Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Friday Night Massacre, Obama-Style

In a Friday night leak designed to garner the least possible amount of attention, an unnamed White House source not authorized to speak even though he was absolutely directed to speak by his boss, has announced what we were all pretty much expecting:  Elizabeth Warren is out as chief of the consumer protection agency she herself created.

Now that he has embraced cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and the wrath of his base is sliding like water off his thick-skinned teflon persona , why not go in for the kill and stab the progressive community one more time for good measure, while they are still reeling from the shock of the past week.  And do it at arm's length, of course, right at the start of a summer weekend.

37 comments:

Anne Lavoie said...

All along I hoped he wouldn't nominate her, for the sole reason that I thought she was smart enough to see through him and know that he/Geitner would control her every move. She would just be a pawn.

Actually, I have been wondering how intelligent and perceptive she is to even associate herself with him, but I have to admit he has fooled a lot of people. Nancy Pelosi is another one fallen under his spell, much to my surprise.

At least now, if someone else is indeed nominated, Warren is free to pursue other positions of public service, which is much better for the country than working for a con man. I hope she has the guts to go for it.

Maybe he will replace Biden with Warren for more eye appeal (not for her brains) in his re-election bid. If that happened, I still wouldn't vote for him!

D12345 said...

Karen, you really should have a great national platform (even greater than this blog!)

You are a great pleasure. Thanks

A few random notes.

1. Adolph Reed had Obama's number in 1996.

http://www.thebellforum.com/showthread.php?t=9456&page=1

2. Let us keep in mind that Obama's only agenda is Obama. Remember he has never done ANYTHING in his life. He never wrote an academic article, he never tried a case in court, his "community organizing" is so thin as to be non-existent. etc.

3. His rhetoric in 2008 was a peculiar vague set of cliches. "We are the ones we have been waiting for." "Change you can believe in."

The new ones are the same—"winning the future."

4. His comments on Reagan....not only as a "transformative president." but also, "He made us (!) feel good about ourselves" and "He curbed the excesses of the 60's."

5. Note that when he talks about "hard decisions" it only means potentially hard politically for him. In other words, cutting medicare is hard, not because many people will suffer and die, but because it may cost him some votes.

I could go on...but you have it.

I write this only in response to people like Frank Rich who somehow think that he is going against his "true self." This is clearly his true self. And always has been.

Napoleon said...

@D12345,
Karen does have a "great national platform (even greater than this blog!)". It is the "Comment" section of the New York Times' Opinion page where readers write their responses to 'Op-ed' articles by regular columnists, to selected editorials, and to occasional front page news articles. See today's comments at http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2011/07/16/opinion/16blow.html.

She and Marie Burns, and now Winning Progressive, have managed to so establish themselves there that now the first thought of many reading an article is to go straighaway to the 'Comment' section to see what they have to say. Their comments consistently register high numbers of "Recommend". I must admit that not infrequently I skip the article and go straight to the 'Comment' section to get their take, and then go to the article, but not always.

That the 'Comment' section and especially the comments of these three people have become a national platform is quite an unexpected phenomenon. I doubt when the editors of the Times introduced this section that they had anticipated that they were creating an institution in which commenter would vie with the Times' own journalist in their capacity to draw an audience. It would be useful to know from the Times what percentage of readers of articles read some of the comments where comments to the articles are permitted.

What I have learned from this blog from Karen's description, is that it takes a strong discipline, not to mention an active inquiring mind and great journalistic skills, to pull off this feat, day after day, week after week, and year after year. I would hope that one day, the Times, following in the fashion of giving awards to mainstream journalists for their journalistic contributions, would one day recognize that some type of award should be given to commenters like Karen, Marie, and Winning for their outstanding journalistic achievements.

VLT said...

I am really disappointed but not surprised that Obama is not going to back Elizabeth Warren. He is, after all, completely in the thrall of his banker masters and an independent CFPB led by a highly intelligent and ethical Elizabeth Warren would have been a real stumbling block for the big bankers to continue to pursue their profit making (gambling) at the expense of the American economy and the Middle Class taxpayer.

Anne - can't believe we disagree on anything, but I believe, in no way, could Elizabeth Warren be anyone's pawn. That is why she was fighting for a CFPB that was entirely independent of Treasury, Tim Geithner and the House Financial Services Committee. It is because she HAS their number and knows exactly what the banks are trying to pull off, that she is perceived as so dangerous to their business as usual (making the big bucks by ripping off the American people)approach. Warren has allegiance to only one group of people, and that is the Middle Class she has fought so hard to protect.

I DO hope she runs for the Senate as we could use someone of her intellect and integrity in the House of Lords, but she may be sick of the corruption and the fruitlessness of going up against the powers behind the politicians. I certainly would support her if she ran for public office – and am really discouraged that she has been abandoned by O’bummer and Co. It is just one more reason NOT to vote for TLOTE. (The Lesser of Two Evils for those of you just joining our little blog.)

Nap - Winning Progressive might have some good things to say now and then, but read him/her carefully over any considerable period of time. Whoever (s)he is, (s)he is an apologist for Obama.

Draft Spitzer said...

@ Nap:

I have to join you in your praise of Garcia and Burns (or Burns and Garcia). But with all due respect, I wouldn't put Winning Progressive in the same category as those two formidable ladies, and I say that with all due respect to WP.

I almost always learn something new when I read Burns and Garcia. They're fastidious in their reading, and they incorporate that information into their comments. As many times as I have disagreed with both of them (and hotly so!), I have also written to the Times that they should be hired as regular columnists or at least paid a regular fee.

I'm also a great fan of commenters who list themselves as Walter Rhett, some fellow in Los Altos (JimF, I think), and jon jost. There are a ton of terrific commenters - "Martin" comes to mind, and Fred Drumlevitch who are truly essential reading.

But Garcia, in particular, has proved adept not just at writing incredibly funny, brilliant, and spot-on commentary - she's also managed the very difficult task of editing those who write in to her blog, and creating a sense of community. Which is, ahem, not easy when you're dealing with Democrats, liberals, and progressives, who tend not to march in lockstep. She's trying to herd cats - and she's more or less succeeding.

Marina said...

Yes, I regularly skip the actual op-ed, (unless it's Krugman, Collins, or Blow and their ilk), and go straight for the comments. I don't want the Times passing out awards to commentators such as Karen however--they should pass out money. The Times is starting to morph into a HuffPo model, where (much of) the good writing is provided for free. (I can only dream of a world in which David Brooks, unemployed, his COBRA expired, has to apply for health insurance on the open market...)

About Warren...well, it was inevitable, wasn't it?

Janet Camp said...

I think I'm going to be an illegal immigrant to Canada. I had firm plans in the works until Obama seemed electable, so I held off in favor of being closer to grandchildren, but that was clearly a mistake.

I think WP has improved a lot lately, but it is pretty clear that it is not just one person. My thinking is that the Times should give a guest column to the top Reader Recommended posters from time to time (for which they should be paid).

What I really wish they'd do is offer a "reply" button like HuffPo has.

Draft Spitzer said...

If anyone needs a reminder of how vital Garcia's commentary is, just read the distracting, divisive and largely irrelevant claptrap provided this weekend by Dowd and Bruni in the Times.
While Congress and the White House are locked in a cliffhanger battle, Dowd's writing about Clemons' judge, and Bruni's writing about guns.
Hey, gun control, it's hardly irrelevant, but isn't there some more pressing issue this week?

Napoleon said...

@VLT, @Draft Spitzer, @Marina

Thanks for the additional information and correction.

And I get the point made by Draft Spitzer and Marina that, in light of their regular and contributions, what Karen and Burns should receive is financial compensation, not an award. But keep in mind that like the old quote that says something to the effect that "Opinion is mightier than force; but opinion uses force", so too awards often entail cash payments.

As for the inclusion of Winning Progressive, this was primarily a matter of noticing commenters (is the proper term commenter or commentator?) who provide good input without letup, who receive a large number of hits from readers, who show impressive journalistic skills, and who diagnose reliably with a progressive bent, notwithstanding that I sometimes have differences (both great and small) with them on matters of substance, tone, timing, and recommendations.

But regardless of Winning, my main point was that Burns and Karen, and now seemingly Winning, have utterly changed the whole focus, function, potential, dynamics, and impact of the 'Comments'. This is something that has only recently and slowly dawned upon me.

@Karen

I apologize for so frequently straying off subject.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks for all the compliments, guys. The level of the commentary here on this blog is extremely high as well, and you aren't even limited to 2000 characters as in the NYT. And you always get posted in the order submitted without having to wait 12-16 hours! (unless it's the middle of the night, of course.)
Remember, I welcome "guest posts" too. Just email me your submissions if you're so inclined. Thanks again for your support -- keeps me going!

Anne Lavoie said...

@VLT - You're right of course. Elizabeth Warren is one tough cookie and sharp as a tack, with actual principles. And a spine too.

@Marina - I, too, go straight to the comments section at least half the time. If I am really pressed for time, I will simply scan for Garcia's name. If she has a comment there, I know I am in for a real treat!

I never bother reading Winning Progressive anymore. Once you have read one of his, you have read them all - same old rah rah Obama. I think we got that one figured out.

There are a lot of good commentators, but Karen sees both the forest and the trees of the political landscape and writes with exceptional wit.

Karen, you are a national treasure - I think I will write you in for President. (That solves TLOTE problem for me.) I think it would be fun to start a 'Draft Karen Garcia' movement. What would you like your slogan to be, Karen? Something Revolting, I mean Revolutionary? Give it a whirl!

Draft Spitzer said...

@Nap,
"As for the inclusion of Winning Progressive, this was primarily a matter of noticing commenters (is the proper term commenter or commentator?) who provide good input without letup, who receive a large number of hits from readers, who show impressive journalistic skills, and who diagnose reliably with a progressive bent..."

I believe WP's "large number of hits" is related to a DNC/DLC "grassroots" push. In other words, astroturf. But that's only my impression.

In other words, Winning Progressive is... neither.

But I do enjoy the prescient (pre-Charlie Sheen) inclusion of the word "winning" in his moniker. True, I'd trust Charlie Sheen's political insights first, if only because he's established that he's totally authentic in his, well, whatever. In a world on fakery, one can be forgiven to clinging desperately to any indication of authenticity, even a junkie celebrity's authenticity.

D12345 said...

At the risk of belaboring the point—The comments section in the TImes is nice...but

That is not what I call a great national platform. For me that is Maureen Dowd's spot, which is squandered so badly.

Or Frank Rich's spot in NY Magazine

For me Karen's writing blows those types out of the water. And that is what her writing and thinking deserves.

But let's not squabble over this. We agree that she is great.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Get real, gang. I disagree with all you people about pushing Karen into the best corner office at the Times, or even into the high chair in the Oval Office. White House Press Secretary maybe, under President Elizabeth Warren. Now you're talking!

John in Lafayette said...

Karen,

Saw your response to Friedman today, and I'd like to discuss, if you don't mind.

I think there is a lot of blame for the situation we face today that we can place on our own generation. Seems to me that after the turbulence of the 1960's and early 1970's we figured we had done our part and gave in to either lethargy or selfishness.

Did you? Did I? No, I don't think so, but enough of us did to be able to tip the scales. The people who brought us an end to Viet Nam and the Nixon administration were not a majority, at least not to begin with. It didn't take many of us to stop being active to give the Nixon alumni club its opportunity. And boy, did they take advantage.

My wife has said to me on more than one occasion (and she's right) that the sort of outrage that is Iraq, or the banking scandal, or the destruction of the social safety net, would have had people in the streets back in the '60's. But while she wonders where the young people are, I wonder where WE are. Have we really become the older generation that needs to be rebelled against? A lot of us still seem to care, but apparently we no longer bring any energy to the fight. Obama certainly thinks so. He's busy throwing us under the bus because he's convinced he won't have to pay a price for doing so.

There are hopeful signs. Things are happening in New York and Wisconsin right now which give me hope. The rising backlash against Obama's betrayal of the left seems to be gaining traction.

The solutions are pretty simple. As you and others have pointed out, we need to raise taxes, especially on the wealthiest, whose taxes have been cut beyond reason over the past 50 years. We need to shore up Social Security (a very easy fix), put everyone on Medicare, and invest in education and infrastructure. We need to get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. We can make that happen, but we need to get back in the fight in a far more energetic way than we have since Nixon resigned. That was only a battle, we have yet to win the war.

Karen Garcia said...

@John,
Yes, a lot of us who protested during the 60s/70s "sold out" or more likely just got caught up in the rat-race of making a living and raising children. Then again, a lot of the protests came from middle class kids who were protesting as much against Mom and Dad as against war and social injustice. Many of the protests were self-indulgent and drug-fueled (turn on, tune in, drop out). Woodstock, anyone? Ironically, I lived within an hour of Woodstock and didn't go, because I had to get back to college in Bible-belt Oklahoma. My son can't believe I passed up the chance to see Hendrix and mud-wrestle.
Also ironically, it is only now, in my pre-dotage, that I feel like I can really let loose and "protest" through my writing. By the time I got my first newspaper job, I was covering the protests instead of joining in (not allowed). Today, the problem is that although there are protests, they're not being covered by the corporate, mainstream media. There was also a stronger, free press back in the good old days. For instance, "The Village Voice" was once considered subversive. It is now owned by a big corporation. We live in a misinformation and disinformation age.

Napoleon said...

@D12345

I want to weigh in for the last time but without the distraction of Winning Progressive.

What I was really trying to express, spurred by your initial statement wishing for Karen to have a national platform, was a set of points separate from, though related to, the fact that Karen has a national platform and that she uses it to say things which many of us generally applaud.

One such point is the rather remarkable circumstance that Marie Burns and Karen Garcia have basically been able to establish squatters' rights on a site owned by the NY Times, and have done so, as in adverse possession, in open defiance of much of what the owner of the site stands for. Moreover, they have accomplished this without a manual, classes, mentors, prior experience, to guide them, and without any receipt of financial support.

Another point is that in doing so, they have managed to create expectations in readers that their comments will always be found accompanying columns of the Times' most prized columnists, and that the comments will illuminate in an interesting and informative way whatever was said in the article.

The last point is that this industry of theirs has profoundly altered the significance of the 'Comment' section.

Draft Spitzer said...

@John,

It strikes me that your generation is a bit like Bob Dylan, in that so much was read into your every footstep that you simply retreated. "It's not me," as he sang. 

Or: perhaps a generation so large is simple TOO large to read meaning into.

That is, like the generation of Soviets that moved so fearlessly against the Nazis, we are much more motivated by the immediacy of events - and by forces larger than our own to rightly "own" our own free will.

Mailer wrote presciently in "The Armies of The Night" about how the clash WITHIN the boomer generation might someday create a great rift in society. He was watching boomer college kids tangle with boomer military police. And I think that's indeed what happened, I see the old division at every war protest AND tea party I've observed. The glue of mindblowing national sacrifice of WWII had passed. But that glue came from a terrible cataclysm.

I thought Friedman had it wrong on multiple levels last night. And I can't wait to read what Karen had to say...

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ John

I suspect that just about everyone around here likes the platform you outline in your last paragraph. But we need not look all the way back to the era of Vietnam protests to find a hefty majority energetically backing big correctives in government.

Two years and nine months ago our mighty electorate brought forth a new candidate who promised to deliver on all of your platform and so much more. Most of us now realize that, with respect to the New Deal and the Fair Deal and the peace effort, he was a Benedict Arnold. Our mighty coalition for reform has since been scattered by traitorous and confused leaders and a co-opted press corps.

Judging by Obama’s actions and inactions between January 20, 2009 and this past week with his freely offered sell out of Social Security, Medicare etc., followed by the exile of Elizabeth Warren from his administration, he continues to be a Benedict Arnold. I am baffled by voters, with or without clothespins on their noses, who say they will vote him another four years in 2012. Lesser than what evil?

The Democratic leadership for its part, if not outright traitors to the New Deal and Fair Deal like Obama, must at least be judged as “conflicted” in their loyalties. There is no doubt in my mind that both major parties are utterly useless to old line Democrats, honorable Republicans, old principled liberals, broad progressives and thinking independents of any age.

How do we effect change? In two ways: (1) by retail; and (2) by wholesale.

By retail I mean small efforts by individuals attending salons such as this to swap news and ideas. By going through the old fashioned steps of sending letters off to editors and politicians. By collaring friends and relatives like the wild-eyed Ancient Mariner to warn the world about the albatross around our collective neck. By supporting the arduous efforts of organizers building coalitions, brick by brick, for a Third Party, like the New Progressive Alliance. God bless their tireless hope.

As for me, I don’t have that much time to see many more grandchildren or the success of a Third Party of grand dimensions in my lifetime. And the more I read scientists like Bill McKibben about the globe’s deepening physical sickness, the more I doubt Mother Nature is less impatient than I.

What about the wholesale road to in-time reform, that is, reform going viral? I share your amazement, John, at a national populace sitting there with flies on its teeth. A year ago I would have wagered that Obama’s opening bargaining position on Social Security, Medicare etc. last week would have provided the jolt to wake a slumbering nation. Even as portrayed by FOX, CNN and other popular media outlets, Obama’s position is clear and astounding. He had touched the Third Rail of Politics and is still able to flash that Ipana smile.

A few months ago, Ralph Nader on his web site went through something like the thought process I just laid out. His hope for the change we all want now boils down to one explosive phrase: The Spark. He refers to an event at home, impossible to predict, but comparable to the singular, tragic event before a fruit market on a Tunisian street – the one that triggered the Arab Spring.

Much must happen soon if we are to save the nation and the planet. We need the retail efforts and the wholesale effort (the spark) to make any headway. We are a cadre now, or we are irrelevant. We cannot force the spark, but we should stand ready to see it and act responsibly when it happens.

Jay - Ottawa said...

In case any of you would like to read Nader on "The Spark," here's the address line to copy to your search engine:

http://www.nader.org/index.php?/archives/2260-Waiting-for-the-Spark.html

Anonymous said...

@Nap
"Moreover, they have accomplished this without a manual, classes, mentors, prior experience, to guide them, and without any receipt of financial support."

Agreed that Garcia's received no financial support from the Times, but she has had, in fact, all those other things, including experience - as a reporter, no less.

And while Winning Progressive isn't paid by the Times, I do suspect that Winning Progressive has financial ties to the DNC/DLC/Obama administration. So it's likely SOMEONE is paying him to sugarcoat the Obama administration.

-draftspitz (couldn't get signed on through google this time)

PS to Karen:
Your response to Friedman was spot-on, and I say that as a sometimes fierce critic of the bb generation. This generational "conflict" is a distraction from who's really usurped power. As someone who has organized protests, I know which generation shows up, and it ain't mine! Or Gen Y. Lots of different reasons for that, but still. It would be crazy to lay our present problems entirely at the doorstep of the generation best suited to fixing them. The bb generation has the time and the experience. 

Don't let it go to waste!

Susan said...

I'd like to remind people here that several months ago, there were people out in droves in Wisconsin and Democratic legislators actually left the state to attempt to stop the Republican legislators from dumping the right to collective bargaining. It was one of the most heartening events I have seen in many years. Their efforts may have failed to stop the Republicans, but they have moved on to recall some of the legislators involved.

These events gave me hope that people would/could still organize and try to make visible their dissatisfaction with the political "establishment". The Dem politicians, who I often view as spineless, actually stood together against something. I don't know if this is what you meant by the spark, but it certainly sparked something in me.

As with anything like this, it is a long hard slog. Maintaining enthusiasm for the organizing and the herding of cats is tough. But I hope that if/when Obama sells out Medicare something similar will happen. BTW, I don't remember the anti-war marches and pro-choice rallies of my youth being particularly drug fueled. More like passion-fueled. Maybe we were at different rallies together.....

Napoleon said...

I am not convinced that baby boomers (BB) who protested during the sixties are now the problem, other than with respect to particular issues such as those involving war and peace in the Middle East and so called humanitarian wars.

Nor do I think we ought to expect them now to come out for demonstrations as they once did when younger and when enrolled in colleges where organizing and participating in demonstrations were rather straightforward. My hat is off to members of Code Pink but I hardly think we should expect the same for BB who engaged in sixties protests. Many of them however do engage in demonstrations and many support progressive causes in other ways.

The mass of the US population is centered around young people. College students were active in helping to elect Obama, and it seems reasonable to expect them to be supportive of progressive causes in a similar way, namely, one that helps to move others in a collective way. There is a problem however in achieving this. This group today is faced with problems that didn't exist in the sixties, a time when for many the principal threats to them were the military draft and exercising free speech, and other things, on campuses.

In a new age, we need some new options. I am impressed with the innovation Karen and Marie made in setting up "squatters rights" in the digital age, and wonder how far this model can be extended to other media forums, locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

@Anonymous
When I said Karen and Marie had no instruction manual, courses, precedents, or experiences, etc., I was referring to these only in connection with knowing how to seize squatters rights on a major media outlet.

Anne Lavoie said...

I marched in Washington DC against the Viet Nam war, back in the day. There were many of our peers, and family members as well, who considered us Communists, and we took a lot of flack, but we didn't care what is cost us. It was who we were, what we believed in.

Whether we were high on pot or not, I can't remember (hint, hint). What I do recall is the feeling of being a powerful yet peaceful movement, mobilized and connected in our cause. We were many but we felt as One. We were absolutely passionate and dedicated to stopping that damned war!

We also had music to bind us together and move us to action. I really miss all the great songs and the message they held. What has happened to music in this country? It was a truly powerful force.

I believe the most important thing is to take a stand and STICK WITH IT. This is where the Tea Party has it right. If only we could find common ground and stand strong together, we could rock this country to its foundations. God knows it needs it. We cannot stay divided against each other. We must find common ground.

I think it will take a lot of intellectual honesty (and heartbreak) for Democrats to admit that one of their own is the traitor who offered up Social Security and Medicare on the sacrificial altar. When enough admit it, maybe we can get something going that is a Really Big Deal!

D12345 said...

@napoleon

Good points all.

I will try one last time.

Yes, the comments stuff is excellent.

But if you think about it, since Bob Herbert left the Times, there really isn't anyone with a remotely populist viewpoint in the national media.

All this about squatting etc is true. But it is a far cry from writing the column!

Matt Taibbi is the one person who comes to mind as having a real space.

And I don't know why when I wrote that Karen should have a national platform that nobody said...."Yes, that's right...she should."

But look, let's not quibble. I was only trying to express my enthusiasm for her writing.

Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

"When I said Karen and Marie had no instruction manual, courses, precedents, or experiences, etc., I was referring to these only in connection with knowing how to seize squatters rights on a major media outlet." -Napoleon

If there exist instruction manuals and courses for that, I believe they can only be purchased through Winning Progressive's DLC fundraising site.

But I rather thought the definition of squatting, digital or otherwise, was fairly straightforward: show up, squat, stay. Next day: same as before. Repeat as necessary.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Who is still whipping up the froth on the phony crisis about raising the debt limit: Republican legislative leaders or President Obama himself?

Last week, McConnell offered the nation, the financial world and Obama a procedural "out" from the crisis. McConnell said he would turn over Congressional responsibility for raising the debt limit to the White House alone. That would allow the debt limit to be raised while simultaneously giving cover to Republican zealots who could say. "We Tea Baggers didn't vote to raise the debt limit; Obama did it by fiat."

Obama ignored the Mother of All Debt Ceilling Solutions offered to him by McConnell. Isn't that curious? Does Obama want and need the cover of Republican intransigence in order to cut the Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid babies in half? Why else opt to drag on crisis negotiations needlessly beyond the solution in hand except to force the Grandest Compromise Yet of his back-peddling administration? McConnell was ready to relent in his attacks on Social Security, but Obama was not ready to put away the knife? How come? McConnell's offer would have removed those entitlement programs from the chopping block while letting all other interested parties breathe easy and save face. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, Mr President.

At which point will the Democratic Party, led by Obama, declare itself bankrupt and move into Chapter 11?

Metro Journalist said...

I'm not surprised at Obama's decision. He was never serious about Warren's heading the agency despite her popularity with ordinary people. Remember, Geithner certainly didn't want her. His new choice will probably not be confirmed, and Obama has yet another opportunity to kick the can down the road while he takes more money in campaign contributions from Wall Street. Besides, Obama has more important things on his agenda than protecting people from greedy bankers. He's got parties to attend and campaigning to do. There's no time to figure out just when and how much to cave in to the Republicans about the deficit talks, let alone how to explain his stand on cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits to the seniors who vote.

Anne Lavoie said...

@Jay - Ottawa

You are so right. Obama needs political cover to drag Social Security and Medicare into the his Grand Bargain or Grand Deal or whatever he is pitching it as in his free re-election campaign ads on tv. He needs a crisis to get all that free air time to portray himself as a reasonable, bold leader wanting to do big things for the good of our country.

So what is he planning to do to Social Security and Medicare that makes it important enough to pass up a chance to simply raise the debt ceiling on his own? That is the question that scares me.

I can think of one simple move that is already underway that he could build on. How about if our President offers to simply raise the age of eligibility for both Social Security and Medicare to make them effectively OLD AGE, not retirement programs. Oh, and throw in increased contribution levels at the same time.

It's a win-win, for everyone who matters to people in Washington DC. The deficit is helped because money is continually collected (and spent),but is only paid out if someone lives to a ripe old age.

The BEST part is for the private sector in that people who want to quit work before old age are forced into the private market for health insurance and investments/annuities/whatever provides retirement income in this Grand Gap between retirement and old age benefits.

They don't have to agree to do something so obvious as to kill off Medicare and Social Security. Heck, people will probably clamor to end Social Security and Medicare entirely if they see their money go in and never come back out. It's a win-win-win. For the only people who seem to matter to those in Washington DC.

John in Lafayette said...

I'd agree with ralph Nader, but for the fact that we've been given a whole host of sparks over the years and still have failed to act.

Wasn't Iraq enough? What about Bush v. Gore? Wasn't Enron enough? Were we all paying attention when the news came about what that company did in California? Wasn't the banking crisis enough? Torture? The destruction of the fourth amendment? The rise of the police state with the passage of the Patriot Act? And now the dismantling of Social Security and Medicare.

If all this defibrillation doesn't serve to get the nation's heart beating, what will?

Ciara said...

This isn't particularly relevant, I suppose, to Obama's disgraceful behavior toward Elizabeth Warren but it seems somehow relevant in a more general way.

One of the things we all yearned for, post-GWB, was a return to the sense that America was a lawful nation, both domestically and internationally. We had seen the Bush administration ignore, not to say rape and pillage, many norms of domestic and international law and good conduct. That was a source of enormous distress to me and many others during those horrible years.

I had really believed that Obama would act to set the country's house in order on those fronts. Yet he was barely in office before he made it clear that he had no intention of doing so.

In fact, I don't think that his administration is as lawless as Bush's was. I don't believe that, for example, he's hiring utterly unqualified, purely partisan graduates of Patrick Henry University for sensitive positions in the DOJ, for instance. He doesn't seem to be prosecuting imaginary violations of voting regulations. Etc.

Yet he has made it clear that lawlessness is and will be tolerated. He has set no precedent for the future that embodies any principle other than the toleration of partisanship and corruption.

Sometimes I don't entirely understand all of the financial talk that swirls around the bigger debates. This issue, though, seems to me pretty simple and pretty straightforward. Bush introduced an unprecedented level of corruption into our government, and Obama has validated it. He has, in effect, made it a permanent part of the system.

Anne Lavoie said...

@John

Agreed. Nader is also saying we need Infrastructure to organize and mobilize all of us. Gee, isn't that what the Democratic Party was for? Ya, right. Bankrupt? Comatose? Useless!

And I would add Obamacare to the list of sparks. Democrats were silent on saddling us with that latest corporate entitlement program. Obama was smart enough to mix a little applesauce in with the medicine to get us to swallow it without protest.

Oh, and Karen, not sure if you caught C-SPAN with Jeffrey Immelt speaking to the Chamber of Commerce recently, but he announced that GE is branching out into .... guess what? Health Insurance!

I guess that is the jobs plan, with help from Obamacare. Medicare too if they get their way with Obama's Grand Scheme. And the beat goes on.

VLT said...

I really thought the banking scandal would have been” the spark” that Jay is talking about. Everyone - on the right and the left and in between was so angry about the injustice of it all – especially when they started making record profits within a year of being bailed out! Likewise, I would have thought that Social Security and Medicare would have set off a few sparks. It wasn't that long ago we were hearing the Tea Partiers crying something to the effect, "Keep you socialised government hands off my Medicare!" (not sure that belongs in quotes). Are they still yelling now that Medicare really IS in danger?

I think the problem with igniting a spark is the Middle Class is getting attacked on all sides as Lafayette pointed out and people are just worn down. They get up the energy and outrage to fight for something, but it doesn't seem to do much good and they get discouraged and give up. It is a real problem. This problem of hopelessness is further exacerbated by the fact that there are no leaders on the horizon. People who are willing to fight for the Middle Class like Elizabeth Warren are shot down, while false leaders like Obama and Sarah Palin thrive.

"I believe the most important thing is to take a stand and STICK WITH IT. This is where the Tea Party has it right. If only we could find common ground and stand strong together, we could rock this country to its foundations. God knows it needs it. We cannot stay divided against each other. We must find common ground." Anne Lavoie

I think Anne is right. Our only hope is to find the thing that is the most important to us, stick to it, fight for it, and don’t back down. I wish we could find some common goals with the Tea Partiers simply because it would mean more numbers working toward the cause. We actually have a lot of common ground in terms of being all part of the Middle Class that is suffering and paying the price for the excesses of the ultra rich and powerful in this country. Those who only thrive because of poor governance on the part of our elected officials.

James F Traynor said...

Waiting for the Spark.

Janet Camp said...

The "spark" here in WI was Walker's attack on public employees, but the difference between now and the 60's is the MEDIA COVERAGE. When we protested the Viet Nam War, we were on the news (which EVERYONE watched) night after night after night--at length.

Don't forget, however, that it was our protests that ignited the right to organize and rid the system of the influence of "drugged out hippie commies". For the record, I marched a lot--with my daughter in a backpack and without drugs. I took it very seriously and I felt the same in Madison a few months ago.

I think there is one huge untapped source of power for Progressives (once we define ourselves!) and that is BOYCOTTS. If enough people stop buying a carefully designed list of products, it could have a meaningful impact on the conversation.

The other hopeful thing I see is this whole business with Murdoch in Britain--if it takes hold here------dare we hope?

Lastly, as I mentioned before, Winning Progressive isn't as cliched as he/she has been in the past. I have enjoyed reading his posts lately. He's been much more critical. Not in the same league as the Mesdames Garcia and Burns, but he rates as a "squatter" I think.

To whomever doesn't understand we noseholding voters I can only say that in spite of everything, there is no other option and I would rather see if he will be a noted lame duck than have "them" celebrate their victory of making him a one-termer. Give me a winnable alternative and I'll toss my clothespin.

Anonymous said...

@VLT,

You are spot on. You need to frame the argument in common terms and stop the name calling on both sides. It's in the best interests of the entrenched political class to keep the middle class divided and attacking each other.

Richard

Anonymous said...

@Janet Camp,

I think you will see a challenger prior to the primaries next year especially if the unemployment numbers stay high or continue to creep up or the debt agreement is to everyone's dislike except Washington's.

On W.P. Until the site allows true comments it's not real.

Richard