Sunday, November 22, 2015

Managed Democracy Follies

The thought leaders of the universe are now pondering the unimaginable, that Donald Trump will indeed win the nomination of the Grand Guignol Party.

 Paul Krugman, for example, got his liberal conscience so rattled that he broke with New York Times protocol and wrote the verboten word "shit" in a blog-post about the looming specter of our first openly fascist presidential nominee. The ravening right-wing base is hellbent on electing somebody willing to "bomb the shit out of Muslims" and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, Krugman wrote.

My response:
Trump is doing what establishment Dems have had little stomach for or interest in: he is destroying the Republican Party. I can hardly wait for the convention -- if, in fact the GOP elders don't decide to broker it or cancel it altogether in the interest of their own survival. Maybe they'll dream up a new outside terrorist threat in order to maintain their own reign of terror.
Meanwhile, polls show Bernie Sanders beating Trump at wider margins than would Hillary Clinton -- who, unsurprisingly enough, is tacking further to the right now that she's again been declared inevitable. Can't you just imagine a debate between the two of them, with Trump bragging that his daughter and Chelsea are BFFs, and that he gave so generously to the Clinton family slush fund? That will be sure to bring out Democratic voters in droves.
Ivanka Trump and Chelsea Clinton

Meanwhile, Trump and the Republicans don't need to red-bait Bernie on single payer healthcare when they have Hillary to do it for them. She is now ridiculously claiming that government-run health care would be a burden on the middle class, when it actually would be a savings boon to everybody. She's essentially saying that it's better to pay private insurance predators for their profit than to pay Uncle Sam in the interests of the common good.

  The good news is that younger voters are backing Bernie over both Hillary and Trump. Although it might not happen this cycle, change is inevitable. Out with the old neoliberal order, in with the new New Deal.
Naturally, Krugman and the rest of the Gray Lady claque dare not mention  inconvenient polls reflecting actual popular opinion and sentiment. Patrick Healy. for instance, broke away from his He Who Must Not Be Named or Taken Seriously political theater beat long enough to write a front-page piece insisting that liberal voters are upset mainly with the "lingering" optics -- not the actual substance -- of Hillary Clinton's sordid ties to Wall Street: 
At a time when liberals are ascendant in the party, many Democrats believe her merely having “represented Wall Street as a senator from New York,” as Mrs. Clinton reminded viewers in an October debate, is bad enough.

 It is an image problem that she cannot seem to shake.

Her advisers say most Democrats like her economic policies and believe she would fight for middle-class and low-income Americans. Most opinion polls put Mrs. Clinton well ahead of Mr. Sanders nationally and in Iowa, and they are running even in New Hampshire, but she fares worse than him on questions about taking on Wall Street and special interests. And even if Mrs. Clinton sews up the nomination quickly, subdued enthusiasm among the party’s liberal base could complicate efforts to energize Democratic turnout for the general election.
Healy fails to mention the polls showing that Bernie would beat Trump, possibly in a landslide. He also parrots the talking point of her operatives who claim that just because she takes Wall Street money doesn't mean she will do Wall Street's bidding. Say what?

My published comment: 
Corruption in the 21st century is more nuanced than in the olden days, when crooked politicians would accept bags full of cash in the dead of night in return for a specific favor. No longer does this rule of the quid pro quo apply. So, for Hillary's surrogates to claim that her millions from Wall Street doesn't translate into rewards for oligarchs is disingenuous at best.
As Gilens and Page established in their studies of "affluence and influence," huge donations from the wealthy ensure that, over time, they will get most of what they want. And what they want is privatization of public spaces, corporate coups disguised as "free trade," and fewer social services for the poor and the working class.

Her surrogates claim that the Clintons' "third way" neoliberal crusade of 90s deregulation is a thing of the past. But up until a year ago, they were working closely with Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt" astroturf campaign to cut Social Security and Medicare. As Secretary of State, Hillary traveled to Greece to urge more pain for suffering people. She grotesquely called banker-dictated austerity "chemotherapy to get rid of the cancer," stating that cuts in social programs "will make Greece more competitive, will make Greece more business-friendly. We think that is essential for the kind of growth and recovery that is expected in the 21st century when businesses can go anywhere in the world and capital can follow."

I know exactly who Hillary is fighting for. And it ain't us.
Nearly 900 other readers weighed in. The people have spoken, and they are not taking kindly to Hillary Clinton's shit-bombs. The top-rated commenter, "Harry 1213," had this to say:
 Three weeks ago I sat next to a retired Vermont school teacher at a library benefit dinner in rural Vermont. When I asked the teacher what he thought about Bernie Sanders, he related the following: in 1975 he and Sanders were each manning tables at a bookseller's convention. The bookselling business was slow and for three days they talked about the world. According to the retired teacher, Bernie said "the same things in 1975 that he's saying now about income inequality and Wall Street." The undemocratic dominance of our economy and opportunities by the big banks, mortgage lenders, Wall Street, and all the corporate lobbyists didn't just happen during one administration, it goes back a long time, involving both Republican and Democratic politicians. Wouldn't it be great for our country's economic and democratic future if we could elect someone who appears to have been consistently and honestly on the side of the working people?
From "Martin" of New York:
 If Clinton is elected, I know exactly what will happen. She will move to the "center," the Republicans will declare that she's a socialist or a communist who must be stopped at all cost, and she will compromise with them in an effort to be or appear effective. Been there and done that too many times. If Sanders were elected, I have no idea what would happen, except that he will continue trying in word and deed to address the fact that our political system is a fraud.
And from "Tudor Bornwell," my imaginary friend:
 Leave poor Hillary alo-o-o-ne! Don't be, as President Obama chided us when he extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, a bunch of "sanctimonious purists" who keep insisting on reducing the worst wealth inequality in American history. Do your jobs as citizen/consumer-frogs in a slowly simmering centrist Democratic pot instead of in a GOP cauldron immediately set at a high, thrombling boil.

We dare not speak ill of Hill. Doing so will lead directly to the election of Donald Trump.* So knock it off, everybody. As the late Sheldon Wolin rightly observed, we live now under a system of inverted totalitarianism, or managed democracy. Our job as citizens is to shut up about our pre-vetted corrupt candidates and pull the lever for the Lesser Evil every four years in the faint hope that our demise as a country might therefore be slightly delayed, and maybe even a tad less painful.

That this article by Patrick Healy again stresses style and image over facts, history, character and ethics is no surprise, seeing as how he comes to the political beat directly from the theater beat. All the world's a stage, and all of us are merely being played.

 * The New York Times does not mention some polls showing that in a general election match-up, Bernie Sanders would beat Donald Trump in a landslide. The truth might hurt Hillary's chances, as would more Democratic debates on nights when people would actually be watching.
Read 'em all. They might make you feel slightly less pessimistic about humanity in general.

But wait! I think I spoke too soon. To make you feel twice as pessimistic about humanity, as if that were even possible, you will be grimly happy to learn that resident conservative Times pundit David Brooks is a huge Hillary fan, because among her many other right-wing credentials, she wants to bomb the shit out of various countries. Brooks had absolute wargasms over her hawkish speech last week before the Council on Foreign Relations, veering as she did far to the right even of Drone President Barack Obama. Of course, Brooks's own staid definition of bombing the shit out of countries is prettified into killing people with "mature resolve." Hillary's hawkish approach to dealing with the Middle East, he enthused, is "multilayered and coherent" and "supple and sophisticated,"  as opposed to, say, the stupid shit-bombs of Donald Trump. Her shit not only doesn't stink; according to Brooks, it is formed like a brain encased in solid gold.

My published response:
If corporatism and corruption had not destroyed democracy in this country, Hillary Clinton would be running as the true Republican she is. Wall Street is for her, the generals are for her, the multinationals laundering money through her family foundation are for her, and David Brooks is for her.

And in a general election, Bernie Sanders (or any true liberal for that matter) would probably beat her. Because like Bernie says, we are sick and tired of getting screwed by a de facto oligarchy, which is only good at expelling people once it has extracted every last minute of underpaid labor from them. We're tired of being ground into human mulch before being tossed in the refuse dump of disposable people.

 Many of us are too busy or tired to care that a multimillionaire politician has a smarter, wonkier plan for waging war and shedding blood. And if we actually are paying attention, we are thoroughly disgusted that this is what electoral politics has come to. We have no choice about whether we want war or not. We are only invited to pick which corrupt politician we'd prefer to do the killing (euphemized as surgical drone strikes and the like.)

Hillary Clinton, appearing before an elite think tank run by corporations, generals and bankers and the media shills who serve them, hilariously declared that the aftermath of the Paris attacks "is no time to be scoring political points." And then she cynically proceeded to score political points.

It's disgusting, and it's horrifying.


Pearl said...

Karen: you omitted the conversation between Ivanka and Chelsea in your column:

Chelsea: "But Ivanka darling, we have more money than you!"

Ivanka: "Yes, Donald is cleaning us out paying for his Presidential campaign."

Chelsea: "I'm sure mother will be so sorry to hear this." (Ha Ha Ha)

Cirze said...


And as to the two surgically improved first daughters who seem to be gracing every magazine and newspaper calling out to young people to look to them for their heroes/models . . .

May they have to continually have more plastic surgery in order to ensure their acceptability to their ignorant, shallow publics.

Valerie said...

How many times have the "Democratic" sell-outs pulled the Lesser of Two Evils card out of their pockets in the last months leading up to the election? It happened so much, commenter JayOttawa coined it as TLOTE. Yet, I watched in horror as my so called fellow liberals lined up to vote for Obama a second time. Let's hope the liberals have finally had it and have seen the light. There is no TLOTE. Hillary and Obama ARE the evil we fear. Hillary will surely sell us out - just as her husband did and just as Obama did. Trump is a fascist, no doubt. But in her own way, Hillary is just as scary to me.

Upon my initial horror of Trump leading in the Republican polls - memories of me assuring my friends that idiot George Bush Jr couldn't possibly win against someone as intelligent as Al Gore - I was delighted that some polls were indicating that Bernie could beat Trump. I was also reassured that Bernie was saying the same thing thing for the past forty years that he is saying today. I can trust someone who stays on message for forty years - as opposed to forty days with Hillary.

I don't know how many more elections we can take, putting the same sell-outs in power again and again. With the TPP, I don't know how much of a democracy we have left. True to its pattern, Australia is about ten years behind the U.S. It is a deja vu for me to watch. Both political parties in Australia are selling out the middle class - the average Australian is oblivious assuming those in power are working for their best interest. And as long as the bubble lasts, people will be more interested in their iphones and worshiping at the cult of consumption.

Pearl said...


Thank you for those terrific comments to Krugman's column about the success of Obamacare, appearing during the night. I had tried twice once his column appeared to write comments but my computer kept conking out and destroying them. However, you have exactly expressed my feelings and disgust appropriately and proves once and for all what a fraud and hypocrite Krugman is or has become.

I hope the other commenters will follow suit. At least I don't have to struggle to try and write once again as it is now morning and I much appreciate your contribution.

Meredith NYC said...

Hi Pearl, just saw your comment. Krugman wrote his most blatant whitewashing yet of Obamacare, and my reaction was disgust also. He keeps going further into rationalizations. Is he aware of how this looks for the star liberal with a conscience, as he labels himself?

Karen..... thanks for citing Gilens and Page, tho that link goes to New Yorker and needs subscription. And great sum up: “privatization of public spaces, corporate coups disguised as "free trade," and fewer social services for the poor and the working class.” (thereby CREATING more poor)

I discovered that G & P were once on Jon Stewart’s show, and I plan to watch the video. These academics haven’t been publicized enough. I wish they had a Times blog! Their study alone should be the topic for many NYT columns. Could be along side the article on the 158 families who donate the largest portion of the campaign donations, a few weeks back. At least they had that.

And you picked great comments from Healey. I will read it.

Below are 2 clips from comments to Krugman on h/c in Germany and France. Facts on the ground, at last!

An American Anthropogist in Germany Goettingen 7 hours ago

“As a regular commenter, and longtime Krugman fan, I'm deeply disappointed by his blasé dismissal of high deductibles. Insurance that is too expensive to use is useless. Literally. Here in Germany where I live the deductibles are, get this, ZERO. Same in the UK where I lived previously. I understand Krugman's urge to "put things in perspective," but why not just be honest?....”

jmc Montauban, France 4 hours ago

“Ditto in France - no deductible. In fact, if you have a chronic illness, say diabetes for example, all expenses for the long term illness is paid at 100%. If someone with a chronic illness doesn't have to outlay funds, they will stay in care, and in the end cost the system less (reduced complications and hospitalizations).

Drug prices are negotiated and "me too" drugs are not put on formulary if they can't show any medical benefit beyond that of existing drugs. Generics are mandated.

No insurance company 'owns' provider networks; I can go see any doctor I want or may need. Most insurance companies in the US reimburse providers on established Medicare reimbursement rates.

Why are Americans paying an additional 20% to insurance companies? Where did people think people with chronic illness, previously uninsured or insured in state run high risk pools would go?

Of course the exchanges are spending more than they envisioned. Having a high deductible Obama care policy that limits your choice of providers is leaving many people under insured and staying out of routine health care.

That the Professor doesn't get this baffles me. He knows that we'd be better off financially and in health outcomes if we had Medicare for all. That's the reality.”

(I’m sure there are other comments like this but too many to read)

Meredith NYC said...

I found a better Krugman column from 2008. See below.
The irony is that in 08 Hillary was to the Left of Obama re Health Care. Now she’s to the Right of Sanders. How will she end up?

It’s interesting to read the excellent Krugman column 2/4/08 “Clinton, Obama, Insurance.” He compares the 2 candidates on health care, with numbers.
Says, “difference between the plans could well be the difference between achieving universal health coverage — a key progressive goal — and falling far short.”

Says Clinton’s plan promises to limit insurance costs as % of family income, and seems to include more subsidies.

“But the big difference is mandates: the Clinton plan requires that everyone have insurance; the Obama plan doesn’t.”

That was then. Now he tells us to be thankful for Obamacare and maybe someday it’s shortcomings might be corrected,( to reach some parity with dozens of other nations.) We do have mandates, along with rising costs, with regulation taken off the table.

Now she’s up against a Gop that wants to destroy Obamacare. We await our fates.

Karen Garcia said...

Meredith, thanks for the heads-up on the paywall. I changed the Gilens/Page link to a free article at Slate.

Also thanks to you and Pearl for lambasting Krugman's thousandth advertisement for the Obamacare Marketing Collective. I simply did not have the energy to get up early and weigh in. But if I had, my comment likely would have been removed. It would have said something like: "Krugman will be defending Obamacare to the last breath of the last person who is actually covered and everybody else is dead from deductibles, co-pays or terminal eyestrain from staring at a computer screen too long, struggling in vain to figure out how to get the best blood-sucking deals on predatory insurance."

I think Krugman is either deluded, or on the take.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen....thanks for new link to Gilens in Slate. But my 1st post seems to have disappeared here, where I cited the New Yorker pay wall. My other post is still here. What happened?

Karen Garcia said...


I checked on your paywall post, and it had been caught up in the spam filter. I have since restored it. I get email notifications of all comments submitted, but they don't specify whether or not the Googlebot actually accepted them for publication. And I am remiss about checking manually as I should. As a matter of fact I just found another one of yours from Nov. 5 that had been wrongfully spammed, and restored that one too. Mea culpa!