my CO’s.

    Did you serve? And if you didn’t, how did you get your info…media? Aren’t you making my point above.

    No, and I wouldn’t. I’ve lived the bulk of my life in cities and environments with a lot of military and ex-military personnel, was in a Scout troop with a leader serving in the military—I didn’t last very long—and so on and so forth. A lot of them are perfectly nice as adults with no direct power over me, of course.

    re norm: Depends on what you mean by “outside the norm”. Means different things to different people. To me it was born stuttering unathletic geek, involuntary teacher’s pet, and social outcast until I found the nerd clubs some way into high school. I chafe at anything that imposes a structure on me or requires me to follow orders without argument. I have enough of that in non-military life. Has the media lied to me about this aspect of military life?

    What’s more, nobody said you had to serve, what I am saying is , if you don’t serve, you don’t get the opportunity to force others to serve in your place…you don’t get to order others to die in your place.

    I will never voluntarily subject people’s political rights to a period of membership in a hierarchical organization they can’t quit if they want to sustain those rights. Never never. Being exempted from service is not enough—I still definitely expect my political rights.

    But okay Mandos, you think you should be able to order others to their deaths without running the risk yourself. Let’s see how many others agree with your elitist position?

    As far as I can tell, lots of people who have served in militaries throughout history have had zero qualms about sending people to die for vain or frivolous reasons. And political rights is about way more than military service—it’s true proper part is about the placement of railroads and the like, and you’d subject that to service in an organization whose existence I’m not even entirely convinced is actually necessary?

    And I detect little daylight between your use of “elitist” and “disagrees with me”.

  53. December 15, 2010

    I never bought the whole “chickenhawk” thing. Yes, there was a point in pointing out the pathetic nature of people who were expressing their manliness vicariously though a pointless set of wars, but do you honestly think that George Bush wouldn’t have done it if he had genuinely served, or that the neocons wouldn’t be neocons? Give me a break.

  54. December 15, 2010

    Mandos,

    “… do you honestly think that George Bush wouldn’t have done it if he had genuinely served, or that the neocons wouldn’t be neocons?”

    Maybe if they saw a few friends have their bodies blown to pieces, they’d be a little less blasé about sending others off to war. Not that it stopped mccain from being a warmonger, but a lot of ex-military folks were vehemently against the Iraq war even before it began.

    Z

  55. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 15, 2010

    I think President Smedley Butler has a nice ring to it, but wow, could you imagine MacArthur as president with the power of the executive at his back? Needless to say, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. How about President Curtis Lemay….now that would have been a real BLAST….quite literally!! Don’t blink….we may get that military dictatorship yet, and then we can rest assured that we will never see war again.

  56. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 15, 2010

    Lambert, what we need to do is travel to Russia and take a crash course in Peasantology and create an informal economy, but first, we should read this from Teodor Shanin.

    http://www.mail-archive.com/futurework@scribe.uwaterloo.ca/msg04564.html

    “Researchers began to notice that there was no economic
    explanation for how the majority of the population survived. They
    didn’t own land. They didn’t seem to have any assets. According to
    conventional economics they should have died of hunger long ago,
    but they survived. To understand this, researchers looked at how
    these people actually lived, rather than at economic models.”

    “[The peasant’s] way of life was completely the opposite of how a
    human being in an industrial society survives. They didn’t have a
    job, pension, steady place to work or regular flow of income…
    Their aim was survival rather than the maximisation of profit.”

    “[In the former S.U.] there are no signs of mass hunger and the
    services by and large have not collapsed. Considering the chaos of
    the formal economy, this is remarkable. Teachers still go to teach
    and scientists go to their laboratories even though they may not
    have been paid for six months. Under normal economic rules, there
    is no explanation for this. Why would they go? The answer is that
    their ‘jobs’ help maintain social and family networks that allow
    them to survive outside the collapsed formal economy. They might
    grow vegetables in the institute gardens, use laboratory equipment
    or run their own small businesses, run taxi services with company
    cars or just trade in skills and goods among their fellow workers.
    Sociologists can understand this, economists cannot.”

    “We find in the former Soviet economies that while officials are
    trying to privatise the economy, most people are living in the
    informal economy that is neither communist nor capitalist… [T]he
    peasants survived not through socialism, but through the informal
    economy.”

  57. December 16, 2010

    “Obama has lost so much support in his own Party that his re-election chances, at this point, look slim. ”

    What evidence do you have for that? I’d love for it to be true, but I find it difficult to believe if by “his own party” you mean the money people, the fixers, the arrangers, etc. If by “his own party” you mean voters, that I can believe.

    “In regards to riots in the U.S., not a chance. You can’t make formidable bricks from mud and straw, and that’s about all “Americans” are these days”

    Oh come on now, anyone who’s ever been in a city that wins a sports championship knows that Americans are still capable of a decent riot!

  58. guest permalink
    December 16, 2010

    “Tom Hickey PERMALINK
    December 15, 2010
    Riots have already started in the UK and Europe. Anyone taking bets on how soon we’ll see them in the US?”

    Define soon. And riots over what? Race riots, sure. Any day of the week. Riots any time a team wins a sports championship. Riots against austerity measures to prop up the rotting oligarchy? I’ll take 50/1 odds that it will happen sooner than monkeys will fly out of my ass.

  59. December 16, 2010

    If obama runs in 2012, he won’t run on hope again; he’ll run on hopelessness … essentially the platform will be: “You have to vote for me becoz the alternative is too dangerous”.

    Z

  60. guest permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Damn, that Stirling sure is depressing! Can’t argue with him, but his writing suffers from the same sort of style as Ian’s. Even more so. Much more so. Seems like he just goes off on a tangent thinking that anybody/somebody can follow his train of thought.

    Sorta sad and sorta funny what he said about Jane Hamsher. I stopped commenting on that blog within a few months of discovering it (the height of the Scooter Libby stuff) when I saw how they deleted nontrolls who pointed out, even very nicely, if something they said was just wrong or not fair. Then I only went to read Jane (I’ll always love her for “ole 60 grit”). But she lost me during the health care fiasco. At some point I felt like she was knowingly participating in the kabuki too. I wouldn’t call her “corrupt” (of course, I don’t know her as well as Stirling does), but certainly prone to the same weaknesses as the rest of the lot. Our doomed lot.

    And she did her part in pointing out the corruption and lack of solidarity Sterling faults for much of our situation. Watching the blacktie dinner gay crowd and NARAL lining up behind rape gurney Joe Lieberman (the person I loathe the most in the world!) certainly opened my eyes. (Or maybe that was Sterling or Ian posting over there. I’ll give her credit by osmosis) She even got me to make my first significant campaign contributions to that guy Lamont, even though I could tell he would fail, and failing failure, he would be pretty wishy washy as a Senator. It was still worth it to make Joe’s life ugly for a few months.

    And that’s me that Stirling described. Just going to work everyday and hoping things don’t go downhill too fast or too soon or too hard. It’s like an experience I had earlier this year when I thought I was getting killed. I didn’t freak out. Didn’t cry for mommy or Jesus, or care about telling someone I loved them or regret not running with the bulls at Pamplona. I just spaced out and thought “so this is it? I wonder how horrible it will be”. Then I survived the experience. But really, national/world events are are just like that near death experience, except in super slow motion.

  61. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Cenk Uygur repeats a point that Ian Welsh has made repeatedly:

    If John McCain had won the presidency, there is almost no chance he could have gotten the Bush tax cuts extended for the rich. Think about it. How was a Republican president going to get an overwhelmingly Democratic Senate and House to pass those tax cuts that they hated under Bush?

    No, only a Democratic president could get a Democratic Congress to agree to tax cuts for the rich. So, in this sense, progressives are worse off for having a Democratic president than a Republican one.

    link

    Unfortunately for his argument, he then goes on to quote Democrat Jim McDermott: Well, I think a lot of us are, in the caucus, we’re not quite sure why this is happening. It doesn’t make political sense what he did, and it doesn’t make economic sense.

    McDermott, since it doesn’t make political or economic sense, why did most of the democratic senators vote for it? Why doesn’t the house defeat it?

    Or is McDermott going to be telling us shortly that, like Sen. Franken, the heat in the kitchen is very, very hot and that it was too hard to vote down the obama tax policy? Apparently, democrats like the obama tax policy better than discarding it.

  62. S Brennan permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Geeze Mandos,

    “[I] was in a Scout troop…I didn’t last very long”

    “I will never voluntarily subject people’s political rights to a period of membership in a hierarchical organization they can’t quit if they want to”

    “I chafe at anything that imposes a structure on me”

    And yet you feel you you should be entitled to order soldiers to their death. Thank you, for being so blunt. I stand by my original statement on why folks of your ilk should not be allowed to command troops.

  63. beowulf permalink
    December 16, 2010

    To me it was born stuttering unathletic geek, involuntary teacher’s pet, and social outcast until I found the nerd clubs some way into high school. I think you’d do just fine in the Air Force :o)
    Seriously though, the USAF does treat its people better than the other services. The Army sends its troops overseas for a year at a time, the typical overseas tour for the Air Force is 4 months, good times.

    I like Mandos’s proposal, but I’m uncomfortable giving a 16 year old the “choice” to either serve or screw up their future job prospects forever. Unless the kid has parents who all but coerce him to join, you’re putting someone too young to have the the legal status to sign a contract in the position of making a far-reaching decision they’re likely to screw up. A step down from Montgomery’s Army Reserve draft would requiring every 19 year old male to undergo military training but with no obligation to serve outside the US unless they later volunteer for military service. In other words, Harry Truman’s abortive Universal Military Training plan. Oddly enough, Truman’s UMT is still iin the US Code but as part of the statute, it was not to kick in until 1. Selective Service stopped inducting recruits (which it did in 1973) and 2. Congress enacted a code of conduct to govern this new “National Security Training Corps” (which they never did). I suppose some Senator could be a dick and quietly add the necessary code of conduct rules to the Defense Authorization bill, but that’d just be mean. :o)

    (8) No person shall be inducted into the National Security Training Corps until after—
    (A) a code of conduct, together with penalties for violation thereof, and measures providing for disability and death benefits have been enacted into law…
    50a USC 454(c)
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50a/usc_sec_50a_00000454—-000-.html

  64. December 16, 2010

    It was S Brennan’s proposal.

  65. December 16, 2010

    And yet you feel you you should be entitled to order soldiers to their death. Thank you, for being so blunt. I stand by my original statement on why folks of your ilk should not be allowed to command troops.

    Frankly, if anything, I think it makes me more qualified.

    What was being able to take federal or state contract jobs have to do with commanding troops or “ordering soldiers to their deaths”? You’d exclude anyone who feels at 16 ill-suited to the military from any access to political life, including decision-making ability on where to put railways and utilities. Who is the elitist here?

    I wouldn’t have paid attention to this, because the scheme is so bizarre it would never be put into practice, but the underlying attitude is…very interesting, and frankly rather intolerant and hypocritical.

    I could just as well say that anyone who has the temperament to serve in a command hierarchy is too conformist to be permitted in government, and I would be more justified. It’s still nonsensical as a policy, but a smidgen more justified. Glorification of the military and military service is one of the more odious aspects of American culture and besets even well-meaning liberals.

  66. December 16, 2010

    Actually, you know, seriously: for ex-military personnel seeking political office, a history of insubordination should be really a prerequisite. Anyone else shows signs of dangerous obedience.

  67. December 16, 2010

    Let me try to get the thread back to somewhere near the topic that Ian and Stirling proposed.

    Iraq product rollout in September 2002 == _______ in 2012? I have a nasty feeling it won’t be foreign.

    Then again, you might have a product rollout in 2011, if your endgame included words like “government of national unity.”

    Not that I’m foily.

  68. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Pelosi would be liberal in a different world, but she will do what the President tells her to do, she’s a good soldier.

    …a history of insubordination should be really a prerequisite. Anyone else shows signs of dangerous obedience.

    Pelosi may be a “good soldier” (one who follows orders without questioning them), but she is not a good soldier. A good soldier is one who disobeys unlawful orders (in the political realm, this would be not going along with policies that you think are wrong). Disobeying unlawful orders requires character, courage, a conscience or moral sense, and a willingness to think for yourself. The democrats have too many “good soldiers.”

  69. jcapan permalink
    December 16, 2010

    “The left has chosen to hang separately.”

    Indeed. Identity politics negate (at the word ‘go’) any possibility of solidarity. Women want to vote only for a female candidate, blacks a … If that is the left we have, then there is no future. Folks need to subsume their own narrow interests for the larger good. One would think that at this late date we’d understand this much, since the impending results of our selfishness are so obviously dystopian.

    Social justice, egalitarianism, generally speaking, class is what should unify us. You set to work bringing about that elusive transformation of society and all (left leaning) groups will be satisfied.

  70. December 16, 2010

    Social justice, egalitarianism, generally speaking, class is what should unify us. You set to work bringing about that elusive transformation of society and all (left leaning) groups will be satisfied.

    I agree in principle but even in principle this is easier said than done. A lot of the constituencies in questions do actually have conflicting interests, either perceived or real depending on your perspective, so there will always be the question of whose interests are subordinated to who else’s in order to maintain said solidarity. I don’t think anyone has come up with a good answer.

  71. December 16, 2010

    Let me try to get the thread back to somewhere near the topic that Ian and Stirling proposed.

    We never really left. I thought that S Brennan brought up his/her (dunno gender) implicit diagnosis of the systemic failures now apparent in the American system of government.

    But as for an internal-security “product rollout”, that’s either already happened, or it’s too soon for it to be 2012. A bit of both, actually.

  72. newgrange99 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Going back to the OP, wouldn’t “Bunraku Congress” be more appropriate than “Kabuki”?

  73. jcapan permalink
    December 16, 2010

    “Going back to the OP, wouldn’t ‘Bunraku Congress’ be more appropriate than ‘Kabuki’?

    Technically, yes. But as someone who appreciates (and attends) both, it’s a bloody fucking insult to exquisite, centuries-old art forms.

  74. jcapan permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Mandos,

    I should have said: You set to work bringing about that elusive transformation of society and the real left will be onboard. Those not leading the charge will awaken from their 40 year slumber. The left-leaning groups unsatisfied by such a movement are charlatans, too privileged and self-absorbed to give a shit about a just society for all.

    “Man is born to act and not to speculate”

    FWJ Schelling

  75. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Iraq product rollout in September 2002 == _______ in 2012?

    2002? I think it was much earlier than that….say, 1959, the year the CIA assassinated Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim and imposed Saddam Hussein.

  76. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    The military is nothing more than a glamorized, taxpayer-funded, socialist mercenary force to protect the vested, and to be vested, interests of the Plutocratic Oligarchy abroad…..and soon, to protect those interests at home via a crack down on Main Street, even though there’s nothing to crack down on but air and formula-fed fat with the semblance of limbs for mobility. Think about it, 50-60 cents on every FIT dollar goes to the ever expanding military budget, and not a peep from Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and all the other talking heads about this massive socialist program for the rich. Jesus, you idiotic soldiers, if you’re going to put on a uniform and fight, at least do it for a more noble cause than another mansion for your wealthy master.

  77. Carlos permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Great kabuki analogy. I concur with much of what was written.

    Incidentally I’ve recently someone frustratedly describe Democrats as cats and republicans like sheep. The same person then went on to expand this notion by saying Democrats are thoughtful, independent, considerate, in touch, which is wonderful but hell to get to work together. Whereas republians are of a herd mentality, subject to irrationality and stupidity, and happy to be lead over a cliff so long as they do so together.

  78. December 16, 2010

    In regards to Jane Hamsher, at least she exposed the obama administration for their sellout on the public option (po) while a lot of others that were on the po boat continued their support for the bill even as the po was removed. I don’t want to get into the po shell game debate, but I think that the fact that she continued to fight for it favorably distinguishes her from some of the other bloggers that kept evolving their reasoning to support obama”care” around whatever their hero came up with. She may have been an obamabot at one time, but she left that wagon a long time ago.

    She’s also gotten involved in the auditing the fed movement, Prop 19, student loan reform, the tsa “porno”-screens, and has been very critical of obama’s tax cuts for the rich while leaving the 99ers behind … and that’s just off the top of my head.

    Z

  79. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    One of the reasons for the political show put on by the duopoly: to legalize bribery. Latest example is Peter Orzag’s taking a job with Citibank after 18 months running the OMB.

    Here is Dean Baker’s dot-connecting:

    One item that has never featured prominently in public debate in Washington is a financial speculation tax or some equivalent tax on the financial industry. This is striking because it is potentially a source of a vast amount of revenue, more than $150 billion a year by my calculation. The bulk of this money would come at the expense of the rents earned on Wall Street. This is the reason that even the IMF, an institution not known for being hostile to banks, now advocates new taxes on the financial sector.

    Why do the folks in power in Washington seem unable or unwilling to consider a financial speculation tax? Let’s imagine for a moment that during his stint as OMB director Peter Orszag had been a vocal advocate of financial speculation taxes. It doesn’t seem likely that under these circumstances Citigroup would currently be offering him a job that, according to the New York Times, would typically pay $2 to $3 million a year.

    Orszag and others in a similar situation undoubtedly understand how the positions they take in their roles in government can affect their future career options. Since many of these officials are obviously motivated in part by the lure of such huge paychecks (i.e. they take the jobs), it is reasonable to infer that the prospect of big-paying jobs on Wall Street and elsewhere affects the positions they advocate in the Obama Administration and Congress.

    In other words, President Obama is not being truthful; everything is not on the table. The items that matter most to the rich and powerful will not be called into question because their interests are being protected. As far as the rest of us – as President Obama often said on the campaign, “you’re on your own.”

    (emphasis added)

  80. anon2525 permalink
    December 17, 2010

    This is why I generally don’t write about legislative fights any more. There is no point, the outcome is usually determined long before the actual vote, and everything you see is just theater for the rubes.

    And it’s why I don’t read about them.

    We have passed the point where it would have been better to have had McCain/Palin win than Obama/Biden in 2008.

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