Friday, November 16, 2012

Location, Location, Location

Is anyone else noticing the irony of where the deficit hawks are pouncing on FDR's New Deal in anticipation of disemboweling it?

The apparatchiks of the plutocracy had their first Grand Guignol Bargain meet-up this morning in that historic bastion of populism known as the Roosevelt Room.  The West Wing work-space actually gets its name from both Roosevelts, Teddy and Franklin.

This was akin to holding a Black Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. I live right across the river from the second Roosevelt's burying place in Hyde Park. So if I hear a rumbling from the east, I know it will be the sound of Franklin turning in his grave.

Leaders of both sides of the Right Wing Money Party emerged from the confab full of hugs and smiles and bonhomie. They expressed confidence in reaching a deal that will please their Wall Street paymasters. The big sell-out reportedly entails a few extra bucks from billionaires in exchange for the slow starvation of the rest of us. We are being told that our own destruction is why we voted them back into office. What they don't tell us is that the weighted votes of the plutocrats count a lot more than the numerical votes of the lower orders. 

Oh, and they promise we will get the details of our demise just in time for Christmas. Deck the halls and ho ho ho.


Denis Neville said...

The irony…

Like wearing a totally awesome Che Guevara print t-shirt produced by a multinational corporation.

Dude what?

Not a moment passes these days for those with very serious political responsibilities to herd the lemmings toward the cliffs.

“We’ve come too far to turn back now,” says Lemming-in-Chief on way toward the cliff.

"Look at these people; amazing how sheep will turn up for the slaughter.

No one condemning. They're lined up like lemmings and led to the water.

Why can't they see what I see? Why can't they hear the lies?

Maybe the fee's too pricey for them to realize..."
— Dr. Horrible, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

“This is just madness. It’s a forced austerity march to the sea for no discernible reason, which can be avoided simply through cancellation. The goal is to PREVENT austerity, not figure out how to implement it.” - David Dayen, Firedoglake

"Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that…can't keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you are dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that party, you're a chump." - Malcolm X

Karen Garcia said...

Paul Krugman wrote another column on the deficit zombies and their nefarious plans to raise the retirement age and Medicare eligibility. Here is my response:

Locking out relatively healthy 65 and 66-year-olds from Medicare coverage will make for a sicker pool. A sicker pool will mean greater costs. Greater costs will provide a perfect excuse for the eventual dismantling of the entire program.

The insurance industry can't wait to snatch up this potential new customer demographic. They will guarantee abysmal coverage at an outrageous public price. And let's be honest -- these profiteers are powerful only because they have successfully bought off the politicians. Private insurers serve no useful human purpose, unless you're a time traveler from the Middle Ages, and believe that leeches are therapeutic.

The Grand Bargain is simply Newspeak for the gradual stealth destruction of the great social programs of the 20th century. The fiscal cliff is the next act in the saga of debt ceiling crisis theatre and the equally meaningless downgrading of the national credit score. The propagandists tell us that in order to save ourselves from pain, we simply have to impose more of it. Never mind that the tragic results of European austerity are staring these cost-conscious sadists right in their beady little eyes.

We can only hope that they'll run out their own doomsday clock. Let all the Bush tax cuts expire. And if the oh-so-popular war apparatus takes a final ride down the Slip 'n Slide.... well, too bad.

Unless you are a bona fide member of the plutocracy, the words "balanced approach" should send a shiver right up your spine.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Booo! I don't want what you are the commenters have written to be true. Please rewrite the post with a happier outcome!

Aw crap! Shared Sacrifice and Broadening the Base are code for dismantling the social safety net, lowering taxes on the Uber-Rich scum and grinding the middle class into Wage Slavery.

Patricia said...

Tis the season to grieve. I think I see the ghost of Christmas past, bring back the poor houses and debtors prisons. Wall Street can't wait to get it's hands on the privatization of Social Security, that I believe will happen. Even Scrooge was enlightened after he was visited by the phantoms of poverty and lack of healthcare that existed in Dicken's England. Which is where we are now in America.

The Doktor said...

The location of the talks really is a perfect 1984ish touch isn't it?
Just like telling us for years that lowering taxes increases revenue! ... that there really are such things as "job creators"...
I think they do a lot of this stuff to make it look like it's hard to be a congressperson, when in actuality there's almost nothing to it. We've heard the solutions a thousand times; Social Security is totally self funding for another 27 years give or take, so if we eliminate the upper income cap of 106,000, and come up with a reasonable ( read progressive ) set of means testing guidelines, it'll be solvent for another 75 years by many estimates. Medicare and medicaid are being bilked for tens of billions a year, but I'm sure many well placed people ( read politicians cronies and cousins ) are doing a lot of the fraud. My point being, that without hurting anyone who actually NEEDS any of these programs we could really get them in better shape and put the money where it belongs; in needy peoples hands.
A living wage is priority number one in my mind as far as the basic economy goes. A sane energy policy would eliminate the need for probably 80% of our military, so I'm thinking even if Dick Cheney was right and deficits don't matter we really could get the debt and deficit under control in ten or twenty years.

James F Traynor said...

I'm against means testing for Social Security for the simple reason it could then be considered a charity and could, in some truth, be labeled an entitlement. Years ago, Barron's did a study of the system and estimated that for the same individual private investment, you could expect slightly more in income. However, Social Security, in addition to providing retirement income, also provides disability and survivors' benefits.

Zee said...


I have long supported "means- testing" for Social Security and have stated that I am prepared to accept reduced benefits.

However, you raise a valid point: means-testing could then turn Social Security into a charity-like benefit or handout, instead of a fixed "service received" for taxes paid.

I will have to rethink my position on that issue.

@The Doktor--

Good to hear from you after such a long absence! Still looking forward to your "solution for everything."

Kat said...

Means testing is just a bad idea. It really would chip away at the popularity of the program.

Neil Gillespie said...

Karen, sorry to see you closed comments on "A Way With Words", on which I planned to opine.

In lieu of my full comment, I would just like to remind, or inform, readers about The Slattery Report from 1939-1940 that proposed use of Alaska as a "haven for Jewish refugees from Germany and other areas in Europe where the Jews are subjected to oppressive restrictions."

It’s too bad Franklin Roosevelt did not support and implement the plan. It may have saved many from the Holocaust, and given Jewish refugees a fresh start in a new promised land. If I were king for a day, I would reintroduce and expand the plan to include all our Jewish brothers and sisters, and return to our Arab brothers and sisters their land. Sometimes when neighbors cannot get along, someone must take the high road and move.

From Wikipedia:

The Slattery Report, officially titled The Problem of Alaskan Development, was produced by the United States Department of the Interior under Secretary Harold L. Ickes in 1939–40. It was named after Undersecretary of the Interior Harry A. Slattery. The report, which dealt with Alaskan development through immigration, included a proposal to move European refugees, especially Jews from Nazi Germany and Austria, to four locations in Alaska, including Baranof Island and the Mat-Su Valley. Skagway, Petersburg and Seward were the only towns to endorse the proposal.

In November 1938, two weeks after Kristallnacht, Ickes proposed the use of Alaska as a "haven for Jewish refugees from Germany and other areas in Europe where the Jews are subjected to oppressive restrictions." Resettlement in Alaska would allow the refugees to bypass normal immigration quotas, because Alaska was a territory and not a state. That summer Ickes had toured Alaska and met with local officials to discuss improving the local economy and bolstering security in a territory viewed as vulnerable to Japanese attack. Ickes thought European Jews might be the solution.

In his proposal, Ickes pointed out that 200 families from the dustbowl had settled in Alaska's Matanuska Valley. The plan was introduced as a bill by Senator William King (Utah) and Democratic Representative Franck Havenner (California), both Democrats. The Alaska proposal won the support of theologian Paul Tillich, the Federal Council of Churches, and the American Friends Service Committee.

The plan won little support from leaders of American Jewish people, with the exception of the Labor Zionists of America. Rabbi Stephen Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress, stated that adoption of the Alaska proposal would deliver "a wrong and hurtful impression ... that Jews are taking over some part of the country for settlement."

Non-Jewish Americans also moved against the proposal, relying on anti-Jewish rhetoric and fear of the socialism that was commonly believed to be associated with European Jewish populations.

The plan was dealt a severe blow when Franklin Roosevelt told Ickes that he insisted on limiting the number of refugees to 10,000 a year for five years, and with a further restriction that Jews not make up more than 10% of the refugees. Roosevelt never mentioned the Alaska proposal in public, and without his support the plan died.

Zee said...


I, too, was disappointed to see the thread "A Way With Words" closed this morning, as I had prepared a substantial comment which, I admit, sided generally with @John in Lafayette.

Echoing @Neil, in lieu of my extended comment, I recommend the book Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy, by Shlomo Ben-Ami.

A few years ago I was struggling with my feelings about Israel's more recent behavior when I heard an even-handed commentary by Aaron David Miller (of the Woodrow Wilson Center) on the topic.

I e-mailed him and asked him to recommend--if he could--a single book that honestly summarized how the Israeli-Arab situation came to be as it is.

I found it to be a very balanced account which placed blame more or less evenly on both the Israelis and Arabs for the current situation, but also examined complex external forces that acted on the region, such as the pogroms in Eastern Europe and Russia in the middle-1800s that gave birth to Zionism, British meddling during WW I leading to the Balfour Declaration, the Holocaust during WW II and its impact on Jewish immigration, and the U.N. partition plan, which the Israelis accepted and to which the Arabs responded with civil war, resulting in invasion by foreign armies.

The book does not shy away from atrocities committed by the Jews during the Israeli War of Independence, but it also documents the steady betrayal of the Arab society by their leaders, who overflowed with eagerness to sell land to incoming Zionists from the middle of the eighteenth century until the mid-1930s.

If anyone has an alternative history that I should read, please let me know.


Thanks for the link to the "Slattery Report." A large chunk of the current troubles between Arabs and Israelis has its roots in the fact that Jews were so unwelcome elsewhere both before and after the Holocaust. Where else were they to go but Palestine?

The Slattery Report provides an example of how things might have turned out differently, had Americans--and other nations--been less prejudiced at the time.

Valerie said...

Very interesting comments from Neil and Zee - Thanks

Anonymous said...

Great response to Krugman this morning.

By the way, I understand entirely your decision to limit comments on "A Way With Words." My mother always said discretion is the better part of valor. :-)