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Sunday: “They think we are chumps”

Frank Jones from Bloom County prophesies in 1988.

Frank Jones from Bloom County prophesies in 1988.

Bill Moyers is on my $#@% list for becoming a toe sucking Obamaphile last year but he’s had some good interviews lately.  Last week, he had Glenn Greenwald and Jay Rosen on who shook their fingers at the press for being in the pockets of the bipartisan baddies while not acknowledging their own role in electing Barack Obama.  It’s too soon to say whether they’ve had an epiphany and are just too embarrassed to admit it.  Then, last Friday, Moyers interviewed Simon Johnson of the Peterson Group, the same econ group that employs Japan’s lost decade expert Adam Posen.

Johnson pulled back the curtain on the Obama administration’s economic team.  In short, it it chock full of financial industry insiders.  He also shares a short clip of someone from JP Morgan who is discussing bonuses.  Essentially, they are just going to change the name from “bonuses” to “retention awards”.  See?  Doesn’t that sound better?  Those bankers and brokers are not getting bonuses.  Nooooo.  They are getting awards for staying on.  I mean, it’s obvious.  No one in their right mind would want to work in this poisonous environment so we have to reward these people for sticking it out.

Johnson also critiques Geithner’s baliout plan and specifically his speech.  He praises Geithner for recognizing that the bankers are at fault and should be ashamed of themselves.  But then Geithner delivers the equivalent of a slap on the wrist to the bankers by suggesting (because no one really knows what the plan is yet) that he isn’t going to nationalize the banks.  Nationalizing is such an unAmerican concept that no one wants to utter the word.  We are trapped by our own cultural mythology.  Or are we?  The fact is that nationalizing has the biggest downside to the people most culpable for the demise of the financial industry in the first place – the bankers.  But we can’t do it for fear that we will be commies.  How conveeeeeenient.

So, Geithner’s speech was the equivalent of Bloom County’s Frank Jones catching Oliver Wendell Jones, his genius hacker kid, zeroing out his electrcity bill at the utility company and then “grounding” him by telling him he can’t have any beets for dessert. Johnson suggests that the faux outrage plays well in Peoria but really, a “small evil group to which no one we know belongs”  has its grip firmly on the Obama Administration’s junk.  This oligarchy is going to make sure that nothing bad happens to the bankers, thus all but guaranteeing a Japan style lost decade for the rest of us.  Yes, they think we are chumps.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Greenwald may be a former Obama chump himself, however lukewarm, but he’s right to be alarmed that the left has boxed itself into a corner.  It so bought into the Obamaphenomenon and so disabled its own leverage that it is incapable of exerting any power on Obama now.  It can’t hold Obama’s feet to the fire.

But *we* can.

And we must.  Because Social Security is now starting to get the attention of the “reformers”.  Those same people who had such incredible success with credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations are looking around for another pool of money where they can practice their own version of voodoo with new and groovy “instruments”.  We don’t want that.

If the progressive blogosphere is now sober and alarmed, I have a proposition for it.  Now is the time when we put aside our differences.  We will try to turn the other cheek and put aside the fact that you guys acted like f%^*ing @$$holes towards us for the past year.  If you are fully alarmed and ready to do some real activism, it is time we had some REAL unity and coordinated our messages.  We can offer amnesty, so long as you acknowledge to yourselves that you were mislead about us.  There was a reason why the split was engineered in the party.  It is to keep us from getting enough critical mass to take the oligarchical bastards on.  The way back to power is to first admit that you were had.  You don’t have to do this publicly.  I’m sure you know what barriers to success you have to remove.

It is also time to face up to the fact that Obama is owned by the bankers.  That was the deal he struck with them.  They paid him mucho dinero to have a seat(s) at his cabinet table.  Saving the country and the taxpayers is the right thing to do.  I’ve been picking up on a narrative that says Americans are responsible for what happened by consuming too much and saving too little.  But there are also reports that Americans aren’t spending their way out of the recession like they should.  Let’s admit what this really is.  This is like Jerry Fallwell blaming the sinners of New Orleans for Katrina or like any endtime group blaming the culture for not being pious enough.  If you want rain, you have to not offend the gods.  If you’re facing catastrophe, you must have forgotten your burnt offerings.

I don’t like this narrative.  It’s like blaming the victim and as long as the “victim” feels guilty, he will accept his “punishment” because he will feel like he deserved it.  Oh sure, there are some people out there who spent more than they should have and gambled away their home equity or got over their heads in credit card debt. But there are many, MANY more people who did none of these things.  They contributed to their 401ks diligently and didn’t take on more debt than they should have and they are still going to have to suffer the consequences of the finance industry’s failures.   Wages have been essentially flat since the 70’s when adjusted for inflation even though the American worker has been more productive.  It’s time we started to put the blame where it belongs: on the people who created this system where you now need two jobs to support a family of four.  The bottom has fallen out of the social safety net.  Families are one paycheck away from insolvency through no fault of their own except that they have been snookered into voting for Republicans over and over again for the past 30 years.

So, if you Obots are getting alarmed, fighting this narrative is one of the first places to start.  The American taxpayer should not be forced to sacrifice anymore.  The American taxpayer has to stop being passive about the gods who are punishing them for their imaginary sins.  It is time that we stop paying for the mistakes of others.  If the banking and finance industry is in trouble for taking risks and leveraging themselves beyond all reason, it’s time that they paid for those transgressions and stopped foisting the bill onto the hapless  taxpayer.

Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to empower American taxpayers and inflame them with righteous indignation.  It’s time to tell them they are NOT chumps.  We didn’t all just fall off the turnip truck.  It’s time to help them understand what is happening because knowledge is power.  It’s time to pull back the curtain and point to the real culprits, even if you just helped to get them elected.

Are you with us?