Monday, October 7, 2013

Wealthy (Self-Entitled) Individuals Bought a Radical Right Party, Believing — Correctly — It Would Cut Their Taxes and Remove Regulations, But Failed To Realize That the Craziness Would Take On a Life of Its Own:  A Shutdown or a Coup? (How It Was Engineered By the SuperRich) The Real Crisis Is Not the Government Shutdown

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Clearer words about our current Congressional crisis have not been more available than in the three essays below (and they are in reverse order of gravity (if you can believe it after reading the first one)).

Pay attention, please. It may be our last chance to pull this bacon (our country) from the fire.

Notice how stoopid the Harvard and Yale (not to mention Oxford) neoCons come off? I told ya it was just like someone "gave" them their degrees for either just turning up or (worse) being someone's designated legacy choice (for a very good reason).

And PK jokes (golly gee, Dad!) about the appropriateness of devastatingly funny graphics in the New York Times.

October 1, 2013  Comments

The Economics and Politics of Chaos

The best commentary I’ve seen on what just happened is visual, and can be seen here. Unfortunately, I don’t think I should put that image on a Times web site.

But how did we get here? Interestingly, Ezra Klein implicitly offers two quite different interpretations.

First, he describes very well what the policy issue, such as it is, amounts to:

This is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. That’s it. That’s why the Republican Party might shut down the government and default on the debt.
Indeed. There’s a definite class-war aspect to this fight, pitting the interests of the 0.1 percent against those of lower-income families. But at this point the 0.1 percent, by and large, are pleading with the GOP to knock it off. So while class war may have been where this started, the monster has long since escaped from its cage; even Karl Rove, more or less the designated defender of upper-class privileges, is whining that the party won’t listen to him.

In a different post, Klein alludes to this by quoting Mann and Ornstein:

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics — it is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
It’s very important, I think, to realize that while right now the GOP seems to have been taken hostage by its radical wing, the general strategy of responding to a lost election by trying to gain through blackmail what the party couldn’t gain at the polls was a consensus decision, arrived at way back in January. If the leadership is now dismayed by where it finds itself — leading a party of “lemmings with suicide vests” — it has only itself to blame.

And a crucial piece of the story, I think, is the conservative bubble, which among other things means that many on the right have wildly distorted ideas about Obamacare. A fair number of GOP politicians may actually believe that it’s a communist plot, or the moral equivalent of slavery, or something.

Coming back to the class warfare issue: my working theory is that wealthy individuals bought themselves a radical right party, believing — correctly — that it would cut their taxes and remove regulations, but failed to realize that eventually the craziness would take on a life of its own, and that the monster they created would turn on its creators as well as the little people.

And nobody knows how it ends.

A Shutdown or A Coup? How It Was Engineered

By Danny Schechter

October 02, 2013

What is the Tea Party and where did it come from? Was it a grass roots movement nurtured in the bowels of deep dissatisfaction in the American electorate with “big government” and its inexorable turn towards Socialism?

Hate to disappoint folks who buy the populist revolt theory. Anyone remember the mad rant of Rick Santelli in 2009? He’s a fixture on the pro-business channel CNBC who actually was first to call for a Tea Party by millionaires in Chicago to protest against any relief for homeowners who were on the verge of being foreclosed upon.

It was this loudmouth who used his bully pulpit on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade to make the original call.

The idea resonated with the armies of the resentful who always feel that the government should not help those in need — characterizing them as people living in bigger houses than they can afford and unfairly demanding a bailout from tax payers.

Rick and the traders cheering for him apparently never heard about or cared about predatory lending and bank practices that have since led to massive fines and paybacks for years of mortgage scams.

No, to righteous “rebels” like Rick and Co, it was the people who were to blame and who deserve the tongue-lashing and class hatred that flowed out of his mouth against “the losers” backed by the media mouths of his minions.

They call themselves traders, but traitors might be used as well.

When Santelli got some attention from his fellow ideologues, the Republican right seized the idea. 

Suddenly this bottom-up people’s movement was repackaged as a top-down political army by bringing together the Christian Right, professional pols, and Right-wing political consultants who followed a strategy of intimidation and demagoguery, aided and abetted by media outlets like Fox and their fellow travelers of the Beck and Limbaugh variety.

They sought out unifying issues based on systematic distortions of the facts while appealing to the fears they had themselves reinforced. The fact that the President is black added fuel to their bombast even if they realized, early on, they had to conceal their racial hostility and tone down their hatred. 

Opposing what they labeled Obamacare became their organizing principle larding on to it, fear of “death panels,” and an assault on basic freedom. Never mind the millions without health care. Who cares about them?

The Democrats were bullied early on to reject using the successful Social Security-like workable Medicare model or single payer system and adopt instead a corporate based approach that would further enrich the insurance companies and is, in fact, riddled with contradictions.

What the Republicans hid was that it was based on Republican ideas, as Mark Karlin at Buzzflash/Truthout explains.

As hard as it is to believe given the psychotic babble coming out of the mouths of House Republicans, the Affordable Care Act was the creation of a think tank revered by conservatives, the Heritage Institute, and promoted by Republicans in the early '90s as an alternative to "Hillarycare."

“Of course, none other than Mitt Romney made it his main legacy as governor of Massachusetts; i.e., that is to say before he retroactively denounced it to jump on the anti-Obamacare juggernaut in the GOP primaries.” 

Their single-minded campaign distorting health care as Obama Care, a phrase that Obama later warmed to, has now led to the takeover of the House of Representatives and the shutdown of the government. 

A well-funded campaign to knock off moderate Republicans and replace them with this simplistic Angry Brigade created a think-alive force that soon learned the tricks of Congressional longevity like gerrymandering districts to make them unchallengeable and voter suppression tactics to keep the minority vote down. 

All of this was orchestrated in the shadows by operatives and funded by right-leaning billionaires thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision. 

Unfortunately, the left is given more to protesting than politics and did not compete, in part, because of its own disgust with all the money and immorality in politics. 

Disillusioned by a President who wanted nothing to do with their values, they mostly withdrew from conventional politics into movements like Occupy Wall Street and issue-oriented campaigning. The labor unions, long the mainstay of Democratic Party politics, started shriveling in influence and turned into fundraisers, not marching feet. 

The Right almost had the field to themselves even though Democratic Battle axes like Harry Reid who kept the Senate in line, delaying and frustrating the coup that is still underway. 

Writing on the site Truth Dig, Bill Boyarsky, warned: 

“Don’t write the Republicans off as totally crazy. They know that if Obamacare works, it will wreck chances for attaining their real goal—lowering taxes on the rich, wiping out regulations and widening even more the gap between the very rich and everyone else. 

That is why they and their business allies are fighting so hard against the Affordable Care Act and seeking to bring the federal government to a halt. If the Republicans lose on Obamacare, it will be nearly impossible for them to shrink government the way they’ve been dreaming.” 

Reverend Jesse Jackson puts the current crisis in a historical context that I have yet to see in the media: 

“We’re not talking the Boston Tea Party here. We’re talking the Fort Sumter Tea Party. We’re talking about a modern, right-wing movement built on a new Republican South in reaction to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A “Southern Strategy” led by Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms led directly to the elections of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and eventually to Speaker Newt Gingrich and President George W. Bush.?? 

The Fort Sumter Tea Party has never accepted the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency. A huge chunk of the right wing has subjected the first African-American president to massive abuse, name-calling, and vicious threats. 

Unfortunately, due to John Boehner’s lack of leadership in the House, the tea party minority faction now dictates policy and rhetoric to the entire GOP.?This means that the GOP continues to try to delegitimize, defund and delay Obamacare. They have spent the last 5 years trying to keep poor and working Americans from getting health care. This is wrong, it’s immoral, and it’s very undemocratic, since Barack Obama was re-elected by a large margin.” 

This shut-down of the government is not about too much federal spending or how to make health care really affordable. It’s not even about Obama or the Democrats. It’s about realigning politics, and putting an extreme minority political movement in permanent power. As both sides blame each other, few solutions are in sight.

Can it be stopped? Will it be? 

This crisis exposes the structural problems in our politics and calls attention to the contempt a majority of Americans have for both the Congress and this movement of nullification. Obama seems to lack the fortitude to really stand up to the hostage takers. He has not given in but he hasn’t prevailed. 

Where are the leaders and the movements who can turn this disgraceful low moment in our political life around? 


(Danny Schechter blogs at and edits Comments to

The Real Crisis Is Not The Government Shutdown

Paul Craig Roberts

The inability of the media and politicians to focus on the real issues never ceases to amaze.

The real crisis is not the “debt ceiling crisis.” The government shutdown is merely a result of the Republicans using the debt limit ceiling to attempt to block the implementation of Obamacare. If the shutdown persists and becomes a problem, Obama has enough power under the various “war on terror” rulings to declare a national emergency and raise the debt ceiling by executive order. An executive branch that has the power to inter citizens indefinitely and to murder them without due process of law, can certainly set aside a ceiling on debt that jeopardizes the government.

The real crisis is that jobs offshoring by US corporations has permanently lowered US tax revenues by shifting what would have been consumer income, US GDP, and tax base to China, India, and other countries where wages and the cost of living are relatively low. On the spending side, twelve years of wars have inflated annual expenditures. The consequence is a wide deficit gap between revenues and expenditures.

Under the present circumstances, the deficit is too large to be closed. The Federal Reserve covers the deficit by printing $1,000 billion annually with which to purchase Treasury debt and mortgage-backed financial instruments. The use of the printing press on such a large scale undermines the US dollar’s role as reserve currency, the basis for US power. Raising the debt limit simply allows the real crisis to continue. More money will be printed with which to purchase more new debt issues needed to close the gap between revenues and expenditures.

The supply of dollars or dollar denominated assets in foreign hands is vast. (The Social Security system’s large surplus accumulated over a quarter century was borrowed by the Treasury and spent. In its place are non-marketable Treasury IOUs. Consequently, Social Security is one of the largest creditors to the US government.)

If foreigners lose confidence in the dollar, the drop in the dollar’s exchange value would mean high inflation and the Federal Reserve’s loss of control over interest rates. It is possible that a drop in the dollar’s exchange value could initiate hyperinflation in the US.

The real crisis is the absence of intelligence among economists and policymakers who told us for 20 years not to worry about the offshoring of US jobs, because we were going to have a “New Economy” with better jobs.

As I report each month, not a single one of these “New Economy” jobs has appeared in the payroll jobs statistics or in the Labor Department’s projections of future jobs. Economists and policymakers simply gave away a good chunk of the US economy in order to enhance corporate profits. One result has been to create in the US the worst distribution of income of all developed countries and of many undeveloped ones.

In the scheme of things, the enhanced profits are a short-run thing, because by halting the growth in consumer income, jobs offshoring has destroyed the US consumer market. As I noted in a recent column, on September 19 the New York Times reported what I have reported for years: that US median family income has not increased for a quarter of a century. The lack of consumer income growth is why 5 years of massive monetary and fiscal stimulus have not brought economic recovery.

The real crisis cannot be addressed unless the jobs are brought back home and the wars are stopped. As powerful organized interests oppose any such measures, Congress will pass a new debt ceiling and the real crisis will continue.

Do you hear any mention of the real crisis in the media? Today I was on an international TV program for 25 minutes with the chief financial editor of one of England’s major newspapers. Little doubt but that he was a good-hearted and intelligent fellow, but he had no capability of thinking outside the box. He was unable to comprehend my explanations, and resorted to regurgitations of the media’s ignorance or subservience to Washington’s propaganda.

Among his regurgitations was the “solution” of cutting Social Security. The chief financial editor of a major UK newspaper did not know that for the past quarter of a century Social Security revenues exceeded Social Security payments, and that the Treasury spent the surplus to fund the annual operating expenses of the government, issuing non-marketable IOUs to the Social Security Trust Funds.

The chief financial editor also did not comprehend that cutting Social Security payments also cuts consumer spending or aggregate demand, and sends the economy down further, thus magnifying the deficit/debt problem.

Because of the serious decline in the US economy caused by jobs offshoring and financial deregulation, Social Security no longer adds to its surplus. Social Security payments need the supplement to the annual payroll revenues of repayments by the Treasury of the borrowed funds.

The only reasons that Social Security is in trouble is that jobs offshoring and wars have constrained the US Treasury’s ability to make good on its debts except by having the Federal Reserve print money. Every job that is sent abroad does not contribute payroll taxes to Social Security and Medicare.

Insouciant American economists say that manufacturing is an outmoded source of employment, but Chinese manufacturing employment is almost equal to the total US labor force in all occupations, including waitresses and bartenders and hospital orderlies. China’s economy is growing at a rate of 7.5% in real terms, while Western economies cannot move forward and some are regressing.

In order to appease Wall Street, the most corrupt institution in human history, and to prevent Wall Street-financed takeovers of their corporations, executives destroyed the American consumer market by offshoring American incomes in order to enhance profits by substituting cheap foreign labor for US labor.

In my opinion, the US economy is not salvageable in its present form. The economy is running out of water resources. The supply that remains is being decimated by fracking. The soil is depleted by glysophate, a requirement of GMO agriculture. The external costs of production are rising (the costs that the corporations impose on the environment and third parties) and possibly exceed the value of the increase in corporate output. Economists are incapable of independent thought, and elected representatives are dependent on the private interests that finance their campaigns.

It is difficult to imagine a more discouraging situation.

At this time, collapse seems the most likely forecast.

Perhaps out of the ruins, a new, intelligent beginning might occur.

If there are any leaders.


Phil said...

"Perhaps out of the ruins, a new, intelligent beginning might occur."

If "intelligent" is a qualifier, then a new beginning can't include humans.

Phil said...

"At this time, collapse seems the most likely forecast".

Now the background maneuvering of DHS etc. becomes a little clearer.

The government has surely known the results of their policy for some time now.

The American public, as usual, will be the last to find out, the hard way.

By then all the big names responsible will be well taken care of and hidden away from the guaranteed shit storm and inevitable head hunters looking for retribution.

The time for hemp necklaces, pitchforks and heads on pikes is already here but won't happen because of LOOK! Squirrel!!

The American public's nano second attention span.

I lost interest in the day to day politics.
This country is fucking doomed.


Cirze said...

Thanks for your comments, and your obvious prescience.

It is very difficult to believe that common sense will eventually prevail when we know that over 50% of the people in charge don't have any.

How this will be resolved will provide a map for the future of constitutional government of the USA.

Who woulda thunk this as recently as the Bush years?

Again, my thanks for your thoughts!