Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rombama Theater

You have to hand it to Newt Gingrich. Since the Democrats won't go for Mitt Romney's jugular, Gingrich will do it for them.  The worst epithet I have ever heard Barack Obama use against Wall Street bankers is "fat cats".  As he is wont to frequently point out, the Wall Street kitties have a lot of business savvy and didn't actually do anything illegal.

Not Newt.  He has laid into Romney like a rabid mountain lion disemboweling a pampered Angora. Gingrich does severe damage, calling him a vulture capitalist job killer in the withering tone that only he can pull off.  In a few days he has dared to go where the Obama crowd has thus far feared to tread, succeeding in putting the entire private equity industry on the defensive.  Not so Obama, who probably will remain purring and preening for the primary duration.  Even DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, not known to be a shrinking violet, will only call Romney a "job cremator." Capitalist pig is, unfortunately not in the neo-lib capitalist lexicon.

Newt's characterization, while vicious, is entirely accurate.  Here's the famous infomercial  funded by a NewtPac now playing in South Carolina. It's called "When Romney Came to Town" I learned a thing or two -- for instance, I had no idea Bain Capital was behind the destruction of the Kaybee Toy Store chain!  That makes him a hater of little children and teddy bears as well as a greedhead who makes Gordon Gekko look beneficent. I guess Newt Gingrich could well be called the DNC's useful idiot.

Of course, if you believe as I do that the Rombama match-up is just more Kabuki presented for our torture by the oligarchy, Romney is simply playing Bad Cop to Barry's Good Cop.  Mitt is fulfilling his duty of calling Obama a European Socialist, so the president can blithely defend himself as a PragProg (pragmatic progressive, a/k/a lifestyle liberal and a fiscal conservative) stealing OWS rhetoric and hoping to get away with it.  In this interview with Matt Lauer today, Romney presumes to hand the Occupy crown to Obama on a velvet jewelry tray:
ROMNEY: You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus one percent — and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent — you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.
LAUER: Yeah but envy? Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as ‘envy,’ though?
ROMNEY: Yes, I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.
He is probably right, because the real story and the real power is with Occupy Wall Street. The barriers to Zuccotti Park have been removed and the protesters have moved back into their space. The northeast winter has been very good to this movement.  Not one flake of snow on the streets.  Membership in Climate Change World has its privileges for the underprivileged.
As Matt Taibbi put it in a recent blogpost:
It takes an awful lot to rob the presidential race of this elemental appeal. But this year’s race has lost that buzz. In fact, this 2012 race may be the most meaningless national election campaign we’ve ever had. If the presidential race normally captivates the public as a dramatic and angry ideological battle pitting one impassioned half of society against the other, this year’s race feels like something else entirely.
In the wake of the Tea Party, the Occupy movement, and a dozen or more episodes of real rebellion on the streets, in the legislatures of cities and towns, and in state and federal courthouses, this presidential race now feels like a banal bureaucratic sideshow to the real event – the real event being a looming confrontation between huge masses of disaffected citizens on both sides of the aisle, and a corrupt and increasingly ideologically bankrupt political establishment, represented in large part by the two parties dominating this race.
According to The White House, Obama was to have flown from Washington to Chicago tonight for three separate fundraisers (including one at the home of a private equity firm mogul) -- and then jet back home in time for bed.  It is estimated that he is already, this early in campaign season, spending between 10 and 20% of his working hours speechifying and canoodling with his rich bundlers-who-are-not-lobbyists.


The Doktor said...

Great article Karen!
And I agree, it is theater. I don't think the repubs really even want the Presidency right now, they know exactly how badly the economy is screwed up because they're the ones who did it! ...with some help from the whining, spineless dems who went along with selling out the American people and their government to the highest bidder.... And as you point out the Corporatocracy already has a Trojan Man installed as President, with some people on the left screaming for a "no questions asked" re-election of President Obama.... talk about voting against your own self interests!

That graph you posted on Monday was encouraging though, so hopefully that dynamic will continue.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I thought "job cremator" was quite good.


Valerie said...


I hope the informercial goes viral - not because I want Newty to beat Mittens but because it exposes Mitts for the scum bag he is.

I hope it helps the Occupy Movement - helps more people to see it is all of us average people against the powerful, manipulative, sociopathic elements of the 1%. As I see it, our only hope is a huge public outrage and uprising against the sell-outs in both parties in 2012. If Newty can get a bunch of conservative/tea party/Republican types to listen to a message they would otherwise ignore because it came from a liberal, then more power to him.

And Denis, is it you who coined the name Mittens? It is perfect!

Zee said...

...the real event being a looming confrontation between huge masses of disaffected citizens on both sides of the aisle, and a corrupt and increasingly ideologically bankrupt political establishment, represented in large part by the two parties dominating this race. --Matt Taibbi as quoted by Karen Garcia

One can only hope and pray that such a confrontation actually takes place--and on a truly massive scale--else this country is doomed.

While I can’t take the time to find specific polls today, as I recall, increasing numbers of polls show that it’s really gonna suck to be an incumbent come the 2012 elections. I think that’s a non-controversial statement.

Well, I hope so, because voting ‘em all out is the only real and effective message that we can send to Congress and the President, namely, that we have finally had enough.

Come November, whoever your congresscritter is, pull the lever for The Other Guy

Denis Neville said...

So what are we to do about Big Money in politics buying off democracy?

“Howard Zinn: Don't Despair about the Supreme Court”

“The courts have never been on the side of justice, only moving a few degrees one way or the other, unless pushed by the people…There is enormous hypocrisy surrounding the pious veneration of the Constitution and ‘the rule of law.’ The Constitution, like the Bible, is infinitely flexible and is used to serve the political needs of the moment…The Court was lost long ago, don’t go there looking for justice…It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.”

“The Constitution gave no rights to working people; no right to work less than 12 hours a day, no right to a living wage, no right to safe working conditions. Workers had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, the courts, the police, create a great movement which won the eight-hour day, and caused such commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, and Social Security, and unemployment insurance….Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel and violate the law in order to uphold justice.”

We’re losing our democracy to the plutocracy. Yes, the odds are long. The plutocracy won’t give up anything without a struggle. Some people question taking on such powerful interests. We may lose. It all may be impossible. But it’s okay if it’s impossible.

“It’s OK if it’s impossible; it’s OK! Now I’m going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That’s not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing. If you decide not to do anything, because it’s too hard or too impossible, then nothing will be done, and when you’re on your death bed, you’re gonna say, “I wish I had done something. But if you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough “good things will happen - something’s gonna happen.” - Baldemar Velasquez, Farm Labor Organizing Committee

What are we to do? OCCUPY!!!

Zee said...

Relative to my campaign to VOTE THE BASTARDS OUT!, I know many of you out there are thinking “Well, they may be mostly crooks, but my guy, (s)he’s really ok. I can trust her/him.”

Bilge water! There are only two kinds of congresscritters. Those who have already enriched and further empowered themselves at our expense, and those who want to. And if there is some small fraction of them who actually arrive in DC all honest and well-intentioned, well, it is only a matter of time until most of them, too, will succumb to the perks that power provides.

Here’s something that I posted back in December on Reality Chex. Since it’s my own material, I don’t think I’m violating any copyright laws, and I doubt that Marie Burns will care much anyway.

The fact is, ever-increasing numbers of our Congresscritters are steadily enriching themselves even as they hold office.

From Roll Call,

“According to a Roll Call analysis of Senate financial disclosure forms filed in 2010, more than half of the chamber’s membership, 54 lawmakers, reported a minimum net worth of more than $1 million. Another four Senators fell short of that mark by less than $100,000.

In addition, more than half of the Senate’s membership saw their individual fortunes grow in 2009, the period covered by their most recent disclosure reports.”
--Roll Call

See also:

“In the past six years middle class America's net worth has dropped 8 percent while the members of Congress got 15 percent richer on average, according to the New York Times analysis of the latest congressional reporting data.” --KGO TV, San Francisco

To get more specific, consider the example of Senator Jeff Bingaman, a Liberal Democrat from my own state of New Mexico:

“Last year, Roll Call ranked Bingaman 40th richest of the 535 members of Congress and remarked that the investment portfolio of the senator and his wife, Anne, was unusually active, "racking up nearly 600 separate purchases and sales of stock in 2009, worth a combined total of more than $20 million" -- not counting their book of untraded stocks.” --Washington Examiner

According to that same Washington Examiner article, Bingaman’s financial disclosure statements show that:

“[Bingaman] entered the Senate in 1983 considerably less than a millionaire, inherited a Texaco oil and gas well in Gregg County, Texas, worth all of $15,000, and yet is retiring with investments worth $7 million to $20 million, and possibly as much as $50 million.”

The author of the article asks the following questions, and so should you and I:

“...why does the chairman of Energy and Natural Resources own substantial stock in General Electric, Arch Coal, and oil companies like Occidental, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Concho Resources, among others? And mining giants Freeport McMoran, and Barrick Gold?

And why does a Finance Committee member own stock in Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and many more?
And why does a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee own stock in pharmaceuticals like Merck, Abbott Laboratories, startup research labs and many more?”

Can you say “Conflict of interest?” Can you say “Insider trading?” Can you say “Bingaman’s a crook?”

Bingaman likes to portray himself as a down-home country lawyer from little ol’ Silver City, New Mexico, and the people here just lap that image up.

But don’t be fooled: he’s a crook, they’re all crooks, or they soon will be. Vote ‘em out!

Denis Neville said...

Mittens, born on third base, thinks he hit a triple; says we must only speak of income inequality in ‘quiet rooms.’

Any middle class or working class person who votes for Mittens is voting against their own best interest. You may think you are voting so liberals don't take away your guns, but in the end you are voting against your own economic self-interest.

The Republicans, in their ‘quiet rooms,’ must laugh at those in the 99% who vote Republican. They have convinced them that ‘trickle down’ economics works and that talking about income inequality is envy.

An Indiana University study says 46 million Americans are living below the poverty line – up 27% since start of recession. According to the report, these numbers will continue to rise, because although the recession is technically over, its continued impact on cuts to welfare budgets and the quality of new, often poorly paid, jobs will force many more into poverty. The situation is likely to become even worse if the long-term unemployed lose their jobless benefits.

And still you will vote Republican? I will never understand.

We continue along the bottom of the Great Recession with no end in sight for high unemployment. “399K new lucky duckies.” (new claims for unemployment insurance jumped to 399,000 last week) “Back to not good.” - Atrios

“It tells of the political failure of our representatives to stem this tide (when not outright abetting it), of their failure to steer our economy in a direction that might serve the majority of hard-working American citizens and of their allowing of an entire social system to be hijacked into the service of the elite. The stories allow you to feel the pounding destruction of purpose, identity and meaning in American life, sucked out by a plutocracy determined to eke out its last drops of tribute, no matter what the human cost. And yet it is not a story of defeat. It also details the family ties, inner strength, faith and too-tough-to-die resilience that carry our people forward when all is aligned against them.

“When you read about workers today, they are discussed mainly in terms of statistics (the unemployed), trade (the need to eliminate and offshore their jobs in the name of increased profit) and unions (usually depicted as a purely negative drag on the economy). In reality, the lives of American workers, as well as those of the unemployed and the homeless, make up a critically important cornerstone of our country’s story, past and pres­ent, and in that story, there is great honor.” - Bruce Springsteen, Forward to Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression, by Dale Maharidge and Michael S. Williamson.

The 2012 election will be a choice between two different versions of the status quo, and everyone knows it. One 1%-approved stooge taking on another.

What are we going to do about it?

Denis Neville said...

Youngstown, where dreams go to die.

“Now sir you tell me the world's changed
Once I made you rich enough
Rich enough to forget my name”
- “Youngstown” by Bruce Springsteen

Will said...

Speaking of Howard Zinn (Thank you, Denis, for the link and those inspirational quotes), just yesterday I finally decided to pick up his book, "A People's History of The United States: 1492-Present." I figured it was about time I unlearned all the outright lies, half-truths, and sanitized truths that were pounded into my head back in school.

Anyway, a review of the book by a high school teacher of AP U.S. History really resonated with me, especially this paragraph:

"A People's History" begins with a bold thesis, and keeps it at center stage--namely, that those with power and wealth consistently extend it to others only when the situation has reached the level of deep crisis, and only with the minimum and uppermost fraction of the discontended needed to co-opt them and defeat the dissent of the remainder, often also turning otherwise natural allies into antagonistic contenders for "table scraps" from the banquet in the process. And as Zinn argues repeatedly, this grudging and incomplete inclusion, made reality by the courage and convictions of average men and women, has been the engine that has driven most if not all extentions of both liberty and equality in U.S. history, and that this is a continuing and unfinished process, awaiting future generations of idealists possessing the courage of their own convictions. I admire this book (and this author) for inculcating this idea among young readers."

Later on, I read the man's own words in the link provided by Denis:

"No Supreme Court, liberal or conservative, will stop the war in Iraq, or redistribute the wealth of this country, or establish free medical care for every human being. Such fundamental change will depend, the experience of the past suggests, on the actions of an aroused citizenry, demanding that the promise of the Declaration of Independence--an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--be fulfilled."

In short, no one's going to get us out of this goddamn mess but ourselves.


Denis Neville said...

We Have a Problem…

“Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?” asks Arthur Brisbane, NT Times Public Editor’ Journal.

“I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”

“As an Op-Ed columnist, Mr. Krugman clearly has the freedom to call out what he thinks is a lie. My question for readers is: should news reporters do the same?”

This is NOT a joke!

“That this is even a question, at our so called paper of record is a disgrace, and a sorry example of the sad state of "journalism" in our country today. I suggest Mr. Brisbane and his staff of reporters watch "The Daily Show", and "The Colbert Report" on a regular basis, and learn how to expose someone who is distorting the facts, by presenting evidence of those distortions. Where is Edward R. Murrow when we need him?” - Readers Number One Pick Comment by Vince Panone

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Thanks, @Denis Neville, for the great quotes from Zinn and Velasquez, and the unbelievable statement from Arthur Brisbane of the New York Times. Beyond the general applicability to most of us, they, as well as others, are relevant to something currently occurring in Tucson. The arch-conservative Republicans in state offices — especially the Arizona Attorney General, and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction — have managed to force the Tucson Unified School District to scrap its Mexican-American Studies courses.

I would like to see a list of recommended political readings to be given such widespread publicity — to former students of the program, to other students who might never have thought about the issues, and to portions of the general public who might be receptive — that those who have engineered this attempt at historical and political information suppression will rue the day when they won this particular battle. Additionally, I’d like to see all students formerly in the program to be given, as the beginnings of a personal political library (if they don’t already have one), a very large package of progressive and liberation literature that they could read and give serious thought to over an extended period of time. (As a pragmatic matter, those who are currently employees of the district are probably limited in what they can do. And while I have no connection to the district, I’m in no position to fund such an enterprise, nor am I (my background being in the biological sciences) sufficiently knowledgeable to make more than a few obvious recommendations, such as Zinn.)

So perhaps Karen could, as a starting point, dedicate one of her postings to this issue, and some of the widely-read contributors here could make recommendations?

As a separate issue:

According to a New York Times story, (, John R. Bolton has toady (I mean today) endorsed Mitt Romney for president.

His endorsement statement includes his traditional war-is-my-orgasm hawkish delusions of world supremacy.

Mittens has delivered a statement of delusional thanks to Bolton, citing the latter’s “wisdom, clarity, and courage”.

Will the cognitive dissonance never end?

Jay - Ottawa said...

Zinn's history should be circulated like Gideon bibles to every bedside drawer of every hotel in the land. All in support of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, in case the religionists object.

Zinn's history should be made compulsory reading in every public high school, parceled up by syllabus makers so as to be read in its entirety over those four years. Indoctrination? Yes, but only in the professed ideals of our country.

Zinn's history should be what the next president lays his hand on when taking the oath of office. Anything less is kabuki and hypocrisy.

Jay - Ottawa said...

As an editorial boss, Arthur Brisbane sets standards for the New York Times. Over the past several months in one direct editor-reader communication after another he has revealed how out of touch he is with average Americans as well as fundamental journalistic ideals. He now admits to being on the fence about regularly and routinely pointing out the difference between fact and fiction. Why do we still call his paper the country's journal of record?

Elizabeth Adams said...

I read Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" last year, and it is the only time I have ever enjoyed reading or studying history. The other crapola they teach in school is extremely whitewashed and biased toward the capitalist conquerors. I didn't feel connected to it at all. But Zinn's book is something altogether different. It validates the people's neverending struggles, which have gone on since before the birth of the U.S.

I agree that this is the history that should be taught in our schools, along with civics and basic economics (non-Friedman) in order to arm current and future generations against the "strategic forgettery" of the "Pig People". (love those terms from Driftglass!)

DreamsAmelia said...

@Dennis & @ Jay---the Brisbane piece and flabbergasted reader responses is stunning, and I am sure Karen can whip up something amazing in regard to this declaration by the emperor himself, "Yes! I am naked! You told me I have no clothes, and so it is! Now back to work, peasants!"

As many on this and other blogs have been saying all along, with the level of 1%-ers stenography and obfuscation that exists at the "paper of record" it is flummoxing that such paper is considered by the right a "liberal rag,"-- just as our corporate zombie Dem prezes of the last 30 years are no socialists, nor even a hair on the head of FDR....

Maybe it is only such a house of mirrors that keeps the U.S. from disintegrating completely into civil war again...but the mirror just got cracked with Brisbane's jaw-dropping admission.....

Karen Garcia said...

My comment on Krugman....

Mitt Romney's America is not the regular person's America. The guy is visibly struggling with where he comes from, and who he is. Two Pew Polls out today may offer a clue to the Mitt-psyche: the first, on Mormons, reveals that members of this religious group are very sensitive about how they are viewed and feel "discriminated against and not accepted by other members of mainstream society." Mitt has displayed this sensitivity and struggle for self-identity throughout his political life, via his obsessive flip-flopping. He probably really does have more sympatico with corporations than with real people.

The other poll reveals that more people see a real class conflict between rich and poor. Romney looks like he is about to break out in hives whenever this topic is raised. He either blames Obama for ginning up the class war (a lie), or mumbles something about this being an unseemly topic that should be discussed only in the boardroom (or a padded room).

His wife Ann, who has been described as "June Cleaver on steroids", told the press about how poor she and Mitt were as college students. The only thing that kept him from the indignity of a part-time job, she fondly remembered, were the stocks they were able to sell off a little at a time.

Mitt couldn't have picked a worse year to continue running for president. He views the election as one more leveraged buyout, while the Occupying customers have him pegged as just another sellout.

And here's mine on David Brooks....

If your idea of a successful transition from business to politics is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, then I would suggest the form of governance you have in mind is a private fiefdom rather than a democratic municipality.

Bloomberg infamously picked a crony to become schools chancellor -- a woman who had no education experience and gained notoriety for suggesting that the answer to school overcrowding is birth control for the poor. He has only half-jokingly bragged that the militant NYPD is his own private army. He has ignored court orders in favor of Occupy with impunity. He smirks at freedom of the press and sees nothing wrong with journalists being assaulted. As the 12th richest billionaire on the Forbes list, he gets a charge out of making food stamp applicants get fingerprinted. He bought himself a previously illegal third term.

He also makes it his business to go on national TV and complain that there isn't enough austerity in Washington, DC. He thinks the financial meltdown was caused by Congress and that Wall Street is blameless.

This is what we have to look forward to if Mitt Romney is elected president. You can take the man out of Bain Capital, but you can't take Bain Capital out of the man.

Denis Neville said...

PBS is No Truth Vigilante…

“Moyers & Company” is not being distributed by PBS, but by American Public Television.

PBS declined the show for its main schedule.

“Some public television executives, who would not publicly comment on a sensitive issue, said they believed that PBS did not want to realign itself with Mr. Moyers, a longtime target of some conservatives, as it was fighting to keep its federal financing.”

“Mr. Moyers noted, PBS announced an additional version of “Antiques Roadshow” just a few weeks after the Census Bureau released figures showing the number of people living in poverty had risen to more than 46 million. “I love ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ ” he added. “But it is just symbolic of how we’re not connected viscerally to the state of the American people right now.”

Maybe PBS needs a new slogan – Pablum Before Substance.

Valerie said...

Great comments, Karen - As usual! Thanks for posting them here on Sardonicky. And great post - As usual! Girl, you are knockin' em outta the park lately! (to quote Dok on a previous RC comment)

I just got around to catching up on my reading of Robert Reich blog's and he commented on the Newt infomercial; thought some readers might like to read it.