Saturday, November 20, 2010

'Bipartisanship' Is a Filthy Word which Will Bleed Us Dry

and Obama is a counterfeit Progressive.

I don't care how often the article I post below may have been reposted. I clipped it days before, as soon as I saw it because it perfectly expresses what wakes me up at 2:35 A.M. every morning until I can find my Crane radio (product placement!) and tune it in to real news on the BBC.

Joseph A. Palermo is Associate Professor, American History, California State University, Sacramento. His realm of expertise includes political history, presidential politics, presidential war powers, social movements of the 20th century, social movements of the 1960s, civil rights, and the history of American foreign policy.

I have shortened his original article, D-Day in the Class War, just a tad, adding a little emphasis of my own.

After a decade of stagnant or declining real wages, "bipartisan" schemes are proliferating to shift the burden of Washington policymakers' own catastrophic mismanagement of the nation's fiscal policies right onto the shoulders of working people. The press commentary has been abysmal. All "serious" thinkers out there on television or in print are in full agreement that "entitlements" must take a big hit, along with education and health care.

President Obama's "
bipartisan" deficit commission, co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, (sometimes referred to as the "Cat Food Commission" because of the likely dietary changes some senior citizens will have to make if its prescriptions are implemented), wants to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations. Another high-profile group, headed by Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin, (which might be called the "Kibble Commission"), wants to strip $650 billion out of the Social Security trust fund with a payroll tax holiday (to be paid back later!) that they believe will create economic growth. So the Cat Food Commission views Social Security in crisis and bordering on insolvency, while the Kibble Commission believes that Social Security can absorb a $650 billion hit. And these are the best and the brightest.

Both "
bipartisan" bodies claim that "tough decisions" must be made. Yet their policies are only really tough if you happen to belong to America's struggling working middle class. They want to inflict the "pain" on the government programs that have traditionally given working people a slight leg up. In these "bipartisan" schemes the financial services crooks who wrecked the economy come away smelling like roses.

Are we forgetting that it was working- and middle-class taxpayers who bailed out Wall Street's biggest investment banks in what could be the greatest gesture of working-class benevolence toward the super-rich in American history? Working-class taxpayers also paid for the unemployment insurance and infrastructure projects that were needed following the pillaging of America's housing sector. Working-class taxpayers continue to foot the bill for the bloated military budget and two wars. (They've also sent their sons and daughters off to fight.) And about eight million of them who had jobs in 2005 didn't have them anymore by the middle of 2009.

And how are working taxpayers repaid for the assistance they've given to their fellow citizens of the investing class? They get "commissions" and "foundations" and elite "study groups" that are orchestrating the next giant rip-off of America's middle class.

Few in the press seem to want to educate the public about how we got into this fiscal crisis in the first place or why projected budget surpluses at the beginning of the Bush years were so needlessly squandered. And remember:

  • Those surpluses were turned into deficits through "bipartisan" agreements, such as the Bush tax cuts, the wars, and the bailouts.
  • There's also precious little mention of the grotesque inequality in American society these days, which is worse than even during the Gilded Age.
  • The establishment press seems determined to avoid the obvious conclusion: The rich, the super-rich, and the super-duper rich (as well as the conglomerates) must pay more in taxes to get the United States through the crisis.
  • Ending the two debilitating wars and rolling back what Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex" should be next.
  • And the billions of dollars wasted in corporate welfare each year must be diverted to human needs.

These steps should be the top priorities before any "deficit-reduction plan" is seriously considered -- "
bipartisan" or otherwise. At this moment in American history, after large swathes of the middle class have been wiped out, the last thing we need is another elite-driven assault on the living standards of working people.

Even though it was Wall Street that fostered the conditions that produced our current economic state, we're told from pundits across the political spectrum that we mustn't tax the rich because it will stymie job-creating investments. But I'm sure Lloyd Blankfein, Hank Paulson, Angelo Mozilo, and their ilk can afford to kick in a little more in taxes to save the country they claim (when under oath at least) to love so much.

In the 2010 midterm elections, the super-rich and their business associations threw around hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign cash like it was so much chump change. And they're gearing up to set new spending records in 2012. They appear to be very civic-minded plutocrats. Yet where is their "pain" and "sacrifice" when it comes to reducing the federal deficit? What "tough decisions" that affect their bottom lines are they being asked to make? And what happened to the quaint notion that those who have so greatly benefited from the opportunities American society has bestowed upon them having a special obligation to pay a little more when their country is in crisis? We're all in this together, right?

President Obama and the Tea Party Congress will most likely end up culling the absolute worst elements from the deficit reduction plans put forth so far, tie them together into a "package," slap a "
bipartisan" label on it (which inside the Beltway is close to godliness), and then ram it down our throats by triangulating against what remains of the progressives in Congress.

Politicians, pundits, commentators, and citizens must choose a side now. You're either on the oligarchy's side or on the people's side. It's D-Day in the class war.

We've been told lately, again from "
bipartisan" sources, that American soldiers will be fighting and dying in Afghanistan well past Obama's July 2011 "deadline," and the war will continue until at least the end of 2014, (at which time they'll just move the bar to 2018 or 2020 or 2030). Newly-minted "deficit hawks" should ask the question: Is it worth it to drop another $350 billion into Afghanistan? Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute, and others like him, think so, but they aren't making an argument for staying in Afghanistan -- they're manufacturing consent. Now the Peter Petersons and the rest of them are manufacturing consent on the deficit too.

The Republicans have already successfully painted the Democratic president as being outside the mainstream. They've vilified his every move and have suggested that there's a huge conspiracy behind his agenda aimed at extinguishing everything that is great and wholesome about America. With control of the House of Representatives they'll go on fishing expeditions to dredge up anything that can be construed as "corrupt." They'll dirty him up while they block any progress that might improve the lives of ordinary Americans. The people will continue to be perpetually angry and disappointed.

It's not surprising that in 2010 Democratic base voters couldn't match the Republicans vote for vote. We're told that the progressives must organize and mobilize to fight back in the coming years against the right-wing onslaught, which is true. Workers in France and Greece and college students in London are engaging in the kind of protests against austerity that should be happening here.

I guess we're going to find out if a career legislator (in the Illinois State House and the U.S. Senate) can make the adjustment from being one voice among many to take command as president. On the campaign trail it seemed self-evident that Obama would make an extremely effective chief executive. But two years later, it appears he has the temperament of a legislator. He was a great campaigner, but in power he has been a very weak leader ...accepted far too many a priori limits on moving his legislative agenda forward ....It's time for President Obama to tap into his inner community organizer.
Personally, I think the professor is just trying to end his otherwise excellent and objective essay by spinning us an up-note note. I think we've see Obama's inner community organizer. It's too late to tap into it. And there's not much there, there. Now is the time to search for a new horse to switch to, if even in mid-stream; because in two more years of this bipartisanship, our current mount will be hopelessly down stream.


  1. The Huffington Post on Wednesday reported that several sources quoted George Soros as saying in the day’s private session that

    “if this president can't do what we need, it is time to start looking somewhere else.”

    Michael Vachon, a Soros adviser, declined to comment on Soros’s comments further, saying only that the session

    “was a private, informal conversation among the partners and there was no expectation that it was public.”

  2. Vig, speaking of radios.
    Since I got my XM radio I hardly ever watch the news on television. XM brings news from all over the world.

    Austerity is coming to America.
    If any one still believes that there is a difference between the two parties.
    Then they are fools.
    We need a democratic socialist to run for president.
    The presidents change but the agenda stays the same.
    We are doomed unless this is turned around very quickly.
    Unfortunately the masses are spineless, and complacent.
    They have accepted security over freedom.
    The Corporate States of America will turn this country into a Fascist serfdom before this is over.

  3. I hope he sees something still "There" inside Obama's Soul...but I suspect you are very much on Target with your own assessment...

  4. BTW, did you know that 20% of the voters ...which is roughly 15% of the population voted for Republicans...and they won the House!

  5. Yeah, R-Z. You've been telling me that for two years. But it's taken me two years of this crap for me to hear you.

  6. Teeluck, what are you saying? Are you trying cheer me up?

  7. Jes' wanna make something perfectly clear: I've never been bipartisan!

  8. Vig:
    Thanks, then it was all worth while.
    You made my day, week, month, year.

    This shit will come down the tubes faster than before now.
    The Big O will go even further to the right.
    The W tax cuts will be the O's tax cuts.
    He can not go far enough left quick enough to regain his base.
    He might even have come to terms that he is a one termer.
    IMHO he will probably have overt boots [advisers, trainers, security]:-) on the ground in Yemen before next summer.

  9. I'm sorry, Vig, but I could not disagree more strongly with you and with the professor.

    I do not want Obama to dig any deeper into his "Community Organizer" - I've had more than enough of that aspect of Obama. Community organizers do not lead; they seek consensus. Obama, the community organizer looks to see the best in his opponents; negotiates openly and fairly, seeks to find the most constructive compromise possible for the benefit of the larger community, and naively thinks he has a "loyal opposition" with whom to negotiate solutions to the mess he inherited from Bush and Cheney.

    Obama campaigned against the Washington status quo of partisan gridlock - promising to change the atmosphere in DC. An admirable goal - one that the majority of Americans would love to see happen.

    But, Obama the President fails to grasp the reality that the Republican'ts sole goal is to return to power. Their very successful strategy, which they pursue with zealous unanimity, is to render Obama effete through their campaign of relentless fear-mongering, character-vilification and Congressional obstruction.

    After all these months into his Presidency, Obama's newly re-iterated (since the mid-terms) commitment to seek "bipartisan agreements" with the Republican'ts seems to me to be pathological.

    I fear that Obama's basic goodness as a human being is getting in his way of seeing the elephant in the room, which is: the Republican'ts want to string him up and lynch him and his presidency. They care not a whit that it is their policies which have brought America to the brink of destruction. They have no desire other than to empower themselves and their funders, the corporations.

    I admire community organizers, and I respect and admire Obama, the person. I fear Obama's own hubris is contributing to his blindness and silence.

    I voted for someone who has so far absented himself from using his bully pulpit, but who I firmly believe, could return - IF he permits himself to see the reality of who and what the Republican'ts are and are not. I want Obama to want to be the man of his campaign speeches - our leader, our President.

  10. Good points, Emily! Especially,

    Community organizers do not lead; they seek consensus. Obama, the community organizer looks to see the best in his opponents; negotiates openly and fairly, seeks to find the most constructive compromise possible for the benefit of the larger community, and naively thinks he has a "loyal opposition" with whom to negotiate solutions to the mess he inherited from Bush and Cheney.


    I fear that Obama's basic goodness as a human being is getting in his way of seeing the elephant in the room, which is: the Republican'ts want to string him up and lynch him and his presidency.

    I hadn't thought of community organizers as non-leaders, non-populists (too!) Profound!

    And, we know where nice guys finish, don't we?

  11. He invited the rethug leadership along with the dem leadership for a chit chat over dinner. I think it was two days ago.
    The rethugs snubbed him and were no shows.

    He is a member of the uber elite.
    The Bush/Clinton dynasty used him as a bridge for further things to come.
    Just as Clinton was ordered to pass NAFTA, Obama was handed the baton to take us further into the financial abyss, and to continue the endless wars with out borders.
    The ones that the village idiot W started.
    Those are now the Big O's wars.
    No more excuses.
    The Big O is a war president of choice.
    He is one of them.
    When will people come to recognize this.
    They select so we may elect.

  12. If people don't start to understand that we have two parties in this country and they're not the Democrats and Republicans, but instead are the super-wealthy and the rest of us, I don't think there is any hope that the U.S. will ever pull out of this this downward spiral.

  13. Most people that I encounter each day are really not interested in any of this information you guys have dispense here.
    Not that they don't want the best for this country,but simply because they are so focus on keeping a roof over their heads,that they can't see the forest for the trees!

  14. Good point, Big Mac. On my blog, I anticipate addressing this very point in the coming week. I'm going to start with a story which happened in Pittsburgh a little more than a decade ago.

  15. Good Post Vigilante! And really ecxcellent comments from Emily which I endorse 100%.

    Does this mean the Wizard's gone all pessimistic? Not at all. It's just that you have pegged President Obama perfectly, especially Emily's "community organizer" comments.

    Where we DISAGREE is in what will happen next. I genuinely believe I see Obama the community organizer rapidly turning into Obama the Leader. I only wish my fellow Democrats in Nevada had realized the last best hope for America and Nevada was to vote old Harry out.

    But, even with old Harry in there, we will see good things happen in the next two years,

  16. I tend to agree, per usual, with Vig's assessment. Great conversation here.