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Obama and Boehner’s Grand Bargain: Gullible Democrats are Falling for the Ol’ “Good Cop, Bad Cop” Routine

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By Michael Hoexter, a policy analyst and marketing consultant on green issues, climate change, clean and renewable energy, and energy efficiency. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives.

Generally political analyses of the last four years suffer from two main faults:  they either describe an almost undifferentiated environment of complete political corruption or they pinpoint a single main source of our political downfall and attribute most “evil” to that source.  Both of these approaches can at times illuminate but ultimately they leave activists and citizens with prescriptions for a campaign of either unimaginative partisanship or ultimately exhausting efforts to joust at every powerful actor and institution on the political scene.  In other words, we are often left with either on the one hand “they’re all evil” and on the other “evil emanates mostly from this person/institution/party”.

We can probably agree that a completely polarized view of the world sometimes washes out critical details of that world.  It is very difficult to come up with examples of people or institutions that could be viewed as “purely evil” or “all good”.  Alternatively if we view the entire political world as the equivalent of a sewer, we are tempted to turn our backs on it and not do anything.

What is happening now in American politics surrounding the political theater called “the fiscal cliff”, must be understood with the utmost clarity because, in part, the organizers of what James K. Galbraith aptly calls a “scam” are counting on confusion and rash action to complete their scheme.  If we can understand what is going on with greater clarity, we may be able to highlight to more people the import of the events occurring and hopefully short-circuit the efforts of politicians to damage the social safety net and the economy more generally.

The Good Cop, Bad Cop Routine

One of the interrogation techniques developed by captors to extract information from their captives is famously called “the good cop, bad cop” routine (humorously acted out here with some modifications).  In this routine, one of the interrogators befriends the captive, while another interrogator makes threats or, what under most legal frameworks or codes of conduct is illegal or immoral, actually does harm to the captive.  The captive, who will tend to regress to a more child-like frame of mind in captivity, is more likely to eventually trust the “good cop” and the “good cop” will exploit this trust to try to extract the information needed from the captive, appearing to be more caring and friendly than the raging “bad cop”.  In crude psychological terms, the “good cop” acts the stereotypical maternal role, shielding the captive-child from the harsh punishment of an enraged father figure.  If applied in a setting where no one is physically held captive, the same routine can be deployed to extract concessions or compliance from others by the mix of the use of threats and blandishments, “sticks and carrots”.

The “good cop, bad cop” routine draws from such universal themes and impulses that the people involved do not necessarily have to explicitly plan out and discuss the scenario prior to implementing it.  Intuitive judgments and communication with each other, via what’s called “projective identification”, can allot various roles to the people within the “good cop, bad cop” team as well as communicate implicitly with the target/captive to act a certain way, against his or her interest.  Experience and practice can reinforce and “refine” the routine between acquaintances and co-workers.

The metaphor of a captive is unfortunately all too apt when considering the current US electorate in relationship to the Democratic and Republican Parties in the area of social spending and relationship to Wall Street.  As an example, neither major political party represents many Americans’ very positive attitudes about universal social welfare provisions like Social Security and Medicare.  Both Republicans and Democrats accuse each other of damaging these well-loved programs yet at the same time do not offer a consistent and principled defense of social welfare provisions and their continued funding into the future.  Both parties have shown themselves unable or unwilling to act independently of the will of Wall Street and bank lobbyists, with the possible exception of individual figures like Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren.  The same level of collusion can be found in relationship to the politics surrounding reinforcing our already massive national security and surveillance state.

Obama as “Good Cop”

The ascension of Obama to the Presidency, in particular “hems in” the electorate and closes the loop of elite Washington’s hostility to social programs, with the leaderships of both parties in an unacknowledged agreement that these programs should be downsized.   Obama has for a long time signaled that “entitlement reform” is on his agenda, an attitude that endeared him to the donor class in 2008 and onward.  Obama is able to treat economic progressives and a progressive agenda with contempt if he so chooses because, in the American political and media landscape, the deck is stacked against insurgent and left populist political forces.  The cultural semiotics that people associate with him (his African heritage and relatively exotic cultural background) has distracted progressives from the right-wing trends in his economic and political philosophy.  Many progressives continue to treat him as an ally and a friend despite copious evidence that in most crucial situations where he had a choice, Obama chose a non-progressive alternative.

Because the Republican Party is now such an extreme and often dysfunctional political grouping, Obama has with relative ease presented himself as the “good guy” in contrast to a series of grotesque Republican spokespeople and candidates.  In the contest to win the leftward side of the political spectrum over to his side, he has not had to present many substantive policy proposals that commit him or the Democrats to an economically progressive or populist agenda.  Obama has rarely had to pretend that he is a progressive during his Presidency because he has had willing support from almost every major political actor or pundit from the political center to the moderate left.

Obama’s Courtship of the Right

Despite the grotesqueness of many of his nominal political opponents, Obama has had an embarrassingly worshipful attitude towards the Republicans and the Right.  Rather than attempt to fight for principled progressive or “liberal” causes, Obama has seemed to gaze longingly at political actors and ideas that are substantially to the Right of the concerns of his base.  For instance, rather than take advantage of the financial crisis of 2008 to push through needed reforms of the financial system, Obama has continued to prop up that system, almost to the surprise of the outgoing Bush Administration players.  In other ways, Obama has continued George W. Bush’s campaign of reinforcing the military and quasi-military powers of the US government versus the rights of both non-Americans and increasingly Americans themselves.

Perhaps believing too much that he needs to turn the other cheek and appear to be “above politics”, Obama was relatively flat-flooted in his reponses to the misguided and slanderous Tea Party attacks on him and his health care reform.  The design of health care reform was in some way designed to a be a “love letter” to the moderate Republican right, with its individual mandates and the massive subsidy that it represented to the bloated US healthcare industry, very much like Bush’s Medicare Part D.

Some black commentators in the pro-Obama camp treated Obama’s passivity in the face of right-wing attack as a necessary preservative mechanism for Obama to avoid appearing like an “angry black man”, which would doom his re-election chances.  Obama’s lack of an affirmative defense of his own policies and himself had as most notable victims, the large Democratic majorities in the House and Senate with which he was elected in 2008.  Obama didn’t seem to stand for much in terms of an overarching vision and the Democratic Party didn’t either, so the impassioned Tea Party Republicans cleaned up in House races in 2010.  Additionally on the state level, Republicans won in many state legislatures, increasing the grip of the right-wing foundation-funded ALEC legislative initiatives.

Executing the Obama ‘Grand Plan’

Apparently, given recent events and Obama’s continued fetish of the Grand Bargain, a more plausible theory about Obama’s conduct in office and in politics more generally can now be discerned, though this was predicted by Adolph Reed prior to Obama’s 2008 election.  This exposition of a “Grand Plan” will also not be any news to the many critics of Obama from the progressive left who have emerged over the past four years, as they have seen his responses to a variety of crises as well as his tendency to side almost always with the corporate establishment and moneyed interests and against ordinary people.

Obama apparently believes in continuing the neoliberal agenda started by Ronald Reagan, carried on by the Bushes and Bill Clinton, which means a reduction of the social spending of government and a weakening overall of the role of government in the economy.  Instead of government, Obama is continuing the push towards installing corporations as the delivery mechanisms for primary services, including in the areas of healthcare and education.  Simultaneously he believes in strengthening the war-fighting and surveillance abilities of the US government but in a way that is less ideologically-driven than his predecessor, George W. Bush.   Obama can in no way be mistaken for someone who supports or upholds the idea that government can and should directly provide some basic services to the people, which has been a guiding principle for Democratic politics since the Great Depression.

Obama has a fundamental, primary alliance with the “Third Way” wing of the Democratic party which in policy terms has been occupying the political space left by “moderate, Wall Street Republicans” who were kicked out of the Republican Party over the past two decades.  Obama has a fatal attraction to the balanced-budget mantra of Pete Peterson and the deficit hawks and Obama seems uninterested in offering a meaningful alternative to their demands for a government that is hamstrung by meaningless budget rules borrowed from business accounting.  The institution of balanced budget and public debt reduction programs as the fiscal policy of the United States federal government via social program cuts ultimately serves the expansion of Wall Street financial interests into the provision of pensions and insurance for the elderly.

The Obama “Grand Plan” then is to maintain divided government to achieve something like the Grand Bargain, where both parties seemingly unite around an agenda of weakening the social welfare state, and moderately raising taxes on the wealthy.  Obama’s belief in raising taxes on the wealthy is the sole “fig leaf” that keeps him and others from recognizing how far to the political Right the rest of his agenda is.  Some Republicans are now realizing what a good deal it is for them to dump Grover Norquist’s pledge and hop onto Pete Peterson’s balanced budgets mantra:  they get only moderate rises in taxes while social spending is cut differentially (3 or 4 to 1).

The Search for a Bad Cop

If we accept that he is holding to a (perverse) Grand Plan, Obama need to rely on something like “the good cop, bad cop” routine rather than lead a progressive or Democratic majority government for a number of reasons.  Obama’s political appeal is in part because he can veil his Grand Plan behind the projections of progressivity which gullible liberal Democrats cast onto him.  The Grand Plan is not difficult to discern for those who note the decisions Obama has made when “unforced” but it must be interlarded with the appearance of “coolness” and friendliness that his supporters love.  Coolness to them means at least a moderate endorsement of some of the social agenda that is considered “liberal” in the US, though standards for Obama are set extremely low by worshipful Democrats.

Obama’s quest for bipartisanship has been in part the quest for a “bad cop” who would push his agenda in a manner so that his “good cop” image could remain relatively unsullied in the view of the public and perhaps even to himself.  It is likely that Obama thinks of himself as essentially a pragmatist without political allegiance to a fundamental ideology or vision, a man who simply moves society and its constellation of social forces along as they seem to tend rather than push them according to commitments to abstract principles that would bend the trajectory of society.  However to be this pragmatist and also a political leader, he has the need to be perceived by others as representing “larger than self” ideals, even though he himself may not share those ideals.

The Republicans, now led by Boehner, have been fairly consistent in playing the “bad cop” role, as least as regards the Democratic base. They carry with them so many signifiers of “political enemy” to liberals that they can be easily blamed for whatever is considered objectionable.  We still have left of center bloggers who are attributing to Republicans all of the animus against social programs, thereby exonerating Obama of any of this desire.  Howard Dean’s Democracy for America just sent me a fundraising email in which he attributes the interest in cutting Medicare to Republicans, which is misleading and naïve to say the least.  The current media landscape on the supposed political left in the US results from a triumph of misdirection by Obama and his handlers.  He is experiencing very little pressure at this late date from progressives, in a situation where he has a number of “outs” out of the fiscal “cliff” he has gotten himself into but instead pursues his quixotic “Grand Bargain”.

Another function of Republicans as “bad cop”, is that Obama needs a foil against which to agitate for what ultimately is a relatively lightweight concession of higher taxes on the rich that, in our economy overreliant on high-end good sales, could in isolation do economic harm.  The “good cop, bad cop” routine provides the appearance of conflict and displaces political conflict away from where the conflict of interests really are, between the Washington and Wall Street establishments and the American people and businesses tied to the real economy.  In economic terms, the discussion is at a complete remove from what Modern Money school economists and consistent Keynesians are pointing out: that both cutting spending and raising taxes drains demand from the already-weak economy, slowing it and pushing it back into recession.

Prescription:  Independent Social Movements

Now that the prospect of a President Romney is securely behind us, the Democratic base needs to re-think who are their real allies in Washington and in particular call Obama to task for calling for austerity.  The idealization of Obama should be dismantled and a real assessment of his policies and political tendencies needs to occur.  This will no doubt be a painful process as Obama, as the first black President of the US, is a cherished figure, a talisman of racial wrongs partially righted.  He is also relative to many politicians a relatively “cool” seeming guy, which unfortunately has blinded his base to his actual policy agenda.  However Obama is just the tip of the iceberg: the political infrastructure of the Democratic Party and its relationship to groups like Third Way, needs to be exposed and subjected to sustained scrutiny from the outside of the Party.

Roosevelt Democrats or their modern equivalent are now not well represented in the Party at a time when policies inspired by Roosevelt would have been almost exactly what was called for by the circumstances.  A sustained commitment to building a well-functioning mixed economy cannot occur within the confines of the current Democratic Party.  Every effort to turn to this task will quickly be absorbed into an attempt to elect one or the other Democratic figure who promises reform but comes up short, or simply turns their back on the legacy of Roosevelt and the base of the Party.

Independent social movements should emerge that take as their goal policy goals issues like expanding Medicare, reinforcing Social Security, and pressuring the entire government, Democrats and Republicans, to deal with climate change (the latter movement is already in motion).  If people prefer a programmatic rather than issue-based vision, I would suggest a movement to restore and enhance our already mixed economy with a focus on the main challenges of our day, many of which are bound up with the huge climate and energy challenge looming ever larger.

 

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85 comments

  1. Gerard Pierce

    Even the Good Cop,Worse Cop routine is a shuck. There is a pretense going on that a Grand Debate/Grand Negotiation is occuring..

    There is no debate. The intention is to cram down our throats a set of “solutions” that are already predetermined.

    The only reason for the Kabuki is that cramming it down our throats is considered unrefined – or as the Russians would call it: niculturni. (How’s that for cross-culture metaphor-mangling?)

    I think it’s important to not merely oppose the fake policies, but to let our “leadership” know that we understand the exact nature of the con game they are playing – and to let them know that the con game is just as unacceptable as their policies.

      1. Gerard Pierce

        Excellent! I had heard the word Nomenklatura without ever knowing what it meant. I was also aware that something like that was going on in the appointment of the same Bozos to positions of authority in our government.

        Kind of explains why the party in charge changes but the same tired policies linger on.

        1. Cugel

          It’s easy to believe this “Kabuki Theater” mantra, but it’s not entirely correct. Both sides DO want “shared sacrifice” but Democrats are uniquely vulnerable to backlash from the base for betraying their principals.

          That is exactly why Obama is so eager to rush this “Grand Bargain” through in the lame duck session.

          Because if this stalemate gets into January, Democrats are going to have a more difficult time justifying their move to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid and other social spending cuts.

          With the Bush tax cuts off the table, the pressure will be on Republicans. They can always try and shut down the government, but that will only make them even more unpopular and is unsustainable in the long-term.

          Obama is trying to save them from themselves. But, their own angry base is not about to cooperate.

          We forget that if Republicans fail to “hold the line on taxes” then in the future they can’t take a “principled stance” against any and all tax increases. And then we will start down the road to sensible taxation of the rich.

          We can’t have that!

    1. Aquifer

      Ok, and what, precisely, will you do when they don’t listen, as they haven’t been for the last, oh, 20+ years or so …

    2. Lady Liberty

      The real joke is that without closing the loopholes like the one the bailed out warren buffoon or gates uses raising taxes won’t affect the top 1%

      Obama On Tax Cuts: President Rejects Republican Plan To Close Loopholes

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/obama-tax-cuts_n_2131256.html

      John Boehner: Raise Taxes on the Rich

      “Now there are ways to limit deductions, close loopholes and have the same people pay more of their money to the federal government without raising tax rates, which we believe will harm our economy,” said Boehner.

      “Listen, our members believe strongly that raising tax rates will hurt the economy,” said Boehner. “Closing loopholes, especially on those who are wealthy, is a better way to raise this revenue than raising rates, because raising rates will hurt the very people that we’re expecting to help create jobs in our country.”

      http://cnsnews.com/news/article/john-boehner-raise-taxes-rich

      How Buffett Saves Billions On His Tax Return

      snip

      Buffett told Rose his 2010 adjusted gross income was $62 million. He implied that most income came from long-term capital gains and qualifying dividends currently taxed up to 15%. Only a small portion of his gross income – a few million dollars for Buffett – is ordinary income, like wages and interest income, taxed at higher ordinary income tax rates currently up to 35%.

      Buffett’s 30% charity tax deduction offsets his entire ordinary income, and next it offsets his lower long-term capital gains income. Hence, he pays approximately 15% long term capital gains tax rates only, and – as he likes to say – it’s a lower tax rate than others in his office pay.

      Without that charitable tax deduction of appreciated shares wiping out his ordinary income, Buffett would pay the same tax rate as others on his wages and other ordinary income too. In that case, long-term capital gains preferential rates would only be the icing on the cake and not the whole cake

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2011/08/17/how-buffett-saves-billions-on-his-tax-return/

      Warren Buffet is a punk

      Meanwhile, Buffett has given each of his kids a charitable foundation with billions each to manage. If a foundation has $3bb in it, then something like $90mm can go to salaries.

      http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/12/warren-buffett-is-a-punk/

      Tax Payers With Income of Only $30,000 Face Annual Tax Hikes of $1,500

      http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2012/12/tax-payers-with-income-of-only-30000.html

      Middle Class–Not the Rich or the Poor–Pay Majority of Federal Taxes, Says CBO Data

      http://cnsnews.com/node/68094

      Buffett’s Betrayal (Buffett firms got $95 billion of bailout cash)

      http://blogs.reuters.com/rolfe-winkler/2009/08/04/buffetts-betrayal/

      Implementing Warren Buffett’s Gift

      The foundation must continue to satisfy the legal requirements qualifying Warren’s gift as charitable, exempt from gift or other taxes.

      http://www.gatesfoundation.org/about/Pages/implementing-warren-buffetts-gift.aspx

    3. jrs

      Perhaps only radical movements can make them listen, seems so if you go back to the last time they listened …

  2. Norman

    So we are at the crossroads, but what are the choices? Turn left, turn right, stay the course, forge a new direction! Well, from one who is already eating cat food, with I might add, not too many years left on this earth, some of those choices appear to be: “taking a long walk off a short pier, bending over, oh hell, it’s just too damn depressing to think about it.” I’m sure some bright bulb out there will come up with something, they always do. I just hope that “white knight” comes out of the closet and takes charge before it’s too late. I know, hopey & changey. Light up another, for it may be your last.

    1. issacread

      I read recently somewhere on the web that life expectancy in the US has declined by 7 years. If that’s true it has to have substantial economic consequences. I also gathered somewhere back there that the ACA realigns Medicare funds in the direction of Medicaid,and more recently that though illegal immigrants will not be required to pay for insurance they will still have access to healthcare(?)whereas Americans at similar income levels will have to buy the insurance and then be reimbursed to get similar access. Meanwhile such families are having 4+ children which will soon catapault US pop. to the 1/2 billion exponential rocket stage which was critical for India back when. Furthermore these families are being pressed by a new wave of immigrants willing to work for even less. Clearly boomers who never made it from hippie to yuppie are not cool. I once thought the word hippie was pure wonderbread. I felt sorry for the media pundits that used it cause they were so clearly clueless. Now I think I was. Oh, and guess what. Giants really did walk the earth. The skeletons are in the basement.

      1. liberal

        I read recently somewhere on the web that life expectancy in the US has declined by 7 years.

        I call BS on that one. IIRC life expectancy in Russia declined quite a bit, but they’ve undergone a complete catastrophe compared to what we’ve been going through.

    2. Christina Marlowe

      Yes, Norman. I’ll just quote Woody Allen here:

      “We stand today at a crossroads: One path leads to despair and utter
      hopelessness. The other leads to total extinction. Let us hope we have the
      wisdom to make the right choice.”

    3. YouDon'tSay?

      Maybe something along the lines of The Long Walk perhaps? With today’s video technology it would be a sure fire ratings winner, not to mention population reducer. And as the full effects of peak oil take effect, the cars go away, the freeways free up, and the population takes to its feet and becomes fit again; I could easily imagine this first as a huge boon to local government economies, and eventually as a huge professional spectator sport. Hey, broken limbs and concussions are fine for mere pikers, but who doesn’t love a bit of spattered grey matter and skull casing for that extra bit of emotional impact?

  3. Mayme

    Capital never gives labor anything. Labor has to fight to the death to get what they need. It never changes.

    1. Lambert Strether

      We’re trying, for sure, and we might even success if the local oligarchy doens’t succeed in poisoning our water and wrecking our land with pipelines, landfills for out of state trash, and the East West Highway.

      1. Aquifer

        OK, Lambert, time to run for office – everybody should take a good crack at it – that is the only way to stop it ….

    2. Neil Korsik

      If you are using anything but barter and precious metals you are the problem, even in Maine.

      Fiat = fraud — 100% fraud.

  4. JTFaraday

    “A sustained commitment to building a well-functioning mixed economy cannot occur within the confines of the current Democratic Party.”

    Astonishing. And not only the D-Party– I don’t see the prospect for this anywhere on the horizon whatsoever.

    But, the Adolph Reed link above is a great little read: http://www.progressive.org/mag_reed0508

    1. Aquifer

      Yeah, he was for Hillary and sure McCain would win ….

      But he was correct about Obama ….

      Takes me back to those halcyon days in ’08 – asking people to actually take MLK at his word in wanting folks to be judged on the content of their character …

      Wonder who he actually voted for …

  5. mitch

    I really enjoyed this article.

    Unfourtunatly when you read the “liberal” blogs, and interact with suppossed progressive commentors and you bring these things up, if you are not banned your comment is burried as fast as those lemmings can click hide.

  6. Middle Seaman

    Obama right wing leanings were no surprise in 2008. In addition, and not mentioned in the post, Obama is good only at campaigning nothing else. The GOP will win every negotiation with Obama.

    The US doesn’t have a real left. (There are individuals but not a movement.) The pretend left is a copy of the Tea Party. The left is, mainly, a hate machine. They hate the GOP, they hate Bill Clinton, they hate Hillary, they hate Israel, they (actually) hate the uneducated, they hate blue color workers, etc. Labor unions are a mystery for the pretend left. Do you expect them to help the non-rich? You must be kidding.

    James Galbraith sophisticated progressive views are shared by few. The pretend left doesn’t even understand it. The world of a 21st century welfare state has almost no support outside academics and labor unions.

  7. Malmo

    The left began it’s visible death march in 1980 (more precicely in the early 50′s if viewed from a high powered microscope). Bill Clinton and his technocratic band of thieves nailed the coffin shut. Obama would not have been elected if he was a man of the left. In Fact he’d have likely lost every state. Hell, he’s to the right of Nelson Rockefeller for goodness sakes, and for good electoral reasons to boot. Reagan’s and conservatisims ascendance was 25 years in the making. The left might fare better going forward given the converging catastrophes confronting us, but I wouldn’t discount the rise of a fascist nutjob instead.

  8. jsmith

    “Independent social movements should emerge that take as their goal policy goals issues like expanding Medicare, reinforcing Social Security, and pressuring the entire government, Democrats and Republicans, to deal with climate change (the latter movement is already in motion).”

    Very subtle indeed.

    So, basically Hoexter lays out that we need new thought in the political sphere and independent movements that “restore and enhance our already mixed economy” but then states that we should channel said energies and movements into expanding Medicare and strengthening SS.

    Um, here’s an idea.

    How about we start a movement that calls for the wholesale stripping away of ALL assets from the corporate sector, a movement that doesn’t meekly call – pwetty pwease – for our betters to not touch our social safety net but one that seeks to destroy the foundations of our fascist superstructure and reformulate our society so that the government – gasp – is beholden to its people?

    Why should we hamstring ourselves before we even begin to formulate these movements by only focusing on specific policies?

    Hasn’t the last century of dealing with these fascists taught us ANYTHING about how to negotiate with them?

    These people understand nothing but power and the only power the common people have is their numbers.

    That’s it, brother.

    And only when all of those people can unite behind an understandable philosophy will their weapon of numbers be effective.

    I’ve often advocated using Marxist thought as this unifying force as I believe that 1) it will save the people the time/effort of having to formulate an entirely new philosophy and 2) it it easy to understand and has a proven track-record of being able to be spread among the common people.

    I know many here disagree but if we can all agree that there is really no more time to waste, then I don’t see a viable alternative surfacing within a reasonable time frame.

    Marx is already there waiting for dissemination among the masses.

    Let’s use him.

    Additionally, we also know – through the conspicuous non-discussion of anything Marx in the MSM – that the elite are scared of Marx.

    They’re not stupid – except when they are – and they knew that for their whole negative freedom/neoliberal horsesh!t parade to have been successfully implemented – which it has – no discussion of viable alternatives could be allowed.

    Hmmm, was Joseph McCarthy really a paranoid loon or was he performing a needed service for the elite?

    Makes one think.

    If you’d like to see how effective this campaign against Marxism is, simply sidle on over to Z***hedge where sometimes intelligent economic commentary is drowned out by calls by posters et al screaming “Marxism!” “Socialism!” at the top of their capital letters when describing our current fascist system.

    Amazing.

    To conclude, no more half-measure philosophies or movements, Mr. Hoexter.

    The time has come to for people to start advocating for the dissolution of the whole shebang and if/when our betters finally decide to deal with us – civilly before it gets out of control – then we the people will be in a much position to have our demands met as we won’t be falling victim to this kabuki government horsesh!t non-sense any longer.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Yea, jsmith, for bold and passionate eloquence! Yes indeed, “by your leave” just won’t cut it with the killers and thieves in Wall Street and Washington. It is high time to confront the hysterically-blind commie phobia head on, especially as the Shock Doctrine is imposed by Obama and his collaborators.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      From this month’s Socialist Magazine, ‘MONTHLY REVIEW’:

      “In the future we are likely to look back at the decades that were wasted as capitalism with its accumulation dynamic and its heavy reliance on fossil fuels blocked all serious attempts to deal with the overall environmental problem, and suppressed or systematically filtered out the warnings of science. A case in point is the early warning of the late Barry Commoner, one of the most important environmental scientists and activists of the twentieth century. More than four and a half decades ago, in his Science and Survival (1966), Commoner wrote:

      A report by the President’s Science Advisory Committee finds that extra heat due to fuel-dependent carbon dioxide accumulated in the air by the year 2000 might be sufficient [over time] to melt the Antarctic ice cap…. This would result in catastrophe for much of the world’s inhabited land and many of its major cities…. And suppose that, as it may, the accumulation of carbon dioxide begins to threaten the entire globe with catastrophic floods. Control of this danger would require the modification, throughout the world, of domestic furnaces and industrial combustion plants…. Combustion-driven power plants could perhaps be replaced with nuclear ones, but this would pose the problem of safely disposing of massive amounts of radioactive wastes and create the hazard of reactor accidents near centers of population. Solar power, and other techniques for the production of electrical power which do not require either combustion or nuclear reactors, may be the best solution. But here too massive technological changes will be needed in all industrial nations (11, 125–26).”

      http://monthlyreview.org/2012/12/01/mr-064-07-2012-11

      Intellectuals have been cut out of the networks of power ever since Oppenheimer tried to take a rightful seat at the table of decision making. And the timid response of persons not ready to die in political struggle without ever seeing much for their principled stand or efforts lacking the daring and boldness exhibited in their intellect. Being smart is not enough. Being emotionally tough to last a lifetime with nearly no measurable improvement for all of the time spent by yourself and others is a minimum requirement. Middle seaman indicates this and your calls for injecting New Left intellectual analysis, which owes much but certainly not everything to the writings of Marx, will save a lot of time in fruitless parsing and denouncing.

      While the overall analysis of good cop/bad cop, GCBC, is well founded, it calls for a more substantive theoretical basis for validity. Here is one:

      Abstract:

      “The garrison state is a “developmental construct” about the future course of world-politics, whose function is to stimulate the individual specialist to clarify for himself his expectations about the future as a guide to the timing of scientific work. The trend of the time is away from the dominance of the specialist on bargaining, who is the businessman, and toward the supremacy of the specialist on violence, the soldier. Methods: It is probable that the ruling elite of the garrison state will acquire most of the skills that we have come to accept as part of modern civilian management. Particularly prominent will be skill in the manipulation of symbols in the interest of morale and public relations. Unemployment will be “psychologically” abolished. Internal violence will be directed principally against unskilled manual workers and counterelite elements who have come under suspicion. Incomes will be somewhat equalized in the interest of maintaining morale under modern conditions of socialized danger. The practice will be to recruit the elite according to ability (in periods of crisis); authority will be dictatorial, governmentalized, centralized, integrated.”

      http://users.polisci.wisc.edu/kmayer/904/Lasswell%20-%20the%20Garrison%20State.pdf

      Essentially, Obama has had to master the PR techniques, the use of symbols to communicate to a mass society via modern electronic media. It may take a village, but we are not village sized anymore. And the prevailing neo-liberal direction of America and the globalized world has a bare outline in the Washington Consensus.

      Origin and 10 policies of economic development and governance replacing the previous welfare state policies.

      http://www.iie.com/publications/papers/williamson0904-2.pdf

      “The third interpretation of the term “Washington Consensus” uses it as a synonym
      for neoliberalism or market fundamentalism. This I regard as a thoroughly objectionable
      perversion of the original meaning. Whatever else the term “Washington Consensus”
      may mean, it should surely refer to a set of policies that command or commanded a
      consensus in some significant part of Washington, either the US government or the IFIs
      or both, or perhaps both plus some other group. Even in the early years of the Reagan
      administration, or during Bush 43, it would be difficult to contend that any of the
      distinctively neoliberal policies, such as supply-side economics, monetarism, or minimal
      government, commanded much of a consensus, certainly not in the IFIs. And it would be
      preposterous to associate any of those policies with the Clinton administration. Yet most
      of the political diatribes against the Washington Consensus have been directed against
      this third concept, with those using the term this way apparently unconcerned with the
      need to establish that there actually was a consensus in favor of the policies they love to
      hate.5″

      So, GCBC Kubuki sellout, as described on Sunday talk shows as: It took a conservative republican to take us to China and recognize them and not Taiwan in Nixon and it will take a liberal Black democrat to take on entitlements and reform SS, Medicare and Medicaid in Obama. Is that what is going on? Well when Obama says things that seem to support the New Deal and Great Society legislation, he is called a bald face liar.

      And when he has dinner with George Will and is quoted by some news writer as saying he will get to entitlement reforms, aka dissolve Social Security and turn over Medicare to Humana, that is the gospel truth. I have a hard time believing that schmoozing with conservative writers is where Obama bears his true soul to the world to then be quoted and offer this as proof positive that he shares in the duty to destroy social security. He was not elected to lead a socialist revolution, but rather, preserve the mortally wounded capitalist system as best as possible. And this system does not seem to able to function without a minimum level of government funded and government run programs collectively, the safety net, civil rights protections and the New Deal/Great Society policies toward the middle class with some bones thrown to the poor.

      The political fault lines between the republicans and democrats are not capitalism vs socialism. They are both parties of private enterprise, capitalism and private property protected by the police power of the state. The democrats and other liberals of the bygone era also include the necessary safety net and appeal to people needed for their consent to be viewed as legitimate authority. The republicans are in full attack against each and every source of political opposition from the smashed ACORN community groups to environmentalism, civil rights, voters rights, women’s reproductive rights, workers rights etc etc. concentrating political power co-extensive with wealth.

      While incremental changes of the democrats do not constitute a new social order or a turn away from capitalism, they do materially benefit the majority of people by allowing us to have more bearable lives than what is now rolling down main street in republican controlled state capitals. From immigration police state laws to union destruction and voter suppression wiping out millions of votes in state after state, there is a compelling need for some major regulation to contain the social disruption and political unrest that will only intensify with right wing political oppression. Europe and the Arab world are NOT simply isolated cases of foreign policy failure of the US Government but real problems for each of those countries, independent to a larger extent of anything we can influence.

      Lasswell came up with a simple enough to understand definition of power: Who gets what, when and how. The ability to execute policy in the face of organized opposition is political power. We have almost none. To get anything close to what we want out the political system, we have to pressure the people who can get it done for us. Until more and more people in are that position to get things done, we will have to rely on pressuring as much as we can from the existing power holders. It is to that extent that anyone in elected office gets my attention. Unless of course, I can get theirs by alternative organized means.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          No, aquifer, I am beyond good and evil. But good to see you wallow. Let me know when you find the magic pixie dust that goes poof, all better.

          1. Aquifer

            Beyond good and evil – heavy duty! So now you are adding a God complex?

            But you are right, however you wish to interpret that, there is no “good” in your position …

        2. Brooklin Bridge

          No Aquifer is right. Your shtick is lessor evilism wrapped up in lots of words. You are ignoring 1) that the Democrats would have zero chance of peddling what amounts to a far right agenda (even Tricky Dick would shudder) unless the Republicans had people like you terrified and 2) As a result of that, you are completely ignoring the Rubicon lines the Democrats have already crossed with regards to spying, to evicting the powerless from their homes, to torturing, to killing innocents outside of any war zone, to assaults on woman’s rights and to full frontal assults on the social safety net. At what point would you cry foul? When they start selling human skin lamp shades to tourists in front of the White House? Obama is killing innocent people with no judicial review and yet you don’t peep. You call that incremental? That’s a constitutional disaster! Had Bush done the same thing, you’d be howling at the top of your lungs.

  9. Eureka Springs

    I knew all these late-comers would pop up in the blogos at this point in the grand betrayal, when in fact it’s far too late. That said, I suppose there is a need for articles like this for those who have had their head in sand for years now.

    The system is completely broken.

    At this late juncture we need very simple repeated points which jar the simplest minds and move the overton window a great deal.

    Call the cliff the lie that it is. Call the suggestions such as raising eligibility age theft.

    I suggest something along these two positive/solution lines in re betrayal:

    Lower medicare eligibility to day of birth.
    Lower SS eligibility to 60 with a living or better stipend.

    Other than that..

    Pen a new Constitution in prep for an article v convention. Just the discussion would be helpful on so many levels.

    Pen a very left equivalent of a contract with/for America.

    Conduct general strikes.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “Fiscal grift.”

      * * *

      The 12-word platform:

      1. Medicare for All
      2. End the Wars*
      3. Tax the Rich**
      4. A Jobs Guarantee***

      There’s your left-wing Contract with America. [Added some notes]

      * * *

      NOTE * All wars, including the drug wars, with positive knock-on effects on mass incarceration and militarizing the police…

      NOTE ** Yes, I know that taxes do not fund spending, but it’s good to tax the rich (a) to avoid an aristocracy of inherited wealth and (b) to prevent them from buying up the government with their loose cash.

      NOTE *** For those “willing to work.”

      1. jonboinAR

        Don’t forget:
        5) Shorter work week. (I’d be willing to forgo having the SS qualifiing age lowered to 60 for that one. It’s time that the worker bees drew a benefit from the productivity increase of the past 30-40 years.)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Shorter work week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays off.

          Work on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

          People are free to practice their religions but on their personal time off, not to be subsidized, or at least renedered out of consideration, by the state.

      2. Paul p

        5. Shut down the oil, coal, and gas industries, now (there is no time horizon for stopping climate change. Now or suffer).
        6. National funded pension system to supplement Social
        Security

      3. LucyLulu

        2. End the fiscally unsustainable wars.

        We need to drive home the contradiction inherent in thinking about SS in terms of “sustainability” (though funded until 2033, even by standard money theories), while never considering sustainability of other programs……yet the cost of the foreign wars, war on terror, and drugs wars exceeds the total of income taxes collected.

          1. DANNYBOY

            Lambert,

            Please provide a plan of action for the people currently running these wars. I am concerned that without proper redirection, that they could become a menace to me. Just want to know that you’ve got this covered.

    2. Aquifer

      Ya, know ES, I think I have just about decided to cut to the chase – i won’t pay any attention, or give much credence, to anybody who writes stuff like this who voted for O in the last election = I will cut some slack to the younger generation (<30) who haven't been around long enough to see the pattern and/or get beyond single issues to see a bigger picture …

      Methinks that if they have voted for this dude twice – their credibility on a whole lot of things is deservedly shot and they need to subject themselves to some serious re-education before they expect to be taken seriously …

        1. Aquifer

          I don’t think of it so much as generational analysis, per se, but just about a lack of experience – they haven’t been around long enough to have seen and heard enough, or to develop a sense of a “big picture” – though there are exceptions, at both ends ..

          1. Ms G

            I often wonder how much better prepared (cognitively) the Young and Clueless would have been [or would be] if they’d spent — say — 50 hours less per week for the past X years with their heads stuck in Apple products and social networking sites and instead spent a few hours a week learning a few things about stuff like history (even just the past 50 years!!).

  10. b.

    “It is likely that Obama thinks of himself as essentially a pragmatist without political allegiance to a fundamental ideology or vision, a man who simply moves society and its constellation of social forces along as they seem to tend rather than push them according to commitments to abstract principles that would bend the trajectory of society.”

    That is not worthy of mention, let alone discussion. The fact is that Obama and his various bipartisan enablers are *radicals*, attempting to change society against the preferences of most of the voters, and against the “trends”. It is of no import to me whether a narcissist-in-chief is calling on “Vorsehung” to explain away his ridiculously strenuous attempt to, indeed, “bend the trjaectory” into a crooked path of eviscerating the rule of law, the constitution, the institutions and the consensus of a soon-to-be-former open society. Just by including this, uncommented, you are contributing to the various pieces of bullshit juggled by the media – Incompetence Dodge, Make Him Do It, Just Following The Trends, Pragmatist, Realist. This is unadulterated, pure, 100-proof BS, and should be treated as such, or ignored.

    Obama is a radical, by inclination, predisposition, choice – of objectives, not methods. He might be hedging on owning up to his ambition, but his vanity, ego, and fixation on a “Grand Stamp” imprinted on our faces has been clear to see. He has been groomed for this. He will not be content to pass in to “retirement” without leaving his mark, which, given his track record, is going to turn into one hell of a scar.

    1. Aquifer

      Not to mention which this article besmirch’s the good name of pragmatism …

      As far as his “record” – as history is written by the “winners” (with a few exceptions), I guess it will depend on who the winners are …

    2. Michael Hoexter

      I was commenting here on his own perception of himself. I think he thinks himself as a moderate, though he is a very stubborn one, stubborn in an arrogant and self-centered way. He stubbornly insists on this grand coming together of the Washington establishment and in the degree of that stubbornness is perhaps a way to look at him as an agent of profound change (for the worse) though I don’t know if I would grace that change with the term “radical”.

      The impact of that coming-together, if he engineers it, will be devastating for the American people and have radical impacts. In terms of the content of his policies, they are really warmed-over neo-liberalism that has been around for 30 years… i.e. not radical

  11. Doug Terpstra

    In an otherwise excellent article, Mr. Hoexter still affords Obama underserved honor: “The current media landscape on the supposed political left in the US results from a triumph of misdirection by Obama and his handlers.”

    “Misdirection” is an understatement. The link to Adolph Reed in 2008 also shows great insight into what a shrewd pretender Obama really is, but even Reed failed to anticipate how Obama would eclipse Machiavelli himself. Obama singlehandedly resurrected the GOP “bad cop” zombie in 2010, threw himself into the briar patch and then donned a crown of thorns in 2012 to in order to wage war on FDR’s New Deal. The man evinces sheer diabolical genius.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      You give Obama too much credit. He is hardly doing this all by himself or even thinking it up. He is simply acting out his part as any good sociopath would and fully expects to reap the rewards both during and after his term. Obama is stubborn, and street smart, but hardly at the level of Machiavelli.

      Farming the safety net is huge business has been planned and re-planned for the last 40 years. If there are big brains behind it, rather than simply a systemic gravitation to what looks like an orchestrated result, they are currently from the financial sector.

      In the meantime, Obama probably simply likes being treated like a king and he likes being a king even more and in some pretty nasty ways such as being the first to openly blow people out like candles with no judicial review and to brag about it. I very much doubt the thousands of homeless people that are on the streets due to illegal foreclosures disturb his sleep or even enters his mind other than because a handler tells him he should make some appropriate noises or grunts for a particular public event, but that doesn’t mean he thought up MERS, just that he couldn’t give a sh*t about a few hundred thousand tiny Tims.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        True, he clearly relishes his lofty highness and the Caesar-like power to kill on a whim, but I do think he’s the cagiest Chicago-hardened Harvard shark we’ve ever seen in office, without appearing to be. We shouldn’t “misunderestimate” him.

        I still can’t fathom how he got 61 million suckers to swallow his swill after four years of naked crime and the unrelenting betrayal of the most basic progressive values (the 0.5% vote for an actual progressive is horrifying). Fear of the GOP just doesn’t seem adequate to explain it. There’s something very cunning in his deft, opaque maneuvering and his peculiar enthrallment of MSM, the Black community, and the liberal veal pen, as well as his inexplicable vexation of the wing-nut fringe to comically useful effect. He’s the consummate wolf in exquisitely-tailored sheepskin.

      2. kemo sabe

        You’ve summed it up very well. This pretender likes all the accoutrements that come with the job and is working towards an even higher payoff when he leaves. The elites who believe this guy are fools and they don’t realize that eventually the noose will tighten around their necks too.

  12. Waking Up

    For those who talk about a “revolution” in this country, I don’t see that happening for decades, if ever. Yes, there might be small groups of people (relative to the population) protesting around the country, but, they will be marginalized if their interests do not coincide with the wealthiest and most powerful among us.

    What we will continue to see for decades in the future is increased inequality, especially regarding economics. In spite of all the “supposed” outrage towards the 1% and powerful, they understand that all they need is someone who projects an “image” consistent with that of the majority of people. Mitt Romney was never meant to win. If he did, that was okay for the 1% also.

    If ever there was an example that citizens do not look beyond the image of a candidate, the re-election of Barack Obama is a prime example. A president who has a “kill list”, signed off on NDAA, has gone after “whistleblowers” in record numbers, has failed to put criminal bankers in jail, to name just a FEW issues, was re-elected. Instead of saying, “this is all a moral outrage”, the citizens said “we want more of this”. What I also learned from the re-election of Barack Obama…being on the “winning” side is more important to the majority of people than actually standing up for your proclaimed belief system. If an activist tells me they voted for Obama, I now know what their “supposed and proclaimed” values represent…nothing.

    Now we are watching President Obama working hard to further gut the social safety net. Once again, there will be excuses as to “why this is necessary”.

    1. citalopram

      We would honestly need a situation like Greece in order to have something that would come close to fomenting revolution. Even then, there’s a good chance that the extreme right could rise in response to those conditions.

      The left is dead in this country as of right now.

      1. Malmo

        And the flipside is that thr right is extremely formidable and won’t go away quietly if at all. Underestimating it’s power and influence is foolish MSNBC dung. Unless you desire to liquidate the right you’d better figure out how to best coexist with them because they are here for the long haul, like it or not. And the status quo ante, e.g, a hope for a New Deal 2 is a fucking waste of time. Just another useless bromide to be adminstered by technocratic elites. New boss same as the old boss. Fuck bosses.

  13. Aquifer

    i am a real masochist – that i continue to read stuff like this – after a few lines one gets the gist – “Oh dear, O is (fill in the blank), who coulda knowd? Well NOW THAT THE ELECTION IS OVER we gotta organize some opposition!” Needless to point out – it’s a bit late, doncha think?

    All variations on a theme – all these “critics” are praised for their perspicacity, never mind that all this stuff has been said for YEARS (even this guy gives a tip of the hat to that ala Reed), but all this “knowledge” is always subordinated to the “lesser evil” meme, so for the last multiple elections we HAVE known about these AH Dems – and vote for them anyway because – “SQUIRREL!” – “the Reps are worse” and “TINA” …

    All this longing for “New Deal” policies, in terms of jobs, healthcare, SS etc, coupled with the finally recognized need to pay attention to the rules of the planet – could be satisfied by supporting real people with real prescriptions for real policies in real time in real elections – how much more obvious could a “Green New Deal” be, for crying out loud.

    But i will bet a good chunk (and i won’t say of what) that this dude, and i suspect most of the others of his “persuasion”, voted for Obama in the last election when there was a clear other choice that advocated for all the stuff he says he longs for …

    Like the drunk looking for his keys under the street light when he dropped them somewhere else …

    And you know, perhaps it wouldn’t bother me so much if these folk didn’t accuse folks like me, who have been talking about this stuff when they were still in the Dem chorus line, of being “faux” progressives because we don’t sing all the verses in the latest version of “progressive” economics …

    All politics is personal …..

    I think maybe from now on i will assume that all these folks who write this sophisticated claptrap voted for the O, unless they say otherwise – and the fact that they don’t tells me just about all i need to know …. Folks who are proud of their vote flaunt it – folks who are ashamed or feel defensive never mention it and hope no one asks, disguising their lack of political courage with pieces like this …

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I hear you about people who voted for Mr lessor of evil and are now complaining about him, but it doesn’t follow that simply because someone makes a criticism, as in the Good Cop Bad Cop piece, they fall into that category. One would have to read more or know more or Hoexter himself would have to say something explicitly for any certainty.

      I criticise that piece of scum, our fearless president I mean, all the time and I sure as hell didn’t vote for him.

      1. Cugel

        You’re sad, really. As if ELECTIONS are what ultimately matter. One should ALWAYS vote for the “lesser evil” because elections matter at the margins. But, the range of choices are always pre-baked into the system and believing ANY President is going to be able to change things is like believing in the myth of the “good king.”

        Want to change things, then change the system so that Republicans will only be able to elect Eisenhower Republicans, and Democrats will be forced to actively support Progressive policies whether they want to or not.

        It’s been done before and can be again.

        You might want to look at why Noam Chomsky has called Richard Nixon “the last liberal President.” It wasn’t because Nixon wanted to enact liberal policies.

        It was because he was President in an era when there were considerably more constraints on the exercise of raw power by the top 1% than there are now.

        It’s social movements that matter. Voting just reflects the current progress. Voting does not change anything fundamental. FDR enacted the New Deal, not because he was a flaming liberal, but because people were marching in the streets and things were getting out of control. It was either the New Deal or face the threat of revolution.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Hey, happy lobster pots with your changey the systemy thingy. Star on your forehead and all. Also with preaching to the choir about the importance of elections or lack thereof. As to voting for the lessor of evils, time and again, knock yourself out. At this point, it’s tribal hog wash to me. Go ahead, take generations! I should say, “Take more generations…”. Oh yea, and learn to breath underwater while you’re at it.

      2. Aquifer

        Well see BB – you came right out and said you didn’t vote for him …..

        Gee, too bad this piece didn’t come out before the election – did all this stuff suddenly occur to him? Give away phrase – “Now that the election is over ….” – as in “no way would i participate in an opposition BEFORE the election, when it might actually upset the Dem applecart”

        This piece is of a piece with so many other pieces = all this bit about organizing an opposition – i have been hearing this for ? decades – and every time an opposition shows up, it’s “oh gee, well maybe next time, this Rep is soooo bad” (the Rep is ALWAYS so bad) or “this opposition isn’t big enough, or serious enough or blah, blah -” So I am willing to bet that Mr. H voted for O and will vote Dem in ’14 and ’16 because the opposition “can’t win” or the other pitiful excuses i can recite from rote – heard ‘em all, no new ones, none more legit now than in the last several election cycles ….

        So that’s my new “benchmark” before entertaining another “critique” i’ll scan the article – if author doesn’t say “I didn’t vote for him” – then it isn’t worth my time ….

    2. darms

      The missus & I voted for Jill Stein as our state was going to go to RoMoney anyway. OTOH when presented with the lousy choices we are each & every presidential election year, what are we supposed to do? No third-pary candiate has come close to winning a presidential election in almost 100 years and people who say otherwise are delusional. Who did you vote for, RoMoney? The last presidential candidate I actually gave a damn about was Howard Dean and look how much attention he’s gotten. How many people had the decency to thank him for the infrastructure he put in place as DNC chair, the very infrastructure that brought the Democratic wins in 2008? BTW, something I haven’t heard said was that the neglect of said infrastructure by Dean’s replacement was in a large part responsible for the Democratic losses in 2010…

      1. different clue

        If that national infrastructure merely elected a lot of Blue Dog Shitocrats, then what was the point? And if it is the Blue Dog Shitocrats who lost in 2010, then what is the loss?

  14. David Petraitis

    This crystallized a concern of mine that stretches back a few years: Why/How is it that Americans can persist in refusing to see their own clear interests and vote for people who support policies that are going to gut their interests?

    Hoexter says:

    “the appearance of conflict and displaces political conflict away from where the conflict of interests really are…”

    Politics is theater, we all know this and it is a show that is meant for consumption by the governed with several goals. At least one of them is to adequately cover the power relationships with a sense of justness and fairness while not upsetting these relationships.The political play is drama to create an appearance of conflict and debate which displaces the arguments away from the real conflicts of interests lie.

    The conflict of interest is at the base the power of corporations, their owners and managers vs. the power of the people as workers, consumers and citizens. Long ago tyranny was about kings and despots. Now tyranny is about who controls the major business bodies and their agenda.

    In fact the neo liberal catechism of the past 40 years or so has one defining feature in the idea that business, corporate decision making is morally superior somehow to democracy. That the public through its political institutions and systems are not very good at doing things, and that businesses are. Democracy is messy and inefficient. The public is BAD at economic decision making and the ‘free market’ is good at it. It is a moral argument made on the basis of flawed generalizations. This leitmotif in the business and political discourse attempts to justify the fact that money and power have flowed and are flowing AWAY from democratic institutions TOWARD businesses.

    This fact is the result of a certain group of people acting in their interest and pulling that money and power toward where they want it: institutions that are subject to their control, not the public’s. It is in this group’s interest when moving power and money out of public control and into private control to obfuscate the changes. Now the ‘appearance of conflict’ is of course compelling theater. So the political discourse is charged with drama and partisanship, all serving the same interest. But what is that interest?

    The interest of the 1%, the wealthy, the capitalists is to enhance their profits and protect their wealth. This means to safeguard the ability pull money out of the pockets of consumers, to constrain competition, to set the price of labor lower, to the establish laws of the land in their own favor and to avoid justice for their crimes and misdemeanors.

    Does the interest of business become the new name for tyranny?

    What is the interest of the 99% that is opposed to this? For decent wages for labor, for education, for health, for public infrastructure such as roads, water, sewer systems, for culural productions, for clean water and air, open public spaces such as parks. And yet in each of these areas we are told: businesses can make these decisions better for the whole of the people.

    Is doubting the current discourse allowed? Is this sturm und drang of fiscal cliff, Medicare cuts, Social Security cuts all just theater hiding the true manipulation of real economic interests underneath?

    http://www.petraitis.us/2012/12/why-do-americans-support-politicians-who-do-not-support-their-constituents-real-interests/

    1. different clue

      Thomas Franks addressed that question in his book What Is The Matter With Kansas? A book which many commentators disinterpret on purpose in order to bury its meaning.

      Franks noted that when the Working Class Majority had a pro-working class party to vote for, they voted for it. When the Democratic Party became a nest of neoliberal Third Way filth like Bill Clinton, many Working Class Majority members realized there was no “support our economic interests” party left to vote for. So the party which at least humored their cultural prejudices got their votes.
      And the NeoLiberal Turd Way DLC Shitocrat 2.0 Party catered to the cultural prejudices of the Limousine Liberals and the Perrier Progressives . . . and got THEIR votes.

      And THAT . . . is What’s the Matter with Kansas.

  15. Chris

    It’s all street theater. I am amazed that the zombie masses haven’t caught on to the way they’re being played, but then again with the state of the media in this country being what it is, maybe I shouldn’t be.

    There is no “grand bargain” coming, because the choices at this point are all incredibly painful. Easier to do the three P dance: Print, Punt, and pray.

  16. Brooklin Bridge

    I think this was a well presented piece but I am a little surprised it is taking people, particularly on this site, that long to figure out the good cop bad cop thing. This may be news to viewers of MSNBC, or at least for a deplorably large number of them, but here on NC or even at New Economic Perspectives not so much.

    I mean Jebus, it’s been going on for four fu*king retarded years.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Should have said, “I am a little surprised and skeptical it is taking people, particularly on this site, that long to figure out the good cop bad cop thing.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        You’re right, of course, but after 30, it gets messy putting in all those candles; I’m all thumbs.

  17. Brooklin Bridge

    The question I would like to know the answer to is why otherwise perfectly intelligent people clutch to the lessor of evils, why do they vote for this scum when they know damn well the whole thing is God Cop Bad Cop burlesque in the first place and have ever since Obama sold out the public option from under them? There are not enough adult huggies in the world, apparantly, to make those people feel secure enough to say, “Enough is enough”.

    1. Eureka Springs

      The same reason people just accept “all politicians lie”. Once one accepts it, they expect it and see no other choice than to play/participate by liars rules if they play at all. Therefore projection, hope, identity, party/team play much more of a role than facts, principle, reason. And people don’t have to think, much less accept responsibility.

      And the beheadings continue no matter who “wins”.

  18. Waking Up

    An open letter to the 1% rulers of the United States:

    Now that the 2012 election has passed and you need not worry for another four years, may I make some suggestions for the 2016 election.

    Stop focusing on the two political parties. You own them already. Instead, continue to make the Republican candidates for President/Vice President the “useful idiots”. Find a neo-liberal member of the Democratic party who proclaims to care about the people. Focus on a woman or a Latino male/woman if you really want people to ignore principles and vote solely on image/personalities. Months/years will be spent discussing personalities instead of looking at what you and your “friends” are doing behind the scenes.

    The American people want to feel as if they still live in a democracy…provide that continued illusion for them. Whatever you do, don’t forget about local and State political positions. They will provide neo-liberal/conservative politicians for the future. Remember, it isn’t political party that is really important, it’s getting your agenda through. You may not have your current favorite particular party in office, but you will get the desired results you want…namely, continued or increasing wealth. Isn’t that what is really of utmost importance?

    1. Aquifer

      Well, knock yourself out – but I suspect they already know this and have for ages … that’s the playbook they’ve been using for quite some time, it’s in its umpteenth printing …

  19. different clue

    I tried leaving a comment last night but the publik liberry computer seized up and killed it.

    In briefest: there is the short term, medium term, long term. In the next few weeks short term I will exert myself writing my officeholders/etc. about how I will never vote for another FedGov level Dem if SS/Mcare/Mcaide are even mentioned
    in any Lame Duck legislation.
    In the next two years medium term, I will let all relevant officeholders know the same thing if my survival benefits are in anyway touched or even mentioned in legislation.

    In the endless future long term, I may think about Marxism/Distributism/Survivalism/Whateverism to see if any might be useful. For now my feeling is that the poisoned weed of Marxism bears bitter Gulag fruit exactly as Marx intended and I would be very resistant to convincing otherwise. What else could “Dictarorship of the Proletariat” possibly mean?

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