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Michael Hudson: My Take on Obama’s Big Win

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By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College,. His latest book is “The Bubble and Beyond.”

The Democrats could not have won so handily without the Citizens United ruling. That is what enabled the Koch Brothers to spend their billions to support right-wing candidates that barked and growled like sheep dogs to give voters little civilized option but to vote for “the lesser evil.” This will be President Obama’s epitaph for future historians. Orchestrating the election like a World Wrestling Federation melodrama, the Tea Party’s sponsors threw billions of dollars into the campaign to cast the President’s party in the role of “good cop” against stereotyped opponents attacking women’s rights, Hispanics and nearly every other hyphenated-American interest group.

In Connecticut, Senate candidate Linda McMahon spent a reported $97 million (including her earlier ego trip) to make her Democratic challenger look good. It was that way throughout the country. Republicans are pretending to wring their hands at their defeat, leaving the Democrats to beat up their constituency and take the blame four years from now.

Obama’s two presidential victories represent an object lesson about how the 1% managed to avoid rescuing the economy – and especially his own constituency – from today’s rush of wealth to the top. Future political annalists will see this delivery of his voters to his Wall Street campaign contributors control as his historical role. In the face of overwhelming voter opposition to the Bush-Cheney policies, the President has averted popular demands to save the economy from the 1%. Instead of sponsoring the hope and change he promised by confronting Wall Street, the pharmaceutical and health care monopolies, the military-industrial complex and big oil and gas, he has appeased them as if There is No Alternative.

If the Republican accusations are correct in accusing President Obama of steering America along the “European” course, it is not really socialism. It is neoliberal financial austerity, Greek style. His task over the next two months is to avoid using deficit spending to revive the economy.

The neoliberals whom he appointed as a majority on the Simpson-Bowles Commission already have inflated their trial balloon claiming that the government must balance the budget by slashing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not by restoring progressive taxation. My UMKC colleague Bill Black calls this the Great Betrayal. “Only a Democrat can make it politically safe for Republicans who hate the safety net to unravel it” he notes.

Having appointed the Bowles-Simpson commission members who seek to shift the tax burden off business onto consumers, the President will pave the way for Bush-type privatization. In his first debate with Mitt Romney, Mr. Obama assured his audience that they were in agreement on the need to balance the budget (his euphemism for scaling back Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). By christening this “the Great Bargain,” President Obama has refined Orwellian doublethink. It is as if George Orwell went to work on Madison Avenue.

Four years ago the economy stood at a potential turning point in the war of finance against labor and industry, President Obama could have mobilized public support for politicians willing to rescue hopes for prosperity. He could have appointed a Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve chairman who would have used the government’s majority control of Citibank, Bank of America and other “troubled asset” holders to take these into the government sector to provide a public option. He could have written down debts to payable levels at only a fraction of the cost that was spent on rescuing Wall Street. Obama’s political genius was to avoid doing this and nonetheless keep his “street cred” as paladin defending the 99% rather than the 1%.

Having been elected with an enormous voter mandate, Mr. Obama could have reversed the sharp polarization between creditors who were pushing the 99%, industry and real estate, cities and states deeper into financial distress. Instead, his policies have enabled the 1% to monopolize 93% of America’s income gains since the 2008 financial crisis.

At a potential turning point in the direction the American economy was taking, rescue and change were averted. We have seen what will stand as a classic example of cynical Orwellian doublethink. Promising hope and change four years ago, President Obama’s role was to hold back the tide and divert voter pressure for change. He rescued the financial sector and the 1%, and sponsored the Republican privatization of health care instead of the public option, and to take $13 trillion onto the government balance sheet in the form of junk mortgages, largely fraudulent loans held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ($5.2 trillion alone) and other casino capitalist gambles gone bad. Mr. Obama was Wall Street’s white knight.

The trick was to get re-elected as a Democrat rather than as a Republican sponsoring a health care plan crafted by the Koch Brothers’ Cato Institute, and putting Wall Street bank lobbyists in charge of the Treasury and (de)regulatory agencies. As a Blue Dog Democrat, how was President Obama made to look better than the alternative?

The answer is clear by looking at the alternatives being offered. The Republicans have played ball. They call him a socialist – not too far fetched when we look at how Europe’s Socialist, Social Democrat and Labour parties are backing austerity and supporting anti-labor policies, privatization sell-offs and other neo-oligarchic policies. That is what socialism seems to mean these days.

While corporate profits are recovering nicely, most peoples’ savings and the net worth of their homes is down. This is not economically sustainable. Something has to give – and voters are afraid that it will be they their wages and savings. As corporate pensions plans are being cut back or reduced in bankruptcy, their under-funding suggests that debts to retirees will not be honored – only those to Wall Street. Big fish eat little fish, and the 1% are devouring the 99%. Those who describe how this is happening are accused of class war.

It is not the old fashioned class war of industry against employees. It is a war of finance against the entire economy. And as Warren Buffett has noted, the financial class is winning. Instead of breaking up the banks, the five largest “Too Big to Fail” banks have grown even larger. With support from the White House, they used their TARP bailout money to buy smaller banks, turning the financial sector into a vast monopoly that is busy privatizing the election process so as to hold the government hostage.

What is collapsing is the idea of equity and fairness in the economy – and in the politicians that are remaking markets to benefit the 1%. Most voters opposed the bank bailouts of 2008. The Republicans were politically savvy enough not to vote for it, so that they could strike a populist stance. But Mr. Romney has not picked up this line of attack, even though it might have enabled him to defeat a president in whom much of whose constituency has lost confidence.

There is disillusionment and many young people, minorities and the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” have been busy writing op-eds and blogs that this time they were going to “vote with their backsides” – by staying home. And that is pretty much what the election returns showed. Their complaint is that President Obama has broken nearly every campaign promise he made to voters – but not a single promise he made to his big campaign contributors!

That is the essence of being a politician today: to deliver one’s constituency of voters to the campaign contributors. In this respect Barack Obama is America’s version of Tony Blair; or alternatively, Margaret Thatcher and Neville Chamberlain rolled into one. We need a new word to describe this – something more than simply “irony.”

It’s not just Mr. Obama, of course. It’s the Democratic Party leadership. So here’s the litmus test to watch: On what committee and at what rank will the Senate put Elizabeth Warren?

Will she be named head of the Senate Banking Committee? Will she even be on it? Is she an embarrassment to Democratic fund-raisers on Wall Street – or window dressing to help give the impression that the Party really is other than crypto-Republican.

What inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement a year ago was a spontaneous protest against not only President Obama but also the Democratic Party for its lack of real effort to stem the right-wing tide. The Democrats did not rush to the OWS defense, although some operatives tried to jump in front of the parade and steer it into the usual liberal blind alley. (They did not succeed!) Voters have expressed a wish for just the opposite policy than the Democrats’ rightward turn, but the American political system excludes third parties, not being based on proportional representation as in Europe.

“By their fruits ye shall know them.” The Democrats took labor unions, minorities and middle class voters for granted because they had nowhere else to go, thanks to Mitt Romney giving Mr. Obama wide room to move to the right wing of the political spectrum. This is the political wrestling match that is being scripted.

We can see the denouement. As in Britain, unionized public-sector labor is being singled out. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff, showed his colors (and incensed Progressive Democrats) last week by signing a contract with contractor of about 350 airport maintenance workers to cut back their wages by up to $5 an hour (from $15 to $10).

How will the “Not Blue Dog” Democrats respond? Will Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin and Alan Grayson in the Senate and House take on the President in opposing austerity and the appointment of yet more Wall Street lobbyists to his cabinet?

Here’s the dilemma the American president faces: Markets are shrinking, and consumers are having to repay debts they earlier took on during the heady Bubble Economy that crashed in 2008. Paying down these debts leaves less to spend on goods and services. Labor productivity is soaring – but not wages. While the bailout economy’s fruits are going to profits and paid out as interest and dividends, neoliberals are demanding that the retirement age be raised, not lowered, and that work hours be lengthened more, not shortened. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s helicopter only hovers over Wall Street, not the rest of the economy.

The middle class that voted so strongly for Mr. Obama four years ago is being squeezed. To describe their plight, I expect the next four years to see the spread of a fresh vocabulary to describe what is happening: debt deflation and neofeudalism, while the classic terms rentier and oligarchy may become popular once again.

But neither party will use these words. Only a third party can do that. Right now its potential members are called “Independents.” A new title is needed for a new pro-labor, anti-militarist coalition that would restore the spirit of true reform, progressive taxation and the rule of law (that is, throw financial crooks in jail). The problem the economy faces is how to revive wages and consumer demand, and to write down personal debts, not government debt. Mr. Obama has joined with the Republicans in perverting the vocabulary to pretend that government is the problem, not his campaign contributors on Wall Street.

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86 comments

  1. El Guapo

    Someone with an account should post this on dailykos and watch the heads explode. Assuming any of them read it.

    “That is the essence of being a politician today: to deliver one’s constituency of voters to the campaign contributors.”

    Measured by this Obama is one of the greatest politicians ever. By the end of his second term he will be the undisputed number 1. And the bots will cheer him on the whole time.

      1. Duncan

        What a magnificent combination of racism and homophobia! Have you considered getting a job with the Republican Party? They need someone who can craft rhetoric like that.

        1. Rick

          Accusing all criticism of Obama as “racist” and “homophobic” and whatever boilerplate epithets the Obamacrats want to hurl in the direction of critics, isn’t going to change the fact that for most of the 99% their income is down and cost of living up from 2008. Or that the neo-liberal screw is on now that Obama has four years to lay the foundation for a lucrative post-politics career, most likely on the same speech making circuit B. Clinton is on right now.

          Obama was an absolutely terrible candidate with a four year record of betrayal to run on. He couldn’t have faced a more vulgar Patrician candidate in Romney. A vulture capitalist “who likes to fire people” and openly mocks almost half the country as freeloading deadbeats. How could somebody who says things like that in such an abrasive in an economy like this even stand a chance of winning an election in this economy? Simple. He had the gift of Obama’s record over the past four years. Obama polled several million less overall votes this time around in an election with less voter turn out.

          How quickly the Dems forget their electoral humiliation in the Wisconsin recall just several months ago back in June. Put a guy with a middle class background on television like Walker, who plays much better than the Patrician asshole Romney, against a dull neo-liberal Democrat, whatever his name was, and you get a different election result. This tells me that aren’t being determined along the partisan lines the Obamacrats would like think. The minority of voters who are turning elections one way or the other are voting for the candidate they find more likable, since they are almost impossible to differentiate on policy.

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Duncan rough porn in words is Noe’s forte, that’s his *jahb* at NC. (“pour epater les bourgeois” – but he lacks style, he’s just a brute OrgCrime thug.

        3. Elizabeth

          So I guess Obama gets to use blackface to his advantage to mean things he has no intention of standing for, and declare his gay-rights credibility — which incidentally costs him nothing — but nobody gets to call him on it. Heck, that would be racist and homophobic!

          He deserves to, yes, “take it up the ass” just for exploiting that.

  2. Chris Rogers

    Michael Sir,

    Its a new one on me that the Republican’s purposely painted themselves the ‘Lunatic Party’ in an effort to make sure Obama was re-elected to uphold his masters voice on Wall Street and undertake the Great Betrayal.

    However, there’s no smoke without fire, hence, and given what we know about Obama I’m willing to buy into this conspiracy theory hatched by the Koch Brothers.

    The fact remains however that Obama was re-elected by those he will shit upon to further advance the aims, position and authority of the 1% – hence, this exercise in grand delusion surely must be one of his and the ruling elites greatest accomplishments.

    Suffice to say, the Great Betrayal is underway, so I hope it really hurts all those that voted Democrats this time around in order that they may finally break the shackles that tie them to a party/political economy that diametrically is opposed to their own interests.

    1. Anonymous

      If you think about it, Dr. Hudson’s point makes perfect sense. And it’s a practice that corporate boards have employed since they granted themselves eternal life (i.e,, abandoned their limited state charters). That is, vet all the candidates before their names appear on the ballot. That way, no matter who wins they are already in your pocket.

      In the case of the two major parties, the barriers to entry are so steep that only candidates that fully represent the 1% make it into the news and onto the ballot.

      But just as in a corporation or the former Soviet Union, ratification by the electorate has symbolic importance, giving the veneer of legitimacy. In the US, it’s our job as citizens to ratify the kleptocracy by voting for it.

      So the political parties do what they have to do to get us out to the polls.

      Whether it is called a “spectacle,” “the narcissism of small differences,” or my favourite, “choiceless choice,” the purpose is to manipulate the electorate, not to represent it.

      The outcome is a foregone conclusion.

      1. Noe G

        Ask yourselves – where did Obama come from?

        Who was this guy? My instincts tell me he was groomed for this betrayal.

        He mastered the rhetoric. He was everything White America wanted black men to be. Father and husband to a new age Norman Rockwell family. Great role model.

        I said from before the last election – he would win in a landslide — “because he makes Wisconsin housewives feel good about how far we’ve come”.

        That was the strategy. I fell for it. We all bought the package.

        I swore I would NEVER EVER forgive Obama or his handlers for the betrayal of a lifetime. Had I been cognisant of previous betrayals of this size – I might have been prepared for the swindle of my political life.

        But this boomer was busy with business and travel – always with only one eye on politics. I was a Perot voter 3 times. the last was for Buchanan – although he’s past his use date.

        So I won’t be participating anymore. I’m not even sure Gary Johnson wasn’t a ploy. Now that I see who was running his campaign… I think I was duped again. I almost went to the polls!!

    2. michael hudson

      I didn’t say they did it on PURPOSE. it wsa the EFFECT of selfish, greedy donors having a contemptuous view of the world (and of voters), pushing so far to the right as to self-destruct the Republicans.
      No doubt they’re clueless as to their effects. But if the piss in the pool, what do they expect the other swimmers to do?
      No conspiracy here. Just humorous ineffectiveness.

      1. Aquifer

        “Only a third party can do that. Right now its potential members are called “Independents.” A new title is needed for a new pro-labor, anti-militarist coalition that would restore the spirit of true reform, progressive taxation and the rule of law (that is, throw financial crooks in jail).”

        Mr. Hudson – i admire you enormously, but IME, it is truly unfortunate that you didn’t express this opinion considerably more forcefully BEFORE the election, as there is at least one 3rd party (Greens) who carried that banner who could certainly have used your endorsement …

        1. athena1

          I sort of agree, but wouldn’t have wanted to see Mr Hudson become a target of Daily Kos. Dem party leadership is aaallll about ruthlessly discrediting people too far to the left of the agenda.

          1. Aquifer

            Are you serious? That a person should not endorse a candidate that actually supports and essentially proposes one’s policy Rx of fear of what Daily Kos might say?

            Good grief! And i thought it was TPTB that “ran the show” – is DK considered one of them?

            Please, give me a break -

        2. LifelongLib

          FWIW, I voted Green for president here in Hawaii, but the Libertarians got more votes than the Green Party did — 3838 (0.9%) to 3181 (0.7%).

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            The fix was in: Gary Johnson was the “Alternative” spoiler, because, like the man said: “TINA.”

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        It’s very hard to believe that there wasn’t awareness/collusion on the part of the corporate elite that the only way to successfully allow Obama to complete his agenda was to do exactly what you suggest; engineer a good cop bad cop scenario. Also, as utterly simplistic and theatrical as that effort has been, it was probably the only strategy that would have worked and it has worked beautifully. It is absolutely amazing how thoroughly even the intelligentsia have been sold on the lesser of evil idea no matter what depths of constitutional and social depravity the “lessor” sunk to.

        Finally, the consistency and effort with which the media has sold this meme should make anyone doubly suspicious that it results simply from the mechanics of human nature as depicted in Greek tragedy.

        Dumb luck greased by stupidity and greed is implausible, way too much of a stretch. The 1% are not stupid and far too risk averse to let an election of such importance to them to hinge on the wheel of fortune.

          1. juliania

            Likewise. We have seen it since 2000, and maybe the Clinton first race was the last actual sparring match, though I have my doubts about that one as well. Certainly by his second go he was in the club.

            Since then they’ve taken it in turns, so we’ll probably see (if we are still around to see anything) a doddering Democrat in 2016, maybe Reid or Biden, vs some charismatic new face from the Republican side (or old face, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is, do you dance with them that brung you, and do you dance WELL so we can finagle a second term for cost effectiveness?)

            Meanwhile, the fine tuning, oh, the fine tuning…maybe you’re resting, but those think tanks are not. It’s hard work to be the makers of a president.

          2. Glenn Condell

            ‘We have seen it since 2000, and maybe the Clinton first race was the last actual sparring match, though I have my doubts about that one as well.’

            Me too. Look at what he did for Wall St, he ‘foamed the runway’ for the inflation of the greatest bubble (ie wealgh transfer) in history. Probably not an accident. He may not have been fully cognisant of the import of what he was being crafted into doing but Rubin Greenspan and Summers were.

            ‘Certainly by his second go he was in the club’

            And now his daughter is part of the hedge fund community. They are embedded in the 1% for services rendered. The best way to cross that threshold, if not by ripping people off, is to provide political cover for said ripping off.

            ‘Since then they’ve taken it in turns, so we’ll probably see (if we are still around to see anything) a doddering Democrat in 2016, maybe Reid or Biden, vs some charismatic new face from the Republican side (or old face, it really doesn’t matter.’

            A woman (Hillary probably), a Latino, a Latina, then what.. a disabled person? There is only so much ‘feel good about ourselves’ distraction left.

    3. sleepy

      I don’t think there is any grand conspiracy at least in a conscious, overt sense.

      My take is that the dems have gone so far rightward, that the repubs had no choice but to go even further.

      Since there is basic bipartisan agreement on the rule of finance over the economy, this left the goppers with only the ability to move rightward on social issues to maintain their brand.

      If the grand bargain and austerity materialize, I fully expect the repubs to blame the dems for any messing around with social security or medicare, even though they will be fully complicit as well.

      Could it be that the repubs will run to the left of the dems on the safety net in 2014? Perhaps so.

  3. psychohistorian

    I don’t resonate with the revive consumer demand sentiment at the end of the posting but the rest seems a clear description of the sales job we just witnessed.

    Obama has come out today saying that taxes should be raised on the rich but he didn’t say that the safety net must not be touched. My reading of that is that we will get a tax increase on the rich (one which their accountants will overcome) and in exchange the safety net will take a hit.

    The ongoing selling of plutocracy, 1, 2, 3.

    The ship is not even beginning to stop, turn or even notice the attack on American Empire or the global inherited rich who steer her.

    I think we now have to wait for the Cosmos to end this spate of human hubris and maybe not too long at that.

    1. TK21

      Obama’s own plan is $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 of tax increases, so it’s not like he wants a balance. Obviously the end result will be even worse, if the past is any indication.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Obama NEVER has needed to “negotiate” the Bush Tax Cuts. The very passage and signing of the Bush Tax Cuts Bill and LAW hinged upon a SINE QUA NON: the definitive EXPIRATION of the Bush Tax Cuts on a DATE CERTAIN, which date was written into the Law. ALL Obama had to do was to LET the Bush Tax Cuts EXPIRE on that date certain, in December 2010, the date BY LAW on which the Bush Tax Cuts were compelled to EXPIRE if NOTHING were done.

      Obama in 2010 could have let the Bush Tax Cuts EXPIRE BY LAW, as was required by the very Law which allowed the Bush Tax Cuts to pass initially:
      ——————–
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_tax_cuts
      //The BUSH TAX CUTS HAD SUNSET PROVISIONS THAT MADE THEM EXPIRE AT THE END OF 2010, since otherwise they would fall under the Byrd Rule. Whether to renew the lowered rates, and how, became the subject of extended political debate, which was resolved during the presidency of Barack Obama by a two-year extension that was part of a larger tax and economic package, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.//
      ———————–
      Thus, we see that Obama’s GREAT BETRAYAL of We the People began EARLY in his first term. He did not allow the Bush Tax Cuts to expire; he engaged in common cause with Republicans, and began the MASQUERADE of his “Democratic” Administration by his Unitary Executive “Government” of/by/for Crony Extraction Capitalists. He began CronyDoubleSpeak at once, as his SHAM “negotiation” with Republicans over the Bush Tax Cuts and their “potential expiration” commenced. This was the linch pin of his GREAT BETRAYAL: Part I.

      The Voice of the People NOW must be as ONE: Obama must LET the Bush Tax Cuts EXPIRE, as they were required to do originally. From this point of strength, THEN he can negotiate for real on behalf of We the People. This must be our adamant COMMAND to President Barack Hussein Obama, NOW.

      If WE the People cannot achieve this ONE GOAL now, what good are we ever?

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Dream on. The *Road to Bangladesh* can end at the “nasty, brutish and short” Dead End and continue there for centuries, or until the Earth is spent.

  4. EmilianoZ

    It’s an old hunting technique. One hunter is the “beater” (rabatteur in French). His role is to scare the game towards the other hunter.

  5. steve from virginia

    Sorry, I don’t buy any of it.

    The reason the economies of the entire world are unraveling is because petroleum costs have increased from $12/barrel crude to $110/barrel in less than 15 years … most of the increase has taken place within the last 10. The jumping fuel costs are forced by diminished supply- plus increases in credit: the credit expands exponentially and has likewise become unaffordable.

    The entire world economy orbits around everyone constantly driving cars everywhere … and buying all things necessary for cars, the factories that make the cars, what makes them run, what allows the West to steal what makes the cars run, what runs all the other machines … and finance that lends for it all.

    Burning up the fuel does not pay for the fuel … driving a car does not pay for the car: the industrial world is supported by debts only, it is self-evident that industrialization cannot pay for itself on any level.

    If it could it would have already!

    But, it can’t. For industrialization to pay its own way would require it to violate the 2d Law of thermodynamics. You can disagree and call me stupid or crazy but you are arguing against entropy and fundamental physics. Sorry, you lose!

    The tycoons are pillaging what they can while they can, they have no interest in reviving the economy because the economy is deader than a doorknob. The economy has exhausted the fuel supply it can afford.

    Austerity isn’t an option, it’s the future … we adjust or we die. It’s that simple.

    1. athena1

      I agree with Michael, but I’m amused by the idea that Vermin Supreme’s Pony Based Economy might not be so crazy after all.

    2. diptherio

      “…would require it to violate the 2d Law of thermodynamics. You can disagree and call me stupid or crazy but you are arguing against entropy and fundamental physics. Sorry, you lose!”

      On a side note: Ever since astronomers discovered that our universe is expanding at an increasing rate, the 2nd Law has had to undergo some rethinking. Apparently, energy is constantly being injected into the cosmos (or something), just like the Fed is constantly injecting money into banks’ reserve accounts. Food for thought: Just ’cause we’ve been calling something a “Law” for a few hundred years, don’t necessarily make it so.

      1. Aquifer

        To play devil’s advocate (my favorite role, or roll, whatever), I think Steve has a point in terms of pointing out that our whole economy has been built on a cheap fuel that is not only no longer cheap, but is actually running out – The “fossil” in fossil fuel is a clue …

        Whether we can “keep” our economy, quite apart from “weather” we should really want to, is, perhaps, open for debate …

        1. athena1

          Yeah, I’ve wondered about that, too. I’m not a fan of nuclear power, but we might not have a choice soon.

          1. Stan Musical

            yes athena1, yes regress to that nightmare technology and risk further poisoning our planet for thousands of years so that we can continue wasting most of that energy.

            Here’s a radical idea, again:

            A 21st century ccc to rebuild our infrastructure to increase efficiency and use green technologies where ever possible (the fielding of these techonologies will accelerate their development/improvement). 20-30% gains means no need for nukes.

          2. LifelongLib

            Random thoughts:

            1) I don’t want to live on a farm;

            2) I like having hot showers, toilet paper, books, a computer, a telescope;

            3) I’ve seen information that energy use per person is actually lower in Manhattan than it is in rural areas, because it takes less to heat/cool high rise apartments than the equivalent space in single-family homes, many people don’t have cars, etc. The future may be more city-like (small private spaces, large public ones) than the everybody-on-farms scenario that’s usually pushed.

          3. athena1

            I’m all for a green New Deal, but I’m skeptical that we’re going to have the technology in time.

        2. Antifa

          Petroleum and coal, from an ecological viewpoint, are the 2nd and 3rd most expensive fuels available on this planet. Not cheap. (The most expensive is conventional nuclear).

          Long term, the cheapest fuels are the endless and virtually free ones — solar, wind, tidal, geothermal. Look back at our species from 200 years ahead. Look back at how we managed to stop heating our atmosphere, how we built thousands of factories whose sole purpose was to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (getting us back to the levels Ben Franklin and any of his French mistresses enjoyed while on a walk in the French countryside in 1782).

          Using this long term “save our planet” thinking, not next-fiscal-quarter thinking, it’s clear that fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine are the stupidest !&$#@^$! ideas ever thought up by an infernal mind.

          And when de Debil comes to take the Koch brothers away he’ll tell ‘em so:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TcO6C0DAlE

          1. Aquifer

            You are, of course, right about that – when all the externalities are internalized – they are the most expensive – i should have said artificially “cheap” ….

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        d, they’ve adopted this view of “infinite expansion” to support their embrace of “infinite inflation” as the core of Growth Economics. The .01%DNA wealth “keeps up” or exceeds the “infinite inflation” cost/price of commodities, so that the .01% never lose. Nevertheless, it is a fact that our star/the *Sun* will explode into a Nova and collapse into a black hole, and that Earth’s resources are finite.

        Isn’t it because they know the latter, that they are “fighting over the silver” on the Titanic as they keep inflating their .01%ProsperityBubble? Cocaine for the Winners, Heroin for the Losers.

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      steve, the fuel needed for cars is NOTHING compared to fuel used by War Machines, and War is the Profit Center Par Excellence for “Private Equity” and the rest of the .01% “NOBILITY and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History” (1992).

  6. Beleck

    yes, it’s a shame to see Obama play the Manchurian Candidate role of doing what the Republicans can’t do: kill Medicare and Social Security. just lift the cap on payroll deduction for Social Security. Fix Medicare with Single Payer. Socialism is never for the poor, only the Rich.
    I never thought of the idea of having the extreme Republicans scare the “middle” moderates into the arms of the Dems. A great deflection and it worked. just like repeating the lies of Pete Petersen and the Grand Bargain/Catfood Commission will succeed. just the tactics have to adapt to the changing dynamics.

    thing is Austerity will never work as we see in Greece. going down the Rabbit hole only makes things worse, spiralling down into netherlands undreamt of. like compound interest, compounding our pain.

    to see giving money to the poor and middle class who could spend it and reignite growth is just not a viable prospect. when the object is to have the money go upwards toward the ruling Vampire Squid Elites. the poor and middle class would get the economy going, not sure for how long, but it is obvious the only thing job creators do is put whatever profts or incentives into tax havens and barely pay any taxes as it is. 10 plus years of Bush’s tax cuts prove that.

    Obama will screw us, again. lies by evil are still evil, lesser or greater, still evil. that’s what’s been so sad. to see the Whites here in America so obsessed by the color of Obama’s skin and not his actions. When Walker pulled his punches in Wisconsin, not a word/thing was heard from Obama. not a word when Occupy Wall St flared up around the country. XL pipeline protesters get busted and not a word from Obama.

    Money Money Money. taking money from working Americans by the 1% to “re-invest” in tax havens around the world. most Major Corporations either got tax refunds or paid little or no taxes. See Mitt Rmoney’s tax returns? Corporation are people? People pay taxes, Corporations don’t.

    and yet all i hear is how Obama is helping the Left/Democrats destroy America. the left isn’t getting any help from Obama. the left is doing what it does without any help from Obama. both sides against the middle.

    Warren Buffet was right. his cohorts won. and we see window dressing, both sides fighting each other while the MONEY goes out of our pockets into the Wall St. Banks/Corporations. Greece is just a foretaste of what awaits America.

    of course, here it wil be seen as Left vs. Right. the Elites have done a wonderful job, got to give credit where credit is due.

    1. Aquifer

      Your mention of the color of O’s skin riggered a flash back – in ’08 when folks were claiming that O was the culmination of MLK’s hope for the country, i said i didn’t think so – MLK wanted a man to be judged by his character, not the color of his skin and it was because i took that charge seriously that i was opposing Obama ….

  7. G3

    Prof. Vijay Prasad says we have 2 parties – near right and far right. I think we have a reactionary and an ultra-reactionary party.

    Via http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/003525.html :
    1. There would still be a Soviet Union if they’d been smart enough to have two communist parties that agreed about everything except abortion.
    2. Democrats : Republicans :: Getting stabbed : Getting shot. Why aren’t you enthusiastic about getting stabbed? WOULD YOU RATHER GET SHOT?
    3. The Republican vision is that 20 white male billionaires will own everything and rule the world with an iron whip. The Democratic vision is completely different, in that not all the billionaires will be white men.

  8. Max424

    Grayson is back! I didn’t know that. Shows you how close I’ve been following the action.

    Ok. Let’s do the math. We got one in the House, and…what, one in the Senate? Is Elizabeth Warren a liberal?

    Not by any definition I can think of. In the old days, she would’ve been center, center-left, aligned with liberals on some things, but DEFINITELY not on others. Not a true liberal, in other words.

    So, one liberal vs 534 non-liberal (giggle!) Senate-club millionaires and congressional critter/drifters.

    The President has, by my –always error on the side of caution!– calculations, 3 times more power than the combined houses. Round off and give him a value of 1,500. The Military Industrial Complex is at least twice as powerful as the President (value, 3,000).

    The Corpos (Big Agro, Big Pharma, Burger King, Big Coal & Oil, etc) are twice as powerful as the MIC (value, 6,000), and Big Finance, the Big Daddy of Them All, bitch slaps EVERYBODY around (especially the little elected people), so we have to give Big F a value of at least 12,000.

    Let’s add er up, shall we! 12 plus 6 is 18, plus 3 is 21, plus 15 hundred is 22 five, plus 500 or so bought jackasses, gives us 23,000, give or take not very much.

    That’s it. Grayson vs 23,000. Even the most suicidal of the Spartans would’ve shed their armor and run screaming for Laconia facing such nakedly harrowing odds.

    And those unfortunately are, my fellow blogmates, the odds against any possible substantive change –for the better– coming our way, 23,000 to 1 (allowing less than zero percent for Nate Silver polling errors).

    Note: There is an obvious, reverse type converse-corollary staring back at us, if we choose to look it in the eye. That’s right. The odds that things are going to get much worse (or much, much worse), is 23,000 to 1 … in favor.

    1. Stan Musical

      NIce post! That’s about as good a way as any of summarizing the situation.

      It is Finance against the rest of us, and the political class against us citizens. We need to stop thinking of them as representing us, and start thinking of how we can defeat them–legally and ethically of course.

      It’s time for peaceable demonstrations–the key is persevering (or preserving if you’re George Bush).

      Money rules, and we still have enough of it in our pockets to have a better say than one vote every 2-6 years. Stop buying sh!t you don’t need, food that’s processed and full of GMOs and not obviously not healthy.

      This kind of self-imposed “austerity” v.a.v the things we don’t need would be one step in taking power away from the plutocracy:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyOghZum-Io

      We watch on average what, 3-4 hours of TV a day! Kill your TV if you haven’t already. Use some of that time to actually interact with other human beings (something else TPTB don’t like), improve yourself–read a book!–and the rest doing something, anything to undermine these traitorous, inhuman greedy freaks.

      We have much more power than we realize.

      1. juliania

        Indeed we do, and it’s not, no way, nuclear power!

        What part of ongoing Fukushima horrors do we not get?

          1. Antifa

            One reactor? Japan built 54 of ‘em.

            Right on the Ring of Fire. More earthquakes than anywhere else on the planet, every year, without fail.

            Say, what language has a word for Stupid times 54?

            Can it be expressed mathematically?

            Or is that word just ‘infinity.’

  9. Migeru

    “Will Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin and Alan Grayson in the Senate and House take on the President in opposing austerity…?”

    Who knows… According to Wikipedia “Grayson twice joined Republicans to oppose the raising of the federal debt limit. He said, ‘We need to live within our means. We need to eliminate wasteful spending. If we did those two simple things, we would not need to raise the debt limit.’”

    Austerity is intuitively popular, unfortunately. Postkeynesian monetary flow thinking is counteintuitive.

    1. athena1

      This. I’m a Stoller fan but not so much a Grayson fan. He needs to go Sanders on the Democratic Party, I think. The neoliberals are running the show with the Dem leadership. I’m not sure this can be fixed.

  10. JTFaraday

    “We can see the denouement. As in Britain, unionized public-sector labor is being singled out. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff, showed his colors (and incensed Progressive Democrats) last week by signing a contract with contractor of about 350 airport maintenance workers to cut back their wages by up to $5 an hour (from $15 to $10).”

    Only three more bucks to go and Rahm’s standards will be as low as Marshall Auerbach’s, (et al).

  11. JTFaraday

    “That is the essence of being a politician today: to deliver one’s constituency of voters to the campaign contributors. In this respect Barack Obama is America’s version of Tony Blair; or alternatively, Margaret Thatcher and Neville Chamberlain rolled into one. We need a new word to describe this – something more than simply “irony.””

    Demagogue?

    “A demagogue (/ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/) or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, prejudices, and ignorance of the poorer and less-educated classes in order to gain power. Demagogues usually oppose deliberation and advocate immediate, violent action to address a national crisis; they accuse moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness.

    Demagogues have appeared in democracies since ancient Athens. They exploit a fundamental weakness in democracy: because ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demagogue

  12. JTFaraday

    “While the bailout economy’s fruits are going to profits and paid out as interest and dividends, neoliberals are demanding that the retirement age be raised, not lowered, and that work hours be lengthened more, not shortened.”

    Well, but we don’t want the Republicans to think they’re lazy, do we?

  13. Brindle

    MH, from a few months ago:

    —”The neoliberal challenge


    The term “neoliberalism” misrepresents and even inverts the classical liberal idea of free markets. It is a weaponization of economic theory, kidnapping the original liberal ethic that sought to defend against special privilege and unearned income.

    To classical economists, a free market meant one free of unearned income, defined as land rent, natural resource rent, monopoly rent and rent-extracting privilege. But to neoliberals a free market is one free from taxes or regulation of such rentier income, and indeed gives it tax favoritism over wages and profits.

    Neoliberalism and neo-conservatism are complementary doctrines of power and autocracy combined with deregulation and dismantling of democratic law. The aim is to replace government power as used to protect the people with an oligarchic power to oppress the people.”—

    http://michael-hudson.com/2012/07/the-weaponization-of-economic-theory/

  14. dbak

    I use to think that paranoia was an exclusive trait of extreme rightwing republicans but it seems to be spreading rapidly to the commentators of this site. Is possible that the administration might actually have some good intentions? To asume that everything they propose has evil aims is just a little bit too much. In the real world progress never moves in a straight line, it always goes by fits and starts. The reality is the republicans still control part of the congress so the president cannot just do anything he wants. Indeed the constitution was set up to prevent him from acting like a king. it is ridiculous to think that he is really a stealth republican. The financial elite put their money on Rommey. It would better serve their interests if he was president. So all you clever people who think you have it all figured out lets just wait and see what happens. You might be right but neither you and I can know for sure.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      There is far too much evidence of Obama’s intentions to make any sort of argument that this post and/or these comments are in any way a result of “paranoia”. After the last four years, your argument can only be viewed as stunningly clueless or that you have a vested interest in such a brazen argument.

      Indeed the constitution was set up to prevent him [Obama] from acting like a king.

      Are you kidding? Are you seriously unaware that Obama has taken upon himself the authority to assassinate citizens with virtually no judicial review? Have you ever looked at the Constitution? The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: [N]or shall any person . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . .[4]
      Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: [N]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . .https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_Process_Clause

      Have you been on a bender or something while Obama stood aside as untold thousands of families were thrown out of their homes due to illegal foreclosures? Are you even vaguely aware of the Simpson-Bowles commission and who appointed those ass wipes of the 1%, (a clue, the name is spelt, O-B-A-M-A). It was and is simply common knowledge that both Bowles and Simpson are known opponents of the safety net, utterly contemptuous of it. It’s also perfectly clear that no one pointed a gun at Obama’s head to appoint just these two to head up such a commission.

      Go peddle it somewhere else.

    2. Aquifer

      Shucks, who said he was a “stealth” Rep – he’s the real thing. I used to say Clinton was the “best” Rep Pres we had had, but that “award” now goes to O, IME …

  15. Brooklin Bridge

    I wouldn’t look to Grayson, Sanders, Warren, or the few others who got the liberal bit parts this time around. What did any of them do last time? The most I can remember was an empty speech in 2010 (full of passion) by Sanders in front of a lone camera man, for 9 hours, facing a chamber of empty seats (not shown by the camera) on a Friday afternoon when all others had gone home for the weekend before coming back to vote to extend the tax cuts for the rich. The press called it a “filibuster”, but it was far more like an elaborate sell out since it had no effect whatsoever or Sanders would never have made it. On Monday, as Sanders and everyone well knew beforehand, and utterly, utterly oblivious of Sander’s speech, everyone filed into place and voted to continue the tax breaks for the rich just as they had promised their party leaders and lobbyists, and just as they will this time for fake taxes on the owners and real serious gouges taken out of our senior citizens as well as those who will have to shoulder the devastation left by the Grand Betrayal and care of them.

  16. Noe G

    “Only a Democrat can make it politically safe for Republicans who hate the safety net to unravel it”

    There is the nugget.

    And only a Democrat could take the Peace Prize and then initiate a ‘surge’ in an unpopular war.

    Just as Reagan presided over huge deficits and amnesty for the 12 million in seed corn for our cultural demise.

    Obama will play peacemaker now… the left will get shafted. the Right will pay a bit more – until the loopholes that have been negotiated kick in.

    Obama works for Wall St, multi national corporations, and the banksters. The Black face is the lubricant for the millions who will take it up the ass.

  17. Kevin Egan

    Wouldn’t “quisling” be pretty close to the word Dr. Hudson is looking for?

    Or “petain”, but that one seems not to have entered the language for some reason, at least in English.

    1. JTFaraday

      “The term was coined by the British newspaper The Times in an editorial published on 19 April 1940, entitled “Quislings everywhere” after the Norwegian Vidkun Quisling, who assisted Nazi Germany as it conquered his own country so that he could rule the collaborationist Norwegian government himself. The Daily Mail picked up the term four days later, and the BBC then brought it into common use internationally.

      The Times’ editorial asserted: “To writers, the word Quisling is a gift from the gods. If they had been ordered to invent a new word for traitor… they could hardly have hit upon a more brilliant combination of letters. Aurally it contrives to suggest something at once slippery and tortuous.”"

      I too like this word, “quisling,” but I’m not sure what the mechanism of “betrayal” is there, whereas the classical political term “demagoguery” captures the notion that the population itself becomes a primary means of its own betrayal/ destruction.

      That’s what we have here.

  18. gillyrosh

    “Only a Democrat can make it politically safe for Republicans who hate the safety net to unravel it”

    Oh, indeed! INDEED! Bill Clinton pioneered this, no?

    1. rob

      bill clinton didn’t pioneer anything..
      deregulation started under carter, for reagan to run down the field with…
      and it certainly didn’t start there either…..as far as I know, there has always been “compatability” in leaders… otherwise the powers that always be…. wouldn’t let them finish.

      1. Stan Musical

        Exactly. dbak makes a similar point and he gets jumped on.

        It ain’t so black and white folks, excuse the pun.

        Yes, Obama’s no progressive, and he lied his way into the WH. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t faced an absolutely recalcitrant Congress. Like Clinton I think O values power over principle so he realized play along or be a loser.

        As for NDAA and drone assassinations, probably a similar mix. dbak assumes the Pres is powerless, Brooklin Bridge assumes he’s all-mighty.

        This is the legacy of decades of political discourse being reduced to 1s and 0s, yeses and nos, black and white. Reality’s messy folks!

        An Aussie friend of mine once put it in that inimitable Aussie way: “I reckon the first thing that happens with a new Prez is the CIA lead him into a screening room and say ‘now here’s a camera angle on Kennedy’s assassination for your eyes only.’” I myself reckon there’s at least a grain of truth to that.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          As for NDAA and drone assassinations, probably a similar mix. dbak assumes the Pres is powerless, Brooklin Bridge assumes he’s all-mighty.</em

          Wrong! DBac never addressed the issue at all, and how could he?. Rather, he said the commentators of this site were as paranoid as Republicans (that’s right, go try reading it again) and I explained why that is an absurd position based on the facts. Moreover, I did NOT say Obama was all-mighty, I said Obama has single-handedly, with no provocation from Republicans, given himself king like authority in that his claim to be able to assassinate American citizens with no judicial review has not been seen since before the Magna Carta. It is a power only Kings, despots, and murderous dictators have claimed up until now. It is not what I think, nor what you think that matters. It is simply historical fact. That Obama has claimed this power has come straight out of his own mouth in major speeches as well as from Eric Holder.

          Good luck with imagining that Obama is doing this like some sort of zombie puppet of the living dead.

  19. Brooklin Bridge

    As I figured, Obama is using his slight edge in the popular vote as a club to claim an overwhelming mandate for the Fiscal Cliff, meaning for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/obama-fiscal-cliff-speech_n_2102168.html in exchange for nebulous tax increases on the rich (probably to be diminished until they are simply tax loopholes closed for 24 hours or so or until congress forgets about them; which ever comes first.

    This is one of the direct results of voting for the lessor of two evils (perceived lessor of evils in my opinion). By voting for Obama as responsible adults, code for intellectually vacuous and frightened voters, Vichy inclined Democrats and count-your-fingers-challenged independents have indeed made the cat-food betrayal, the Grand Bargain Betrayal if you will, far more likely and far easier for Obama to pull over people’s eyes than it would have been for Romney who would have met a veritable wall of opposition from the Senate.

    Obama is really going to pull this off. It’s absolutely amazing how much the MSM is pumping this bilge. HuffPo, for instance, is barely mentioning any alternative point of view and that digital rag is the closest thing to an ever-so-slightly-left-leaning mainstream propaganda outlet.

  20. lucky 8

    Our civic duty is to help ensure that Obama’s rule ends like Bush’s did, in disgrace and universal revulsion. He welcomes your hatred. That’s his job. Obama is a disposable snotrag for the oligarchs. Thought sure he would be all used up and squishy with mucus and phlegm, after four years of appalling perfidy, but they’re not ready to discard him. He continues to poison the Gulf coast states, animals and humans alike. We’ll be feeding eyeless shrimp to eyeless babies very soon. If you’re unlucky enough to live near shale he’s poisoning your groundwater. Not only does he acquiesce in torture, he tortures victims of his own: Bradley Manning, Gulet Mohamed, and women dissenters, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/05/david-graeber-new-police-strategy-in-new-york-sexual-assault-against-peaceful-protestors.html . Any competent international jurist could convict Obama of crimes against humanity for his policy of summary execution. Obama’s domestic policy is like a cruel in-joke: Who do they pick to preside over pervasive malversation of third-world scope, with elite asset-stripping and looting of all the means of life? They get a multicultural figurehead and turn him into a cartoon Kenyan kleptocrat, Mister Daniel Toroitich arap Moi goes to Washington. Perfect to make all the goobers go apeshit and fight with the Democrats’ dupes.

  21. Kim Kaufman

    My understanding is that the Kochs gave Mitt $100m to choose Ryan although Mitt wanted Chris Christie. I think Rove was too busy making ineffective national ads buys and making $$ for himself on that hustle (instead of cheaper more targeted ads in swing states) and no ground game. I suspect Rove knew he had loser candidates (he did try to get Akin to quit after his rape issue) but figured at least he’d get richer by the end of it. There were no A players from the R party. A couple of years ago I heard or read the bankers chose Obama to be the Happy Dem Face to cheerfully lead this country into the Third World. He’s the Great President Ever. I voted for Jill Stein. Kind of shocking she couldn’t even get 5% in order to qualify the Greens for $$ for next election — and Libertarians got more than Greens anyway — both under 1% I think.

  22. Ruben

    Hudson’s argument is ludicrous.

    Fact is, Obama’s re-election was a certain prediction. Had Wall Street and other big donors just read the science of US presidential election prediction, they could have saved hundreds of millions in wasted propaganda.

    See :
    http://www.gazette.net/article/20121005/OPINION/710059740/1014/allan-j-lichtman-final-prediction-the-keys-to-white-house&template=gazette

    Quote from the article: “The Keys model gives specificity to the idea that it is governance, not campaigning, that counts in these elections. It tracks the big picture of how well the party holding the White House has governed the country and does not shift with events of the campaign.”

    The certain prediction was probably lingering in Obama’s mind when he performed so poorly in the first debate. Why bother?

  23. tdraicer

    I agree with Mr. Hudson on the results of how things played out, but disagree that it was a well-planned conspiracy.

    The 1% aren’t really all that bright.

    Though their progressive opponents have been particularly dim.

  24. Eric

    Great Post!! Obama is proving that it took Nixon to go to China. I do take issue with one point though.

    “A new title is needed for a new pro-labor, anti-militarist coalition that would restore the spirit of true reform, progressive taxation and the rule of law (that is, throw financial crooks in jail).”

    You can not stop there. You really have to differentiate between the crony capitialism we have now and lay out a blue print for restoration of a better functioning capitialist system.

  25. Kevin B

    It’s funny how people place the burden of every expectation at Obama’s feet. Well, again people must be reminded that the President is not a King, the united states is not ruled by a monarchy. He cannot bark out commands and expect people to follow them without question. That’s not how our government works.

  26. bill wesley

    What the heck…leave it to a Missourian to speak the absolute truth, what a shock to see this admist the ocean of confusion that some count for “insight”. He is exactly correct in every way. Its as if the higher ups in the Republican party were workingh with the 1% to make the Democrats look good because the 1% moves toward power more effectivly pretending to conceed it, a “good cop” approuch if you will

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