Today is Martin Luther King's birthday as well as the anniversary of the Great March on Washington. Today is also the beginning of Phase Two of the Age of Obama. Above all, today is the day we need to administer a giant booster shot in order to inoculate ourselves against a new outbreak of an old disease sweeping over the land of the erstwhile progressives. And it ain't the flu. Because in this Age of Obama, progressivism has been pathologized into a form of wimpy pragmatism. Today does not augur well for us if we happen to be normal, everyday struggling people. This day of sick pomp and circumstance is being hyped as a day to celebrate the small, incremental achievements of one man, as well as a day to bury all the bad memories, forget the betrayals and sell-outs, and in the words of Stephen Colbert, hope for a better tomorrow, tomorrow.
Today, if Paul Krugman's column is any indication, we are at the cusp of Stage Four of Glenn Greenwald's prescient forecast of how pseudoliberals will cope and react in Phase Two of the Age of Obama. I suspect that Krugman got a call from The White House and probably an advance copy of the president's speech. Because his column, on the theme of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the watered-down and non-existent, dutifully pimped out a laundry list of all the president's alleged accomplishments. It ends thusly: "Still, maybe progressives — an ever-worried group — might want to take a brief break from anxiety and savor their real, if limited, victories."
Even Krugman's most stalwart fans and Obama's usual defenders have taken issue with that little bit of defeatism.
We saw a hint of Krugman's resigned defeat/co-optation yesterday when he publicly disagreed with Joseph Stiglitz's excellent and universally lauded piece on income disparity in the Age of Obama. Krugman just doesn't see income inequality as putting a damper on recovery. Krugman, methinks, has been herded into the brand- spanking new veal pen known as Organizing for Action, which is a direct offshot of the Obama campaign apparatus, and which seems cynically designed to pre-empt any real populist dissent, such as Occupy, from resurging during Phase Two of the Great Sellout.
Inoculation Day is still young, and I will be adding to this blogpost at intervals, depending on how successfully I am able to withstand an onslaught of hyperemesis inawgyration, a symptom of overindulgence on brass bands, politicians in their finery, platitudes, bromides and a general assault of red, white and bluedom. Stuff like this:
|Katy Perry Performing at Inawkwardal Children's Ball|
Update: Some thoughts on the Inaugural Address. The delivery, of course, was superb. He was kind of forced into acknowledging Dr. King, and I about fell over when he actually mentioned the P word (poverty) once. But then he also felt compelled to acknowledge the deficit, effectively cancelling poverty out, as far as I'm concerned, by once again indulging his "balanced approach" addiction. At least, he gave no hint of a grand bargain of safety net cuts. But how could he even dare, given that vast sea of diverse faces in the crowd, many of whom no doubt traveled to the event from the Anacostia neighborhood, where every other child lives below the poverty level. All in all, it was a speech as far divorced from history or from future plans as any aspirant to a high score on the Machiavellian Scale could strive for. Some excerpts:
The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. For more than two hundred years, we have.
(Why, why why did he say this? Income disparity under the Obama regime is at its most extreme level in history. During the time of the Founders, colonial life was surprisingly egalitarian, even given the existence of slavery.
(Revisionism to the max. We discovered that the market thrives when there are rules. When the economy crashed in 1929, due to wild unfettered speculation, only the Glass-Steagall Act passed in the next decade, the Age of FDR, put us on the path of ensuring fair play. A bipartisan cabal repealed all that during the Clinton regime, paving the way for the Crash of '08. We resolved, through the New Deal and the Great Society programs, that protecting the vulnerable is who we are. Obama has attempted on several occasions to dismantle those very programs in the name of austerity. In the penultimate sentence, in any event, he again cancels out his whole mendacious thought by dog-whistling to the plutocrats his conservative mantra of hard work and personal responsibility and free enterprise (read: risk, free trade and job-killing globalization.) Finally, he singles out math and science as the sole core curricula that will serve to enrich the ruling class. He never says a word about the necessity to study art, literature, political science, the humanities, or history. We. Must. Not. Learn. To. Think.)
(The reign of American state-sponsored terror is only beginning. See the Disposition Matrix, the Kill List, the new invasions and incipient occupation of the African continent. An economic recovery has begun... for the top One Percent, who have amassed 94% of all the wealth recovered since the 2008 crash. But he gets the last part right: more reckless risk for the Greed Brigade as it endlessly reinvents ways to enhance the harsh reality of life for most of us. Look at JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who lost $6 billion in a risky trade, got his annual pay cut in half to a measly $11.5 million, but retains his stash of Chase shares worth an estimated $263 million.)
(This is where I will stop the parsing for now, because this is the part that perfectly encapsulates the Machiavellian bromides that pass for policy in this Administration. Obama, in his first campaign, had advocated a national minimum wage of $9 an hour. Now he is reduced to spewing aspirational pablum, never once calling for any actual legislation that would serve to lift his generic little girl out of the bleakest poverty. When it comes to social mobility, the United States ranks dismally low. If you're born to wealth, you stay rich. If you're born in poverty, you tend to stay poor. That little girl could have a genius IQ, but her chances of success are far, far below those of a dolt born to the likes of Lloyd Blankfein.