Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Twisted Logic

Happy Valentines Day from Your Pretzel President (graphic by Kat Garcia)

I thought I had heard all the reasons why President Obama is being forced at gunpoint to embrace the Supreme Court Citizens United decision in order to fight nasty Republican dirt with clean Democratic dirt. But how wrong I was. The justifications for influence peddling and money-grubbing by the Obama re-election campaign are flying fast and furious.  George Bush choked on a pretzel; Barack Obama and his handlers are twisting themselves into one. It's the warm, soft, malleable kind that vendors sell on the street corners in winter.
Not only will Priorities USA  now accept unlimited cash for negative ads -- but Obama has given the go-ahead for members of his own cabinet to shill for him at SuperPac fundraisers. It is all perfectly legal, as long as they don't blatantly ask for money during their pay-to-play availabilities with wealthy lobbyists and CEOs. For example, when Energy Secretary Stephen Chu gives a speech in front of a group of oil tycoons about deepwater drilling safety at a SuperPac fund-raising event, he won't say a single word about campaign donations. This logic runs in tandem with the reasoning that it's okay for lobbyists to bundle campaign cash for the president as long as they are not registered lobbyists.

Chu and at least three other Cabinet officials are openly champing at the bit to get into the fund-raising that is not fund-raising sweepstakes. The reason?  They already have histories of being champion political bundlers. It might even be safe to say they got their jobs in large part because of the wads of cash they raised for their boss in his first campaign.

According to the Center for Public Integrity's  iWatch News, one such expert bundler is Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a fellow Chicago pol from the old days, who is anxiously awaiting invitations to speaking gigs. And Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is an enthusiastic natural, having raised over $13 million for his own Senate campaign. Then there are U.S. Trade Rep Ron Kirk and the hundred grand he bundled for Obama's first campaign, and Chu, who even before the SuperPac decision, has "mingled" among donors at various political soirees.

That does it for the Cabinet officials -- so far. According to CPI, Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta will not be shilling for campaign cash, nor will Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and former bundler Susan Rice, who is now UN ambassador.

Politico is running a pretty hilarious piece today on the various criticisms and rationales from both the left and the right about the Obama cave on anonymous fundraising. The funniest conservative gripe comes from David Bossie, chairman of the Koch Brothers' astroturfing Americans for Prosperity. He so hates the Obama hypocrisy of deploring Citizens United only to then start PrioritiesUSA that he has produced a video funded by SuperPac money to condemn SuperPac money.

Besides the critics, there are also defenders from both the left and the right. Former Republican Congressman Philip English quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson in defending Obama: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines", adding:
By robustly trolling for big money to fund the inevitable attack ads, the Obama campaign has demonstrated a predictable large-mindedness, free of hobgoblins. The only venue in which anyone should be shocked by this is Rick’s Place in Casablanca. One has to wonder - if a Republican incumbent displayed such ambidexterity, would the media be so placid?
Hmm. If I were more cynical, I'd say English is trolling for a team of rivals-type appointment in Obama's second term.

Then there are the usual Democratic apologists twisting themselves into knots:

We may not like the rules, but we didn't choose them. So as Democrats fight for campaign finance reform - which Republicans have repeatedly blocked - we will play by the rules as they are, not as we wish they were. -- Bill Burton, founder of Priorities USA.

Playing by the rules as they exist, the same rules that apply to everyone else, while they work to change those rules for everyone, is not hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the Republican expectation that Democrats hold themselves to a stricter standard than their opponent, when it was Republicans who stopped those standards from being put in place. -- Rodell Molineau, president of American Bridge 21st Century.

Unsurprisingly, the same Republicans who falsely claim the president is an appeaser expect him to unilaterally disarm his campaign. Thankfully he is too smart for that. President Obama knows that to change elections you have to win elections. -- Christine Pelosi, Democratic activist and daughter of Minority Leader Nancy.

There is no hypocrisy in working to change a system while following its rules as long as they are in place. In politics, acting like you are in a perfect system while your enemies kill you amounts to stupidity not idealism. The hypocrisy here is among those who are criticizing Obama for doing what they do. Also, I think this is a non-issue with Americans in general. For them, the dysfunction of the entire political system is the issue. -- Theda Skocpol, Harvard professor.

Obama's decision to tacitly support the super PAC set up to benefit him was just an acknowledgment of reality. With potentially hundreds of millions flowing to its anti-Obama counterparts, the president really had no choice but to act.
Don't think that this decision will drive a single vote away from Obama in the fall, however. In 2008, remember, Obama spurned public financing after promising he would accept it, and no one cared - except for John McCain, who sputtered around impotently about what an outrage it supposedly was. All of this is inside baseball that doesn't impact the behavior of real voters, who cynically and correctly assume that candidates are going to raise as much as they can no matter how they do it. Obama made the right decision. -- Garry South, Democratic consultant.

If we are ever going to right this political ship it will be the Democrats who do it not the McConnells and Boehners. There is no point of acting like lambs to the slaughter, and sacrificing the presidency and seats in Congress, if our ultimate goal is to have the votes to change the system. Obama made the only call possible. --  Peter Fenn, Democratic media consultant.
Speaking of hilarity, I got an amusing email the other day from the Obama campaign. It gives instructions on how to slap down mean talk about the prez from my redneck friends and relatives. The Empire Strikes Back it is not, but there is more than a hint of Homeland Security-lite in what they are asking "supporters like me" to do. If I hear something, I should say something. There are even downloadable talking points for Obamabots to stash in their arsenals. Sign up now to be a worker bee for the Ministry of Truth Truth Team. Campaign operative Stephanie Cutter writes:
Comunicating about the President's record -- and that of our opponents -- is what I do full-time. But people don't just want to hear from campaign statements or ads -- they want to hear from the family and friends they trust.

The President needs folks on board to roll up their sleeves, stand with him, and get the truth out all over the country.

So the next time you hear Mitt Romney accusing the President of "crony capitalism" or someone asking, "What has President Obama really accomplished?" you'll know what to do.
Stephanie has no idea what I am capable of doing. For one thing, most of my conservative family members and friends already despise Romney and the crew of wingnuts. And defending Obama against crony capitalism charges? Jeffrey Immelt, Timmy Geithner, Larry Summers, to name just a few.

Happy Valentines Day, fellow Sardonickists!


James F Traynor said...

The horrifying truth in this is that without creating or canoodling superpacs Obama exposes himself to considerable risk. But he has proven to be, in many ways, a fraud. Even when he had the political advantage, in his first two years, he chose instead to use that advantage to benefit corporate interests over the interests of those of us who put him into office.

Kat said...

God, I hope Obama2012 does not wise up and stop sending you their emails because what you have to write is always hilarious.
@James-- well, benefiting corporate interests is what our parties are all about, right? Hilarious article in Salon today:

I would point out to the writer that there is no right and left in the article he describes. This is more about the marketplace trumping all other values.
And our foreign policy probably represents this best.

Anne Lavoie said...

Sounds like the Obama team is advocating a dangerous standard. If 'everyone is doing it' and 'those are the rules everyone else is playing by', then why shouldn't Occupy resort to violence, by the same token? (Or anyone else for that matter)

That media gutter is going to get pretty crowded with everyone jumping into it to sling their vicious crap. It can't bode well to have even more vile negativity, which the media will make a fortune from, so they will be sure to fan the flames as much as they can.

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if we end up in a 'Cvl Wr' due to this escalation. Thanks Obama, for taking the high road, not. He wants to go down in history, and I think his place is assured.

Excuse me while I go clean off my tin hat and stock up on supplies.

DreamsAmelia said...

Yes, nothing spells shared prosperity better than freshly nuked pretzels.

I say we retro-fit the Rapi-Scanners (currently at airports frying the citizens), into voting booths. Then, we send every politician (and candidate) on the local, state, and federal level to the nearest polling place for a reverse non-election, and ask them to step inside the voting booth for a mere 15 seconds.
If they have even a kernel of un-bribable dedication to the public good for every single person, without exception, living in These Morosely United States, then they will walk out from the booth newly fortified with sheer determination to work for the good of all, with their cancerous bribery-riddled cells that were tempted to use public office for personal profit successfully excised by the salubrious nuke-rays.

If, however, they do not have a single cell willing to work for the good of everyone at the expense of their own fortune, bribes, or favors, then they emerge from the scanner not a man or woman, but a fragrant, steaming, larger-than-life pretzel, zapped to a perfect temperature:

Let them eat pretzels!

After we have excised (and consumed) all the poisonously profiteering politicians in such manner, we can renew every nook and cranny of government with visionaries who think about preservation of the common good in geologic time, not election-cycles. Instead of pretzels, these new public servants would be english muffins, not letting a single nook or cranny become infested by whining rich hoarders, nor by working-class poor who honestly believe the super-wealthy "work hard" for their money, when actually the rich siphon it straight from the working class in the form of dividends and trades on stocks in companies that would not exist were it not for the poorly paid workers.

Maybe, too, the converted Rapi-Scan voting booths could have a melted cheese option...Thanks, Karen, for making cheesy pretzels a more appealing way to celebrate Valentine's Day than chocolate...

Proactvoice said...

Karen, this is a fabulous post. I want to distribute as is but also reproduce it exactly on my Progressive Activist Voice blogsite!! Keep up the excellent work and my kudos to Kat for a great graphic!

Dr. Tom Baldwin
Biloxi, MS

Kat said...

Just to clarify-- I have nothing to do with the graphic. Kat is Karen's daughter, I think?
Although I'd be up for Karen adopting me!

Denis Neville said...

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” - George Orwell, 1984

That damn habitual irritant to the power elite – THE TRUTH

God bless Bill (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”) Clinton!

“Bill Clinton Calls For Internet ‘Ministry of Truth,’ Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars.com.

“A man who knowingly lied to the nation on live television at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, has called for the creation of an Internet ‘ministry of truth’ style organization that would be run by the federal government or the UN to address “misinformation and rumors floating on the Internet.”

“Couching the idea in the kind of doublespeak rhetoric that would make George Orwell roll in his grave, Clinton said that the agency would have to be “independent” and “transparent,” but that it would be created and run by the federal government – a complete oxymoron.

“No matter how many fluffy, friendly and democratic words he attaches to the proposal, Clinton is basically calling for the creation of a state-run media outlet in the mould of Communist China.”


What First Amendment? “Cognitive Infiltration” on steroids…

Cass Sunstein, Obama’s information czar, has demanded websites be mandated by law to link to opposing information or that pop ups containing government propaganda be forcibly included on political blogs. If this system couldn’t be implemented voluntarily, “Congress should hold hearings about mandates,” which would legally force people to dilute their own free speech.

“The best would be for this to be done voluntarily,” said Sunstein, “But the word voluntary is a little complicated and people sometimes don’t do what’s best for our society.”


Truth Team (aka Ministry of Truth), a network of supporters like you (we’re already a part of this?) who want to play a key role (we do?) in fighting back with the truth in this election.

“Our” resources

• AttackWatch website
• KeepingGOPHonest, a resource for fact-checking the Republicans when they misrepresent themselves.
• KeepingHisWord, easy-to-share summaries of President Obama’s accomplishments right alongside what he promised he’d do.[attention Obamabots!]

Stephanie’s excited! Are we excited?

Thanks Barry, for your latest Orwellian tactic for spreading lies and making those who question you liars.

”You’re a traitor!” yelled the boy. “You’re a thought criminal!” - George Orwell, 1984

DreamsAmelia said...

Thanks for clarifying Kat, because I almost thought it was you, until I saw the last name. On closer inspection, this is no ordinary pretzel, indeed--rather than salt, it seems to be coated in...? sesame seeds? ...or...lice?

But, it is one of the best graphics on a blog that has had some doozies! Happy Valentine's Day!

Denis Neville said...


“If you are going to lie, it appears the Obama Administration believes there is nothing to be lost by telling a Big Lie.”

Yves Smith @ Naked Capitalism, “HUD’s Donovan Tells Remarkable Whoppers About Settlement to Mortgage Investors”

“Yet another sign of Obama Administration brazenness: to have officials tell lies to an audience that will KNOW it is being lied to, with no concern about backlash. They clearly assume that they have sufficient control over the media that they need not worry about disgruntled participants spreading word of the offensive conference call. Even if negative stories leak out, the officialdom is apparently confident that it has enough paid or brainwashed cheerleaders to drown them out.”


"2+2=5" by Radiohead:

“Where two and two always makes up five…
It's the devil's way now
There is no way out
You can scream and you can shout
It is too late now
All hail to the thief”


"Cat" will do said...

Adele trashes newt at the grammy's? we need more of this from performers with the public's 'ear'


Zee said...

@Denis Neville--

Thanks for the great links!

“On page 14 of Sunstein’s January 2008 white paper entitled “Conspiracy Theories,” he proposed that “under imaginable conditions” the government “might ban conspiracy theorizing” and could “impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories.”

Sunstein’s definition of “conspiracy theories” includes ideas shared by the majority of American people, such as the notion that the JFK assassination occurred as part of a wider plot, as well as the belief that the threat of global warming has been hyped by governments and global institutions. Both of these ideas would be examples of thought crime under Sunstein’s regime.

Bill Clinton’s call for a government-run ministry of truth is a brazen attempt to implement Sunstein’s dangerous anti-free speech agenda.”
--Paul Joseph Watson


By Sunstein’s criteria, I suspect that each and every participant in this forum--including me--would be taxed, jailed, or maybe just plain “disappeared” by Sunstein’s proposed Internet thought police.

I have long been fascinated by the large numbers of people on the Left who are so eager to see fascism in every Conservative thought, proposal or action, while failing to detect and remove the fascist logs from their own eyes.

So certain of the righteousness of their own pet causes are they that they are perfectly willing to impose their “correct” ways of thinking on others, while decrying as “fascism” attempts of those on the Right to do similar things.

From “hate speech,” to “hate crimes,” to the latest church-state kerfuffle between the Obama administration and the Catholic church, and on to Cass Sunstein’s outrageous proposals, the willingness of many on the Left to impose their way of thinking on others by force of law, while branding as fascism those same attempts--on different issues--by the Right is hypocrisy at its finest.

I’m a great believer in the virtue of doubt. The one thing that I am quite certain of is that I don’t know everything and that, therefore, beyond the confines of the laws that we require to live together in a civil society, I have no right to impose my beliefs on others, to force them to think as I do.

Sitting on my ever-growing “to be read soon” bookshelf is In Praise of Doubt: How to Have Convictions Without Becoming a Fanatic. Beyond the fact that the book came highly recommended, I have no idea where it will lead me. But the title almost says it all, just as Judge Learned Hand did in his “Spirit of Liberty Speech:”

“...What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias... -- Judge Learned Hand (Bold emphasis added.)


I only came across this speech recently, and it may have come to me from a participant in this forum. But I think that it should be a constant reminder to all of us when--as we all do--we become absolutely certain that everyone should think only as we do, and that people are "stupid" when they don't.

Suzan said...

Where are we moving?

In self defense from all.

Love ya,


Anonymous said...

And what is your alternative. I happen to, however reluctantly, agree with all the comments you cite from those who support the President’s decision--there is NO other way he can play it. If you think there is, please share it.

I have laughed at many of your send ups of the Obama campaign emails, but this time I have to say you’ve overblown it. You’ve drawn a false equivalency this time in comparing the effort to encourage people to talk about issues with friends and neighbors to Soviet or Nazi policies.

Reading this blog over time has made me much more of a moderate than I used to be--for which my spouse is eternally grateful.

Neil said...

@Anonymous, And what is your alternative.

My alternative, given that the American voters in 2008 gave the Democrats a MANDATE TO CLEAN HOUSE, with the presidency, and majorities in both houses:

1. Enforce the rules of capitalism. No bailouts; big banks that cannot survive, they fail, period. Proceed to orderly liquidation in bankruptcy. No more TBTF. Audit the Federal Reserve and bring it under the control of Congress, if not abolish it altogether.

2. National Health Care For All; the nation’s health is a "public interest" too important to be left to private industry. National Heath Care For All will allow American companies to be more competitive in the world economy, since the cost of healthcare is shifted from the companies and becomes a "public interest", as done in China and Germany, the #1 and #2 export nations, and most other countries.

3. End the wars. Stop the military the empire. Close hundreds of bases, bring the troops home. The savings realized can pay for #2.

Had Obama done the above, or made a reasonable attempt, he would have wide public support and his reelection would be guaranteed. Instead the Democrats blew it; they behaved like - modern Democrats - negligent in their duty to the people, and beholden to corporate interests. Democrat or Republican, one duopoly.

Now you claim "there is NO other way he can play it" and "If you think there is, please share it."

So shared.

BTW, where did you read anything about "Soviet or Nazi policies" in the post or any of the comments?

Kat said...

Cass Sunstein does seem to have some problems with democracy doesn't he?
To think, his name was bandied about as a SCOTUS judge!

Denis Neville said...

@ Anonymous

Who agrees "with all the comments you cite from those who support the President’s decision--there is NO other way he can play it."

Anybody who trusts those bullshit artists is a damn fool.

George Carlin - You are a slave:


Most people can't accept Carlin’s hard truth. Anonymous can’t.

i.e. “We’re not going to fight this fight with one hand tied behind our back,” said Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager. “With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules. Democrats can’t be unilaterally disarmed.”

As Robert Scheer writes, “That argument would be more compelling if not for the fact that it was the Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, who “disarmed” by accepting public funding in the last election. Obama subverted what remained of political campaign finance reform by turning instead to private contributions, with the result that major Wall Street interests greatly financed his victory. It is not entirely true that shunning the PACs would have left the president at a disadvantage, since he commands predominant media space by virtue of his office. He could have exploited the fat-cat contributions to Republicans as confirmation that they are servants of the 1 percent that has caused the rest of us so much misery. Once again he has failed to take that case for economic justice to the American people and instead validated the Republican assault on what remains of our democracy.”


Obama has now raised more money from Wall Street than all the Republican contenders combined. In 2008, Obama raised $500 million, more than any presidential candidate had ever spent to get elected. Obama was a tool of Wall Street then and he remains that today, which is all the more transparent after all his giveaways to the 1%.

So, Anonymous, continue voting for your Corporatist Party. That is your choice. Continue being a slave. They don’t give a (bleep) about you.

There’s no such thing as a lesser evil. Voting for the supposed lesser evil, as Anonymous suggests, will not bring the change we so desperately need. It only nets evil.

“Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” - Henry David Thoreau

Valerie said...


It is attitudes like yours that have gotten us into this mess.

If all of those who are voting for Obama because “we don't really have much of a choice and he is the Lesser of Two Evils” had joined Occupy and gotten out in the streets and demanded change in big enough numbers, we might have been given an alternative choice within the Democratic Party. If all of us who are disenchanted with Obama and don't trust him to do what he says on the campaign trail, wrote to the Democratic Party and said we won't vote Democratic until we are given a REAL Democratic candidate, then maybe the DNC might have been scared enough - self-serving enough - to ask Obama to step aside.

What do you think? That the corporate DNC is going to just give up their corporate agenda out of integrity? Get real! They are going to do it when WE, the people of this country, force them to choose between loyalty to the banks and corporations and our vote as a massive block of voters.

I am glad that you are more moderate as a result of reading this blog - but turn that into action. All I am seeing on the part of the yellow dogs is a lot of hand wringing and blind hope that Obama (by some miracle) is going to change for the better. Fat chance of that!