Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recycled Dairy Product

If President Obama's SOTU address sounded familiar, it's because it was familiar. His bombed speechwriter (see yesterday's post) was a day early on the White House's Big Block of Cheese marketing campaign. That's because he borrowed liberally from a weekly address prepared for the boss last summer during another dairy tour, that time featuring ice cream cones instead of moldy Cheddar. 

Obama dredged up and recycled a stereotypical all-American bootstrap family that any plutocrat could love, for a speech designed to make you feel that plutocracy-imposed hardship and austerity is just the ticket to bring you joy and rapture later. Much, much, much later.

Last night:
Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds.  (Laughter.)  She waited tables.  He worked construction.  Their first child, Jack, was on the way.  They were young and in love in America.  And it doesn’t get much better than that.  “If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.” 
As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time.  Rebekah took out student loans and enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career.  They sacrificed for each other.  And slowly, it paid off.  They bought their first home.  They had a second son, Henry.  Rebekah got a better job and then a raise.  Ben is back in construction -- and home for dinner every night.
“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”  We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.
America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story.  They represent the millions who have worked hard and scrimped, and sacrificed and retooled.  You are the reason that I ran for this office.  You are the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation.*  And it has been your resilience, your effort that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger.
June 28, 2014 ( weekly address to mark the Presidential Summer of Love & Recovery campaign):
I went because of a letter I received from a working mother named Rebekah, who shared with me the hardships her young family has faced since the financial crisis.  She and her husband Ben were just newlyweds expecting their first child, Jack, when the housing crash dried up his contracting business.  He took what jobs he could, and Rebekah took out student loans and retrained for a new career.  They sacrificed – for their kids, and for each other.  And five years later, they’ve paid off debt, bought their first home, and had their second son, Henry.

In her letter to me, she wrote, “We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”  And in many ways, that’s America’s story these past five years.  We are a strong, tight-knit family that’s made it through some very tough times. 

Today, over the past 51 months, our businesses have created 9.4 million new jobs.  By measure after measure, our economy is doing better than it was five years ago.

But as Rebekah also wrote in her letter, there are still too many middle-class families like hers who do everything right – who work hard and who sacrifice – but can’t seem to get ahead.  It feels like the odds are stacked against them.  And with just a small change in our priorities, we could fix that.
It was revealed by Reuters and other outlets last summer that Rebekah Bootstrap just happened to be a former operative for Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), which is perhaps why Obama noticed her random letter at the top of his pile, and why the entire Bootstrap family were Michelle Obama's honored recycled photo-opped guests at last night's political theater extravaganza.

And just so you know, the new improved progressive lefty Obama spouting the message of the "middle class economy" is really just a recycled version of the old neoliberal Obama. He still believes that austerity worked, and that pain was good for people. He still protects Wall Street by not only refusing to condemn or prosecute it, but by filling his administration with the same culprits who caused the whole mess in the first place. He still believes that the government is just like a family, and that belt-tightening was a very, very good to way to grow the economy. He has always made the "folks" bear the brunt of the sacrifice while forcing them to shoulder the blame for the most egregious financial fraud in American, or global, history.  From his first Inaugural Address, at the peak of the financial crisis:
*Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. 
Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.  (Applause.)
Last night:
My fellow Americans, we, too, are a strong, tight-knit family.  We, too, have made it through some hard times.  Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America.  We have laid a new foundation.  A brighter future is ours to write.  Let’s begin this new chapter together -- and let’s start the work right now.  (Applause.)
You may remember an old movie called Swing Time in which Fred Astaire also uses the ploy of pretending to have two left feet in order to pull one over on the object of his desire and to win her love through shameless subterfuge and doubletalk. Nothing's impossible, Obama found, for when his feet are on the ground and his chin is up in the air despite bad poll numbers and half of all American children living in poverty, he can put on quite the show. All you Bootstrappers need is confidence and the willing suspension of disbelief.


Kat said...

Oh boy, you're right. Any plutocrat would love this.
Now lets contrast this with a bit from a speech given by David Cameron to the Conservative conference. Did I say "contrast"? Ha Ha! 9using my best Nelson voice)
My job – our job - is to make sure that in this twenty first century, as in the centuries that came before, our country, Britain, is on the rise.

And we here know how that is done.

It is the collective result of individual effort and aspiration…

… the ideas you have, the businesses you start, the hours you put in.

Aspiration is the engine of progress.

Countries rise when they allow their people to rise.

In this world where brains matter more, where technologies shape our lives, where no-one is owed a living…

…the most powerful natural resource we have is our people.

Not just the scientists, the entrepreneurs, the engineers…

...not just the teachers, the parents, the nurses…

…but all our people: including the poorest, those who’ve never had a job, never had a chance, never had hope.

That’s why the mission for this government is to build an aspiration nation…

…to unleash and unlock the promise in all our people.

And for us Conservatives, this is not just an economic mission – it’s also a moral one.

It’s not just about growth and GDP…

…it’s what’s always made our hearts beat faster – aspiration; people rising from the bottom to the top.

Meanwhile, over at Salon Joan Walsh's little protege (he knows what side his bread is buttered on) writes:
In the end, pushing the “supertanker” that is the U.S. government in a leftward direction, making sure its trajectory now bends away from a reflexive, Reaganite distrust and antipathy for the welfare state, has always been President Obama’s No. 1 goal. It’s what informed most of his most consequential decisions, from accepting a profoundly flawed and unsatisfying health care reform, to watered-down Wall Street reform, to self-defeating short-term austerity, and so on. On Tuesday night, for one of the very first times, he was able to tell the American people that following a new North Star had taken them to friendlier waters. Through that lens, however Hillary Clinton decides to run her likely presidential campaign is but a minor part of the equation.
I think this guy really has his eye on the prize-- working alongside Cody- "supertanker"? North Star?

Karen Garcia said...


I read Elias Asquith's piece at Salon and thought I'd stumbled onto The Onion by mistake. Leave it to an Obamabot to use a supertanker metaphor to describe liberalism. How much oilier can you get? If there was a prize for self-parody he would be a finalist for sure. Asquith's main beat over there is reposting Krugman columns and Bill Maher clips and then gushing over them unquestioningly. I used to have Salon on my blog roll but took it down maybe a year ago because of all the clickbait.

Give the 'bots a couple more days to come off their SOTU high, or at least until Obama calls them a bunch of purists for bitching about the TPP. On second thought, they'll probably never come down from their high. The mind-altering effects will linger forever like an LSD trip, long after Obama cashes in.

annenigma said...

So Obama saved Capitalism. That's a pretty sweet legacy for someone aspiring to be King of the World/World Superpower Emperor. Whatever. Since that legacy's now secure, he can now give unfettered lip service to The Folks since nothing he promises has a snowball's chance in Hell of passing now anyway, unless it benefits the High and Mighty. A free pony for everyone!

I don't know why Obama didn't invite Jamie Dimon and tell his story and highlight all the hardships, hard times, sacrifices, belt-tightening, debt payments, etc. of him and his rich buddies. Hey, they went through the same crisis we did. Why keep recycling Rebekah and Ben when there are so many Pretty People stories to showcase? They are models of success!

So now we know Imperialism is secure and so is the Military-Intelligence-Industrial Complex' and its many tentacles. It's budget and global ASPIRATIONS never missed a beat. Colonization, I mean wars, expanded to over a half dozen new countries and additional permanent military bases were built in addition to a shiny new billion dollar Baghdad embassy. The Empire expanded while we Folks contracted.

I've never quoted or even read Lenin before, but when I was looking up imperialism on Wikipedia, I found this quote of Lenin's from nearly 100 years ago, well before the USA supplanted the British Empire or actually became the de facto British-American Empire which now splits the duties of administering the Empire. This is from Wikipedia about imperialism:

In Lenin's work 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism', he observed that as capitalism matured in the Western world, economies shifted away from manufacturing towards banking, finance, and capital markets, as production was outsourced to the empires' colonies. Lenin concluded that competition between empires and the unfettered drive to maximize profit would lead to wars between the empires themselves, such as the contemporary First World War, as well as continued future military interventions and occupations in the colonies to establish, expand, and exploit less developed markets for the monopolist corporations of the empires.

100 years later and Imperialist Capitalism is still ravaging the planet in the pursuit of profits. We may not be subjects of the Crown, but we're all subjects of the same Imperial Capitalists. That War for Independence our ancestors fought? That was only a temporary, illusory victory. They were probably manipulated and used by the capitalist financiers to fight for them so that they could escape taxes and regulations - same old same old!

Based on the history of Imperialist Capitalism, we can be certain that the global trade agreements such as TPP will be enacted, come hell or high water - most likely both.

We can also expect another Empire to take us on.

Denis Neville said...

The Bots are chatterboxing “Fired up! Ready to go!” today.

After six years of this rocking horseshit, does anyone think the 'Bots’ will ever come down from their high?

“His smile and wink still wins me over,” gushed one totally enthralled wink wanker Bot.

When all they have are delusions, delusional thoughts are all they can produce.

We are in the realm of surreal.

“We reserve the right to act unilaterally .... while making sure that other nations play by the rules," says Lame Duck.

“A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

Zee said...

“My fellow Americans, we, too, are a strong, tight-knit family.—Barack Obama (Emphasis in the original.)

"Tight-knit?" "Family?" Really?

Jaysus! Does Obama reside in the same America that the rest of us inhabit?

Clearly not. And neither do most of our other “fellow Americans” who work within—or anywhere close to—that great cultural divide that is the Beltway.

Zee said...


As you might guess, I have never been steeped in the writings of Marx, Engels or Lenin.

But regarding the Wikipedia article on "Imperialism," I have to admit--as I look at the current world mess--that Lenin may have been on to something a hundred or so years ago...even if his particular remedies may not have done anything whatsoever to resolve the very situation that he predicted.

Bert Gold, Frederick Maryland said...

They threw me off the OFA website because I criticized his majesty.

OK, well they didn't throw me off, but they made me really really uncomfortable.

Anyhow, the emperor wears no clothes in my presence.

Patricia M. said...

Annenigma and Zee:
I wasn't steeped in Marxism in my lifetime either, but I've learned a lot in my old age.

"Why Marx Was Right" is a really good read by Terry Eagleton. Distinguished Professor of English Literature/University of Lancaster, England, and Professor of Culturural Theory/National University of Ireland, Galway (Yale University Press - 2011).

A few of his conclusions:

[Marx] was even more hostile to the state than right-wing conservatories are, and saw socialism as a deepening of democracy, not as the enemy of it. His model of the good life was based on the idea of artistic self-expression."

"His views on Nature and the environment were for the most part startlingly in advance of his time. There has been no more staunch champion of women's emancipation world, peace, the fight against fascism or the struggle for colonial freedom than the political movement to which is work gave birth."

"Was ever a thinker so travestied?"

There's lots more . . . .

Denis Neville said...

Is capitalism, when it produces ever greater inequalities of wealth and incomes, the only and best system of human social organization?

Was Marx right about capitalism?

How does Marx hold up in the first decade of the twenty-first century? Is Marx relevant for understanding the world today?

Corrupt “crony capitalism” thrives today. In this sense, it seems that Marx is as pertinent to present-day America as he was to the 19th century underclasses of Manchester. The older I have gotten, the more that I have felt that we alienated working people [see Marx's theory of alienation] are all just pawns in a pernicious game that is perpetually rigged.

Given Lame Duck’s "middle-class economics," Dave Dayen asks, “Where’s the middle-class housing recovery?”

“We have two housing markets, one for the rich and one for the rest. The only home sales growing are for million-dollar properties. Home purchases made entirely in cash are historically high. Simply building more homes and increasing the supply of houses won’t bring down prices. The homes being built are bigger than ever, and increasingly designed for the luxury market.”

“…sales of the McMansions of America – the top 1% of homes by price – rocketed up 21% compared to last year. But sales of the other 99% of homes were down 7.6%.”

Marx caused me to go glazed-over and cross-eyed in college. He still does.

I shall add Why Marx Was Right, by Terry Eagleton, to my reading list and see if it can help un-glaze and uncross my eyes.

annenigma said...

If anyone is still wavering or confused over real Obama after his latest SOTU, this sums him up nicely. It's called 'Obama's Epiphany'.

It's not too long, unlike Obama terms in office (and some of my posts). I think his conclusion is also consistent with the fact that OFA, DNCC et al efforts revolve around showing support for Obama himself rather than the issues or a Democratic platform, assuming there is one. I'm sure they all get their direction from the top.

Denis Neville said...

Has the Lame Duck experienced an epiphany, like Paul on the road to Damascus?

“By retracing his steps, he hopes to place himself before the public as he was in 2008 -- a Messiah without message or mission -- but a Messiah nonetheless.”

Raúl Ilargi Meijer writes, “If speeches like the SOTU last night, and the reactions to it, make anything clear, it’s that the PR guys won the fight against critical thinking.”

“All you need to do is get people to believe whatever it is you got for sale. And 99.9% of people are easily fooled. That’s how you define democracy in 2015: how many people can you fool? Which is the most convincing sleight of hand?”

“After a quarter century when the Democratic Party to which he belongs has moved steadily to the right, and the political system in general has become thoroughly dominated by the corporate perspective … In the unstinting and unanimous adulation of Barack Obama today… [there is] the obvious: that big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn’t see him as a ‘player.’ The lobbyist added: ‘What’s the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?’” - Ken Silverstein, “Barack Obama Inc. Birth of a Washington Machine”

Messiah? What’s the dollar value of a Messiah?

fairleft said...

Just found your blog. What a GREAT writer you are. Love the sardonickiness!

Karen Garcia said...


Thanks. Hope you join the discussion.

Everybody: the aftereffects of Epiphany Nirvana are still wafting in the Ozone. Give them another couple of days to partially recover.