Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
Barack Obama’s support for corporate trade goals, no matter how unethical and/or borderline illegal, is nothing new. His early and lasting backing of the Panama trade deal – a stellar performance wherein he convinced Democrats to vote for a bill which made it legal for US corporations to violate US law – was a brilliant part of his strategy to move the Democrat party onto Wall Street.
So it was no surprise to anyone familiar with his history that he has been appointing hired Wall Street guns – or goons – to write his TransPacific Trade Policy. Nor is it surprising that he has had nothing to say against their “former” companies paying them for writing and negotiating the deal.
Officials tapped by the Obama administration to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations have received multimillion dollar bonuses from CitiGroup and Bank of America, financial disclosures obtained by Republic Report show.
Stefan Selig, a Bank of America investment banker nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, received more than $9 million in bonus pay as he was nominated to join the administration in November. The bonus pay came in addition to the $5.1 million in incentive pay awarded to Selig last year.
Michael Froman, the current U.S. Trade Representative, received over $4 million as part of multiple exit payments when he left CitiGroup to join the Obama administration. Froman told Senate Finance Committee members last summer that he donated approximately 75 percent of the $2.25 million bonus he received for his work in 2008 to charity. CitiGroup also gave Froman a $2 million payment in connection to his holdings in two investment funds, which was awarded “in recognition of [Froman's] service to Citi in various capacities since 1999.”
Do I have to explain what this means? How their companies are basically paying these guys in advance to continue promoting their interests even as they pretend to work for the govt? Or that Obama just about had to be working hand-in-glove with these corporations to come up with these guys’ names in the first place? Or that these payments are a measure of how deeply corrupt our system is now?
That’s what I thought.
For a long time I have been listening to liberals and progs talk as if something has gone wrong with the system and if we could just adjust this or tweak that, everything would be hunky-dory. They understand that the Republicans are out of control, the corporations are in control, and the financial sector calls the shots. What they consistently refuse to do is admit that those three sectors are and have been working together for 30 years or that the fourth of the united sectors consists of Third Way Democrats. Here’s a recent Krugman.
[W]e had our own version of the sorta-kinda left utterly failing to take on austerian macroeconomics in the United States – President Obama’s “pivot” from jobs to deficits, which actually began in 2009, back when Democrats still controlled both houses of Congress.
Sounds like a policy switch on Obama’s part, doesn’t it? Only it isn’t. In his famous keynote speech at the ’04 Dem convention, Obama was careful to eschew any too left-leaning rhetoric that might dismay corporate backers; just before the ’08 election, Obama met secretly with some of the most powerful financiers on Wall Street; and one of his early acts as president was to name an anti-deficit commission to which he appointed a number of powerful and long-term opponents of Social Security including Pete Peterson.
Seen from that angle, not so much a pivot as a straight line. Krugman seems to think the Dems are just listening to the wrong people because they lack “moral courage”.
[T]he nature of our current economic situation is that smart policy requires that you ignore what supposedly responsible people, who sound as if they know what they’re talking about – and hey, they’re rich, so they must know something – have to say.
And no government of the moderate left has had the intellectual and moral courage to do that.
Fraid not. An objective analysis of Democratic actions over the past two decades leaves little room for doubt: in virtually every instance when the Dems had to choose a path, they chose the one that was corporate-contributor friendly. Maybe we should stop pretending that the Dems are liberal, hm? They’re just slightly less obsequious than Pubs when it comes to kissing 1% ass. Get used to it.
The NYT decided to actually investigate something this week because they thought the result would embarrass Obama (their main criteria for greenlighting political exposes). It does. It also embarrasses the whole Democrat party.
With the Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace, the president has said the government is going after “criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.”
But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.
Aside from the usual circumstance of Obama’s mouth writing checks his administration can’t – or won’t – cash, this is a classic example of standard Democrat duplicity: doing what they see as expedient and then blaming progressive activists for making his job dealing with batshit crazy Pubs more difficult. According to Obama and his people, when progressives call him on his bullshit, they are hurting him; when they try to help him achieve his stated goals, they are hurting him; when they won’t follow him as he surrenders to conservative insanity, they are hurting him. In fact, it seems that the very existence of progressives is a threat to him. Read the rest of this entry »
Chicken contaminated with chicken manure is one likely result to come from the ag department’s dangerous and ridiculous determination to privatize poultry inspection in some 200 processing plants across the country. Currently, government inspectors – who’re professionally-trained in food safety – are stationed along the processing lines in the factory operations of such giants as Tyson Foods. They examine the birds for diseases and visible defects, including – yes – contamination by feces.
But the Obamacans have a “modernization” plan to remove these skilled, independent inspectors and let corporations police their own lines with untrained company hirelings. In addition, the privatization scheme would allow the poultry plants to speed up their lines to an absurd 175-birds-per-minute!
I said almost unbelievable. If I hadn’t, years ago, given up on Obama proving to be something other than a tame corporate shill, this would feel like a betrayal. As it is, I just sighed, “Of course.”
More of the Myth and one of the reasons corporate-owned Pubs spent so much spreading it around. “Govt is bad, corporations can do a better job policing themselves if we just leave them alone” is the kind of thinking that certainly makes it easier for corporations to dump govt inspections (after having paid the appropriate bribes to the appropriate officials and pols, of course), which means, of course, there will be no inspections at all, thus no possibility that profits will be lost due to nasty govt refusing to let them sell – at full price, mind you – spoiled food or food full of, you know, poisons and nuclear waste and shit and what not. Of course.
Apparently it isn’t enough for the Democrats to let agrocorps make our food unsafe, now they have to let them make it lethal. I hope the Dems are getting a good price for poisoning us. Because that’s what’s important here.
Obviously this is less important than it might at first appear.
Among the ostensibly “non-essential” services on hold during the government shutdown is the Food and Drug Administration’s food inspection program. Within the country, as the Huffington Post points out, that means as many as 80 food production facilities each day may be going uninspected (although an FDA spokesman clarified that an unclear portion of those will be carried out by state agriculture and public health departments).
A lot of well-meaning but thoughtless people have been supporting the modern GOP because they believed, despite all evidence to the contrary, in the right-wing myth of corporate efficiency and competence. What all these people refused to acknowledge was that the reality beneath the appearance of corporate success had far less to do with competence than greed, far less to do with efficiency than ruthlessness.
Well they may still be in denial but if they’re paying attention at all they will have realized that we are seeing corporate-style governing this week in the extortion and blackmail the Republican Congress has loosed on the nation in a desperate attempt to get its own way. These are time-honored corporate strategies used by disparate corpos from Disney to IBM to Microsoft to Wal-mart to McDonald’s. Extortion, blackmail, and bribery are the three key components of American corporate success.
So it was no surprise when Robert Reich let it slip in his blog that this govt shutdown was planned and paid for by…tah dah!…the corporate BigWigs of th 0.1%.
The bullies are a faction inside the Republican Party – extremists who are threatening more reasonable Republicans with primary challenges if they don’t go along.
And where are the Tea Party extremists getting their dough? From even bigger bullies – a handful of hugely wealthy Americans who are sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into this extortion racket.
They include David and Charles Koch (and their front group, “Americans for Prosperity’); Peter Thiel, leverage-buyout specialist John Childs, investor Howie Rich, Stephen Jackson of the Stevens Group, and executives of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, (all behind the “Club for Growth”); and Crow Holdings’ Harlan Crow, shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, and investment banker Foster Friess; executives of MetLife and Philip Morris, and foundations controlled by the Scaife family (all bankrolling “FreedomWorks.”)
Their game plan is to not just to take over the Republican Party. It’s to take over America.
These are the standard tactics of a hostile takeover: threats and intimidation. Do what we want or we’ll burn down the store. I’d say the gloves are off. They’re not even pretending anymore.
In the course of discussing Fox’s penchant for insisting that there’s a race war…against whites, naturally…Ellen Brodsky asks the kind of question I keep hearing from the left, a querulous confusion suffused by puzzlement.
Given Fox’s symbiosis with the Republican Party and given the GOP’s supposed desire to win back minority voters, it’s hard to understand what Fox thinks is to be gained from this outpouring of antipathy.
The unstated assumption is that both Fox and the Republican party aren’t really batshit crazy but are somehow actually responding to a perceived – however misperceived – sense of rational self-interest. The assumption, however, is unwarranted. They aren’t, either of them. Instead they are, and have been increasingly over the last three decades, responding not to any form of reason, however twisted, but to the dark, fevered emotions of the id, and a damaged id at that.
Psychologically, the profile of the right wing in America is the profile of a paranoid psychopath. Read the rest of this entry »
Depending how you define it, success sometimes isn’t. In the wake of a narrowly-defined success, you can easily overlook the seeds of failure caused by all the factors you left out to create your “success”. Dr Frankenstein “created” life – a success – but utterly failed to understand that having done that, he would then lose control of it. The Frankenstein story is generally taken to be a cautionary tale about radical scientific advance but could be equally informative concerning the dangers of blind hubris in other fields.
Take Eddie Lampert, Sears’ CEO as an example of the “success” of the Greed Is Good, Selfishness Is Better school of corporate philosophy. Living up to it has made him extremely rich. It has also utterly destroyed Sears. Read the rest of this entry »
I wish I could say it feels good seeing everybody finally catching up with me after a decade or so, but it doesn’t. I predicted Obama’s corporate sell-out and got kicked off a Democrat group blog. I predicted his continued support of the Bush attack on privacy rights, and even that he would strengthen that attack, and I got left-wing hate mail. I predicted that he wouldn’t close Gitmo, and discovered that I was a “traitor”, an “extremist”, and, somehow, a Commie conservative. Nobody wanted to hear it, let alone believe it, but here we are, 5 years later, with massive NSA spying approved by the Administration, drones and a new presidential power to use them against anyone he (or she) doesn’t like and on his/her own say-so and nothing more, a continuing Gitmo embarrassment that Obama won’t end even though everybody – even the military – wants him to, and a Justice Dept that seems more eager to protect corporate profits than civil rights. Even some of his most rabid supporters are now being forced to admit that a Third Way Dem hasn’t turned out to be much of an improvement over a whacko corporate Pub. Read the rest of this entry »
OK, so you probably think that at least if you’re a dedicated cheerleader they won’t throw you under the bus even if you’re not their first priority. But you’re being naive.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November or what compromises Congress strikes in the lame-duck session to keep the economy from automatic tax increases and spending cuts, 160 million American wage earners will probably see their tax bills jump after Jan. 1.
That is when the temporary payroll tax holiday ends. Its expiration means less income in families’ pocketbooks — the tax increase would be about $95 billion in 2013 alone — at a time when the economy is little better than it was when the White House reached a deal on the tax break last year.
You don’t matter. The “deficit” they created matters. It’s your job to pay it off. This was never a priority, it was just a temporary gimme for show.
Independent analysts say that the expiration of the tax cut could shave as much as a percentage point off economic output in 2013, and cost the economy as many as one million jobs. That is because the typical American family had $1,000 in additional income from the lower tax.
But there is still little desire to make an extension part of the negotiations that are under way to avert the huge tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts, known as the fiscal cliff, that will start in January without a deal.
Nope. Nobody on either side gives a shit.
Many Republicans vehemently opposed its passage last year, as it would divert money from the Social Security program. Many Democrats fervently supported it last year but show no such enthusiasm now. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top House Democrat, has told reporters she thinks it should expire.
So don’t ever get your hopes up. No matter what happens, you’re never gonna be on anybody’s gift list.
All the great philosophers and theologians since the time of the [early] Greeks have lauded the sacrifice of one’s self and one’s possessions for the sake of the greater good of others as the most honorable action a man can take. Therefore, the great thinkers of the modern rich right wing have implemented a society which makes it not only a privilege for you to sacrifice for the greater oligarchic good but a necessity, thus insuring your entrance into, if not saintliness then at least acceptability within the servant class.
The recent Supreme Court decision allowing the Constitutionality of Obama’s health care bill can be seen as a case in point. With no effort on your part and despite whatever qualms you may have about the way the bill tends to subvert, deny or delay actual treatment, you will be required to pay health insurance corpo’s a sizable chunk of your income for advising you that your illness isn’t covered. (That’s apparently in the Constitution somewhere.)
In this way you will be allowed to sacrifice not just your income but your health for the good of insurance corpo’s whose profits are not yet obscene enough to cause riots. Which seems to be their goal.
Don’t let yourselves be taken in by the appearance of unrestricted greed. Remember, they’re doing it for you, not to you.
After extensively quoting from a ProPublica report exactly how often the Obama admin rejected the opportunity to add help for homeowners caught in the mortgage/foreclosure trap (otherwise known as cramdown), Atrios winds up by with the usual lib claptrap conclusion: “They fucked up.” No, Duncan, they didn’t. It wasn’t a bug, it was a feature.
There’s a new analysis of the Gulf oil spill that makes plain the reasons for it are, as many of us said, systemic. Not an accident, not a once-in-a-lifetime concatenation of incompetence, faulty equipment, and mismanagement, no, the direct result of BAU. The report calls for massive new regulation of the oil industry. The reason I know this will not happen is that Harry Reid promises to get right on it. QED.
Even the brightest of left-wing commentators can’t seem to see the forest for the trees even while they’re explaining what a forest is. Apparently our vaunted “reality-based community” just can’t get its head around the reality of the Dem sell-out to Wall Street.
Take Glenn Greenwald, a very smart guy who’s come closer than most to admitting the obvious. Here he has little difficulty figuring out the reasons for Republican pro-corporate policies.
There are few more bitter ironies than watching the Republican Party — controlled at its core by the very business interests responsible for the country’s vast and growing inequality; responsible for massive transfers of wealth to the richest; and which presided over and enabled the economic collapse — now become the beneficiaries of middle-class and lower-middle-class economic insecurity.
Yet when it comes to the Dems, he just can’t bring himself to admit what it is so easy to see in the Pubs.
That crisis presented a huge opportunity for Obama and the Democrats to bring about real change in Washington — the central promise of his campaign — by capitalizing on (and becoming the voice of) populist anger and using it to wrestle away control from Wall Street and other financial and corporate elites who control Washington. Had they done so, they would have been champions of populist rage rather than its prime targets. But, as John Judis argues in his excellent New Republic piece, they completely squandered that opportunity. Rather than emphatically stand up to the bankers and other oligarchical thieves, they coddled and served them, and thus became the face of the elite interests oppressing ordinary Americans rather than their foes. How can an administration represented by Tim Geithner and Larry Summers — and which specializes in an endless stream of secret deals with corporate lobbyists and sustains itself with Wall Street funding — possibly maintain any pretense of populist support or changing how Washington works? It can’t.
My dear Glenn, it isn’t supposed to. OK, it “maintained a pretense” for a number of years and still does play the kabuki you see through like glass when Republicans do it, a sort of pretense-dance that doesn’t fool anyone. So why can’t you see through it when the Dems do it and understand that the reason is identical: the New Democrat is owned and controlled by the exact same interests who own and control the GOP. Otherwise, nothing Obama and the New Dems have done makes any sense whatever, as you said yourself.
But the Democratic Party’s failure/refusal/inability to be anything other than the Party of Tim Geithner — continuing America’s endless, draining Wars while plotting to cut Social Security, one of the few remaining guarantors of a humane standard of living — renders them unable to offer answers to angry, anxious, resentful Americans.
“Failure/refusal/inability”? Just can’t bring yourself to say it out loud, eh? That’s too bad because your and other progressives’ failure/refusal/inability to face the Awful Truth about the New Right-wing Dems is simply going to prolong the agony.
Oh, dear. Well, we knew it was going to take a while for people to start recognizing that the transfer of wealth to the top by the political class was neither an accident nor mere incompetence but a deliberate sell-out masquerading as one, the other, or both. A couple of examples provided by Mark at Norwegianity should suffice to make the point.
Republican senators have agreed to stop filibustering debate on financial-regulatory reform legislation. After successfully blocking the bill for the third time in three days Wednesday, Republicans appeared ready to go another round. But when Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to throw a Senate sleepover by calling votes all night, the GOP backed down.
Practically everybody. And we did.
Remember when we were begging Harry to force the GOP to defend its insane, incoherent policies physically? On live teevee in front of the whole country? We said that all those fake filibusters would either a) collapse or b) make the voters realize just what shitheads the GOoPers are.
Harry said No. Remember? He woulodn’t do it. It wouldn’t work.
Guess who was right and who was wrong. Again.
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