Monday, March 30, 2015

The Attempted Gaslighting of Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren has the reverse Midas touch: every plutocratic nerve ending that she touches turns into a jello salad heavy on the fool's gold nuggets with some harmlessly dull razor blades thrown in for an added taste sensation.

You shall know the elite owners of the American political system by their desperation. The latest futile attempt to destroy the increasingly popular Warren is to cast her as the left wing mirror image of Ted Cruz. This exercise in false equivalency by the golden fools of the Extreme Center comes right on the heels of threats by big bankers to withhold a couple of thousand bucks from Democratic candidates who won't stop carping on wealth inequality.  The shakedown artists of Wall Street promptly fell flat on their asses with that pathetic attempt at extortion.

So today, an anonymous Democratic lobbyist slithered forth to accuse Warren of being Ted Cruz in drag. The Hill, a combination Politico-style gossip rag/ corporate news aggregation site, did the gaslighting honors in a lame attempt to give equal time to the increasingly dull-razor minds of the Trans-Pacific Partnership claque. The headline blares "Elizabeth Warren Plays Ted Cruz Role with House Democrats." (She might be on the verge of not only losing it, but hypnotically reading Doctor Seuss to them as she plots to shut down the government!)

What really happened was this. As Warren calmly explained the anti-democratic nature of Investor State Tribunals with which trade negotiators would supersede sovereign judicial systems, pro-trade Congressman Sander Levin (D-Mich) attempted, as the Hill article spins it, to "intervene" (that is, stage a mental health intervention) to get Warren to shut up during her own briefing session. This populist rhetoric of hers, complain the pro-trade plutocrats, is getting way too rancorous for their refined sensibilities:
One former Democratic staffer turned financial services lobbyist compared Warren's involvement in the House to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who frequently meets with House Republicans.
“Elizabeth Warren is the mirror image of Ted Cruz, and if we aren’t careful, she’ll drive the Democrats into the same ditch Cruz is trying to drive the Republicans,” the former Democratic staffer said.
The revolving door Democratic staffer is of course too cowardly to give his name.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street think tank Third Way, which is obviously the source of the anonymous gaslighter, is crazily granted "left of center" status in The Hill piece, the better to make Elizabeth Warren appear like the crazy lefty version of Ted Cruz.

In another Hill article by the same reporter (Kevin Cirilli) published earlier this month, former Democratic Party chairman Howard "The Scream" Dean also had attempted an intervention by telling Warren to "tone it down." (she has that malady commonly diagnosed by men about opinionated women: she is "shrill". It is not becoming for women to have "misplaced rage." Even "good billionaire" Warren Buffett is upset that Elizabeth is definitely not cute when she's angry. She doesn't do the Lean In trickle-down feminism thing well.)
“Our program cannot be soak the rich — that's a mistake and alienates middle class people. But on substance, the Warren wing is correct,” said Dean.
“The rhetoric about wealth creation needs to be scaled back because Americans like wealth creation,” he added. “The level playing field argument wins it for us. The reason you do not want to talk about ‘tax the rich’ is because when middle class people hear it, they hear ‘they're going to raise our taxes.’ Democrats can't do that.”
It's not that Democrats can't, Howie. It's that they won't. They're as beholden to billionaires as the Republicans. As one "pragmatic" Dem put it, in the falsely equivalent way that only radical Wall Street centrists can,  the GOP's vicious assault on ordinary people is the same thing as Elizabeth Warren's criticism of the corrupt plutocracy. "To the extent that Republicans beat up on workers and Democrats beat up on employers — I'm not sure that offers voters much of a vision," Peters (Rep. Scott Peters, D-CA)  said.

And then there's the subtle photography. From a recent article in Politico, headlining Warren as a power-hungry outsider, there was this unflattering, harshly-lit, larger than life portrait:

 Compare it to Newsweek's crazy-eyes rendition of Michele Bachmann in 2012:

With Hillary, you get literally decades of dynastic choices between Crazy Cat Lady and Haggard Hag:

Sorry, ladies. Because try as the corporate media might, they can never make you look as threateningly scary as this guy:


Pearl said...

A final word on Krugman. His current column, Imaginary Health Care Horrors, takes the cake and reveals his real political character. I just sent in an appropriate comment but too late for any exposure. However, many excellent comments did follow. What a charlatan.
I suggest you catch up on your sleep, Karen.

Karen Garcia said...


As I said in the previous thread, I am taking a break from Krugman. So many charlatans, so little time.

I've been catching up on both my sleep and my outside reading, trying to avoid the NYT for a couple of days for reasons of mental hygiene.

voice-in-wilderness said...

What's really frightening is that we have only one Elizabeth Warren instead of a dozen such Democrats.

BTW, the Boston Globe just ran an excellent article by Michael Kranish on wealth inequality, using Aspen and plutocrat John Paulson to personalize it. Google for "boston globe aspen inequality" and you should find it.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen...good idea to take a mini mental vacation with outside reading. I commented same to Krugman as he was obsessively blogging to the extent of excusing it by saying he was homebound with a cold! I said why not try Agatha Christie or the science fiction he likes.

re your post that links to the revealing article in The Hill....

The bank doners withholding funds to candidates talking up inequality? Is the Supreme Court worried that stifles their speech? Is it ok to have Soviet style suppression by our oligarchs? This is exactly why we need public financing of elections. Then all views of the spectrum would get uncensored airing---and on media mandated free to all candidates. Here the rw marginalizes what is actually centrist in other democracies.

I didn’t realize howard dean was such an idiot....he should explain where he agrees with Warren on substance. But that would label him too liberal. Dean wants to seem centrist so he has influence as an ‘insider’ (to follow Larry Summers’ advice to Warren), and get on cable news shows. He says we like wealth creation---watch out, that’s the rw buzz word. And a level playing field---who could be against that---but it needs defining, since the definition has become unbalanced.

Reminds me of Sen Mcconnell saying that Citizens United has ‘leveled the playing field’ for elections. That amazing statement must mean it was previously too skewed toward the non wealthy majority. A warped definition of democracy, and he got re elected.

Our politics is so skewed rightward, that explicit support of the average earner is seen as threatening to the rich. The exaggerated and extreme has become normal.

Dean might reassure the middle class by explaining how progressive taxes worked decades ago. The rich paid much higher rates---and were still rich---and the middle class thrived. This history seems to have gone into a black hole of memory---like the Soviets covered up history to suit their own version. But polls show the middle class wants higher taxes on the rich---they’re not all confused, as Dean thinks.

The plutocrats have become paranoid---the slightest hint of a tax rise or regulation once seen as normal---they cry victimhood. A classic case of psychological projection –they attribute to their victims the abuse they inflict—or something.

Krugman’s last column re ACA success is just a boring phoned in repeat. He derisively repeats and refutes the most paranoid, outlandish Gop rw predictions and thinks that fulfills his ‘conscience of a liberal’. Many comments did point out he’s not seeing realistic problems with ACA. My response is we deserve better—what are we, chopped liver?

Kat said...

I was just wondering if anyone here has had experience with purchasing insurance through the exchanges or if they know anyone who has. What has been their experience?

Karen Garcia said...


You're so right. "Liberal" blogs which do nothing but shoot Republican fish in a barrel are a dime a dozen. It is so easy to debunk and make fun of the feigned idiocy without offering your own alternative ideas. All I had to do was glance at the headline of Krugman's latest to surmise that actually reading it wouldn't be necessary. So thanks for confirming my suspicion that it was his umpteenth repetitive defense of Obamacare from the umpteenth repetitive GOP nihilist.

Karen Garcia said...


The ACA is set up so that everyone will have his or her own anecdotal experience. Some people will love it, some people will hate it, some people haven't yet had a chance to actually use their policy in order to find out whether they love it or hate it. The arguments between the two legacy political parties will go on forever. That debate is a feature, not a bug, of the ACA. It's another wedge issue to keep our minds off other crap, like rampant political corruption.

Obamacare is designed to be obtuse, designed to be a fraught individual consumer experience (the freedom to choose and shop around and spend a whole bunch of extra time on paperwork and tax returns) rather than a basic human right. Like any market- based solution, it is rife with "efficiencies" and cost-cutting measures, with the ultimate aim of keeping the profits flowing to the top.

I personally haven't purchased insurance on the exchange, because I got early Medicare coverage as a disabled widow. I didn't have to do anything to get covered except survive for two years without health insurance after the state declared me too disabled to work. That two-year waiting period is also a feature, not a bug, of our many-tiered health care "industry."

Kat said...

I was just asking because I know a few people who have and their experiences have been positive. The people I know have been poor enough to qualify for subsidies and they have had no problems using the insurance. One person I know has not had insurance for a while and when she did, it was still too expensive to get some stuff done. Now she has zero copays. I think if you don't qualify for subsidies the only value is that you can get insurance with a preexisting condition (one of the other persons that I know had a cancer history).

Kat said...

So, all this is to say that I am not ready to go full Krugman, but I will say that I think ACA is better than what we had previously.
I never believed that we could have gotten single payer through, even with support from the president. Well, we're just not that sort of country. I would say that the Netherlands is probably the western/Global North country that worships markets most, next to the US. They have an insurance mandate (as does Germany).
I'm not a fan of the insurance industry, of course. But, they are not the only institution opposed to single payer. They are not the only price gougers either.
I also saw the other day a billboard for one of the insurance co/administrators for Medicaid that offered transportation to appointments for those that enroll with them. this actually seemed like a pretty good thing! If you know any truly poor people that get Medicaid (as in don't have money, will never have a car, and don't have relatives that have any money) this is actually more of a problem than getting appointments.

Meredith NYC said...

Kat....'we're not that sort of country'. Precisely. And one big reason we're the OTHER sort of country---harsh, Darwinian, and unequal--is b/c of pseudo liberals like Pk and others who say, thank god for ACA, what an improvement. End of story.

Of course it's better than previous, b/c the previous was atrocious--the stats showed many thousands per year of earlier deaths/disability/ bankruptcies/ destroyed family security----and this was acceptable to lawmakers in a 21st C democracy. Other nations had zero medical bankrupctcies--and this was never mentioned on our TV news.

So of course we can't pass single payer and it's ok to exempt millions from ACA per governors' whims. Actually, not all countries with h/c for all at lower cost, have single payer. There's a list on line of various systems by country---some with insurance mandates, some have 2 tiers, etc. But seems the common factor is that govt negotiating and regulating medical industry fees is actually ok----even with their conservative parties. Impossible in our current politics.

Until all this is spelled in simple terms for clueless American voters, they'llhave no context and objectivity to judge our system. Media---where are you?

Meredith NYC said...

Karen since you wrote the other day that Krugman uses ‘graphs to die for’ in his blog, I’ve been thinking of things in terms of correlations and x and y axis, ---as much as my non math brain allows.

He should correlate say, the rise of big money in elections with all kinds of things---like for every increase by x $$$ amount, wages and jobs decrease by----whatever, or rw resistance to ACA rises by X amount. More scientific than his constant rah rah ACA stuff.
Of course some ask, is economics really a science?

Anyway Pk just now posted on his blog---something entirely different----headlined Food for Thought, with a reference to an article on healthy nuts---that’s the food variety, not political. Coincidentally, it goes along with your post today of taking a mental hygiene vacation from Times politics! He’s doing that too.

I posted this:

Mr. Krugman, this is a great coincidence---I swear I was just reading the Nuts/health article 5 minutes ago, and was getting ready to comment to your blog thusly:
News Flash! We can eat nuts and not gain weight automatically? See Jane Brody:
"----Before returning to the relationship between nuts and better health, I want to reassure weight-conscious readers that, when consumed in reasonable quantities, nuts are not fattening and can even help people lose weight and maintain the loss." Wow!

Ok, ok, I'll be reasonable. I won't go overboard. But lately I've been eating Cracker Jacks caramel popcorn. And nestled in there are always a few roasted peanuts that are irresistible. I've been looking longingly at pkgs of nuts when shopping, but have resisted. Now maybe I'll partake, a bit?

But here's a theory of weight gain I wondered about. Since the advent Times reader comments, have we been more glued to our computers than before? In our chairs, concentrating, reading and writing comments to columns, articles, blogs? And could this be correlated with weight gain? But we have to control for the inevitable effects of aging. Seems most commenters are retired? Of course before computers, people sat and read the paper.

Any graphs for this, Mr. Krugman? Like, after a certain amount of comments read and submitted per year, an average of x number of pounds is gained for most people? A fitbit could track this maybe. Food for thought.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Great article on Liz Warren.I'm not surprised the Democrats are after her. She really isn't one of them if her stance on the TPP is anything to go by. She makes Hillary look like the Republican she is; quite the foil is our Elizabeth. So she is definitely a threat. Furthermore, she is going after Obama's baby, his TPP. And she makes all those who are for it look like the collaborators they are.

Their only strategy can be to go after Liz and try to discredit her. What I find funny is they don't even have original material. They are falling back on the she is a shrill woman. If anyone has ever seen her in action, this gal is cool under pressure. She remains elegant and reasonable.

She has a strong but small support base. I certainly wouldn't hesitate to write her in.