Saturday, April 27, 2013

Good Pain, Bad Pain

You might think that the long-overdue and comedic debunking of the Rogoff-Reinhart debt study, which had served as the prime rib basis for the austerity agenda of the deficit hawks, would have stopped President Obama from pushing for even more austerity. Well, harrumph to that, proles! His weekly address to the "Nation" (aka, the Plutocracy) should disabuse you of that notion, pronto.

If we had to give this week's presidential propaganda a title, it would be "Sequester Dumb. Cutting Social Security Smart."

He comes not to cancel the Sequester. He comes to replace with something just as bad, if not even worse. He calls it a Balanced Approach. We call it a Grand Betrayal.

The irony, of course, is that he could easily have vetoed Friday's Congressional bill that restored FAA air traffic control staffing, thus gaining a ton of leverage over the GOP. He could have used inconvenienced travelers as bargaining chips, to begin his longed-for destruction of the social safety net. The Republicans would have caved under all that plutocratic pressure. But Obama serves the same masters as all the other bought-off politicians of the Duopoly. And Pete Peterson and the Koch Brothers and the Waltons -- as much as these billionaire psychopaths hate the thought of poor people having a comfortable retirement and health care -- absolutely cannot, must not, be kept waiting on the tarmac in their Lear jets.

So, in a weird sort of way, I guess we can count ourselves lucky. The Tea Party saved us from his Grand Bargain before. This time, the supreme selfishness of the Masters of the Universe got in the way.  

Obama disdainfully calls the vote a "bandaid" approach, sequestering the part of the Sequester that made the Richie Boo-Boos feel bad. But as other commenters have pointed out, Obama is not about to pull a stunt using displaced PreK kids, Medicare chemo patients and the homeless as bargaining chips in a veto threat. That is not who he is. His backdrops are the military stoics, the first responder-uniformed, the beaming factory workers happy to earn a low wage instead of a no-wage, the attractive students who haven't had the chance to become unemployed yet and still have a ways to got before the onslaught of student loan collection agents, the well-dressed, coiffed and dwindling denizens of the monied Beltway burbs. You won't see old people, impoverished children, untreated and emaciated cancer patients, depressed people in rags, anyone obviously sulking or suffering, anywhere near him at his carefully scripted events.

 The people truly being hurt by the Sequester were never really part of his base to begin with, even though it was their votes that propelled him into a second term. He merely used them as occasional actors in campaign films in order to display what a mean son-of-a-bitch Mitt Romney was. Bit players are as expendable as they are interchangeable.

Besides implementing the sneaky chained CPI method of both cutting Social Security and raising middle class taxes, the other pressing reason Obama wants to end sequestration is because he desperately wants to stop the cuts to the Pentagon budget. Notice how smarmily he hides the operation of a thousand military bases, billion-dollar weapons systems, drone operations, fighter jets and welfare for defense contractors under the weasel term "military communities" --- immediately juxtaposed with "families" to make you think that it's only the low-paid grunts and the spouses left behind he's concerned about:
Because of these reckless cuts, there are parents whose kids just got kicked out of Head Start programs scrambling for a solution. Th ere are seniors who depend on programs like Meals on Wheels to live independently looking for help. There are military communities – families that have already sacrificed enough – coping under new strains. All because of these cuts.
 
And while he admits the deficit is shrinking, he still calls for "responsible" cuts.  Why? Because, they're in response to the ruling class. Because the Pete Peterson Fix the Debt crowd representing the richest 1% who've raked in almost all of the gains in the economic "recovery" want it that way. They don't want FICA taxes imposed on their unearned wealth. 

 Obama never once mentioned chained CPI in his speech today, never once acknowledged that his budget would reduce the lifetime benefits of military veterans right along with those of disabled civilians. He knows his ideas are not popular. So, the austerity and the pain are disguised by more weasel words:
A couple weeks ago, I put forward a budget that replaces the next several years of these dumb cuts with smarter cuts; reforms our tax code to close wasteful special interest loopholes; and invests in things like education, research, and manufacturing that will create new jobs right now.
So I hope Members of Congress will find the same sense of urgency and bipartisan cooperation to help the families still in the crosshairs of these cuts. They may not feel the pain felt by kids kicked off Head Start, or the 750,000 Americans projected to lose their jobs because of these cuts, or the long-term unemployed who will be further hurt by them. But that pain is real.
 
He feels our immediate pain, but will do nothing to stop it unless we agree to a lifetime of it. And make no mistake. The kind of long-term pain he wants to impose will smart like hell.

Obama may well already be a lame duck, as he quacks out  marching orders to the masses, urging us to goose-step happily to our own destruction.  

19 comments:

Jay - Ottawa said...

1363

http://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/generic?p0=263&iso=20170120T00&msg=Time%20left%20until%20Obama%20leaves%20office

Denis Neville said...

Obamausterity

“No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?” - George Orwell, Animal Farm

I remember reading “How to Lie with Statistics” in my introductory statistics class and the famous quote by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Statistics themselves do not lie any more than any other set of facts. The lying comes from poor knowledge of statistics and unintentional bias and intentional misuse by the proponents of certain arguments.

Reinhart and Rogoff and the austerian politicians have proved that they are frauds. The need for deficit reduction and austerity is a monumental lie backed by quack-economics.

Obama lies when he says America needs to live within its means like any family. RINOs lie when they say America is broke. DINOs lie when they agree with the Republicans and Obamausterity. They lie when they say our grandchildren will have to pay the federal debt. They are paid to lie by Pete Peterson’s Fix the Debt and promises of lucrative opportunities – a la Clinton - after they leave office through that revolving door.

Will the revelations affect Obamausterity? Will the Republicans and the Democrats rethink their relentless drive to impoverish America? Will they reverse their policies based on economic fact rather than on lies?

Did facts prevent Puritans from burning witches at the stake in Salem?

It's not a question of a lack of ethics, but profits and power. What drives austerian policy are the class interests of the plutocracy versus the rest of us. The economists and politicians are just the pawns of the powerful. If it hadn’t been Reinhart and Rogoff, it would have been someone else to justify what the powerful elites wanted to do all along – slash the social safety net.

Too many Americans have bought the lies. They believe that the government is broke, or in debt. Too many believe the lie that the poor deserve to be poor. That’s why so many gullible non-elites support austerity and are goose-stepping happily to their own destruction.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics. They will pay for the poverty austerity delivers.

“Only old Benjamin professed to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or much worse--hunger, hardship, and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life.” - George Orwell, Animal Farm

Miss Sarcasm said...

1363 days left until Obama leaves office? That can’t be right!

OMFG!

Karen Garcia said...

Here's my comment on Maureen Dowd's column about the unmuzzled Babs and the entire Bush Crime family:

When I heard Obama gush on about how comfortable Bush feels in his own skin, I started thinking about snakes and lizards, and how they have to periodically shed theirs to stay comfy. The skin of reptiles, the closed minds of politicians born with silver feet in their mouths -- each has a limited capacity for growth.

I was reminded of the late great Ann Richards, and how Georgie and Turd Blossom Rove played so dirty in that long-ago Texas state election. How I wish both she and Molly Ivins were still around to eviscerate that loathsome lie-berry ceremony. Perhaps it was their spirits who possessed Babs to say what she did.

And Ma Bush sure is right about those dynasties. Come on -- Chelsea Clinton? Last I heard, she was interviewing the Geico Gecko for NBC. In her "Parade" interview, she said she'd consider running for office only if the wonderful politicians currently in office ever fail to satisfy her. Which, given her position in the hierarchy, is not too likely. She also said she respects everybody who respects her Mom. May the circle stay unbroken.

It's not only the dynasties, it's the political parties accomodating the dynasties. We now have a Duopoly that is of, by and for the 1%. Just witness their mad stampede to placate the irate millionaires trapped in their Lear jets.

Down with the dynasties, down with machine politics. Up with strikes, dissent, and the kind of protests we saw at the Bush extravaganza. Afflict the comfortable. They really need it.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@Miss Sarcasm
Awful, ain't it. Yup, 1363 days to go.

Here's the math: 1363 days divided by 365 equals roughly 3.73424657534 years.

The link is a live clock tolling down the days, hours, minutes and even the seconds as they fade away. I hear lefties and righties spend hours staring at it and squeezing each others hands in excitement as the numbers get smaller.

Congressional Republicans are our friends. By running down the clock they're blocking Obama from implementing any more of his bright ideas.

Denis Neville said...

Today is International Workers' Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made ill by their work.

Supporting International Workers' Memorial Day highlights the need for continued improvements to workplace safety, ensuring justice for those who have already lost their lives or their loved ones through no fault of their own, and protecting current and future workforce from suffering the same fates.

Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living!

Wanker – for the moral bankruptcy and brutal consequences of neoliberalism - of this year’s International Workers' Memorial Day: Matthew Yglesias, who justifies the conditions that killed hundreds of people through explicit reference to their ethnic and national difference.

Bangladesh factory collapse death toll exceeds 350.

But Slate’s Matthew Yglesias says, "Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That's Okay," http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/04/24/international_factory_safety.html

“It's very plausible that one reason American workplaces have gotten safer over the decades is that we now tend to outsource a lot of factory-explosion-risk to places like Bangladesh…Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules, but it's entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have different—and, indeed, lower—workplace safety standards than the United States… Bangladesh is a lot poorer than the United States, and there are very good reasons for Bangladeshi people to make different choices in this regard than Americans… Safety rules that are appropriate for the United States would be unnecessarily immiserating in much poorer Bangladesh. Rules that are appropriate in Bangladesh would be far too flimsy for the richer and more risk-averse United States… American jobs have gotten much safer over the past 20 years, and Bangladesh has gotten a lot richer.”

Bangladesh is the second-largest garment exporter in the world, right after China. Chinese garment factories are moving to Bangladesh because of the low wages, 14 cents an hour up to about 24 cents an hour. The workers work 14 hours a day and often seven days a week.

Yglesias earns his living extolling neoliberal economics: “The activities of individual business executives have no relationship to the level of economy-wide employment. Almost every successful business career is built on the ashes of doomed factories, pink-slipped workers, and towns laid to waste.” Yglesias recently bought a $1.2 million home in Washington, D. C.

What Yglesias calls "entirely appropriate," General Gandhi calls “murder.” http://www.mrdestructo.com/2013/04/destructo-salon-does-matthew-yglesias.htm

Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living!

James F Traynor said...

Obama's leaving office won't mean a thing, especially if Hilary, or some one similar, replaces him. The only chance we have is a sea change in the Democratic party within those 1363 days. It is a slim hope. If that does not occur, voting third party in 2016 is the way to go as a protest. It will result in a Republican victory but it is the only way left in our present political setup to re-institute a meaningful two party system.

Denis Neville said...

@ James – I agree

We all will become servants of the health rentier system in 2014, forced to buy junk health insurance.

The Democratic Party will pay the political price in the 2014 midterm elections for the Obamacare "train wreck that Democrats and Obama forced on downwardly mobile middle and working class families.

Republicans will retake the Senate and increase their seats in the House. As Jon Stewart said, “It's not that the Democrats are playing checkers and the Republicans are playing chess. It's that the Republicans are playing chess and the Democrats are in the nurse's office because once again they glued their balls to their thighs.”

By 2016, the cheapest plan in ObamaCare, the Bronze family plans for four and five person families will cost $20,000 per IRS final regulations published on January 31, 2013.

Gotta love those names of the ObamaCare plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold. It clearly defines the winners and the losers, those who deserve to live and prosper and those who don’t.

“In 2016, the Democrats are going to nominate another neoliberal in economics, neoconservative in foreign and security affairs, pro-corporatist, anti-progressive, anti-99%, lesser evilist. That is a description that fits the upper ranks of the whole of the Democratic party, and one which its base has shown again and again that it is willing to support. I think what is important is not who the Democrats nominate but that the person they nominate will be an enemy to all ordinary Americans. In that regard, Hillary Clinton fills the bill as well as many others.” - Hugh, comment @ Naked Capitalism

Outsida said...

Our biggest obstacle is fellow Democrats who loyally accept everything Obama says and does and defend him strongly without any second thoughts. That is what discourages me the most.

What do we do about them? He's got a hold on them that isn't about to let go. They attack anyone, even fellow Democrats, who raise issues about him or his policies.

Obama also now owns the Democratic Party due to his hefty war chest and organization. No one will succeed unless he blesses them with his largesse. That's why they don't stand up to him now.

We are so screwed.

Denis Neville said...

Outsida said “We are so screwed.”

The advanced pauperization of the middle class…

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." - Anatole France

Beatings will continue until morale improves. We are a society devouring its own. It is the ultimate reality show.

Where is the shit storm?

How much more badly will we allow the oligarchs and their Washington minions abuse us?

How much longer can people cling to their illusions of being middle class and their American dreams of something better for their children before something changes?

Masaccio @ firedoglake:

“The great bulk of us join in this celebration of the American/Capitalist dreamworld, even when, as the polls show, we know it is failing us and our families. What alternative does the Left have to offer? The entire edifice of left economic thought is based on Keynes, and you can barely find any discussion of his ideas by President Obama or other politicians. Even the public disgrace of the intellectual basis for austerity, the Rogoff-Reinhart paper, which followed years of anguish in countries devoted to it, hasn’t awakened interest in either political or economic alternatives.”

http://firedoglake.com/2013/04/28/the-rise-of-the-corporate-state/

The institutionalized Left has abandoned the ambition of a just, decent society. Instead neoliberal wolves wreak chaos and sorrow among the sheep.

Too many avid Obats give Obama cover for being Bush III and are complicit with all the dangerous deceptions of our time:

“It had become usual to give Napoleon the credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, ‘Under the guidance of our leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days,’ or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, ‘thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!’” – George Orwell, Animal Farm

There is no vision of the future. The plutocrats get wealthier and the poor get nothing, or, at best austerity.

Turbocharged neoliberalism is the new normal.

“Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on - that is, badly.” - George Orwell, Animal Farm

Anonymous said...

Can you post a picture?

Zee said...

"By 2016, the cheapest plan in ObamaCare, the Bronze family plans for four and five person families will cost $20,000 per IRS final regulations published on January
31, 2013."
--Denis Neville

If that IRS prediction holds true--and I have heard similar ones--there may not be any 2016 elections, and maybe not even any in 2014.

Instead, we may have martial law because life will have become unbearable.

Miss Sarcasm said...

Karen@ Cutting Social Security Smart

Cutting Social Security is necessary so the CIA can continue to bring bags of our money to the office of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. Remember, the CIA works for Obama. If Obama disagrees with what the CIA is doing, Obama has the freedom to demand the resignation of CIA Director John O. Brennan.

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/world/asia/cia-delivers-cash-to-afghan-leaders-office.html

"KABUL, Afghanistan — For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency."

"All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader."

""We called it ‘ghost money,’ " said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. "It came in secret, and it left in secret.""

"The C.I.A., which declined to comment for this article, has long been known to support some relatives and close aides of Mr. Karzai. But the new accounts of off-the-books cash delivered directly to his office show payments on a vaster scale, and with a far greater impact on everyday governing...."

Denis Neville said...

@ Miss Sarcasm

No austerity there.

Marcy Wheeler/Emptywheel says, “We should not be surprised if the CIA bags o’ cash program turns out to be hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars instead of the tens of millions currently admitted.”
http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/04/29/cia-bags-o-cash-total-tens-of-millions-of-dollars-but-over-4-5-billion-left-afghanistan-in-2011/#more-34989

A noun, a verb, and 9/11 - the gift that just keeps on giving.

In 2007, David Pallister of The Guardian reported “How the US sent $12 billion in cash to Iraq. Special flights brought in tons of shrink-wrapped $100 bills [that's 363 tons of $100 bills], which disappeared into the war zone. It was biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/feb/08/usa.iraq1

“No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.” - Lily Tomlin

Outsida said...

Re: CIA in Afghanistan

Bags of cash is how it works in our country too, only the cash is carried by the oligarchs to their selected candidates for office. Then they let us choose which of two brands of evil we want to represent them.

Don't forget, there is still a trillion dollars worth of minerals waiting to be extracted from Afghanistan. That can't be done until the country is stabilized enough for that wealth to be safely extracted.

Denis Neville said...

“This country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on “homeland security” since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal.” – Mattea Kramer and Chris Hellman, “Homeland Security,” The Trillion-Dollar Concept That No One Can Define http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175655/

How times have changed:

"I came to Washington to work for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten, plain common workingmen."

"Our idea of what constitutes social good has advanced with the procession of the ages, from those desperate times when just to keep body and soul together was an achievement, to the great present when "good" includes an agreeable, stable civilization accessible to all, the opportunity of each to develop his particular genius and the privilege of mutual usefulness."

"What was the New Deal anyhow? Was it a political plot? Was it just a name for a period in history? Was it a revolution? To all of these questions I answer "No." It was something quite different... It was, I think, basically an attitude. An attitude that found voice in expressions like "the people are what matter to government," and "a government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life."

- Frances Perkins, the heart and soul of the New Deal, pioneer in what we now commonly refer to as social justice, Saint in the Episcopal Church

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Zee said...

MALWARE ALERT!

Win 7 Security Cleaner Pro is a phony--but very "Official-Windows-looking"--scam.

Full description is here:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/remove-win-7-security-cleaner-pro

I haven't found the need to test the "uninstall" instructions at the foregoing link as I think that my own virus protection has taken care of it, but as the link says, it temporarily hijacks your browser and tells you that any site that you try to visit is a security risk.

I found that simply turning off my computer via the usual Windows procedure and restarting it, and then running my own virus scan seems to have resolved the problem.

DO NOT BUY THIS MALWARE! THERE IS NO TELLING WHERE YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION WILL GO!

Pearl said...

Denis: Thank you for reminding me of the kind of people who led our country during the FDR years. I am old enough to remember clearly what went on (I was able to cast my first ever vote for FDR in l944 - his last and final term cut short) and have never found anything since to measure up to the amazing leadership of decent and caringpeople during those tumultuous years.

And now, anything meaningful left over from that historic time in our
history is being violated. I wish TV would replay some of the amazing
speeches and events of that time to remind and teach the younger generations what is truly possible. And the warnings still ring true.

Our visit many years ago to Hyde Park and its museum, was one of the most
emotional experiences we have ever had. Other visitors, walked around in
silent awe of what had been accomplished. We stood in front of the simple single grave stone of Franklin and Eleanor with tears forming in our eyes.
What a contrast to the circus of the G.W.Bush library inauguration!

Zee said...

Off topic, but had to laugh, or, maybe, cry. Anyone, or any "righteous" cause can be bought for the right price.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/27/bradley-manning-sf-gay-pride

From Glenn Greenwald,

“News reports yesterday indicated that Bradley Manning, widely known to be gay, had been selected to be one of the Grand Marshals of the annual San Francisco gay pride parade, named by the LGBT Pride Celebration Committee. When the predictable backlash instantly ensued, the president of the Board of SF Pride, Lisa L Williams, quickly capitulated, issuing a cowardly, imperious statement that has to be read to be believed.

Williams proclaimed that "Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year's San Francisco Pride celebration" and termed his selection "a mistake". She blamed it all on a "staff person" who prematurely made the announcement based on a preliminary vote, and she assures us all that the culprit "has been disciplined": disciplined. She then accuses Manning of "actions which placed in harms way [sic] the lives of our men and women in uniform": a substance-free falsehood originally spread by top US military officials which has since been decisively and extensively debunked, even by some government officials (indeed, it's the US government itself, not Manning, that is guilty of "actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform"). And then, in my favorite part of her statement, Williams decreed to all organization members that "even the hint of support" for Manning's actions - even the hint - "will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride". Will not be tolerated.
(Emphases in the original.)

You can find the long list of corporate bandits that Lisa Williams found acceptable as sponsors for the SF Pride celebration at the foregoing link.

So much for “gay solidarity,” or any other kind, when big-time sponsorships might be at stake.