• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    churl on We’re Royals and other…
    r u reddy on We’re Royals and other…
    r u reddy on We’re Royals and other…
    mitzimuffin on We’re Royals and other…
    Sweet Sue on We’re Royals and other…
    Sweet Sue on We’re Royals and other…
    abc on We’re Royals and other…
    katiebird on We’re Royals and other…
    katiebird on We’re Royals and other…
    riverdaughter on We’re Royals and other…
    Monster from the Id on We’re Royals and other…
    cwaltz on Give Democrats a piece of your…
    Mr Mike on We’re Royals and other…
    Monster from the Id on We’re Royals and other…
    paper doll on Give Democrats a piece of your…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare occupy wall street OccupyWallStreet Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    October 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Sep    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Attack In Ottawa will be used to justify losing more rights
      Prime Minister Harper pretty much confirmed it: ‘Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened’ Yup.  Never let a crisis go to waste. I’m very sad that MPs and their staff were scared, and I’m sadder that a soldier lost his life.  But one attack does not justify increasing the police state.  However, if [...]
  • Top Posts

Why there must be a shutdown

I’m back but still pretty busy.  Not a lot of time to unpack what’s really going on here so I’ll try to make this brief.

Here’s my take on both parties’ health care policies/bills:

Republicans= Sharp stick in the eye

Democrats= Better than a sharp stick in the eye

I’m both amused and frustrated at the way party loyalists sing the praises of Obamacare.  It’s NOT all that.  Basically, we are all at the mercy of a private insurance market and medical care industry that has zero incentive to keep costs down.  All we got out of Obamacare is the right to pay for outrageously expensive insurance if we have a pre-existing condition.  Oh, sure, there will be subsidies and tax credits and more medicaid in some states but I figure it will be like getting one of those coupons where the bargain is only marginally better than paying retail and has fine print that says “cannot be combined with any other offer”.

I look at Obamacare and then look at my 10 year old beat up car and realize that I will have to give up getting a new car to pay for the health insurance that I still have to foot the bill for.  A lot of people will be making this mental calculation in the next couple of months.  I think it *will* have an effect on the bottom line.  There is only so much you can squeeze out of people who have vastly reduced or stagnant wages.  Math will get us all in the end.

Nevertheless, it is the law.  It was cobbled together by industry lobbyists, watered down by Republicans, made all but useless by committees and obstructionists and hyper-religious nutcases who would easily agree to condemning a whole generation of Americans to the brink of poverty in order to romanticize the fetus, then voted on by both houses of Congress and signed by the president as his “signature accomplishment”.  He and his party are like gleeful children coming home from school with shiny stars on their chicken scratching artwork, insisting that we stick it on the refrigerator door forever.

But the Republicans have to shut down government over this meh bill because they are part of a cult and their followers are part of a cult.  I honestly believe this because I lived it when I was a kid.  The leaders know what they’re doing.  Ok, maybe they let it go a little farther than they intended to this time.  But the followers really don’t have a clue.  All they know is that the right wing noise machine and its spokesman gives them permission to entertain their secret desires.  Every time they get crazy and get away with it, they get validation that they’re right and good.

I’m reading the new book on Manson right now and I can’t help but see parallels in the way Manson brought forth what was within his followers and gave them permission to do whatever it was they felt like at the moment.  They lived in the now because the world was going to end soon and they would live through it by hiding in a hole in the ground in the desert.  When the dust settled, they would live as evolved beings in a paradise where they would rule forever.  So, what did it matter what they did in the present, especially if it accelerated the end of times?  Anything goes.

That was Susan Atkins’ philosophy when Sharon Tate begged for her life.  Atkins told Tate she had no mercy for her.   Michelle Bachman’s comments about shutting down the government last night has that familiar ring:

“We’re very excited,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). “It’s exactly what we wanted, and we got it.”[...]

Lovely.  So much for Michelle’s mercy for the thousands and thousands of people who will be furloughed this week.

And there will be millions of people glued to Fox and right wing talk radio today where their reality will be shaped.  They will be in the world but not a part of it.  Their reality is not that of the 800,000 people whose livelihoods will be put on pause so Michelle Bachman can be excited.

It is time to face it that half the country is in the grips of a very powerful cult.  That’s not to say that Democrats wouldn’t use some lessons from the gurus to get what they want, like they did in 2008.  But for the most part, it is the Republican base that is following the leaders off a cliff.

If only the rest of us weren’t chained to them.

Stuff about the inaugural speech

This will be quick since I’ve only seen snippets and read the cautiously optimistic reactions to it on various and sundry sites. I’m going to talk about the reactions to it from the left.

I’m not surprised that there are so many people in the left blogosphere who were hopeful about Obama’s turn towards liberalism.  His forays into the left side of liberalism reminds me of one of those papers that groups put out where they discuss “progress towards the synthesis of some impossibly big and chiral natural product that will save the world from toe fungus” or something like that.  I get the feeling that those authors are hoping that the project will be dropped before they have to write on it again.

Now, I realize that there are still skeptics among the hopeful but I don’t think they’re skeptical enough.  What’s a little surprising is how quickly they forget that Obama started his first term with solid majorities in both houses and a filibuster proof majority in one of them and that public sentiment at the time was running so high against the banks that he could have pushed anything he wanted with the public’s blessing.  Oh sure, the right would have called him a socialist but the right would have done that anyway, no matter what he did.  When you’re leader of the free world with so much power and public urgency to do something, there are only a couple of reasons I can think of as to why you might do relatively nothing.  The first reason is that you don’t know what the heck you’re doing and are therefore susceptible to bad advice.  The second is that you think “liberalism” is a dirty word and don’t want to hurt the people who put you in office.  The third possibility is that both are true.

But whatever you think went wrong with the first term, here is the thing: for many of us who were affected, the lack of action to serve the vast majority of Americans, the astonishing squandering of two years of Democratic majorities, is insurmountable.  It has caused irreversible damage to our personal fortunes and those of our children.  Don’t get me wrong, many of us will survive this and go on to lead productive lives again, though never again as securely and prosperously as before.  But the pain and the sacrifice that we have had to endure for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the houses that were lost, the careers that have been blighted either at the beginning or the middle, the harshness of the society that we now live in, all that has lead to an America that is vastly different now than it was four years ago.  This America has lost its shine.  It’s living with what will soon be third world infrastructure.  We have given exploitation and extraction of wealth of average Americans the official stamp of approval.  We will now be guests at major scientific projects around the world instead of leaders.  We have trashed our educational system by making it almost impossible for some of our most talented students to be able to afford it and we have jeopardized our public health system by making research a private endeavor optimized for maximum profit.

Four years ago, there was a golden opportunity to set things right and it was lost.  Obama would have to be superhuman and extraordinarily motivated to turn this around.  And even if his heart is in the right place, and I see no evidence of that, he still needs to develop the political skills to get around a gerrymandered House.

Now, this doesn’t mean that some people in this country will not succeed.  I think there are still opportunities available for success in this country.  But it’s going to be more of a Dickensian country in the future and that puts the teachable moment about race in its proper perspective for me.  Besides, any “liberal” or “progressive” who thinks that only one group of disadvantaged people can be served at one time and that symbols are more important than actually, you know, getting things done, is a fool and a mark for psychological manipulators in future election cycles.

I don’t want to depress my side of the blogosphere or tell them all is lost or that all efforts are wasted.  I’d just like for them to be realistic and evaluate the evidence and stop living in a dream world where the good guys triumph.  Obama has shown you who he is.  He was the wrong guy at the wrong time.  He doesn’t have it in him to make it better and he doesn’t have the resources to make it work anymore.  This is the guy who was elected- twice- when there were other, better choices available.  Pining for Hillary to take over in 2016 doesn’t help those of us who needed a better choice back in 2008 and by 2016, it will be too late to make a difference.

These are the parameters you are working with in the next four years.  In other words, you can’t rely on the White House.  His speech was “just words”.  Anyone can read those carefully crafted, committee synthesized words on a teleprompter.  Believing them and acting on them are quite different things and we have seen with this president that he has a habit of getting the hopes up of various Americans, making them think he’s going to take action in their favor and then delivering extremely dilute solutions of eau de tea.  He has very little integrity, he’s surrounded by advisors who calculate exactly how much or little effort to expend on your behalf and the trust is gone.

That’s what we’re working with.

************************

And here is Frontline’s most recent episode on the fallout from the financial collapse of 2008 called The Untouchables.  Apparently, Frontline hit a nerve with the White House.

I live in the real world

Occasionally, I have to do a gut check to make sure that I’m not the one out of step with the rest of the country.  If I read nothing but the left blogosphere, I’d come away with the idea that Obama will have a bit of trouble winning the election this year but not too much to worry about.  Because Romney is a heartless bot who loves X-games Capitalism and true Christians distrust him.  And anyway, the Republicans are conducting a War on Women and in the end, women will come flocking to Obama.  So, even if Obama turns to the right and promises to compromise on the deficit to the point that he is indistinguishable from the Republicans, Democrats will realize that he is the only one standing between them and a fascist corporate dystopia where we are all doomed to despair.  With Obama we get someone who is really smart but so unfairly put upon.  Really, it’s not his fault.  He inherited this mess.  The public is being too demanding, he’s doing the best he can and, unfortunately, that means people will have to suffer because the Republicans are standing in his way.

Also, the Clintons are Third Way Democrats who can’t be trusted even though they make Obama look like a political amateur.

But I live in the real world.

I live in a state that has seen one of its major industries dismantled piece by piece and moved to Massachusetts, China and India.  I come from a professional class of people who have slipped into the precariat class even though only a few years ago, they were solidly middle class.  I live in a suburb where 80 teachers were fired after Chris Christie took office.  I live in a metropolitan region where the train system has increased fares by more than 30% in the past couple of years.  I live in a town where the new grocery store closed its door a year ago and its building is an empty shell in a strip mall full of empty shells.  I live in a state where the property taxes are so high that even if you manage to buy your house outright, you can’t afford to live here without a job that pays good money.  I live in a region where food prices are getting really crazy.

I live in a country where if you fall because you’ve lost your job, descent is quick and there is very little cushioning to make your landing safe.

Maybe the economy is coming back but I go to professional meetings all of the time and at some of them, everyone there is networking for a job.

That’s the way it is in the real world.

A couple of years ago, Jon Corzine ran a campaign much like Obama’s.  Property taxes are a big issue here in this state.  They’re highly regressive and burdensome to homeowners.  Corzine formed a commission and then threw up his hands in frustration.  He ended up doing very little.  During the fallout from the economic collapse of 2009, he ended up doing very little.  While the state was hemorrhaging STEM jobs, he ended up doing very little.  And the campaign he ran on was, “I did the best I could, there’s nothing much I could do but Chris Christie will be a terrible.”

And he lost.

The spin is that Christie was attractive to a lot of people.  But I saw Christie in debate in person and he was nothing special.  He wasn’t profound or dynamic.  He was just a morbidly obese average Republican conservative spouting average Republican stuff.  It looked like he was phoning it in.  There was an independent candidate, Chris Daggett, who shined in those debates.  He actually seemed to understand the state and seemed interested in doing something different.  He got my vote.  In fact, he got just enough votes that Corzine lost.

The country is not turning to the right.  The country is looking for someone who acts like he or she gives a shit.

I don’t like Christie and he’s done some damage.  The Democratic legislature keeps his more murderous impulses reined in.  But the national campaign feels an awful lot like New Jersey a couple of years ago and Obama’s campaign looks a lot like Jon Corzine’s.

I’m not living in the fantasy that the Democratic candidate is going to pull this one off this year.  This is not 2008 and his candidacy is no longer historic.  People can and will hold him responsible for his lackluster performance and will not accept excuses.  They’re burned out by the abortion wars and the whacked out suppression of women in politics by both parties.  And anyway, the Democrats have yielded so much ground on women’s rights that we don’t take their scare tactics about abortion seriously anymore.  There are already 5 votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe but it hardly matters.  The damage is done in the states with barely a peep from Democrats or the national women’s organizations that they have co-opted.  Meanwhile, there’s no jobs bill to put us back to work and our taxes are dumped into the Wall Street money pit with no accountability. It’s demotivating to the Democratic base and it’s frustrating.  And it makes us angry.  We just want someone who acts like he or she gives a shit.

Democrats should be worried.  You can’t force people to vote for your candidate or see something in him that the rest of us have missed in the past four years.  And activists and bloggers aren’t doing themselves any favors by going along with the program without question or panicking in fear of what’s to come. Now is the time to pressure the Democrats to do something, make them take a stand and show that they care.  After Labor Day, it will be too late.

That’s reality.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 468 other followers