Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Plutocrat-Assisted Suicide Cult

It's bad enough that the titans of finance got away scot free after tanking the economy and wiping out trillions of dollars in household wealth. It's bad enough that real unemployment is still close to 20%, one five Americans lives in poverty, 50 million of us have no access to medical care and Republicans and Democrats alike are waging war on unionized labor and public schools.

At least the odious Lloyd Blankfeins and Jamie Dimons and Business Roundtables of the world used to work behind the scenes as their lobbyists wrote the laws and bribed the politicians. No more. The oligarchs are right out there in the open. They own the United States of America. They're saying it loud and they're saying it proud.
Taking the Koch Brothers' co-optation of the Tea Party movement a giant leap forward, they are urging all us proles to go marching in the streets in their behalf, in the name of populist debt reduction.

I am not kidding. The CEOs of America are blatantly conducting power-point presentations in the workplaces of America, pressuring their wage slaves to voluntarily cut their own social safety nets. They are engaging us in a campaign of corporate-assisted suicide. They are urging us to become direct parties to our own destruction.

You may have heard their rallying cry buzzword from President Obama himself. They're euphemistically calling it "economic patriotism." Basically it means you should whip yourself into a nationalistic fervor to ease the pain of your decline.

Via the Progressive Change Campaign Committee comes word of the astroturf Campaign to Fix the Debt, run by Catfood Commissioners Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles and funded by billionaire capitalist Pete Peterson:

To pass this unpopular plan, Simpson and Bowles have amassed a massive $25 million war chest. As the Huffington Post just reported, it is likely that the group is being funded by the right-wing billionaire Pete Peterson; its steering committee includes billionaire CEOs like Honeywell’s Dave Cote.

If you sign up as a volunteer for the group, you’ll be e-mailed a “toolkit” that you’re supposed to use to engage in pro-austerity activism on behalf of the billionaires who run the group.

One of the instructions in the tool kit is to “bird dog” campaign events and town halls that feature Members of Congress.

To give you an idea of their idea of a balanced approach, David Cote has suggested raising the retirement age to 75 and doing away with corporate taxes altogether. Since billionaires like him are living longer, laborers and nurses should work an extra ten years. (Cote is an Obama pal and another member of his Catfood Commission.)

If you were still wondering why the president mentioned at the debate that he and Mitt Romney have similar ideas on Social Security, it's because they really do have similar ideas on Social Security. Alan Simpson also helps run the Commission on Presidential Debates and he is making sure the presidential candidates are cool with cutting the retirement program. As a matter of fact, the plutocrats were crowing with glee on their own website that both Romney and Obama fell into line during the debate. It is so, so cool to have bipartisan support in the campaign to fool the muppets into slitting their own wrists!

Something remarkable happened Wednesday night in the first Presidential Debate:

The candidates actually started discussing their plans for how they will bring down our deficits and deal with our debt!

We didn’t get an entire debate about the debt as we’d asked, but the major focus of the evening was on our most important fiscal issues – and that’s a major victory.

It means they’re hearing us!

Something really special is happening as this movement grows. Ten days ago we said our goal was to get 250,000 signers of the Citizen’s Petition to Fix the Debt, and we’ve already reached that goal. That’s more than 100,000 in only a matter of days!

We also saw something pretty incredible start to happen last night in Denver where the debates were taking place: local citizens took photos of themselves holding a tin can with the word of something that mattered to them – like healthcare or education – imploring our leaders in Washington:


It was so cool. And it’s something we can all do. So, to get started, we’ve added a new section of our website to make it easy for you to look your representatives in the eye and tell them why we care about fixing the debt. Simply visit this “Why I Care” page, and upload your photo.

The only thing that prevented President Obama from successfully completing his Grand Bargain last summer was the recalcitrance of the Tea Party and Grover Norquist. So now, billionaires like Lloyd Blankfein are getting directly involved, hoping to give their Congressional puppets needed cover in the Billionaires' Bipartisan Battle for Balance. From today's Politico:

While many on the Hill are skeptical that even the clout of the Wall Street could force a deal, optimists believe that the outside help would pressure lawmakers to sign onto a deal, or at least to give them political cover if they do. The logic: If business says a deal will help jump-start the economy, how could Congress and the president be against it?

“I just think that if we’re going to end up in a place where we’re actually going to be able to compromise, move off their positions and get to a comprehensive deal, we’re going to need external forces that are helping us do that,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), one of the so-called Gang of 8 senators who have been working for more than a year to fashion a deficit-reduction compromise. “The business community is one of those groups that we’ve got to get involved, and there are lots of other groups as well.”

But he stopped short of predicting New York money would make a difference. “Hope so,” he said.

If there is any consolation to be gleaned from all of this, it's that mainstream outlets are actually covering the fascist coup in all of its glaring corruption.

Capitol Hill is turning into Hemlock Hill. But we must not go quietly into that good night.

Update: And Big Bird refuses to be co-opted by either of these phony candidates. Sesame Street has demanded that Obama pull the campaign ad touting his fake populism. As Marcy Wheeler notes, the ad uses crooks prosecuted under the Bush regime as examples. Lloyd Blankfein not only will not be prosecuted, he's running the show.


Denis Neville said...

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Deception reigns and all meaningful values have been turned on their head.

“We'll fight back, we'll fight back, we'll fight back," a man near Doctor Stockstill was chanting. Stockstill looked at him in astonishment, wondering who he would fight back against. Things were falling on them; did the man intend to fall back upward into the sky in some sort of revenge?” ― Philip K. Dick, Dr. Bloodmoney

We have ascended to Dick’s covered pasture where electric sheep graze, sophisticated pieces of hardware chomping away in simulated contentment, bamboozling the other tenants of the building. Nothing could be more impolite than to inquire about these electronic circuitry fakes. To say "Is your sheep genuine?" would be a breach of etiquette.

“Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups. What is real? We are unceasingly bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives. I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.” - Philip K. Dick

4Runner said...

We fascist fatcat plutocrats say:

Down with Socialism, Up with CEOcialism!

Pearl said...

Karen: Another bravo for your comment to Brooks' "The Policy Verdict 1" about health care in the U.S.
It is easily found, first, on top, in the Reader's pick column with almost
900 recommendations at the moment.
I was tired but was going to write my usual attack on why U.S.health care is
a failure, when I saw your comment and several other excellent ones stating that until Universal single payer health care is in place, there is no hope of preventing suffering and bankruptcy with the present plan in place, I felt I was well covered by the replies.

My job now is to join forces with Canadians to not allow Prime Minister
Harper to force cutbacks such as health care needs in many necessary
programs here. The NDP has sent me a hard hitting e-mail outlining the U.S.
type of shenanigans being formulated by Harper and I think they are gearing
up for an earlier than 2015 election in Canada. I had better get busy filling out
my request for Canadian citizenship and apply for voting privileges here
where they can really count.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks Pearl. And here's my comment on MoDo's latest:

Barack Obama is all about consensus. His first instinct, when faced with the living presence of Mitt Romney, was probably to find common cause with the man.

Before his throngs of fans, he's a pro at performance art, easily railing against his opponent. But his diffidence during the debate is likely the same kind of diffidence he displays in closed-in spaces with the likes of John Boehner and other recalcitrants.

The PBS show "Frontline" ran dual biographies of Obama and Romney Tuesday night. One of the president's colleagues at the Harvard Law Review recalled that he was always drawn to the conservative outliers. She described herself as very hurt when he rejected her for a masthead position. Her disappointment presaged the disappointment and sense of betrayal that progressives were to feel decades later.

This is just who he is. Supporters keep urging him to find his mojo, or else make all kinds of excuses for his governing style, predicting he's saving all his good stuff for a second term. But what you see is what you'll get. His earnest hope for a grand bargain with Republicans for cuts to the social safety net in the middle of an economic recession shows that this is a man who values process over policy, compromise for the sake of compromise.

I used to think Obama would have made an excellent Dalai Lama, until the news of indefinite detention and kill lists and drone strikes came out. Remoteness may be fine, but remote control policies -- not so much.

Valerie said...

I think it is totally bizarre that the plutocrats are actually getting people to go along with this - but then, Jim Jones got a lot of people to drink grape kool-aid. I think when people become afraid and desperate and angry about being afraid and desperate - and the fans are flamed by a single, simplistic message - the Jews are to blame for all your troubles, the Americans are to blame for all your problems, Obama and the people on Welfare are to blame for everything that is wrong with the country- they can be convinced to do anything - even if it conflicts with their own best interests.

It is not that I think a large federal deficit isn't a problem; it is. But I differ on how I think it should be paid down. I don't think we should go after the safety net.

I think we should do the following:

1) Get out of the wars/battles/conflicts - whatever you want to call them - AND STOP LOOKING FOR MORE WARS TO FIGHT. God only knows - because the U.S. government is sure trying to keep it a secret - how much money is spent in foreign conflicts but it is a whole lot. Let’s put the idea (the myth really) of American Exceptionalism to bed and butt out of the politics of other countries. Let’s stop greedily eyeing the natural resources of other countries and trying to work out ways to get them for ourselves through political machinations and military might. The truth is – we simply can’t afford it.

2) Along a similar vein, let's try a little austerity on the CIA, military machine and Homeland Security and any other "under the radar" organisation that is involved in manipulating the politics of other countries. These groups have HUGE budgets and I don’t ever hear anyone talking about giving those budgets a haircut.

3) Let's tax every single stock trade on Wall Street one-half of one percent. Reckless casino gambling is what caused the crash in the first place and created a need for a bailout that greatly increased the national debt; let this particular industry which has done so incredibly well since the crash contribute to the national debt issues it exacerbated.

4) Get rid of the free ride Capital Gains has been getting and start taxing this revenue as income. The only exception is if an American company which has its headquarters and factories in the U.S wants to make improvements that will increase American jobs here at home.

5) Tax everyone who makes over 100,000 a year at 35% - no exceptions. It is ridiculous that a Middle Class person is paying a higher income tax than a wealthy one. I'm not saying we should go back to the days of Eisenhower when taxes on the wealthiest Americans were over 90% but come on! Let the rich pay their fair share instead of putting the entire burden on the Middle and Working Classes.

6) IF the above were done and we were still in debt - which we would probably be although greatly reduced - then yes, taxes would have to go up on the Middle Class as well - but only if everything else has been done first. The safety net is the last place we should be cutting back.

And quit calling Social Security an entitlement! Last time I checked everyone who receives Social Security paid into the program their entire working lives! If we need to raise the rates in order to accommodate a longer life-span FINE! – but to cut back on a program that is so crucial to so many people’s survival in later years in order to pay off a national debt caused by politicians bailing out their buddies’ bad decisions and unnecessary wars is just plain unfair and for all the patriots out there – unAmerican.

barbara madeloni said...

Another in the category of: they are robbing us in broad daylight, while announcing their intentions for the next heist: check out this link in EDweek:
There you will learn of the plans to further privatize and profit on what is more and more the carcass of public education. This is a really disturbing read as it exposes that they not only want to go after pensions, and move all education on line (fewer staff, lower payroll, higher profits) but...and this is the sickest part, use the argument of inequitable resources for schools to raid communities and run off with school tax monies. Grand Theft Education --added and abetted by both political parties.

pkent@charter.net said...

Karen -

Yes, with BO we got what we got - he is long on saying the right words and short, too frequently on the negative side, in matching progressive words with deeds. Us progressives can hope all day long that he will "see the light" but it simply hasn't happened and won't happen. The primary reason many of us will vote for Obama and truly wish for four more years is the supreme court, period.

Some time ago I wrote you in reference to the late George Carlin's "American Dream" standup (only about 3 minutes long) and how very accurate it has proven to be. It amazes me that Carlin figured this out so precisely and warned us back then, months before he died. I wonder what he would say now if he were still with us.

Thanks for your insight both at Sardonicky and in the NYT. We need to stand up and let everyone know the truth - the honest, unadorned reality - of what America is now, politically and socially. I am sorry to say that it is not a pretty picture, and right-leaning Obama is not likely to help us much. In fact, many of us are concerned that, if re-elected, he will sell out our Soc Sec and Medicare to the conservative thugs and wall street criminals that surround him.

Keep the progressive faith.

Denis Neville said...

pkent@charter.net said “The primary reason many of us will vote for Obama and truly wish for four more years is the Supreme Court, period…”

“Even if he will sell out our Social Security and Medicare to the conservative thugs and Wall Street criminals that surround him.”

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Just imagine Romney’s Supreme Court choices!

Vote for Obama because his Supreme Court choices will be less bad than Romney’s?

Why is the Supreme Court important when the rule of law under Obama no longer applies?

Vote for Obama because he will nominate people to the Supreme Court who will represent our views? Obama’s two Supreme Court choices, Kagan and Sotomayor, are both neo-liberal elite corporatists. Neither is remotely progressive.

The source of Obama’s power to trick us comes from our willingness to be tricked.

But Romney’s choices will be so much worse!

Senate Democrats can vote down Romney’s nominees either in the Senate Judiciary Committee or on the Senate floor. Should Democrats lose their majority control, they can still filibuster any nominee. Only if Democrats are complicit and sell out (LOL!) would Romney get his way on the Supreme Court. Remember the filibuster of Alito and Roberts?

“The Republican and Democratic parties both feed out of the same bag provided by the moneyed system and where the list frequently differs the same interests are represented.” - George Seldes

Coke or Pepsi? Just opposite sides of the same corrupt coin.

“If voting mattered they would not let us do it.”

d12345 said...

Hi Denis,

I always appreciate your comments...

Would just raise one point, considering the last sentence (which is a great one).

The fact is, considering the mass of voter ID laws that the ultra right have passed or are in the process of passing, plus efforts to reduce access, etc...

It seems that they are doing their best to not let us vote.

I do think that Romney and the Republicans generally are beholden to a more extreme and dangerous element of the ruling class than the Democrats generally are

The banks are bad enough. But guys like the Kochs, Adelson and company would ultimately like to go all the way back to the gilded age. ("After all, if a fertilized egg is a person, surely a 12 year old should be able to work in the coal mines if he wants to. Suppose his father has black lung disease and can't work any longer, are you denying that young man the right to support his family?")

I salute the level of comments on this blog....always interesting, and Karen....great work !!!

Valerie said...


Until we Progressives realise that Romney and Obama are two heads of the same beast when it comes to all the issues that REALLY matter, we will never come together and create a different outcome.

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has been spineless in standing up to Obama and the pro-corporate leaders in our party. When will Progressives finally have enough? When a Democratic President kills Social Security and the Safety Net? When a Democratic President starts having protesters in the streets arrested and held without due process? When a Democratic President starts a war with Iran to please Israel and the Military Industrial Complex? How bad does it have to get? How far down does our eroding Democracy have to go before intelligent, thoughtful people abandon "the Party" and refuse to accept their faux choices?

If Progressives who believe Obama has betrayed his party had taken a stand and refused to vote for him - and made this abundantly clear one or two years into his term - we might have had a different outcome. But because the only people the Obama Camp had to worry about, come election time, were the swing voters, Obama has geared his entire presidency toward winning them over while kicking his base to the curb.

Take courage - our votes may not count but if they do, use your small voice to vote for a decent person who is genuine in his or her commitment to the American people. One head of the two headed corporate beast will win come November. Use your vote to say you are on to their game and you don't approve. If anything will shake up the Democratic Party, it is the thought that loyal Progressives might actually have had enough and they can't take their votes for granted anymore.

Pearl said...

Thanks Valerie and others: I sent in the following comment to Blow's column,
Desperation, and am disheartened by the responses when all of them thanked him for showing them how to have the courage to vote for Obama. I doubt I will get many more than the one person who supported my offering.

Burlington, Ontario

"I can understand a certain amount of unease in the Obama-supporting public in general, but within the left-leaning press it's inexcusable."

I cannot exactly interpret this comment and if it means we progressives are afraid to vote, you're damn right. As a long time democrat who voted for President Obama, I now recognize that the Democratic current leadership and the Republican agenda will end with the same results - support of the status quo and all its ruination of our country. And then about getting off the ledge? Again meaning we should "man up" and not desert our president who is incapable of manning up to support the real core and wishes of most of the citizens?

I am voting for a third party several of whom are headed by the kind of people whose values and trustworthiness and courage I believe in.
I agree with all the concerns about the horror stories that will occur with a Romney administration. Unfortunately all the focus on their evil machinations distracts from the equally dangerous results by our current inept, unprincipled leaders,not responding to the needs of the voters who put them in office. Wake up America!!!!!

Oct. 11, 2012 at 8:08 a.m.

d12345 said...

I have a very limited local view...but in the very youth oriented area of Brooklyn where I live...I have never seen a poster, flyer, public meeting, demonstration or any sign of the existence of any of the 3rd parties.

Perhaps they are concentrated elsewhere, but if there is no active chapter here, I have to wonder, what they are doing?

Only mass movement can stop the plutocrats.

Nader was very eloquent on how his presidential run would be the foundation of a great enlivened Green party throughout the country. This was every much as big an empty lie as anything from Obama.

I think the wildcat strikes at foxcomm and walmart are examples of seeds that need to grow. if 10% of the uninsured and 10% of the unemployed marched on Washington...

As always I appreciate the energy and thoughtfulness of the commentary here.

James F Traynor said...

I hate revolutions - and violence. But the countdown has begun, best be prepared. It will start with something like Sharpeville and it will be sudden, unexpected.

Denis Neville said...

d12345 said…“It seems that they are doing their best to not let us vote.”

Only if we are a minority, elderly, poor, disabled, or young and live in one of the swing states!

d12345 said...

Denis....Exactly! well said!

spreadoption said...

What a great thread this is! We lend each other the confidence that comes with the truth.

In my daily reading, when I want the economy I start with Paul Krugman and his commenters. When I want politics and everything else, I start with Karen and her commenters. Thanks to all.

Why was Obama so weak in his debate last week? Could it be that he feared, in opposing Romney, in exposing his lies and distortions, that he might inadvertently open himself up to exposure? Push hard and it could backfire in his face.

Obama's Big Lie is that he's substantially different from Rmoney-Lyan and the Republicans. We here know that he's not, but so far he's kept most of his base (and most of America) hoodwinked and that's the way he wants to keep it. To stay safe, in the name of political expediency, it was best that he shut up.

James F Traynor said...


Obama was weak because he is weak - a gutless wonder.