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      I remember fairly clearly the day when, trying to choose what to read in a bookstore, I realized that what I was choosing is who would control my consciousness; my mind, for a couple hours. It wasn’t a thought I’d never had before; after all when we watch TV or a movie, or read a book, we want our consciousness to be changed for a while, but “I’m letting the […]
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Hold out vs. Sold out: Connecting the dots between 2008 and 2010 (Part I)

Connect, Baby, Connect

Today’s progressives have been trained to throw a temper tantrum at the mere mention of offshore drilling. So when they see Obama repackaging himself as a “Drill, Baby, Drill” charlatan (not to mention the charade of former President Dubya giving a “Wind, Baby, Wind” speech), the cognitive dissonance is something to behold.

American Extremists - Love that dirty water

American Extremists by Vastleft, Comic 34: "Love that dirty water"

11 dimensional rationalizations always spring eternal for the true believers, but Obamaprogs who are unable to up their hopium dosage enough to wrap their heads around this latest reversal seem earnestly perplexed as to how to react and where it all went so wrong. (To be fair, the “Drill, Baby, Drill” obsession makes me cringe as a liberal. I’m just not surprised Obama is into it.)

Everyday more and more people on the left are waking up in this manner to find themselves sold out and–though they are often blind to the fact—under the same proverbial bus as us icky and irrelevant Hillary holdouts. By and large, they will insist it’s not buyer’s remorse, because Duhhhhh! They had no choice! McCain-Palin would have been so much worse! Only one of those fictional PUMAs would be stupid enough to think otherwise!

The activist left that sets the tone for this kind of reaction acknowledges no connection between our holding out and their being sold out. Bucking party unity back then continues to be relegated to the timeout corner as some totally unrelated redheaded stepchild. The Obama Claus machine has kept its progressive little elves busy making a list, checking it twice, and perpetually pulling it out to shame the naughty folks who didn’t get on the unity pony in 2008 as an *inferior class* of voters.

Obama voters who have grown wary of the Oministration tend to fancy their “constructive” input as the nice to our naughty. They qualify their criticisms, insisting that they do not regret their votes, openly signaling that they will come crawling back in 2012. They act as if such disclaimers instantly legitimize their own critique of Obama and buttress the case for progressivism that they are trying to make to the WH. Really, the effect is the opposite. The rest of the left can elevate themselves above us shrill Hillary harpies all they want. The Dem elites couldn’t care less about who defects and who doesn’t, as long as enough of the base doesn’t even consider it an option.

Access bloggers might as well re-post the same entry all the way to 2012:

“Dear beloved Administration: Don’t mind a critical word we say. Call us the ‘left of the left’ again and marginalize us some more! We enjoy being a convenient foil for your styrofoam politics, and don’t forget–the D on our voter registration cards stands for doormat. We voted for you in 2008. We will come home again. All you have to do is wait for us to remind ourselves that whatever misgivings we have about you, we don’t want Sarah Palin’s facebook and Glenn Beck’s chalkboard running the country. (Nevermind that all they have to do is say ‘death panels!’ and ‘Van Jones!’ and you jump.)”

Those of us who held out in 2008 are a different category of voter, indeed. We are the Cassandras. On Bush. On Iraq. And, now on Obama. We saw through each mindfrick-on-a-media-stick before it was fashionable. The corporate media’s attempts to distract with infotainment, buzzwords, and shiny objects (Monica! WMD! Historic!) do not work on us.

It is no coincidence that the complaints and objections commonly heard from Obama voters who feel sold out in 2010 are similar to the doubts we holdouts had in 2008. Their complaints are the realization of our doubts. In fact, I wrote a piece called “of Bullies and Beggars” in September 2008, right after the party conventions–it was about Obama bullying the Democratic base and begging the other side for approval during the campaign. Sound familiar? As president, Obama ignores and bullies the left into submission while genuflecting at the fake altar of bipartisanshit. Worse, he does all that for the sake of bipartisanshit itself, carrying out more of the same corporatist agenda that we were supposed to be reversing, not extending. So much for not electing McSame.

Hoping against Hope™ on Healthcare

Healthcare was the one silver lining I could see in Obama’s election, policy-wise (emphasis on policy-wise, lest anyone think it was possible to forget the historical significance of his election.) At least the 2008 campaign cycle had driven up the public push for universal healthcare. But, as soon as President Obama picked up the issue, it became quickly apparent that he was still the same guy who showed no passion or commitment to *Democratic* health*care* reform during the campaign… Still the guy whose campaign sent out Harry and Louise mailers against Hillary Clinton… Also the candidate who sat in front of a camera and proclaimed, “If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody buy a house. The reason they don’t have a house is they don’t have the money.”

When the poetry of the campaign was over and the prose of the governing began, Obama not only signed into law the mandate that he hung around Hillary’s neck during the election, he ditched the option of a public insurance plan that made the mandate fair. One pathetic step for expanded “coverage”…one giant market expansion for the for-profit health insurance industry.

Most Americans actually do support a single payer system or some other form of genuine universal healthcare. Yet, health care reform became health insurance reform, with both the Democratic party and the corporate media laughing off the Medicare-for-All movement and making good use of the noise coming from the peanut gallery that refers to corporate welfare as Zomg!Socialism. The cheeto munchers on the left have not behaved any better. Both sides are playing right into the distraction. Look, it’s a Teabagger who can’t spell! I know you’re a Socialist but what am I! It’s tribalism that keeps the grassroots forever fighting each other instead of pushing back on the oligarchy and demanding policies that put people before profit.

Whether the Obama WH dropped the ball entirely on purpose (“failure is a feature, not a bug”) or only let us see them dropping the ball due to incompetence and an on-the-job learning curve, I do not see any indication that Obama ever had any intention of passing anything more progressive than the GOPesque trainwreck that he ended up signing. This is a WH that at one point had aides saying the trigger option was more robust than the public option. Frick on a stick you can believe in! With a brick! They were never serious about progressive ideas on healthcare reform. The reform kabuki/bunraku that we saw play out for months was, as I always thought, a fait accompli. The Ds, the insurance companies, and the Rs (yes the GOP) are all part of a rigged system that was invested in this bill passing. I never bought that the Scott Brown speedbump would stop it from going through. Rather Scott Brown’s election just gave DC more time and more excuse to keep moving the Overton window further and further right until the left acquiesced and was happy to declare forced purchase of junk insurance a moral victory.

Unprecedented

Obama’s health insurance reform certainly is historic to say the least.

The Obama Left is rah-rahing this *Republican* bill as if it were a glorious step in the direction of social equity. This is the same Obama Left that is still so utterly incensed by our *protest* votes—votes which were cast full well knowing that McCain and the GOP did not represent our own politics. The Obama cheerleaders are going out of their way to hail public policy that gestated at the Heritage Foundation as some kind of a win for Main Street, when the real achievement is Wall Street’s.

The most significant piece of social legislation since LBJ is a Contract on Medicare For All. Anything Obama could pass and marginally call “comprehensive reform” while actually doing the insurance, hospital, and drug lobbyists bidding was the plan all along. As was Obama and Pelosi cynically using women’s rights as a bargaining chip.

Remember back when the hockey mom from Wasilla was stunt casting from hell? What a cheap ploy! We won’t be fooled! Women for Obama ’08.

Look who’s a tool of the patriarchy now. (Hint: It’s not Sarah Palin’s facebook.)

When it came to Congressional crunch time on health reform in 2009 and 2010, the Democratic leadership kept the left and right divided, fighting a fake fight on the issue of abortion (neither parties are pro-choice) rather than reaching a critical mass at the nonpartisan level. The grassroots oppose this bill for the boondoggle to the insurance industry that it is, in place of the health *care* reform that it should have been. Most people wanted a Medicare expansion or a Medicare-type option. Instead, their attention was diverted to a woman’s right to be segregated and have public policy negotiated on her back. Rights that should be a given* are kept in eternal limbo so that the full force of advocacy for or against the meat of a policy gets siphoned off by all the attention paid to the asterisk.

As the denouement of the magnum opus called Health Insurance Reform unfolded, Maxine Waters told Pelosi not to bring Stupak to a floor vote or she’ll bring back the public option. As if using the public option as a bargaining chip to “save” women’s rights, from being used as a bargaining chip in the first place, is some sort of profile in courage?‘Don’t sell out women, or I’ll have to… *gasp* … do something on behalf of the people. Dun, dun, dun!’ Thank goodness that didn’t come to pass. We wouldn’t have wanted Maxine to accidentally get universal healthcare passed or anything, especially since in the end SuperMsFeministObama signed an executive order strengthening the (so-called) status quo that curbs women’s rights anyway. (Meanwhile, Obama has yet to sign an executive order suspending implementation of DADT. Priorities!)

You can wrap a newspaper around that fishy reform and put lipstick on that piggy executive order, but it’s still a K-street bill facilitated by a C-street power play.

Also, as much as I have next to none of the regard left for Pelosi that I had when she became the first female Speaker, and as much as I think she is using her power on behalf of the good ol’ boy network–it was her muscle that actually shepherded the bill through, not Obama’s. All Obama did was make backroom deals with big money interests and make sure that single payer was not anywhere near the table, its advocates ignored as “little people” even when they were in the same room, never to have any fair hearing whatsoever as part of the debate, thus tilting the bargaining equation entirely in the health-industrial complex’s favor. What should have been the compromise position, i.e. the vaguely defined public option, became the ideal (“perfect…enemy of the good”) and was watered down to meaninglessness, then disappeared altogether. Bait and switch.

The result was our generation’s answer to FDR and LBJ: A Raw Deal for a Disenfranchised Society.

(End of Part I of II. To be continued…)

Saturday Morning News and Views

Good Morning, Conflucians!

There is quite a bit of news this morning for a Saturday. The President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, was killed early this morning in a plane crash, along with his wife and other Polish officials.

The president, 60, had been traveling with the Polish delegation to Russia for the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish prisoners of war in the village of Katyn. Some 20,000 Polish officers were executed there during World War II.

The Polish military plane originated in Warsaw, the Polish Defense Ministry said. It was approaching the airport at Smolensk — just a few miles east of Katyn — and probably hit some trees at the end of the runway, Paszkowski said.

The Investigation Committee of the Russian prosecutor’s office said the plane, a Tupolev-154, was trying to land in heavy fog.

Putin to head investigation into Polish president’s death

Russian authorities have already said they suspect pilot error in the crash, near Smolensk, in Western Russia.

There are reports the jet made several attempted landings before the crash.

Also on board were leading members of Poland’s political elite, including the army chief of staff and the governor of the central bank.

This is pretty devastating for Poland. So far, it doesn’t sound like there is anything suspicious about the crash.

A “progressive” organization, Campaign for America’s Future, is trying to fight CNN’s plan to give four hours to Pete Peterson, the guy who wants to eliminate what is left of America’s safety net, especially Social Security. Why is CNN allowing Peterson to attack Social Security without allowing opposing views?

BTW, Peterson seems to have an “in” with Obama, and has been appointed to Obama’s “independent commission” to reduce the deficit (i.e., get rid of the “entitlement programs” that we have all paid into for our entire working lives.) This seems like a good political action item for anyone who has the time. Here is the main page for the Campaign for America’s Future.

I learned something new about retiring Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens. Would you believe Stevens was at the World Series game in 1932 when Babe Ruth “called his shot” and then hit a home run? And he has the framed scorecard to prove it. Stevens is a Cubs fan.

Barely wet behind the ears pundit Ezra Klein thinks Obama should appoint Hillary Clinton to the Supreme Court.

I’ve always been partial to the idea of seeing Hillary Clinton appointed to the Supreme Court. She’s got a law degree, of course. She’s practiced law, practiced politics and practiced statecraft. She’s been present in both the executive and the legislative branch. She’s done an enormous amount of retail politics, which I think is useful. She’s smart and hardworking and has proven herself adaptable to a wide range of institutions. The counterargument I got on Twitter is that she’s controversial, but I’m not sure I really believe that anymore. She’s well-known, and many Republicans in the Senate like her personally.

Hmmm…sounds like she could have been a good President. But Klein and the rest of the gang of barely wet behind the ears prog bloggers decided they wanted a barely wet behind the ears President instead. Why should we listen to their suggestions about the Supreme Court? Here are some suggestions from Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick, two female pundits with much better experience and track records than Klein.

Yesterday, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama had a back and forth in which they ridiculed each other’s experience in nuclear matters. First Palin said:

“It’s kind of like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, ‘Go ahead, punch me in the face and I’m not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me,'”

Then Obama parried with:

“Last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues,”

And here’s Palin’s next volley:

Palin shot back in her comments Friday, mocking the president for “the vast nuclear experience that he acquired as a community organizer.” She said that his alleged experience had not helped him make progress in the issue with Iran and North Korea

Newsweek has a story about the Hutaree militia–the Michigan group that was raided by the FBI and Homeland security recently: Ex-Members of U.S. Military Were Members of Hutaree Militia Extremist Group

The particular concern raised by military members among extremist groups is that former service members, including disgruntled veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, may be helping to train extremists in firearms and military tactics, according to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. In the Hutaree case, the federal indictment charges that, as part of their plans to spark an “uprising” against the U.S. government, group members engaged “in military-style training” that included “firearms and explosives training, weapons proficiency drills, patrolling and reconnaissance exercises, close quarter battle drills” as well as “preparing defensive fighting positions” and “ambush kill zones.”

The discovery makes the Hutaree case the latest example of what watchdog groups say has been evidence of disturbing links between some current and former members of the U.S. military and extremist hate groups. “This is one more indication that [military] training is of interest to these kind of extremist groups,” said Potok.

Isakoff seems to be the designated hitter for the Obama administration in pushing this story about scary militia groups as the new terrorist menace. Frankly, I’m a lot more scared of the government than I am of a few ex-military guys running around in the Michigan woods. But what do I know?

I’ll leave you with a couple of depressing but important pieces on the state of our economy and our nation.


15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America

The article is made up of charts that show that wealth inequality is approached Guilded Age levels.

America: The Grim Truth by Lance Freeman

You have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide margin.

If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.

I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home.

I have lived all around the world, in wealthy countries and poor ones, and there is only one country I would never consider living in again: The United States of America. The mere thought of it fills me with dread.

Read it and weep.

So what are you reading today? Post freely in the comments, and have a great Saturday. We’d better enjoy ourselves while we still can.