Friday, September 28, 2012

09.28.12 at 4:42 am

“There’s a hugely important vote coming up.” No there isn’t. The only genuine issue in this election is whether you want Paul Ryan’s insane extremist policies in 2013, or 12 years later enacted by a Democratic president. Either way, history shows that Democratic presidents have continually enacted increasingly insane fringe right-wing policies like “ending welfare as we know it” (AKA millions of starving children living in cars) and “declaring American citizens enemy combatants and murdering them without even charging them with a crime” (Anwar Al-Awlaki) and “torturing and brutalizing anyone who publicly dissents” (LRAD military sound cannons now used against political protesters to permanently destroy their hearing) and “privatizing financial losses on Wall Street while socializing all losses” (see aftermath of 2007-8 financial crisis in which the Wall Street financial crime lords continued to receive their massive annual bonuses, while the average taxpayer gets hammered in the form of skyrocketing bank fees

— meanwhile, not one of the financial criminals responsible for the 2007-8 global financial meltdown has gone to jail, but tens of thousands of Occupy protesters have gone to jail for protesting this injustice).

So the only real issue here is: do you want to end welfare and social security in 2013? Or in 2025? That’s our only choice. Because history proves that every single insane far-right proposal put forth by Republicans gets enacted by Democrats 12 years later. Do you want Romney/Ryan to go to war with Iran in 2013? Or would you rather a Democratic president went to war with Iran in 2025?

What the [expletive deleted] is the difference? We’re supposed to believe this is some huge issue? It’s like asking a girl whether she’d rather be raped right now, or a month from now. That’s not a choice. It’s life in hell.

” It’s important enough we can’t afford any abstentions, which it seems to me is the idea of not voting for Obama.”

No, this election isn’t important at all. It has no importance except insofar as it serves to ratify the insane far-right policies by getting Democrats to vote for a regime which will eventually enact those insane policies.

Face reality. No matter which party you vote for, you’re going to get limitless ever-accelerating growth in America’s military-prison-surveillance-torture complex. No matter which party you vote for, you’re going to get more American jobs offshored and a smaller U.S. middle class. No matter which party you vote for, you’re going to get more endless unwinnable foreign wars. No matter which party you vote for, you’re going to get more escalation in the endless unwinnable War on Drugs. No matter which party you vote for, you’re going to get more escalation in the endless unwinnable War on Copyright Infringement.

No matter which party you vote for, you’re going to get more erosion of the Bill of Rights, with more Americans dragged off the street and hurled into secret prisons forever without charges, more American murdered by the government without even being accused of a crime, more criminalization of political dissent, more brutal and repressive police savagery against anyone in the bottom 20% of the income distribution, more data being gathered from every American’s emails and phone calls and tweets and bank records and cellphone tracking and buying habits and facebook postings, and that data getting shared more widely with employers and cops and college admissions committees and every other unaccountable secretive quasitotalitarian hierarchy in our society.

So your vote won’t change anything. The only choice you have is whether you scream out in rage as you’re crucified.

Write in someone like Elizabeth Warren for president instead of the good cop Barack Obama (as opposed to the bad cop Mitt Romney). The good cop works for the same people as the bad cop. The good cop and the bad cop are just two halves of a team designed to crush you and turn your life into a living hell. Reject the good cop/bad cop “choice” and put your fist through the one-way mirror in the interrogation room and shout “I REFUSE TO CONFESS BECAUSE I HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG!”

“Even in states that are a lock for electoral votes pushing up the popular vote helps marginalize the GOP.”

Get a clue. America is a country in which Ayn Rand’s paeans to sociopathic narcissism and homicidal greed have outsold the Bible. Nothing is going to marginalize the GOP.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dear reader I got your comment in my email account. Thanks. I'm flattered that you would consider subscribing to my RSS feed, but I haven't set one up yet. That's why you couldn't. I basically just use this blog to remember posts I thought were really good for me. I don't expect others to be interested necessarily.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bruce Wilder 09.20.12 at 6:17 pm

A couple of points about the underlying political dynamics might be in order:

In contrast to Australia, the U.S. has very low voter turnout, and part of the political dynamics turns on strategies to “motivate the base” to get out and vote, and/or “suppress” or discourage turnout. Karl Rove’s successful strategy in 2004 turned on such subtleties as having state referenda on gay marriage to get out the evangelical vote, and manipulating the issuing of “terror alerts” a few days before the election, to get a predictable “scared” shift toward Bush of a few percent. The Republicans were able to stage a massive comeback in 2010, retaking the House, on the strength of Tea Party excitement combined with Democratic Party demoralization, reflected in turnout at the polls.

Obama’s overall political strategy has been to move to, and occupy the center-right of American politics. Implemented as policy, this has entailed embracing and extending a large part of the Bush policy regime, regarding the financial system, the economy and taxes, immigration, civil liberties, military spending and the wars, with predictably lackluster results. But, of course, poor results or no, it is a difficult record for a Republican to attack, without seeming ridiculous — these are the policy desiderata of the Right.

As a political strategy, it takes the risk of discouraging and demoralizing the Democratic Party’s base voting blocks — at least the more ideological or policy-conscious ones — since the bulk of Democratic Party voters are situated to Obama’s left, sometimes far left, and Obama has to minimize his own use of the Democrats’ traditional populist rhetoric. Obama has been able to compensate, because he has solid support from black and latino voters, who have taken less notice of his right-wing policies and performance, and with the “war on women” charge against Republican policies.

One of the dividends of Obama’s center-right positioning is that he gets lukewarm support from what used to be moderate Republican factions, in the form of attacks and criticisms of Republican pundits representing these factions on Romney and Ryan. And, mainstream media will report out these criticisms. On the 47% gaffe, Romney has been attacked by such Republican stalwarts as David Brooks of the New York Times. Figures like David Frum, Bruce Bartlett and Richard Posner have emerged as pundit representatives of the moderate Republican center-right, who find Obama’s policies congenial; they speak as outsiders, with relation to the Republican Party, but provide an important point of leverage for mainstream reporting of the he-said, she-said variety.

Romney’s nomination is oddly discordant with the patterns of Republican Party presidential politics. The Republican Party has become a regional party, with its base concentrated in the old Confederacy of the South, and its support elsewhere, where the South finds resonance. Until very recently, the Presidential contest was in the South, as the relative growth in Republican support and decline in Democratic support called the outcome. The Democrats were most successful, when running Southerners, who would sound populist themes (Carter, Clinton, Gore) and hold more of the white Southern vote. Republicans would counter with authoritarian figures, who would manipulate symbols and sound dog-whistles. Gradually, the Republicans were becoming better and better at effectively sounding populist themes. George W. Bush, cutting brush at his “ranch” and looking to some like an affable companion for beer-drinking, with claims to being born-again, was a triumph of Republican populist fakery.

In some ways, Romney is the right guy for a regional Party: he has ties to Massachusetts, Michigan, Utah, California; everywhere, but the South. That kind of counter-programming is what a regional Party should do; the alternative is to risk a reaction, since the (symbolic) South (of racist backward ignorance) is held in contempt by most of the country. But, he’s been completely unsuccessful in putting on the populist flannel shirt or in sounding like the authoritarian “daddy party” figure, exemplified by the Republican governors of New Jersey, Florida, Wisconsin and some other states.

Populist appeals have become the un-played, and possibly unplayable card, in this election. Not because they get no reaction from the electorate, but because populist appeals threaten to get too much of a reaction, too much of a response, in a country in which vast numbers of people are feeling their own economic descent.

Bruce Wilder 09.20.12 at 7:04 pm

I think Romney’s “47%” remark correctly reflects the views of a great many of the wealthy and privileged, who instinctively regard much of the world’s population as so much useless surplus, unneeded in an economy constrained by the limits of physical resources. The viciousness of the thought stands out, of course, but what ought to impress us more is the realism.

“Peak oil”, world population growth, climate-change and related trends mark out one of the most momentous changes since the modern world began to emerge in the 17th and 18th centuries. The entire energy basis of the world economy will have to change completely in the next 30-50 years, and the U.S. will certainly not be able to claim an out-sized share of energy in the global economy of 2050. That implies that energy consumption in the U.S. will have to decline, substantially (~60+%), over the next generation, which, in turn, implies that the suburbs and ex-urbs — as a pattern of life supporting a culture of dreams and ambition — is doomed. It also implies that globalization of the manufacturing and agricultural economies, though maybe not the information economy, is, also, doomed.

A lot of Republican “tea party” reactionary appeal in the 2010 elections was the expression of anger about the felt threat, especially in the ex-urbs and suburbs, to a pattern of life that went deeper than symbolic “guns” and “bibles”. That newly elected Republican governors rejected major transit projects in New Jersey, Florida and Wisconsin was the “symbolic” politics of that anger.

American politics is in a right-wing box, kept there by fear that all the alternatives to a crumbling status quo, are worse, combined with the demands of corrupt vested interests to preserve whatever still extracts value, whether it is iPhones or payday loans, fractured medical care or Wal-Mart or student loans that condemn a generation to debt peonage.

The preservationist instinct, brought out in periodic panic reactions to the crumbling status quo, is driven by stupid fear, and its consequences for both the choice of policy and the design and execution of policy, are terrible, and often senselessly corrupt. We are saddled with a massively oversized financial sector, much of it dependent on extractive frauds, because everyone fears the alternative of a crash or nationalization or even prosecutions. So many of the rich elite, like Romney, live off of disinvestment, and so much of the economy is extractive, that we lose track of what it would mean to invest in adding value, or to build a better future.

The Republicans can call for leveling — attacking the “privileges” of unionized teachers or other public employees, or calling for “sacrifice” in the form of cuts to Social Security, and they will be echoed by Democrats like Obama and his good friend, Rahm.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bruce Wilder

09.11.12 at 11:56 pm

ajay @ 77: “Just because you are low-income and low-status doesn’t actually make you naturally submissive.”

Certainly, that’s not everyone’s response. But, it does tend to make one feel powerless, abused, lied to, cynical and resentful. And, the result may be bloody-minded, passive-aggressive resistance, at best, and a high degree of conventionalism coupled with aggressiveness to deviants and out-groups, rather than legitimate authorities, who may, at least, ostensibly, be both trusted too much, and regarded cynically.

And, goes a long way to explaining the logically incoherent, stereotyped beliefs, that Cranky Observer @ 30 so artfully described. (“My peeps!”, I thought to myself, back in Michigan!)

If you are in a position, where your role, for better or worse, is to do what you are told, and you are dependent on the organization, what, psychologically, you most want, is to be taken care of, and for membership—not just leadership—in the organization to have its privileges, and, above all, protections. A well-functioning army feeds the troops, as job one, and the bottom level of officer-management is dedicated to taking care of the troops. And, the bottom few levels in the Army know perfectly well that they may be killed or maimed for their trouble, and have to defend themselves psychologically from the implications, in ways that may shape what seem to the rest of us, as odd and contradictory political attitudes.

Being a small, lowly and disposable cog in a corporate machine is even more thankless and disspiriting than being in the Army. (Half of the U.S. workforce is employed in organizations with more than 100 employees.) There are no limits on what the top executives may steal, and no patriotic purpose. So, yes, you resent anyone, on your own level, who doesn’t keep step, or shows disloyalty, and you are inured to a certain dull roar of abuse and exploitation by higher ranks, a full acknowledgement of which would be terrifically demoralizing, stripping everything you do, of meaning. But, if an accident, say, changes the power relationship—giving you, say, the chance to sue for wrongful termination or workers’ comp—and you have a rare chance to take revenge, well, then . . .

So one of the frontiers of practical politics and the struggle over the distribution of power and income has always been the tort system and the welfare system.

I’m always surprised at how little empathy many liberal Democrats in the U.S. have for the people Barbara Ehrenreich said were being nickled and dimed. The people, who hoped Obama would help them, and whom he failed so completely and thoroughly. Is it really so hard to see Obamacare as a subsidy for rapacious, for-profit insurers and big pharma? Is it so hard to see the EITC as a subsidy for demeaning, low-wage work, which benefits big corporations? Is it so hard to see why people would resent lax and ineffective immigration and border controls?

I'm sure they assured all the horses that one more round of oat dumping would get them back the jobs they'd lost to automobiles just before they sent them all for retraining at the glue factory. Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-11-12 8:45 AM horizontal rule
I don't see why government ever expects corporations to play ball with anything. They do not give a shit what unemployment is, and will respond to all the QE carrots or whatever like T. Rexes testing every inch of the fence to find the weak spot. Don't put T. Rexes in an amusement park. Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-12 8:59 AM

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This comment struck me.

Ms. Jones 1 day ago

I believe the wrong questions are being asked in order to subvert the American population. Keep in mind that 90 percent of all American media is owned by six corporations, Disney, News Corp,GE, VIACOM, Time Warner and CBS, whereas in the 80's there were 50 different companies. Headlines have the ability to instill subconscious thinking.. NPR ran a story last week asking "Who is the Coolest President?" Here we are, in the middle of economic crisis and War after war and NPR has the audacity to ask such a stupid question. Why? What does NPR not want us to think about? That is the real question. Moreso, today, NPR runs a story on the front page , "NEXT US PRESIDENT FACES MIDDLE EAST "IN TURMOIL" This headline insinuated that the middle east is in turmoil of its own accord, that Americans have no responsibility in the situation, and that our poor innocent president has to deal with it. Ridiculous! The article it is a response to is pretty cool too.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Kevin Drum's list of Obama's (positive) accomplishments:

Passed Health Care Reform
Passed the Stimulus
Passed Wall Street Reform
Ended the War in Iraq
Eliminated Osama bin Laden
Turned Around US Auto Industry
Repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Reversed Bush Torture Policies
Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program
Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards
Passed Mini Stimuli
Created Conditions to Begin Closing Dirtiest Power Plants
Achieved New START Treaty

I was despairing of Bob Mcmanus then I saw this:

Matt Stoller at Salon reviews the convention

The larger consequences of having two candidates who share similar policy ideas, who both believe in police state tactics to suppress whistle-blowers, who both are driven by their allegiance to a wealthy political class, are not acknowledged. It isn't that American democracy is at risk. American democracy was at risk, perhaps four or eight or 12 years ago. Today, speaking of democracy in America is quaint -- the country increasingly resembles an undemocratic state, with a free wealthy elite and a much larger poorer populace, constrained by monopolistic corporations that collude with the government.

In fact, the lesson of the 2012 election, if we are honest with ourselves, is simple, and disturbing. America is shifting from a democracy into an authoritarian state. This authoritarianism is soft, with some remnants of an open civil society, and there is as yet no violence used against domestic political actors. Nazi Germany we are not. We are not yet, not until Obama hands the baton to his Republican partners.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:06 PM

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