Monday, March 21, 2016

Sighin' Over Ryan

(Graphic by Kat Garcia)

House Speaker Paul Ryan is back in the news. The photogenic Ayn Rand poster boy for plutocratic supremacy is being dragged out by the centrist chattering class as the last great, white hope to defeat the great white dope named Donald Trump --  who is, by the way, a pure genius in the way he manipulates the media for billions of dollars' worth of free air time.... not to mention the pure genius of manipulating the media who provide such prominent coverage of the media manipulation.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is champing at the bit to finally dispose of her true threat, Bernie Sanders, the better to sink her teeth into Trump in the general election. Barack Obama, long portrayed in the media mythology textbooks as "the only adult in the room," is now reportedly working on a whole book of new hilarious Donald Trump jokes. He not only aims to put the fun back into fighting fascism, he aims to keep pretending that fascism (corporatism) hasn't been an integral part of the American political process ever since our nation was born out of slavery and mass extermination.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, apparently feeling confident enough in a Hillary coronation to cease and desist from his serial rabid Bernie-bashing, is regressing back to his own true area of expertise: bashing the Republican Party in general, and Paul Ryan in particular. Like just about everybody in the liberal class, Krugman whines that the GOP, in all its "invincible ignorance," is disowning its own responsibility for the rise of Donald Trump:
Like just about everyone in the Republican establishment, Mr. Ryan is in denial about the roots of Trumpism, about the extent to which the party deliberately cultivated anger and racial backlash, only to lose control of the monster it created. But what I found especially striking were his comments on tax policy. I know, boring — but indulge me here. There’s a larger moral.
You might think that Republican thought leaders would be engaged in some soul-searching about their party’s obsession with cutting taxes on the wealthy. Why do candidates who inveigh against the evils of budget deficits and federal debt feel obliged to propose huge high-end tax cuts — much bigger than those of George W. Bush -- that would eliminate trillions in revenue?
As is his wont, Krugman glosses right over Democratic complicity (Third Way free-market Clintonism) in the rise of Trump. My published response:
 Since the official embrace of ignorance has been a mainstay of right-wingery for more than 200 years, the GOP is simply following a grand old tradition. Their beef with Trump is that he wears his ignorance on his sleeve.
Lyin' Ryan and his cohort, meanwhile, couldn't survive without the complicity of the other big business party. Just last week*, President Obama praised him for being a good husband, father and a patriot. He doesn't often agree with him, of course, but he has no reason to doubt Ryan's sincere concern for "folks."
Obama (and the entire Establishment, it seems) are, however, chiding the young agitators who are disrupting Trump's fascist rallies. What really scares them is bottom-up democracy, citizens who aren't just consumers, and the inclusive message of Bernie Sanders.
 They would prefer to work with nice family men like Ryan to quietly "trim" or "reform" social programs, while pouring trillions of dollars into permanent war and the surveillance state. Every extra crumb for the needy is offset by a reward for the rich. The slow destruction of the safety net and the funneling of all the wealth to the top 1% must be conducted calmly and efficiently.
Their Exceptional America is for the exceptional top 1%. They, who are so devoted to family: their own. They are true patriots, whose love for the corporate state trumps everything: particularly the "folks" they claim to represent.
Hear the duopoly roar: politely, seriously, invincibly.
*Obama's complete "both sides do it"  remarks at a St. Patrick's Day luncheon can be found here. The salient excerpts, in which he fawned over Ryan and scolded political protesters for being rude to The Donald, implicitly including the Black Lives Matter activists, are here:
And so I know that I’m not the only one in this room who may be more than a little dismayed about what’s happening on the campaign trail lately.  We have heard vulgar and divisive rhetoric aimed at women and minorities -- at Americans who don’t look like “us,” or pray like “us,” or vote like we do.  We’ve seen misguided attempts to shut down that speech, however offensive it may be.  We live in a country where free speech is one of the most important rights that we hold.
(Except when militarized police forces get together and use batons and pepper spray to squelch free speech at Occupy camps and at anti-war and anti-corporate "free trade"  protests. It is "misguided" for protesters to shut down roads that lead to a demagogue whose whole raison d'etre is to incite riots.)
In response to those attempts, we’ve seen actual violence, and we’ve heard silence from too many of our leaders.  Speaker Ryan, I appreciated the words on this topic that you shared with us this morning.  But too often we’ve accepted this as somehow the new normal.
(No word about the physical courage of people who are willing to get beaten up for their protests against racism and xenophobia. Aren't their protests also free speech? Probably what Obama really fears is the whole corrupt duopoly collapsing in upon itself, and of course, protests at Hillary Clinton's rallies. Better be quiet little consumer-citizens and wait for the Adult President to tell Trump jokes to lighten things up a bit.)
And it’s worth asking ourselves what each of us may have done to contribute to this kind of vicious atmosphere in our politics.  I suspect that all of us can recall some intemperate words that we regret.  Certainly, I can.  And while some may be more to blame than others for the current climate, all of us are responsible for reversing it.  For it is a cycle that is not an accurate reflection of America.  And it has to stop.  And I say that not because it’s a matter of “political correctness,” it’s about the way that corrosive behavior can undermine our democracy, and our society, and even our economy.... 
(This is from the guy who until quite recently openly embraced Grand Bargain austerity and the Sequester, is still covering up portions of the CIA torture report, still shielding war criminals, shielding Wall Street criminals, waging wars both openly and secretly, killing thousands of civilians in drone strikes, and orchestrating coups in Honduras, Ukraine and other democratic countries. Violence is, and always has been, an accurate reflection of America. And yet Obama is singling out protesters at Trump's political rallies and glossing over the de facto social policy violence of Paul Ryan.) 
And this is also about the American brand.  Who are we?  How are we perceived around the world?  There’s a reason that America has always attracted the greatest talent from every corner of the globe.  There’s a reason that “Made in America” means something. It’s because we’re creative, and dynamic, and diverse, and inclusive, and open.  Why would we want to see that brand tarnished?  The world pays attention to what we say and what we do....
(America is pure propaganda, an advertising brand, a low-wage talent magnet, a maudlin appeal to patriotism in order to quell anger and dissent. Not much is actually made in America any more, thanks to NAFTA, the WTO inclusion of China into the Walton family oligarchy, and other "trade" deals. Obama seems more concerned about his reputation and legacy and public relations than about the reality that the whole world has been noticing for quite some time now.) 
So when we leave this lunch, I think we have a choice.  We can condone this race to the bottom, or accept it as the way things are and sink further.   Or we can roundly reject this kind of behavior, whether we see it in the other party, or more importantly, when we see it in our own party, and set a better example for our children and the rest of the country to follow.  It starts with us.
(And if the duopoly has anything to say about it, the horrible example they set will be kept largely confined to opulent rooms behind closed doors. After all, this administration is credited with being the most secretive in memory. If only the angry citizens would just shut up, the kids won't look around and discover that one out of every 30 of them is homeless for the sole reason that the elite political class has never seen fit to implement a humane, affordable housing policy in this country.)

Speaker Ryan, you and I don’t agree on a lot of policy.  But I know you are a great father and a great husband, and I know you want what’s best for America.  And we may fiercely disagree on policy -- and the NFC North -- (laughter) -- but I don’t have a bad word to say about you as a man.  And I would never insult my fellow Irish like that....
 That’s what carried us through other times that were far more tough and far more dangerous than the one that we're in today -– times where we were told to fear the future; times where we were told to turn inward and to turn against each other.  And each time, we overcame those fears.  Each time, we faced the future with confidence in who we are and what we stand for, and the incredible things that we’re capable of together.
The corrupt duopoly is capable of so much more. Capitalism is awesomely incredible. The only thing the elites have to fear is Bernie Sanders-style Democratic Socialism. 

The State of the Uniparty is Strong and Hearty-Har-Har-Har


Kat said...

Your move, Bernie. Guess he'll be standing with Hillary.

annenigma said...


Ralph Nader wrote on his blog that when he called Bernie back at the beginning of his campaign, he got the same response that Jill Stein and the Greens did - nothing, nada. Bernie didn't even extend the courtesy of a response. It's strange that he wouldn't want to connect with those who have been through the campaign wringer before and might have some valuable insight, advice, and support for 'our?' political revolution - unless it's all about him. Who's political revolution is this? Why be so rude to political outsiders?

Even if Bernie somehow won, it seems clear that the Democratic establishment would rule. He plays by their rules and he listens to them. I do wonder if the DNC preconditioned his running as a Democrat on his political purity. I understand Bernie registered as a Democrat in November after spending his entire career as an Independent. Why did several months pass before that leaked out and he finally referred to himself as a Democrat? Enforced political purity by the DNC might also explain his avoidance of political outsiders. The fact is, Bernie's an insider, even if he isn't 'establishment'.

The only political revolution we're going to have is if Donald Trump wins, then everyone will be really fired up. Because he bends with the wind, we may actually have more of a chance to effect real change than with Hillary, Cruz, or Paul Ryan. At least people will stay fired up. Hillary, on the other hand, will be Obama III and assure us that she's got it, chill and stay calm, and don't forget, she knows how to make change (for a billion dollar bill).

Just call me Contrarianne, but when I see the entire Political-Media Complex teaming up to take Trump down, I'm actually starting to root for him!

Anonymous said...

Is there a psychoanalyst in the house? There has got to be a medically defined condition that perfectly describes Trump's condition. (Lets see: neurosis is where you imagine a place that makes you happy, and frequently go there; psychosis is where you actually try to live there). I am not convinced that Trump is as consciously manipulative of the media, as the media is conscious of the extent to which it is manufacturing consent. I don't think trump is that far away, in 'meta knowledge' degrees, from the guy that douses himself with orange juice to make himself invisible so he can rob the 7-eleven. The whole circus seem like a cosmic confluence of elements that combine to make the worst situation - a political vetting process that has left a critical check unbalanced(i.e. the lack of any required credentials or qualifications for applying for this highest office [jeez...we require accountants, doctors, nurses, lawyers, architects, engineers to pass professional exams - but not for President]), and megalomaniacs with enough money to fund their own campaign. Dynomite! This is beyond just personalities, this man is mental and there is no way to kick him off the stage because 33% of Americans, educated by TeeVee, are also unfit to make informed decisions.

Our nation started with the majority of the populace as an uneducated rabble, who the founders sought to protect the political process from by requiring that only landowners had a right to vote. Now we are a better democracy (voting wise - sort of) but the rabble are still with us. We must have voting access, so the only way to check the process against the rabble-rousers is to require passage of a professional exam. (Sheee, right, like that constitutional amendment will make it through congress). sigh

Kat said...

great idea! Credentials! What shall they be? Should they have a law degree from Harvard or Yale? Will you be administering the test to the rabble?
Is Walter Lippmann your hero?

Meredith NYC said...

So Ryan is a good husband and father? Sure the repubs can be very nice to their own families.

I haven’t read Obama’s biography, but there's a long compromising pattern. Seems the only way a black person can be elected president is if he minimizes differences and problems. But that doesn't solve them, while an illusion of solidarity is pretended.

In his 04 speech to Dems, Obama made voters feel good. Thus they could ignore the real differences and pretend to be post racial, voting for a dark skinned person. Interesting that this dark skinned biracial man was raised by white grandparents, in a still racist society with civil rights laws supposedly protecting minorities. So it’s a schizophrenic situation, and leads to denial of reality.

Obama’s 04 speech criticized spin meisters who would divide us and denied there’s a red vs blue, liberal vs conservative, or black/white America...instead “we’re all one people, pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."

He then put Wall St in his cabinet, never prosecuted a bank criminal who caused the crash, allowed the stimulus package to be too small, and signed a Gop sponsored health care system that kept higher costs than any country, by subsidizing medial profits,

At this point, maybe only a white president can someday be one who will face the reality of America’s divisions, not minimize them.
But can a realistic candidate get the huge sums needed to run? Our big money requirements knock them out of even starting.

We have to keep talking about Citizens United. We’ll soon have a 3rd Clinton administration. The court has to be rebalanced 1st before the long road to any reforms can even start. Then maybe a wider range of candidates can think about running, and responding to majority needs. A long road.

annenigma said...

'Bernie Sanders Spoke Up for Suffering Palestinians but Few in Broadcast Media Covered It'

'While objecting to rocket attacks by Hamas, he also reiterated that he “condemned the [Israeli] bombing of hospitals, schools, and refugee camps.” He insisted that while Israel is a friend to the United States, “as friends, we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. This is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times."'

Yay Bernie!

Meredith NYC said...

The Times has an op ed page piece on Sanders interview about Israel.

annenigma said...


Link? I couldn't find what you're referring to.

Nancy Volle said...

I am guessing the New York Times editorial On Bernie/Israel/Palestine is this one published on Tuesday March 22, 2016.

Neil said...

@ Anonymous, the condition you describe is the American Dream, and Trump has nailed it.

Virginia Postrel wrote an excellent story on Trump that explains his popularity. I believe Trump currently has the best chance of getting elected between Cruz, Clinton and Sanders. That’s not an endorsement, just an understanding of his business savvy that made him a billionaire, and got him to the top of the Republican heap.

Trump’s vitriolic campaign rhetoric will be replaced, if elected, with the reason and pragmatism that made him successful. His business life is long, well-documented and mainstream. His current opposition to immigration, for example, is mostly a campaign stunt, in my view. He is married to Melanija Knavs, an immigrant born in Yugoslavia (now Slovenia). She became a permanent resident of the United States in 2001 and acquired citizenship in 2006.

Trump’s pitch: His gilded glamour
Stars and Strips
By Virginia Postrel
Special to The Washington Post
Published: March 20, 2016

"Why would anyone vote for Donald Trump? One popular theory holds that his supporters are bigots angered by America’s changing racial mix. Another is that they’re salt-of-the-earth working folks left behind by the loss of manufacturing jobs, alienated from the moneyed ruling class and irritated by the tyranny of political correctness. Or some combination thereof."

"These theories, which contain elements of truth, emphasize Trump’s dire assessment of present-day America and his followers’ discontent. They focus on negative sentiment. But an important part of the story is Trump’s positive allure — the way the candidate taps into, and projects, the most fundamental outlines of the American Dream."

"Conventional explanations miss the glamour of Trump’s message..."

"...His branding efforts permeate everything he says, with his repetition on the campaign trail of certain words: "win," "respect," "strong," "powerful," "rich," "leader" and, of course, "build." The right words can cast a spell, even if they don’t really make sense. "We are going to do something so good and so fast and so strong, and the world is going to respect us again, believe me," Trump told supporters after his win in New Hampshire, letting them fill in the blanks with their own desires..."

"...Although Trump’s working-class support gets the attention, many enthusiasts are, like Kelly, small-business owners. A Center for Public Integrity analysis of his campaign contributions through January found that, leaving aside retirees, Trump donors most commonly owned or operated businesses. These weren’t high-flying, venture-capital-backed growth companies. They were Main Street enterprises, often with a blue-collar feel. "The businesses ranged from heating and air conditioning contracting companies to exterminators to restaurants. There were auto dealerships, real estate offices, retail outlets and small manufacturers," the center’s John Dunbar and Cady Zuvich wrote..."