Wednesday, February 27, 2013

When Progress Means Regress

I treated myself to a teensy bit of misguided hope a few weeks ago when I read that more than 100 Congressional Democrats had written a letter to President Obama urging him to remove Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid from the chopping block in the latest installment of manufactured brinkmanship.

Of course, if you'd paid attention to the actual semantics of the letter, you might have noticed that these congress critters didn't actually say they would vote against any such Grand Bargain Obama hopes to negotiate with the Republicans. And now that a few real Progressives have written another letter vowing they will buck Obama and vote against the planned cuts, a pretty astounding 54 of the 70 members of the House Progressive Caucus have refused to sign on. Three-quarters of the caucus membership have wimped out, regressed, caved, been bribed, brainwashed, paid off, personally seduced by Obama. Pick your poison.

 I was actually pretty surprised that even Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who up until a few months ago had been a most outspoken champion of New Deal and Great Society protections, is now among those unwilling to go so far as to defy the president.

Norman Solomon of the RootsAction advocacy group writes:
What about the other 54 members of the Progressive Caucus? Their absence from the letter is a clear message to the Obama White House, which has repeatedly declared its desire to cut the Social Security cost of living adjustment as well as Medicare. In effect, those 54 non-signers are signaling: Mr. President, we call ourselves “progressive” but we are unwilling to stick our necks out by challenging you in defense of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; we want some wiggle room that you can exploit.
In contrast, the House members on the short list of the letter’s signers deserve our praise for taking a clear stand: Brown, Cartwright, Conyers, DeFazio, Ellison, Faleomavaega, Grayson, G. Green, Grijalva, Gutierrez, A. Hastings, Kaptur, Lee, McGovern, Nadler, Napolitano, Nolan, Serrano, Takano, Velazquez and Waters.
President Obama remarked during the Democratic convention that he was confident he would eventually be able to bring the bulk of erstwhile Progressives on board with his Catfood Commission austerian approach of raising the Medicare age and initiating the chained CPI method of reducing Social Security benefits. He certainly got Millionaire Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on his side more than a year ago. See if these other Congressional Quislings who still dare call themselves Progressives serve your particular district:

Karen Bass, Xavier Becerra, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonameci, Michael Capuano, Andre Carson, Donna Christenson, Judy Chu, Yvette Clarke, William "Lacy" Clay, Emanuel Cleaver, Daniel Cicciline, David Cohen, Elijah Cummings, Daniel Davis,  Rosa DeLaura, Donna Edwards, Sam Farr, Chaka Fatah, Lois Frankel, Marcia Fudge, Janice Hahn, Jared Huffman, Rush Holt, Michael Honda, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Hakeem Jeffries, Eddie Bernice Jackson, Joe Kennedy III, Anne McLane Kuster, John Lewis, David Loebsack, Ben Ray Lujan, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Markey, Jim McDermott, George Miller, Gwen Moore, Jim Moran, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Frank Pallone, Ed Pastor, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Jared Pollis, Charles Rangel, Lucille Roybal-Allard,  Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Louise Slaughter, Bennie Thompson, John Tierney, Mel Watt and Peter Welch. 

You can contact them here. Demand that your campaign contributions be returned. Threaten to join the Tea Party. Do whatever it takes to make them feel more afraid of you than they are of the Wall Street branch of the Democratic Party -- which, come to think of it, now amounts to the whole damn blighted trunk. The progressives have shrunken to a mere twig, hanging on for dear life, blowing in the toxic wind of our corrupt politics.  

Even so, a recent blind poll conducted by Business Insider reveals that nearly half of Republicans support the Progressive Caucus's own plan to avert the sequester over that of their own blighted party.This plan, naturally, is not getting any attention from either Obama or the corporate media hacks now in thrall to the Centrist Cult's astroturf Fix the Debt propaganda campaign being funded by Wall Street tycoons with the complicity of self-described Democrats.


Jay - Ottawa said...

If you go over to the Congressional Progressive Caucus website to see what the Disappeared 54 give as a reason for their defection, here's what you see at around midnight on 27 February.

The CPC site leads with a top story celebrating 107 Democrats for writing a strong letter to President Obama urging him not to mess with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Oh, wait a minute: it's their letter of February 15 they're still bragging about. No word yet about today's defection of 2/3 of the progressive caucus on that issue.

Another story – the site has a merry-go-round of 10 stories on the CPC's heroic progressive endeavors - talks about the CPC's objections to the President's CPI rider for Social Security. Well, sorta, kinda. When you click for the details of that great saga, what you find is merely a list of "progressive" caucus members' various press releases since last year criticizing the idea of a CPI.

Absolutely no pressure, Mr. President. Sir.

My district's representative is a conformist Democrat who does not hang with these far left-wing Theorists of Progressivism. So I left an email in the CPC chairman's inbox mentioning the "54" and asking when his organization would change the signs on their office doors, replacing the word 'Progressive' with 'Wimp.'

If the CPC is the cream of the cream in the Democratic Party, fighting to hold on to what's left of the New Deal and the Great Society, what is to become of us?

Denis Neville said...

Pick your poison from the various propaganda campaigns of our nation's bipartisan political elite, aided by the complicity of the Vichy Left, and funded by the billionaires club: privatization of public education

Public education provides the very basis for democratic society. Yet, massive school closings in the poor neighborhoods are becoming the norm in cities across our nation. The public education of America's children is dying the death of a thousand cuts.

Will Bunch writes that Philadelphia “is on the brink of setting a new standard in squeezing middle-class workers to death. You can get blood from a stone after all.”

Bunch asks, “Do we really live in a nation where millions obsess over the "freedom and liberty" of CEOs to make 380 times as much as his average worker or not to provide those employees with health insurance, but no one gets worked up when the people teaching our children are nickled and dimed out of their jobs? Where it's an act of political derring-do to suggest that just maybe workers should get a minimum wage of $9 an hour? Where there's not any problem that can't be solved by asking rank-and-file workers to take a few dollars less, while working a few hours more -- and jacking up their kid's college tuition while they're at it?”

But it's not news because school closings and privatization are the end game of the elites and their tool, Obama, and their propaganda machine.

Let’s bash the teachers and public employees instead.

CitiZen said...

Rest in peace, Stéphane Hessel, 1917 - 2013.

He now enters a new phase of life in pure consciousness, freed from the entrapment of the body. More power to him.


Jay - Ottawa said...

Thanks to CitiZen for the heads-up on Hessel. Here's one little paragraph from the Wiki bio, which article is what I might better have emailed to the CPC.

"Hessel's reasons for personal outrage include the growing gap between the very rich and the very poor, France's treatment of its illegal immigrants, the need to re-establish a free press, the need to protect the environment, importance of protecting the French welfare system, and the plight of Palestinians, recommending that people read the September 2009 Goldstone Report. He calls for peaceful and non-violent insurrection."éphane_Hessel

James F Traynor said...

"He will also have to improve or reinvent a Communist system built on moral rather than financial incentives, pushing thousands to flee every year for more freedom and opportunity." From an article in the NYT today on the possible replacement to Raul Castro when he steps down

Note "...a Communist system built on moral rather than financial incentives..." . Yes those 'moral' incentives are suspicious. One never knows where that will lead.

Denis Neville said...

Unlike our amoral Vichy Left of today, Stephane Hessel was that rarest of rarities - a principled, sincere human being championing liberal causes.

"If you want to be a real human being — a real woman, a real man — you cannot tolerate things which put you to indignation, to outrage. You must stand up. I always say to people, 'Look around; look at what makes you unhappy, what makes you furious, and then engage yourself in some action.'" - Stephane Hessel

Hessel said that Roosevelt's New Deal and "Four Freedoms" speech set the standard for social and economic justice in the modern world and called Franklin Delano Roosevelt the most important leader of the 20th century. Today Obama and the DINOs have joined Republicans efforts to destroy social and economic justice.

“The worst possible outlook is indifference that says, “I can’t do anything about it; I’ll just get by.” Behaving like that deprives you of one of the essentials of being human: the capacity and the freedom to feel outraged. That freedom is indispensable, as is the political involvement that goes with it.” - Stéphane Hessel, Indignez-vous !

It is a Time for Outrage!!!

Stéphane Hessel obituary

Pearl said...

Thank you friends for the information about an amazing man, Stephane Hessel,
whom I had known nothing about. His obituary you referred us to was an
unbelievable summing up
of a life truly well lived. I hope that the lessons he taught others will be a guide post for the future everywhere. I aalso hope that a wonderful documentary will be made in France about this great man's life to remind us of what is truly possible.
The N.Y. Times has a decent report of his life and death in their obituary section.

This story has made my day.

Karen Garcia said...

Here is my comment on Krugman's Friday column:

It's all about the corruption of our politics by endless supplies of money. Money breeds power, power breeds government policy, and policy breeds even more money for the already-bloated oligarchy. We're stuck in an endless vicious cycle that is impervious both to common sense and to common decency.

From their exclusive summit of wealth, they cast their propaganda nets, sweeping up our politicians and media. The goal of these poaching anglers, of course, is the shredding of that other net -- the social contract. Not too sportsmanlike, of course. But they're sociopaths.

Pete Peterson of the astroturf Fix the Debt campaign has already spent half a billion trying to raid our earned benefits trust funds and national treasury. If he has his way, our golden years are to be sacrificed for the plutocracy's golden parachutes.

The whole point of the sequester and every other episode of Disaster Capitalism Theater is to give the deficit-bedazzled politicians cover to chip away at the common good -- as in chained CPI to reduce lifetime Social Security benefits, means-testing Medicare and any cynical methods they can dream up to give the voracious ruling class leeches their due.

We desperately need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. And that will be up to all of us who, though lacking a lobby, still have our voices and our outrage. Forget the politicians beholden to the donor class. They've tasted the austerity kool-aid, and they're hopelessly addicted to it.

Denis Neville said...

The elites are lamenting the danger of populism in the wake of Italy’s recent elections.

To the elites, democracy is viewed as a threat, rather than being a fundamental strength, when an anti-establishment, anti-austerity candidates win elections.

Beneath their democratic platitudes and façade, politicians hate voters. Voters are merely buffoons who must be manipulated in order for the elites and their lackey politicians to continue to rule and loot. Politicians despise people who will not stay bought.

The elites are of such rectitude. American and EU central banks sold financial products that bet on price changes of agricultural commodities. They knew that such commodities speculation with resulting increases in basic food prices caused immense damage to vulnerable populations worldwide. Price spikes in commodities can result in permanent harm and death for malnourished children. Yet they continued to profit at the expense of starving children. Those marvelous pillars of decency and honor lie about their practices and get away with it because they are the bedrock of the global economy.

The British, similarly without scruples, did the same thing to Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century.

Likewise our own elites are taking from the sick, disabled and elderly.

Pearl said...

Why are various liberals supporting Bernanke for treasury secretary when I
read the following:? and why was Krugman silent about this in his column?

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's "Economic Legacy" via @grtvnews

New revelations from the New York State Attorney General's Office have all but proven that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson committed bank fraud crimes in the case of the Merrill Lynch/Bank of America merger that took place last year. New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo revealed that Paulson and Bernanke illegally suppressed adverse financial data on the merger and threatened to replace the Bank of America CEO and board of directors if the company backed out of the Merrill Lynch merger. "Secretary Paulson has informed us that he made the threat at the request of Chairman Bernanke," Cuomo wrote in an April 23 letter to Congress.