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Well, of course he’s going to meet with the suits

I’ve read posts by Charles Pierce, Digby and Atrios lamenting how Obama has decided to hold a “leadership” meeting with the big bank ceos who got us into this mess to discuss the details of the Grand Bargain.

It sounds a lot like crocodile tears.

Look, you guys KNEW when you were cheering for him (or cheering against Mitt Romney) last year that he kisses the bankers’ collective asses.

What I can’t understand is how it is that such a bunch of smart people could only see two possible options last year.  You didn’t even try to challenge Obama and put the fear of God into him.  So, stop your “shock!” and righteous indignation or pointless navel gazing about why the “culture of smartness” does what it does and cuts ordinary people out of directing their own fates. You’re either useful idiots doing the party’s work or you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.

There are always multiple solutions to the problem.  You need to think outside the box, possibly take the long view and stop being such whiny ass titty baby cowards about what is happening to your formerly safe spot in the Democratic party.

They moved your fucking cheese.  Get on with it.

Let’s call the VSPs!

Atrios says that if the Grand Bargain comes we should get on the horn and call our reps, senators and White House.  But why stop there?

If the people who really count are the Very Serious People like David Gregory, Thomas Friedman and David Gergen, then shouldn’t they find out just how much the Average American doesn’t want cuts to their pre-paid social insurance benefits?

These VSPs don’t mingle with the rest of us but maybe it’s time they found out how many of us there are and that we’re not putting up with any bullshit.  We worked for our social insurance benefits, we paid through the nose for them and we’re demanding every penny back, with no cuts.  In fact, we’ve put up with a lot in our working lives including crazy hours, expensive daycare and reduced pensions, if we’re lucky.  I think we deserve a raise.  Raise the Social Security benefit so we can retire with the same lifestyle as our parents.

The last thing we need is a bunch of patrician thumbsuckers telling us to make more sacrifices so they don’t have to pay more in taxes. I don’t know who these VSPs think they are but I’m sick of their shit.

They ought to know that there is life beyond the Beltway cocktail circuit and we are not amused.

Stop the Obama propaganda campaign against the 99%

Yves Smith has an important post up about the coming propaganda campaign against all of us who aren’t the 1%.  We’re going to be forced to eat austerity against our best interests.  Are we going to take this s^&*?  It’s time to call the White House and your elected officials and tell them to stop forcing this budget deal on us because we want no part of it.  Here’s Yves:

The fact is that unless enough Senators decide to oppose Obama, the middle class is going to take a hit out of a budget deal. But it’s now clear that ordinary citizens will also be subjected to a full bore messaging campaign to persuade them that they should regard this counterproductive sacrifice as good for them.

Key extracts from the Guardian:

“Barack Obama has enlisted the help of his formidable grassroots army of volunteers in the battle with Republican members of Congress over the fiscal cliff, the January 1 deadline for a deal on tax and spending….

It calls on them to spread the word about Obama’s position to friends, families and neighbours. It said he wanted a balanced budget that will extend tax cuts for 98% of the population, eliminate tax cuts for the wealthiest and cut spending by $3tn.”

The article indicates that the reason for turning up the messaging is that no progress has been made on the Great Betrayal since Obama went to Asia. That further suggests that he still firmly intends to get a deal done before year end, when it’s clear that going past Jan. 1 would strengthen his negotiating position….if his interest really were in increasing taxes on the rich and sparing Medicare and Social Security. His sense of urgency is further confirmation of whose interests he holds most dear, and they aren’t yours and mine.

So, in summary, “the more effective evil” is about to turn up the volume on deficit reduction using his fanbase to make sure that we get royally screwed by his backers.  Hey, I didn’t vote for him -twice!, (and I loathe Republicans) but this shit has got to stop.  We worked hard for that money and we shouldn’t have to part with a cent of it.

Why isn’t Obama using his fanbase to force bankers to take a haircut and to tell the 1% to stop acting like selfish, greedy pigs?  Why aren’t more people asking that question?

We aren’t Greece, who doesn’t know how to collect taxes, and we aren’t Ireland, who seems to be into masochism without a safety word.  The vast majority of Americans did absolutely nothing to merit this kind of treatment.  We deserve better from our president and his party.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

In the meantime, we still haven’t gotten an effective pushback from the New Deal side of the Democratic party.  There is a giant void.  I am urging all of you bloggers out there to get over your mutual revulsion of each other (ok, of people like me, in particular) and join together to deliver a counter message before it is too late.

Is it just me or is the Petraeus sex scandal…

… a giant manufactured distraction from the so-called Grand Bargain that Congress is negotiating now to deprive us of the social insurance programs we paid for in advance?

Sex scandals are as old as the hills.  We need to stop acting like they’ll stop the earth from turning and start take a more French attitude about them.  Do you know how many of their leaders have done things that would give the Villagers distracting gossip for years to come?  How about almost all of them.  They’ve all had affairs or mistresses or children whose births were not consecrated by the marital bond.  At some point in their history, probably right after The Terror or maybe it was the Nazi Occupation, the French started to realize that if they took every person who’d ever had a sexual indiscretion out of their leadership ranks, they would still be begging for bread and run over by rich aristocrats or living in fear or some crazy German.

And Petraeus is not even that important.  Oh, sure, the CIA is an important department and spies and all that.  But Petraeus is never going to be president, at least not now.  It’s very rare for former military generals to get to be president.  Eisenhower was the last one and I can only think of one other- Ulysses S Grant.  Grant was corrupt in a completely different way not having anything to do with sex. But I don’t care about Petraeus.

I don’t care about Petraeus’s tawdry, Jerry Springeresque love life where one mistress texts another mistress telling her to keep away from her man.  Can’t you picture it?  Two heavily made up women in skin tight clothing fighting over some skinny dude with a mullet?  He’s sitting there in the background with a bemused look on his face as the camera pans over the scene but he’s actually trying to figure out how he can talk them into a threesome.

Um, that’s not going to keep the heat on when we’re 65 and have to wait 5 additional years for our social security benefits to kick in.

I used to think that the politicians were going to put so much economic pressure on the American people that we would take the deal of immediate relief  and give up our claims to our pre-paid deferred compensation.

But that’s not really how it is.  It’s the politicians who are trading our futures for their short term relief.  Why are we not talking about that?  And why don’t we all vow to keep ourselves in good physical shape so that we can seek out and find all of the young congressmen and Senators who are going to sell us out?  Let’s make a promise to never leave them alone if they cut this deal for as long as they live.  Even after they retire from Congress or are voted out, let’s make it our mission to remind them every day of their lives that we are still here and we will remember and make sure they remember and that for them, the pressure will never, ever let up.  There will never be any short term relief for any young member of Congress who bargains away our prepaid retirement benefits.  We will be the albatross that hangs around their necks until the day they die.

Melange:A World of Woo, tribal belief, willful self-delusion and Jane Mayer

There are a lot of interesting nuggets in the intertoobz these days.  Some of these things go together and show the lengths we will go to delude ourselves or cling to tribal beliefs.

Let’s start with a podcast.  So, you’ve given up the Judeo-Christian belief system for God 2.0 or no god at all.  Some of us would call this progress.  Giving up bronze age superstition and tradition for something more modern and relevant is quite a bold step.  So, why are so many of you turning to woo?  Woo is defined as “ideas considered irrational or based on extremely flimsy evidence or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers”. Woo includes the belief in astrology, auras, energy fields, homeopathy, accupuncture, chiropracty and vaccination phobia.  Seth Andrews of the Thinking Atheist interviews various professionals who debunk these woos and tries to explain why otherwise rational people are attracted to them. Let’s put it this way, if you’re into woo, it’s hard to take anything you say seriously. You’d might as well be a nutcase fundy eschatologist.   Check out Seth’s recent podcast here.

Jay Ackroyd tries to lead Digby to the light when it comes to Obama’s commitment to a Grand Bargain on Social Security and Medicare.  First, go read the piece from Digby where she actually sounds like she’s blown right on past where Conflucians are sitting straight into the arms of the former Democrats who are so angry they’ve started to identify with the Tea Party.  Wow.  That’s quite a leap.  I know the party will reel her back in and, to be honest, we don’t really need more Tea Partiers in Congress, thank you very much.  But, yeah, Digby.  Jay’s right.  The Obama contingent are not liberals.  However, Jay is not right that they’re centrists.  The Obama contingent is definitely on the right side of center.  Nooooo doubt about it.  The only way that they are centrists is if you consider moderate republicanism centrist.  That would make Bill Clinton a flaming commie.  No, no, don’t go there, Jay.  We have seen the studies.  There’s no way in hell that Bill Clinton is a centrist in the same way that Obama is a “centrist”.  The center moved in the past 12 years.  You guys have got to accept this because your irrational belief that Clinton is an evil Republican dude compared to Obama, is what got Obama elected in the first place.  You’ve been done in by your tribe’s woo.  I mean, think about it: your group is asking us to believe that Bill Clinton is, was and always will be more conservative than Barack Obama.  Step back and think about that and ask yourselves if that’s rational given everything you now know.  If YOU can’t swallow it, why are you asking US to believe it?

As for Digby, I really like her and I’ve found her recent evolution to be promising, if only temporary in the lead up to the election.  I expect her to chicken out even though her “Hey! We’re eating grass!” moments are fun to read.  There is a place for left of center Democrats who don’t have our minds so wide open that our brains have fallen out.  We just need to create it.  It probably won’t happen this election cycle unless the Obama half of the party is defeated by the Clinton half of the party.  That’s where we are now.  You may not think the Clinton half is sufficiently liberal but the American people do.  In any case, they’ll drag the party back leftwards like an earthquake in Japan.  It could be a true realignment on the way back to sanity.  And remember, Wall Street rejected the Clinton half last time.  So, you know, how much more proof do you need??  Besides, there is no hope for Howard Dean.  Most people don’t know who he is and wouldn’t like him if they did.  We need to be realistic and work with what we’ve got.  And as far as I can tell, Americans would be ecstatic to return to the Clinton years, even if they were supervised by his wife. A woman in charge would be very good for women in general, wouldn’t you agree?  Especially when that woman is a passionate defender of women’s reproductive rights?  I mean, can women really trust Obama after they way he dragged his feet on the conscience rule, betrayed us in the healthcare law and kept Plan B behind a counter?

As far as everyone having “skin in the game”, Obama’s term for sacrificing in the upcoming Grand Bargain, um, I’ve seen my industry devastated by Wall Street grasshoppers and I’ve lost a very good living, permanently.  So, you know, I’ve already been flayed.  Not only that but I’m in the age cohort who has to wait until I’m 67 before I get the Social Security I prepaid for decades.  I’m not sacrificing anymore skin.  No, do not even ask.  Don’t make us come down there to Washington to make your lives miserable.  You do not want crowds from the size of my graduating class on the mall.  No, you do not.  I suggest that Congress go hunt people with an excess of skin, ie wealthy people.  Give them a good reason to whine.

The last bit is an interview of Jane Mayer on Fresh Air with Terry Gross entitled “Obama in Impossible Bind Over Donors”.  The Impossible Bind is that he wants and needs money from the wealthy and Wall Street but he doesn’t want average voters to know how indebted he is to his big donors so he has to blow the donors off in public.  It’s a sad, sad situation.  Terry, to her credit, seems to have come around after being such an insufferable Obama fangirl in 2008.  Jane Mayer valiantly tries to make Obama look good when it comes to fundraising.  You can almost hear Jane pleading with the audience to understand what Obama is up against but I found her extreme earnestness irritating.  It’s a cruel world out there.  Poor Obama, forced to accept SuperPAC money and trying to make it look like he doesn’t like it.  It’s all the fault of the mean Republicans that he’s sucking up all the money he said he didn’t want.  And while Romney is appearing at the SuperPAC soirees, Mitt has a deputy actually ask for the money, while Obama goes to the soirees and the money just mysteriously appears for him but he doesn’t suck up to anyone to get it.  I find the distinction indistinct.

Oh, but Obama isn’t giving away the Lincoln Bedroom!  So, you know, there’s that.  And that’s presumably why the donors are complaining.  They get nothing from Obama.  Not even a tote bag.  He won’t even take pictures with his donors so they can use that to name drop. It sounds like Obama got too much of a reputation as a schmoozer in 2008 and he’s desperate to squash that meme this year but that doesn’t mean he’ll be turning the filthy lucre down.  He just doesn’t want to have to thank anyone publicly for it.

But the funniest part of the interview is when Mayer is forced to debunk the idea that Obama made the bulk of his campaign money from millions of teensy contributions.  I know, you’re probably thinking that small contributions mean less than $100 because that’s what the Obama campaign lead us to believe in 2008.  We were all under the impression that millions and millions of working class Joes were mailing $20 to him in gratitude with a little note saying, “Bless you, Barack!  Save the Republic.  We’ve been waiting all our lives for you!”  Right?  Intellectually, you know it’s not true because the sheer size of the amount of money he collected, plus all of the contributions from wealthy Wall Street contributors, is public information. But the meme kinda slipped into the chinks of the gray matter and created it’s own woo.  It just *had* to be true because so many people repeated it.  It’s sort of like that woo we debunked about Obama running a fabulous campaign.  Um, no he didn’t, unless you consider gaming the caucuses and paying off the superdelegates and DNC fabulous, and we can prove it but myths die hard.

Anyway, it turns out that the definition of small depends on who is using it.  Small donations to you and me would be less than $100.  Small donations to the Obama campaign means maxing out at $5000.  See the difference?  One is $4900 more than the other. What working class stiff has $5000 to stuff into an envelope for a guy who had less than two years of national political experience before he decided to run for president?  And inadvertently, Mayer exposes what the Obama campaign thinks of the people who gave less than $5K.  They’re not even on the campaign’s radar.

But the final bit of silliness from Mayer is when she contrasts Bill Clinton’s extroversion against Obama’s intellectualism.  That’s got to be a first.  Whatever you might think of Bill Clinton,  making the guy who went to Georgetown, Yale Law School and was a Rhodes Scholar sound like a high school dropout car salesman next to Obama doesn’t really work too well.  What she’s really trying to say is that Clinton is a gregarious politician who likes politics and can carry on an intelligent conversation with anyone, even his enemies, but that the Obama contingent doesn’t like politics and getting hands dirty and actually doing the stuff that gets things done.  I know that she didn’t mean to say that but that’s essentially what she said.  If you were a big money donor, whose campaign would you rather give $5 million to?  (George Soros, call me!)

Once the bloom is off of Obama’s rose, you can’t listen to this stuff without laughing at all of the holes in the arguments.  The woo is gone.

Olympia Snowe retiring- Ruh-Roh

This was just announced.  Snowe is retiring, which means this is a good opportunity for a Democrat, or other party politician, to pick up a seat in the Senate.  But why now?

Snowe says:

In announcing her plans, Snowe, 65, emphasized that she is in good health and was prepared for the campaign ahead. But she said she was swayed by the increasing polarization in Washington.

“Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term,” Snowe said in a statement. “So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail.”

Something about this sounds ominous.  I thought Snowe was the Republicans’ secret weapon, always looking so damned reasonable until she started getting all Columbo on some detail in the bill she wasn’t happy with.  We could always count on Snowe to renege on any agreement.

So, which partisanship is she most afraid of?  I’ve heard some rumbling today that Steney Hoyer is going to try to push through a grand bargain during the lame duck session.  Does that have anything to do with it?  Screw the Democrats one last time before she gets out of Dodge?  Or does she see something even worse coming up and wants to get out of the way while she can?

I’ll take a stab at this: She is perturbed by the recent turn her own party has taken and doesn’t like what they are asking her to sign on to.  They’re being very uncompromising and inflexible and maybe even Olympia Snowe has a line she isn’t willing to cross.  So she’s bailing and throwing the seat to the Democrats.  That’s what it looks like.  It sounds like what’s coming is so significant that even Snowe won’t play Lucy with the football this time.  She’d rather hand over her seat to the opposition.  It’s happened before with those damned New England Republicans.  Remember Jeffords and Chafee?

I’m guessing that they’re going for either Social Security or abortion.

Any hints? Allegations?  Suspicions?

And is Chellie Pingree going to go for this seat?  Losing another woman from the Senate, even if she is a Republican is one we can ill afford to lose.

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