Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Obama's Other Kill List

As some of us* are still trying to get our heads around the shocking news that the president has added the title "Lord High Executioner" to his list of accomplishments, let's not forget that a) this policy is only news if the New York Times is your only source of info; and b) there are plenty of other ways that the neo-lib/neo-con White House team is killing us softly, stealthily and with nary a blink from the chattering class.

In the frenzied presidential TV show known as RomBama, we have two right-of-center corporatists trying to cancel each other out by neutering each other's conservative machismo. Romney accuses Obama of being a big socialist spender. Obama counters by bragging that he has been the biggest tightwad austerian in presidential history. Romney charges that Obama is a job-killer by virtue of being the biggest anti-business regulating Marxist in the history of the free market. The president disabuses Mitt of that notion, righteously pointing to the inconvenient truth that George Bush pushed through more regulations benefiting public health and well-being than he ever did. 

Why does Barry even bother? Right-wingers just refuse to give him the respect he deserves. The best they could offer on his Secret White House Death Panel controlled leak to the Times stenographers was a stony silence. Donald Trump, though, miraculously started getting unfettered TV time in a resurgence of birtherism and its accompanying manufactured outrage from the shills on MSDNC. 

Instead of championing the rights of the people to breathe clean air and drink clean water, the president is trying to paint himself as every bit as corporation and pollution-friendly as Mitt Romney. So Romney has no choice but to paint himself as a slash-and-burn nihilist, who would dismantle the EPA entirely on Day One. The political one-upmanship gets more gruesome by the day.

And the White House is crying foul over being falsely portrayed as pro-environment and public health when it is no such thing! As Andrew Zajac and Hans Nichols of Bloomberg wrote today:
  
Savings identified thus far include more than $5 billion from loosened reporting requirements for health-care providers, $2.8 billion from changing the labeling and classification of hazardous chemicals, and $1.8 billion from overhauling inspection rules for poultry slaughtering operations.
Many of the regulatory changes have been recommended by business leaders on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Moira Mack, a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, said in an e-mailed statement.
“The Obama administration has aggressively reformed regulatory policy to eliminate unnecessary burdens on America’s families and businesses while utilizing smart rules to protect lives, safety and the environment,” she said.
But the "unnecessary burdens" the president is so proudly and pragmatically removing from the shoulders of all those stressed-out families (read: corporations are indeed people, my friend) are actually killing us every bit as dead as those precise drone strikes aimed against our fellow humans residing in Yemen and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Somalia. Just a little more insidiously. The public interest group Center for Progressive Reform is blunt in its assessment:

 For all intents and purposes, the Administration seems to have shut down its regulatory machinery, evidently unwilling to advance significant regulatory initiatives for fear that they could adversely affect the President’s chances of being reelected. Although presidents are typically sensitive about endorsing controversial rules during the summer and fall immediately preceding an election, two aspects of the Obama Administration’s behavior are unusual. First, the Obama Administration’s effective “moratorium” on controversial rules seems to have begun months earlier than it has during past administrations, and in certain notable cases--for example, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposals to curb ozone pollution and make coal ash disposal sites safer--took hold as much as a year before the national election. Second, the list of rules bottled up by the Administration’s over-cautiousness includes long-overdue and relatively straightforward proposals--for example, a rule to mandate safe manufacturing practices for infant formula.
The price Americans are paying for the Administration’s unwillingness to proceed apace is high, both in the near and long term. The Administration’s failure to meet its own deadlines on just two of the rules (one regulating toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and process heaters, and the other restricting ozone pollution) will cost an estimated 6,500 to 17,967 premature deaths, 9,867 non-fatal heart attacks, 3,947 cases of chronic bronchitis, and more than 2.3 million lost work and school days. Those are the costs of projected delays the Administration now acknowledges. If the rules fall further behind schedule, the toll imposed by delay will mount. And if the rules are eventually scuttled or significantly weakened, even more people will die prematurely or suffer ill health, and an even greater cost will be imposed on the economy.
You can read the whole CPR report, along with the chilling chart of statistics, here.

Obama apologists don't have a leg to stand on if they try to blame nasty Republicans or a recalcitrant Congress for the president's inaction when it comes to our health and safety. A stroke of his executive pen would put the plans into action. His failure to act can only be the result of pure, self-interested, sleazy politics, notwithstanding the fact that the GOP has tried to starve the regulatory agencies of resources over the years. That "fierce urgency of now" that Candidate Obama trumpeted during his first campaign has morphed into the bland passive aggression of Sometime/Never.

* If you were hoping for a small puff of blowback from the populace over this news, you are doomed to disappointment. Glenn Greenwald explains how extremism has now become normalized. We have lost our capacity to be outraged. We have been shocked and awed into numbed apathy.



31 comments:

Denis Neville said...

Robama or Obomney?

“Every time you see a campaign ad telling you President Obama represents you (and me) while Romney stands with the fat cats, well, try not to puke.”

Abigail Caplovitz Field paraphrases Obama’s Joplin high school commencement speech: “No matter how tough times get, whether because of the Presidency before yours or banker fraud, you’ll be defined by how you respond. And so far you’ve defined yourself as a fraud and failure, at least from the public’s perspective. But don’t worry, surely those greedy, selfish, ignorant and cruel bankers think you’ve responded just fine.”

Obama’s Big Lie:

http://abigailcfield.com/?p=1293

“President Obama’s reelection campaign hinges on a big lie. Obama claims that Romney represents the 1% and Obama represents everybody else. But the key part of that claim is a lie: Yes, Romney represents the 1%, but so does Obama. His policy choices on housing and banking make that clear.

“Obama thinks he’s fooling you, and enough other people, that he’ll get re-elected despite policies that entrench banker power and hurt everyone else. See, Obama thinks you will be blinded by the made-for-Hollywood, up-by-his-bootstraps narrative and think that ‘surely, given where he came from, he must stand with me instead of the greedy bankers.’

James F Traynor said...

The Patriot Act made me more than a little nervous. Sometime after it's passage I heard an interviewer ask the then Attorney General Gonzales if the wording would allow an American citizen, within the borders of the U.S., to be detained as a terrorist under presidential order, tried and found guilty of treason by military tribunal. Gonzalez thought for a moment then replied yes, but they wouldn't do such a thing.

I think both the Bush and Obama have usurped the Constitution and thereby are guilty of Great Crimes and Misdemeanors. They should be tried for treason.

Denis Neville said...

What was Bob Dylan thinking when he accepted the Presidential Freedom Award from the master of drone warfare, the philosopher-king who nobly takes on the "moral responsibility" for the death squad of his ruthless, lawless imperial state?

I was hoping Dylan would serenade his bloody host with “Come you masters of war / You that build all the guns / You that build the death planes / You that build the big bombs / You that hide behind walls / You that hide behind desks / I just want you to know / I can see through your masks.”

Kat said...

You know, I really have to stop reading the NYT. It can ruin a person's day.
Today this story:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/us/as-college-graduates-cluster-some-cities-are-left-behind.html

I guess I have no hope for us coming together as a country. The educated and the urbane take just as much delight in stereotyping individuals and celebrating economic inequality. The idea that the key to economic prosperity for every city is to remake itself in the image of Washington DC or Palo Alto CA is a myth that won't die. It also ignores the reality that disparities in wealth are the greatest in some of these fabulous cities. The idea that the well to do are well to do because they have made the right choices and went to college is just as alive among those that lean blue. And now, there is a chorus preaching "red states" suck up federal dollars" so they are getting in on the welfare queen act.
Democrats have been just as complicit in the deindustrialization of this country. Their support for unions and worker rights when it counts has been tepid. I don't see Obama taking any steps to raise the minimum wage. Worker protections? Who needs that when you are a member of the creative class? The lie that was always pushed was that education would be the great equalizer when jobs were lost to NAFTA. I guess this is the way people stay comfortable with inequality.
Thanks for letting me vent!

Denis Neville said...

@ James F Traynor – re: “The Patriot Act made me more than a little nervous.”

“I am a child of the South. Janet Napolitano tells me I need to be afraid of people who are labeled white supremacists but I was raised around white supremacists. I am not afraid of white supremacists. I am concerned about my own government. The Patriot Act did not come from the white supremacists, it came from the White House and Congress.” - Cynthia McKinney

@ Kat – re: “celebrating economic inequality”

“The hatred expressed within right-wing movements for the college-educated elite, who created or at least did nothing to halt the financial debacle, is not misplaced…It is as much a revolt against the educated elite as it is against the government…

“The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die ... If we do not embrace this outrage and distrust as our own, it will be expressed through a terrifying right-wing backlash.” – Chris Hedges/Is America ‘Yearning for Fascism’?

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/is_america_yearning_for_fascism_20100329/

"How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it." – Henry David Thoreau

No matter how much the Obamabots love the smooth-talking Obomba.

Kat said...

@Denis-- You have to love Cynthia McKinney and her colleagues at the Black Agenda Report. They do not fall into the trap of our lifestyle liberals-- blaming all the country's problems on po' white trash.

Kat said...

@Denis:“The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward.

How true! It is why I grit my teeth when I am accused of "privelege" when I say I am not voting for Obama.

Denis Neville said...

Tim De Chant @ Per Square Mile “Urban trees reveal income inequality”

A classic case of the rich get richer by being rich:

“For every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent. But when income dropped by the same amount, demand decreased by 1.26 percent…the demand curve for tree cover is more typical of demand for luxury goods than necessities. Wealthier cities can afford more trees, both on private and public property. The well-to-do can afford larger lots, which in turn can support more trees. On the public side, cities with larger tax bases can afford to plant and maintain more trees. It’s the poorer ones that probably need trees the most but are the least able to plant and maintain them.

“It’s easy to see trees as a luxury when a city can barely keep its roads and sewers in working order, but that glosses over the many benefits urban trees provide. They shade houses in the summer, reducing cooling bills. They scrub the air of pollution, especially of the particulate variety, which in many poor neighborhoods is responsible for increased asthma rates and other health problems. They also reduce stress, which has its own health benefits.”

http://persquaremile.com/2012/05/17/urban-trees-reveal-income-inequality/

You can see income inequality from space. Satellite images from Google Earth showing two neighborhoods from a selection of cities around the world. The first image is the less well-off neighborhood, the second the wealthier one:

http://persquaremile.com/2012/05/24/income-inequality-seen-from-space/

The world’s great, unequal cities soldier on with areas that have trees, and those that don’t.

Will said...

@Denis,

Never really considered the tree-haves and the tree-have-nots before. It makes all the sense in the world when you think about it. Thanks for the info.

@All,

I've been thinking about the late great author Joe Bageant lately and thought I'd post some of his stuff.

A short video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYaqEgyrh1M

A 2010 article from his website:

http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2010/07/waltzing.html

Anne Lavoie said...

Wow, the NYT actually has an editorial today condemning the actions of our serial-killing, mass-murdering, assassinator-in-chief, judge-jury-executioner Generalissimo Obomba.

After all this time, NYT only opines as an editorial follow-up to their own writers rather than to the factual events of actual assassinations of Americans occurring without due process which the rest of us have been outraged about for a long time. Oh well, better late than never.

I guess the fact that Obama personally chooses assassination targets is just too much for them, because that is the only new thing discovered about this criminal behavior, and this 'secret' came out only because Obama wanted it known.

Anyway, glad to see the NYT editors coming around, even if their first was a puff piece for Obama's re-election. We can all sleep better at night knowing that the philosopher-king reads those good Catholic saints Aquinas and Augustine who help him justify his kills. It wouldn't surprise me if, like Tony Blair, his guilty conscience makes him convert to Catholicism any day now. Who knows who Tony Blair had killed - maybe Princess Di cavorting with that Muslim, Dodi Fayed. He looked like he was up to no good.

Denis Neville said...

Neo-Libs Kill List

The neo-libs are killing us.

“Most Democrats think that they belong to the party of the little guy, the party that attempts to constrain Wall Street. Sometimes a Democrat won’t fight hard enough, or, like Obama, will make political calculations that shave off the better angels of their nature. This myth says that Reagan deregulated, and Bush led us into the financial crisis. In fact, that’s a fairy tale. It was Jimmy Carter who began the deregulation of the financial services industry, who got rid of usury caps, and Bill Clinton that deregulated derivatives and ended Glass-Steagall. The rush headlong into madness has been fully bipartisan, from the get-go. It’s not a surprise that as both Republicans and Democrats shed their liberal wings, in favor of neoliberalism, financial instability increased.”

Matt Stoller, “The Career of Reaganite Barney Frank”:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/05/barney-frank-is-a-neoliberal-not-a-liberal.html

“The very design of neoliberal principles is a direct attack on democracy.” - Noam Chomsky, Hopes and Prospects

Jay - Ottawa said...

As time and my overheated laptop permit, I check out as many of the links that Karen and others provide. So I hit the link to Glenn Greenwald that Karen provided to see what he had written since my last visit.

I return from my roving to lay this tidbit on your doorstep – about something Greenwald found, most unexpectedly, in a super-establishment publication.

"Last week, the journal Foreign Policy published an extraordinary article – not extraordinary because of what it says, but because of who said it. It was written by Aaron David Miller, a lifelong D.C. foreign policy bureaucrat who served as a Middle East adviser to six different Secetaries of State in Democratic and GOP administrations. Miller’s article, which compared Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on foreign policy, was entitled “Barack O’Romney,” and the sub-headline said it all: “Ignore what the candidates say they’ll do differently on foreign policy. They’re basically the same man.” It began this way: “If Barack Obama is reelected, he ought to consider making Mitt Romney his new secretary of state” because “despite his campaign rhetoric, Romney would be quite comfortable carrying out President Obama’s foreign policy because it accords so closely with his own.”

http://www.salon.com/writer/glenn_greenwald/

No, we didn't know what we were getting in 2008, but we sure as hell know now. In 2008 we were duped by lies into voting stupidly. In 2012 we have the opportunity to collaborate with murder with our eyes wide open.

Denis Neville said...

Another Obama Kill List: Whistler Blowers

“I know a thing or two about whistle-blowers, I’m all about helping them.” - Obama

Lies, lies and more damn lies.

“Helping” by declaring war on civil servants - and the few reporters - who dare to expose government’s misdeeds. The Obama Administration has revealed itself to be the most aggressive foe of whistleblowers in nation’s history.

“Totalitarian systems disempower an unsuspecting population by gradually making legal what was once illegal. They incrementally corrupt and distort law to exclusively serve the goals of the inner sanctums of power and strip protection from the citizen. Law soon becomes the primary tool to advance the crimes of the elite and punish those who tell the truth. The state saturates the airwaves with official propaganda to replace news.” – Chris Hedges

The doors of our corporate state are slamming shut.

Aided and abetted by the one percent’s Congressional lackeys:

“Bill Black: Career Limiting Gestures (CLG): Trying to Speak Truth to Congress”:

“I confess to being an expert in committing CLGs, such that I am unemployable in the federal government. I’m a serial whistle blower who blew the whistle too often and too effectively on too many prominent politicians and bosses running my agency. One of the proofs of what a great nation America is capable of being is that I survived and the prominent politicians and agency heads who tried so hard to destroy my career and reputation failed. Indeed, in the process they helped to make me an exemplar that public administration scholars use to illustrate how regulators should function. The latest act of Congress disinviting me from speaking truth to power has caused me to ruminate on CLGs. I have concluded that they are essential to effective regulation.”

“Tuesday, May 29, 2012, I received definitive word that I had been disinvited from a bipartisan briefing of members of Congress on the subject of financial derivatives. The stated grounds were that my participation would upset the bipartisan “consensus” as to the necessary “balance” of the panel and threaten to cause the banks to withdraw from the briefing because they fear that I would be “confrontational” and engage in “bank bashing.”

“Going public with being disinvited by Congress is a clear CLG and there will be painful consequences. As you saw in the email thread if you read my prior column, they dangled the prospect of speaking at future panels if I would just not rock the boat. That’s the bait. But the key is that you have to not care whether they ever ask you to testify again.”

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/05/bill-black-career-limiting-gestures-clg-trying-to-speak-truth-to-congress.html

As one commenter said, “I fear our democracy has been effectively reduced to yet another fraudulent scam where the goal is, in effect, to issue licenses to steal in exchange for money, vast sums of money. Why else would the president’s primary focus be on prosecuting, intimidating and silencing whistleblowers, who only seek fairness and justice for all of us, at considerable expense to themselves?”

Anne Lavoie said...

In Ralph Nader's most recent piece entitled 'Obama At Large: Where Are The Lawyers?' (at nader.org and commondreams.org), he states:

"The people in the countries we target know what we must remember. We are their occupiers, their invaders, the powerful supporters for decades of their own brutal tyrants. We’re in their backyard, which more than any other impetus spawned al-Qaeda in the first place."

As I read this, I see US as now being in a foreign country. I mean, do you even recognize it anymore? We are occupied by a Power Elite who choose our candidates, set policy, control the media and the message, and get seats at the table alongside their handpicked tyrant in the White House. And they LOVE war$.

Police brutality is escalating against dissenters here at home, laws are passed restricting protests in public areas, legal protections are decimated, claims of national security keeps everything dark, undercover strategies to place fake bombs in misguided hands are implemented to effect arrests and artificially elevate the threats, justifying more oppression.

Domestic drones are on the fast track and being armed for use in the USA, and state secrets will make the effects of those dark also. How will we even know if a drone is being remotely controlled from some foreign country or a domestic source that is not US Gov't? Or if it is armed, and with what? They should ALL be shot down on sight. NRA, are you listening?

The Homeland Battlefield Bill, part of the 2012 NDAA, really did make us a battlefield and ripe for war. We won't have to be on a Kill List - we will more likely be collateral damage as the Power Elite pursue 'Al-Qaeda of America' which they are hell-bound to create.

Denis Neville said...

@ Will - re: Joe Bageant

I loved Joe Bageant. He told it like it is. He is sorely missed.

Some of my favorite Bageant quotations:

“Republican or Democrat, this nation's affluent urban and suburban classes understand their bread is buttered on the corporate side. The primary difference between the two parties is that the Republicans pretty much admit that they grasp and even endorse some of the nastiest facts of life in America. Republicans honestly tell the world: "Listen in on my phone calls, piss-test me until I'm blind, kill and eat all of my neighbors right in front of my eyes, but show me the money! Let me escape with every cent I can kick out of the suckers, the taxpayers, and anybody else I can get a headlock on, legally or otherwise." Democrats, in contrast, seem content to catalog the GOP's outrages against the Republic, showing proper indignation while laughing at episodes of The Daily Show. But they stand behind the American brand: imperialism. They "support our troops," though you will be hard put to find any of them who have served alongside them or who would send one of their own kids off to lose an eye or an arm in Iraq. They play the imperial game, maintain their credit ratings, and plan to keep the beach house and the retirement investments if it means sacrificing every damned Lynndie England in West Virginia.” - Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War

“If middle-class Americans do not feel threatened by the slow encroachment of the police state or the Patriot Act, it is because they live comfortably enough and exercise their liberties very lightly, never testing the boundaries. You never know you are in a prison unless you try the door.” - Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War

"Cat" will do said...

all true: but consider the cow pies lick. kudos where kudos are due. also amazing photo of the Maple Spring demonstration.

http://roadblues-kitty.blogspot.com/

Zee said...

@Denis, @Kat and @All--

Thoughts relating to some of the remarks on this thread:

First, regarding Chris Hedges' Truthdig article, I am surprised that Hedges—and participants in this forum—would put much credence in Cynthia McKinney, who is associated with some of the same conspiracy theories that motivate the much-overblown militia movement in this country about which Hedges frets. See the article on the “Oath Keepers” to which Hedges provides the link.

Yes, McKinney is bright and well-educated, but she is also a “9/11 Truther,” who has her own problems with violence, or, at least, anger management:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Cynthia_McKinney

Second, taking a further look at Hedges' article, he sees ominous signs of coming civil unrest (“a terrifying right-wing backlash,” Hedges calls it) in the recent growth of armed militias and hate groups.

Estimates of the actual number of people involved in these movements vary widely, with Wikipedia claiming that militia membership is in the range of 20,000-60,000:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Militia_movement

On the other hand, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) places it at about 300,000 people:

http://splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/the-year-in-hate-and-extremism

The truth likely lies somewhere in between, but taking the SPLC number as an upper limit, that's 0.09% of the American citizenry that might be involved.

I actually don't see this figure as particularly large. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 5% of American adults (on the order of 17.5M people) suffer from some form of serious mental illness. 300,000 militia/hate group members falls well within the bounds of the seriously mentally ill—which is how I see them.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/
statistics/SMI_AASR.shtml

In this Internet era, is it surprising that about 2% of the most seriously mentally ill could find each other and unite in groups around strange causes? So I see nothing alarming in these numbers.

Could 300,000 armed militiamen do some serious damage? I expect that they could if they could actually organize themselves to try to do so. However, their interests and causes seem so disparate-and they themselves are so crazy-that I doubt they could agree on anything except that they like guns and explosives. The SPLC article cites at least 10 different issues/interests around which militias have organized themselves, and it's not clear to me that the various groups could look past their individual causes to actually unite and act together.

If the militia and hate-group movements have grown explosively over the past decade, I have no doubt but that some of it is related to a poor economy and and sense among the poor that the U.S. Government has betrayed them, as Hedges more or less states. But the movement has only grown “explosively” from vanishingly small to merely miniscule. So while some of these little groups may yearn for a fascist state, are they they real “fascist threat” this nation faces?

I think not. The real threat is from our own government, as Glenn Greenwald explained in the article linked to by Karen, something that many other commentators have remarked upon, and which we have discussed many times in this forum. There has been a steady usurpation of the Constitution over the past several decades by our very own leaders, necessitated, we are told, by the need to protect us from outside threats, or even in the name of our own health and welfare. Fascism is being brought to us by our own government.

Extremism has become the norm in this country in the same way that we have all been taught how to boil a frog. You don't toss a frog into a pan of boiling water, because it will just jump out. Instead, you put the frog in a pan of cold water and then slowly turn up the heat. By the time the frog realizes it is in trouble, it's too late: it's already been cooked. We're the frog and the chef is our own government.

Denis Neville said...

Know your place:

http://tommytoy.typepad.com/.a/6a0133f3a4072c970b0162fcb3a317970d-popup

George Carlin sums up our class structure:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdH38k0iUgI

Kat said...

Zee,
The SLPC engages in fear mongering for profit.
They do not really do any poverty work:http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/11/hbc-90001573

I'm not a 9/11 truther. (not saying you accused me as such.)

Denis Neville said...

@ Zee – re: “while some of these little groups may yearn for a fascist state, are they the real “fascist threat” this nation faces?”

The populist right provides a fig-leaf cover for oligopoly and finance capital.

Philip Green, “Farewell to Democracy?”

http://logosjournal.com/2011/farewell-to-democracy/

Excerpts:

“The United States[is]where democratic decline is more advanced, and seemingly unstoppable, than anywhere else in the democratic world…If the democratic forces cannot roll back the reign of unrepentant inequality, as they now appear unable and unwilling to do, then eventually the dam will break and the sea of discontent wash over it…what has seized a critical mass of Americans is historical amnesia and intellectual vacuity, and an overweening sense of individual and national entitlement. It is not yet clear how this politics of social self-destruction can be halted at the gates.”

“The emotive language that the Right’s spokespersons use – real men, the real nation, “taking it back,” along with the fetishization of guns and violence - is the vocabulary of classical fascism. In the US this takes the specific form of substituting anti-governmental agitation for representative government; denouncing any version of constitutionalism that both enables the majority to govern and protects minority rights; and in many cases advocating a public religiosity that is close to theocracy. Politically, this means not simply running for election against incumbents, which is the normal democratic process; but first discrediting them as illegitimate decision-makers, unless they carry out the will not of elected representatives and those who voted for them but of the dedicated minority, to whose dogmas and fanaticism they must at least give lip service…The pseudo-populist movement culminates in the unabased attempt of the GOP to disenfranchise millions of low-income Americans in the name of an invented threat of “voter fraud”–the first attempt to repeal universal suffrage in modern history.”

“This modernized version of fascism, once an historical oddity of the transition to democracy, now its most serious contestant for power. The populists provide a fig-leaf cover for oligopoly and finance capital, which in turn underwrites their fruitless dream of political power while pursuing its own barely hidden and steadily advancing agenda of institutionalizing plutocracy. Unable or unwilling to help create a mass base with those who are truly deprived or persecuted, their search for scapegoats among the latter is logical: who else is available to fill the helpful role of the enemy?”

Anne Lavoie said...

This from The Guardian article titled 'Bilderberg 2012: the technocrats are rising at this year's annual conference':

"Historically, one of the biggest problems people have had with Occupy is that its aims and demands have been a little, shall we say, "diffuse". Not the case with Occupy Bilderberg. That's the nail getting hit squarely on the head. Occupy Bilderberg is keyhole activism. Picking the exact right spot and sticking the scissors in.

"We refuse to pay for the banks' crisis" was the cry from OccupyLSX back in the autumn. They demanded an end to "our democracy representing corporations instead of the people." What Bilderberg represents is the fact that our democracy IS our corporations. And politics is just the wake behind a shark fin.

Time to go fishing."

Karen Garcia said...

Here's my response to Paul Krugman's column on austerian craziness. (I have kill lists on the brain.)

The austerian zombies in public office and the corporate media have proven themselves to be highly resistant to the deprogramming efforts of Paul Krugman and other sane people. Narcissistic and clueless, they just can't escape from their cult. Continued membership depends upon their absolute obedience to the Lords of Finance. The public interest is simply not part of their dogma.

Candidates are full of empty sermonizing about all those jobs they've created. Yet next month, another 70,000 Americans will lose their long-term unemployment benefits, thanks to the bipartisan deal reached last year to extend the payroll tax cuts by one lousy year. This is on top of GAO figures showing that 5.5 million workers who lost their jobs between 2007 and 2009 had already exhausted their benefits by the end of last year. To keep slashing the safety net during a depression is not only cruel, it's insane.

Meanwhile, the rosy recovery being touted includes such rays of hope as 45.000 mail handlers being offered insulting $15,000 buyouts to encourage them to go on to the next chapter in their lives. Hewlett Packard, where CEO Meg Whitman gets a $16 million pay package, just announced it is throwing 27,000 workers to the curb.

Regular people are scraping by with less and less, even as corporate profits soar. Call it the class war, call it a reign of terror. I am beginning to think we are all on one of those secret kill lists.

Valerie said...

Just for those of you who have a small interest in Australian politics. Julia Gillard just met with the mining industry - 80% of which is foreign owned. She wants them taxed at the same rate other industry and businesses are taxed in Australia (30%) and of course, they are screaming bloody murder. Tony Abbott, the Republican, is for cutting their taxes. Here is an excerpt from her speech. I love the end where she says the resources the miners are allowed to mine don't belong to the mining companies or the government. Rather they belong to the Australian people and the Australian people are entitled to reap some of the financial rewards from the mining boom.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/goverment-doesnt-understand-us-mining-bosses-say/story-fn3dxity-1226377284504#

Zee said...

@Kat--

I most definitely am NOT suggesting that you are a "Truther."

And thanks for the insight into the SLPC. I thought they were a respectable outfit based largely on the endorsement of a Progressive friend of mine who had actually applied for a position with them, and had been excited when they briefly seemed interested in her.

Perhaps it's lucky that she didn't get the job, and is now at Harvard Divinity School.

(I'm not joking; she wants to become an Episcopalian minister, and she will be a good one, too.)

BTW: Based on your endorsement of him as an author some time ago, I have obtained a copy of Andrew Bacevich's The Limits of Power. You once described him as a Conservative, so I am looking forward to the read.

Denis Neville said...

Austerian Zombies

European governments are ensnared in the fiscal austerity that neo-liberals imposed on failing economies everywhere. Whether Europe’s elites recognize it yet or not, the public is more concerned about real income growth and employment opportunities, and the austerian zombies are undermining both. One would think that American politicians would take note. But, no! They are drinking the same austerian kool-aid.

How misguided attempts to reduce the deficit kill jobs, squeeze the working and middle classes…and a corrupt political system doesn't help:

Marshall Auerbach, http://www.nextnewdeal.net/drinking-austerity-kool-aid-2011

“The revolving door between Wall Street and Washington calls attention to the rotten heart at the core of the American polity today - what James Galbraith has felicitously termed "the predator state". The state has become too weak and therefore remains another instrument of corporate predation. The revolving door policy (eagerly embraced by this president, much like his predecessors) perpetuates the problem because it enhances the dominance of the so-called "FIRE" (finance, insurance, real estate) sector of the economy. The FIRE sector simply acts as a parasite on the production and consumption core, extracting financial and rent charges that are not technologically or economically necessary costs. Its revenue takes the form of what classical economists called "economic rent," a broad category that includes interest, monopoly super-profits (price gouging) and land rent, as well as "capital" gains. Its ethos consists largely of denuding the state of any provision of public goods, privatizing the public domain and erecting tollbooths to charge access fees for basic necessities such as health insurance, land sites, home ownership, the communication spectrum (cable and phone rights), patent medicine, water and electricity, and other public utilities, including the use of credit cards or the credit needed to get by. It's a zero-sum economic activity. One party's gain (that of Wall Street usually) is another's loss.”

We are all on one of those secret kill lists…a slow death by a thousand parasites.

Kat said...

Zee,
Hope you like the book. Promise I won't start giving you any fiction recommendations!

Zee said...

Hi, Katt--

But remember, I'm not above recommending fiction as a way of explaining some of the roots of my conservo-libertarian philosophy.

I still commend Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to you as great philosophical tracts disguised as even greater science fiction.

I seem to recollect that @The Doktor endorsed my recommendation some time ago over on Reality Chex.

Zee said...

@Valerie--

It seems to me to be entirely reasonable to tax foreign businesses at exactly the same rate as home-based, Australian businesses.

Moreover, all extractive industries--foreign and domestic--should have a "severance tax" slapped on them to boot.

This is a tax in some proportion to the value of the minerals permanently extracted from the ground, property of the Australian people to which they will never have access again.

Here in New Mexico those tax receipts are put into a "permanent fund" from which only interest can be withdrawn and, then only for constitutionally specified purposes.

As you can imagine, our politicians--especially our Progressive ones--inevitably find new reasons to get their hooks into the permanent fund, but are too lazy to amend our fairly-easily-amended state constitution to do so. They always want quick "legislative" solutions which, happily, our state citizenry have--thus far--denied them.

With the huge extractive industry in Australia, such a permanent fund might grow rapidly and be a real boon to the nation and its various provinces during "rainy days."

Or do you call them "states" or "territories" or even something else in Oz?

Denis Neville said...

@ Valerie - re: “resources belong to the Australian people”

Don’t know much about Australia, but that story reminded me of Bolivia (South America is near and dear to my heart, having lived and traveled there).

In 2000, the World Bank said it would not renew a 25 million loan to Bolivia unless it privatized its water services, declaring that "poor governments are often too plagued by local corruption and too ill equipped to run public water systems efficiently and that the use of private corporations would open the door to needed investment and skilled management." Privatization led to rate increases of an average of 35%
resulting in water bills took up 40% of the average worker’s salary. [The water supply issue in Bolivia was the main theme of the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace, which was inspired by the Cochabamba Water Revolt.]

"Water is life. Water is humanity. How could it be part of the private business?" - Evo Morales

Luis Hernández Navarro, “Bolivia has transformed itself by ignoring the Washington Consensus - Evo Morales has helped to forge a new Bolivia centered on 'living well'”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/mar/21/bolivia-washington-consensus

“In the past six years, Bolivia has become one of the Latin American countries most successful at improving its citizens' standard of living. Economic indicators such as low unemployment and decreased poverty, as well as better public healthcare and education, are outstanding… Bolivia is one of the few countries that has reduced inequality … the gap between rich and poor has been hugely narrowed."

“These economic and social successes have been attained following an alternative route to neoliberalism. Evo Morales's government did the opposite of what the Washington Consensus recommends: it nationalized hydrocarbons, electricity, telecommunications and mining; renegotiated the presence of direct foreign investment in the country; implemented an expansive fiscal policy and closed borders to the free importation of economically strategic products. The state took 34% of the economy under its control.”

“The Bolivian story is not one of "progress", but of forging an alternative economy, one which stems from the original peoples and nations. At the center of its proposal is the Suma Qamaña, a notion that has been incorporated into the constitution and that is translated as "living well", meaning to be in harmony and equilibrium with other people and with nature. It is a proposal born in the community, and it is based, not in the logic of economic profitability, but on producing goods according to nature. As Evo Morales has said: "We don't believe in the linear, cumulative conception of progress and of an unlimited development at the cost of other people and of nature. To live well is to think not only in terms of per capita income, but of cultural identity, community, harmony among ourselves and with Mother Earth."

Karen Garcia said...

Denis,
If you have not yet seen it, do check out the excellent "Even the Rain", a film about the Bolivian water revolt, with Gael Garcia Bernal and a cast of indigenous people. I ordered it from Netflix a few months ago.

Denis Neville said...

Karen,

Thanks! I was unaware of “Even the Rain.” I will indeed check it out.

“Since nature gives water to us free of cost, buying and selling it for profit violates our inherent right to nature’s gift and denies the poor of their human rights.” - Vandana Shiva, Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit

“In nature's economy the currency is not money, it is life.” - Vandana Shiva, Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace

Vandana Shiva on "The Impact of Globalization on Food and Water" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOIG1Gy4H7s