Auerback: Where is Huey Long When You Need Him?

By Marshall Auerback, a portfolio strategist .hedge fund manager, and Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow

My friend, Yves Smith, has posed the question as to why there is no political outlet for the anger on the left. In other words, where are today’s Huey Longs when you need them? It’s become patently obvious to anybody with half a brain and a pulse that President Obama’s “progressivism” has more in common with Mussolini’s corporatism than anything remotely connected to a genuinely progressive agenda.

If you think I’m exaggerating, I suggest you read Denis Mack Smith’s excellent accounts of Il Duce’s tenure in Smith’s “Modern Italy: A Political History”, or his biography, “Mussolini”. Both works describe a country which, while claiming to reduce an inflated bureaucracy, needed to do precisely the opposite in order to reward personal “clients” and followers. Both books also recount that in spite of the efforts of Mussolini’s first Fascist Finance Minister De’Stefani’s efforts to curb tax evasion and limit stock exchange speculation, his efforts were constantly thwarted by other political cronies of Il Duce, as well as Mussolini himself, who soon allowed the majority of his Cabinet to discredit one of the few competent ministers, who was of above average intelligence and competence (Elizabeth Warren, watch out).

Yet today we are being confronted by the sight of a desperate President, hoping to re-engage with a thoroughly dispirited base. President Obama recently told black leaders that he wanted their support to “guard the change” he was allegedly delivering. That would be the “change” which essentially perpetuated the TARP bailouts initiated by former President Bush and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson? Or the health care “reform” bill which will shovel billions of dollars into the private insurance industry with little in the way of a quid pro quo for improved HEALTH CARE? Or the “change” which brought us the supposed withdrawal from Iraq even as the Pentagon conceded that “nothing will change” – a direct quote from the Army’s chief spokesman in Iraq (although cited in a Colorado Springs Gazette dispatch which probably explains the lack of national commentary). What about the “change” in a corrupt narco-state like Afghanistan, where, the Obama Administration has concluded that its war strategy is fundamentally sound and that a December review, once seen as a pivotal moment, is now unlikely to yield any major alteration in policy?

And the President wonders why there is an enthusiasm gap amongst his base? Or why there is a smoldering anger which continues to manifest itself through the rise of the Tea Party movement? At a townhall meeting last week, Obama told the audience he relishes the opportunity to get out of Washington and talk with regular people. Hmm…one wonders. As Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson recently pointed out, Velma Hart told the President that she’s “exhausted of defending you,” “deeply disappointed with where we are right now,” and waiting for him finally “to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class.”

The President’s response, noted Carlson, was petulant in the extreme: “Now, as I said before, times are tough for everybody right now, so I understand your frustration,” he told Hart, after rather clumsily praising her as part of “the bedrock of America” and before citing new credit-card rules and student- loan procedures as evidence of progress.

“As I said” always carries with it the implied question, Weren’t you paying attention? “For everybody” telegraphs you’re one out of millions, nothing special. And “everybody” isn’t suffering, which is the truth that gets to the heart of Obama’s problem and makes his brushing off Hart as much substance as theater.

And then there was this message last week from the President at a $30,000-a-plate fundraiser at Greenwich, Connecticut home of the appropriately named fundraiser, Rich Richman, where Obama was doing his best to reinforce the “professional left” caricature initiated by his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get – to see the glass as half empty. If we get an historic health care bill passed – oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. If you get the financial reform bill passed – then, well, I don’t know about this particularly derivatives rule, I’m not sure that I’m satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and -) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.)

At times like this, the President sounds like someone who works in a slaughterhouse, whilst seeking to preach the virtues of vegetarianism. It’s hard not to have a Howard Beale moment.

The corporate elites in this country saw Bush driving the country off a cliff, so they concocted an allegedly “post-racial” moderate Democrat to stabilize the system and obtain Democratic buy-in on issues like perpetual war, and a government as feeding trough, which has facilitated ongoing corporate predation. The same elites began to use the media to focus on distracting non-issues like Obama’s birth certificate, Muslim mosques, and the like to divert attention away from the only real issue: the political economy of the garrison/predator state, ignoring the manner in which Obama has consolidated it with bipartisan buy-in.

Likewise on domestic policy, we spent months focusing on death panels in health care, ignoring the more salient fact that the White House never wanted a public option in the health care bill, which explains why Rahm said so early last summer. Why? Because the big insurance companies did not want it, so Rahm did not want it. End of issue.

Financial reform has been similarly disappointing. Any private investor who had put as much as the government has put into faltering banks would have far more supervision (board seats, probably regular operational reports) and would also have replaced the CEO, with an understanding that he could clean house if he saw fit. Getting a new CEO in is usually standard operating procedure with distressed organizations, but the Treasury and Fed have continued to write checks and frustrated any serious attempt to make inquiries. Cover-up has been the hallmark. Why else implement a financial reform bill without at least exploring the cause of the crisis in the first place? Look at the contrast with the treatment of GM and Chrysler, which were asked plenty of tough questions and required to submit turnaround plans that could be rejected or be revised under duress.

Leaving aside the economic and political costs of the policies undertaken by President Obama, there is a much more profoundly corrosive social effect at work here. There is a pervasive sense that people who have played according to the rules are being persistently jobbed by this Administration – this has begun to perpetuate a feeling of “they’ve got theirs and now I want mine.” It’s hard to quantify the impact of this growing mentality, but it is the kind of phenomenon often manifests itself via widespread tax evasion and a corresponding loss of political legitimacy on the part of a government in other countries.

The primary reason the public accepts what we call “fiat money” is because it has tax liabilities to the government. If the tax system were removed, the government would eventually find that its fiat money would lose its ability to purchase goods and services on the market. In the words of the economist Abba Lerner:

The modern state can make anything it chooses generally acceptable as money…It is true that a simple declaration that such and such is money will not do, even if backed by the most convincing constitutional evidence of the state’s absolute sovereignty. But if the state is willing to accept the proposed money in payment of taxes and other obligations to itself the trick is done.

If that trend persists, then we do end up being like Greece. Not because of growing national insolvency, but more because our citizenry begins to view the government as a piggy bank to be exploited, rather than an instrument which mobilizes national resources for broader public purpose. Absent this political authority, everything begins to break down.

For all of his renewed vigor on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama fundamentally fails to understand this phenomenon, which is why his exhortations of the kind that he uttered last weekend to the Congressional Black Caucus no longer resonate with the broader public. His “change” message is no longer a symbol of hope, but has become a source of bitter irony and cynicism. As a result, this President risks turning off an entire generation of new voters who were once genuinely excited by the man’s promise.

Frank Rich recently suggested that “it’s time for this big dog to bite back” and urged Obama to “call out the powerful interests…whether on Wall Street or in Big Oil or any other sector where special interests are aligned against reform in the public interest.” All well and good. But consider the fact that these “powerful interests” were some of the President’s biggest campaign donors. Which leaves a more troubling question: what if this particular “Big Dog” is actually nothing more than a lap dog – guarding the very special interests that he purports to oppose?

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  1. attempter

    The primary reason the public accepts what we call “fiat money” is because it has tax liabilities to the government. If the tax system were removed, the government would eventually find that its fiat money would lose its ability to purchase goods and services on the market. In the words of the economist Abba Lerner:

    The modern state can make anything it chooses generally acceptable as money…It is true that a simple declaration that such and such is money will not do, even if backed by the most convincing constitutional evidence of the state’s absolute sovereignty. But if the state is willing to accept the proposed money in payment of taxes and other obligations to itself the trick is done.

    If that trend persists, then we do end up being like Greece. Not because of growing national insolvency, but more because our citizenry begins to view the government as a piggy bank to be exploited, rather than an instrument which mobilizes national resources for broader public purpose. Absent this political authority, everything begins to break down.

    Another Catch-22 for the Tower of Babel, I see. They’ve purged most taxes from the system for the same reason they got rid of the draft, to “leave alone” the individual while they loot the country. This was meant to innoculate the society against becoming pre-revolutionary.

    Sure enough, the individual seems to have a limitless capacity for slouching inertly while every kind of crime takes place around him and everything which is his is stolen, as long as his negative liberty and personal wallet aren’t directly molested.

    Except that as the post says, this undercuts the rationale for the currency itself. Every crime they commit generates a new, bigger, less tractable problem. It’s the same as the old, “tell one lie and you have to tell another, bigger one to cover it up.”

    Collapse of Complex Societies, indeed.

  2. F. Beard

    If that trend persists, then we do end up being like Greece. Not because of growing national insolvency, but more because our citizenry begins to view the government as a piggy bank to be exploited, rather than an instrument which mobilizes national resources for broader public purpose. Absent this political authority, everything begins to break down. Marshall Auerback

    Is this a salvo against a potential bailout of debtors, the victims (along with savers) of the banking system now that the villains, the banks have been bailed out?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Read my FUBAR post. Another monster bailout is coming much sooner than expected.

      We need writedowns and resturcturings of bad debt. This is normal creditor behavior and our only way not to have a variant of Japan style malaise or worse. There would be a public purpose in taking some steps that had broad social benefits to offset the impact. We can discuss what those might look like, but blank checks to the people who screwed up, which is what we did last time, is most certainly not the right way to go about this.

      1. F. Beard

        … but blank checks to the people who screwed up, which is what we did last time, is most certainly not the right way to go about this. Yves

        If we had had 100% reserve lending, in other words if the banks had not been allowed to create temporary money with leverage then I would say let the chips fall where they may. However, since the banks drove up the price of housing with credit it is an error, imo, to say that people screwed up. Their choice was to borrow from the counterfeiting cartel themselves or risk being priced out of the housing market forever by those who did.

        As for a “blank check”, I suggest a large and equal amount of new debt-free legal tender be given to every American adult sufficient on average to pay every underwater mortgage down to current price levels TIMES TWO since the Bible commands a minimum of two-fold repayment for theft.

        To prevent price inflation and to prevent the recurrence of the problem, then reserve requirements should also be set to 100%.

          1. F. Beard

            Banks should of course be allowed to lend their own capital as well as bona-fide saving’s deposits. They would no longer be allowed to loan out demand deposts. Fractional reserves is a holdover from the gold standard; it is ridiculous when reserves are mere paper currency at most.

      2. Fed Up

        What about the ability for debtors to be able to both spend and pay down debt? I understand some debt will probably have to be restructured.

        1. F. Beard

          Why not? And why restructure the debt when the debtors counld simply be bailed out? All it would take is some new debt-free legal fiat (United States Notes) from the US Treasury and a President with some major cajones.

  3. Neil D

    “The corporate elites in this country saw Bush driving the country off a cliff, so they concocted an allegedly “post-racial” moderate Democrat to stabilize the system…”

    I guess all those debates between Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama in 2008 were just for show.

    Talk about revisionist history. The corporate elites were worried about Bush policies? Really? It wasn’t their own stupidity (see FUBAR post) along with a greedy and ignorant middle class spending money they didn’t have that caused our problems?

    I’ll accept the larger point that government is broken, but it is not the government that is screwing over “people who have played according to the rules”. The credit bubble was blown by all Americans and none of us played by the rules.

    I don’t get exhausted defending President Obama, I get exhausted by the deception and denial of the mortgage deadbeats and their bankers. They ran this country into a ditch and all the kings horses and all the kings men can’t put the country back together again.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      You need to get some facts right to direct your anger correctly.

      1. 2007-8 crisis would have been perfectly manageable if it was just subprime debt. There reason it turned into a wipeout was all the CDS bets piled on top of cash bonds (10x) plus ridiculously low equity in banking system (due to bonus boosting de equitizing)

      2. Not all people in trouble are deadbeats, and for the most part, deadbeats don’t fight foreclosures, they know they can’t afford the house. There was a LOT of origination fraud, more accounts coming to the fore of banks taking commitments, then telling borrower that they were changing the terms, adversely for borrower, and if the borrower tried to walk from the deal, they’d sue him into oblivion because they had already financed it. There are also a lot of servicing errors, and possibly fraud, that lead to foreclosures (dream if you can straighten out a servicing mistake).

      3. The problem with this phase of the mortgage mess is it calls all securitizations into question. The private label deals were already in doubt, the Fannie/Freddie deals have the credit guarnatee, so investors are OK, but the rest of us wind up holding the bag.

      1. Neil D

        I get that people didn’t expect the value of their house/condo to be cut in half. To the extent they bought into the idea that real estate would never fall in value, they made the same mistake as many bankers.

        But then we should all have known that there was a real estate bubble in California in the late 80’s that collapsed in the early 90’s.

        “A sad Westside story: Home prices have declined up to 50% since late 1980s
        Myers, David W; Los Angeles Times; May 28, 1993; D; pg. 1”

        What are we to make of the willful disregard for this possibility? Why would we not reserve some of our ire for those who used cash out refis and home equity loans? Willful ignorance is a dangerous thing. Sure the bankers and real estate agents are corrupt, but I can envision the homeowners salivating and rubbing their greedy little hands together as they collect the checks at closing just as easily.

        1. Ignim Brites

          Yes but in the end Greenspan bailed out the homeowners and their creditors in California. House prices there have a long way down before they reach the prices of the late eighties. And that doesn’t count the inflation of the 70’s which gave birth to, ta-da, PROP 13. Even now the rational, in the historical, Hegelian sense, bet is on Gentle Ben and his helicopters.

    2. Jackrabbit

      The credit bubble was blown by all Americans.

      Credit made up for the stagnant wages. Who is responsible for that?

      Big banks have high paid risk managers, economists and research analysts. Who is more likely to spot the bubble? The home buyer or the bankers?

      The banks were lowering their underwriting standards to boost business.

      The rating agencies and regulators were captured by Wall Street (see todays NYT). The Agencies were stamping ‘AAA’ on bonds they didn’t really understand.

      If you think we’re all at fault you’re smoking something or drinking the kool-aid.

      1. Neil D

        To quote Ms. Smith’s FUBAR post…

        “Just as “whocoulddanode” has become inextricably linked to the excuses for the failure to see the housing crisis coming…’

        I guess the excuses just keep coming.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          You paint with a very broad tar brush, Neil—appropriate for those who were “educated” and paid well to know better. Indeed, they should be behind bars, stripped of all assets, and banned forever from the levers of power.

          But don’t blame the unwashed for being suckered into the propaganda that if they didn’t buy now they’d be shut out forever, or for buying the relentless propaganda from brokers, appraisers and agents that RE is a sure thing. That’s like blaming CRA and ACORN—completely bogus scapegoats, used by rapacious banksters, slum-dividers, and their agents.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          Neil, you wield an overly broad tar brush —appropriate for those “educated” and (over)paid to manage the economy AND maximize employment: Greenspan, Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner, et al. Indeed, they are utterly without excuse. Apply hot tar liberally, and feathers, strip them of all assets, shackle them, and ban them permanently from access to the levers of power.

          But don’t blame the victims. First of all, many, even finance-challenged like me, did see the bubble quite clearly; in places like Phoenix or Las Vegas, it was impossible not to, unless of course your salary depended on selective perception (we’re still renting). But many others, not as savvy as Obama’s investors, were victimized by the hype, the incessant DITEC-like pitches for cheap HELOCs (Home Equity Lines of Credit) and the relentless propaganda from brokers, appraisers, and agents that you were a fool not to buy, you’d be forever locked out, that RE never goes down, etc. Your broad tar brush is the same deflection used by the banksters and their cronies against subprime dupes, ACORN, and the CRA to divert attention from their own criminal gambles and justify their obscene bailouts and bonuses.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        Indeed. Neil says “…and none of us played by the rules.”

        Ouch! That’s false, but even in exceptions, it is blaming the victim. In fact, it sounds rather more like projection.

    3. gmanedit

      “I guess all those debates between Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama in 2008 were just for show.”

      Why, yes they were. The fix was in.

      The more primaries Clinton won, the louder the cries for her to quit. At the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting, party poohbahs met illegally behind closed doors and then gave Obama the undecided Michigan delegates and two of Clinton’s delegates. Clinton won more primary votes than any previous candidate ever, yet almost didn’t get a roll-call vote, and then that (after arm-twisting of her delegates, including pledged delegates who were required to vote according to the will of their state electorates) was aborted in favor of a coronation.

      So yeah.

  4. George999x

    This week a post about Obama as Mussolini, next week a post about over-excited tea partiers? I’m sure the same accusations could have been thrown at Clinton (despite a much less desperate political and economic situation)? Is someone drinking too much coffee or something?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s basically an ad hominem, you’ve not disputed the analysis. So tell me why the current game plan isn’t corporatism Italian style?

    2. i on the ball patriot

      The government has been hijacked,
      The elite usurped the rule of law,
      They’ve made a fascist police state,
      The people now withdraw,

      Obamalini’s stature,
      Is rapidly now falling,
      Could it be the lamp post,
      Will soon come a-calling?

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  5. Ellen Anderson

    On the issue of “where is the left when you need it?”:

    ·A marxist would say that capitalism is faced with an insoluble crisis of overproduction. It leads to concentration of capital and, eventually to revolution.

    ·A marxist would also say that when there is a change in the economic substructure there will eventually be a change in the superstructure.

    Most progressives are afraid to be called communists so they can’t discuss marxism in any mainstream way. Plus, Marx may have been correct in the diagnosis but there is probably some serious doubt about the predictions he makes.

    Marxism would predict that the state will “wither away.” So a real leftist should, perhaps, sit back and wait until the time is ripe. Perhaps that is why much of the left has retreated to local activism.

    The victory of the corporations with their enablers in the banking and government sectors put an end to true American populism after the Civil War. Very few people today remember the words of the early Grangers. They correctly said that preservation of the soil and agriculture underlie all human existence. You are all encouraged to get a copy of The History of the Grange which Amazon will have printed up for you.

    I don’t think that it is at all unreasonable for old lefties to try to get soil science and local farming into the public consciousness.

    You probably don’t need Huey Long – you need a bunch of philosophers and historians and farmers.

  6. Sean

    Many western governments have incorporated policies of the hard right (Corporate welfare re bank bailouts etc) and hard left (social welfare inclusive of those who dont want to work)
    The power of the state is aligned with the corporate interest of the banks,unions,illegal immigrants etc.
    This is fascism but not as we traditionally knew it.

    The victims are generally the middle classes who have been paying for this financially and also by maintaining social mobility.

    Throughout the western world the middle classes are bankrupt.
    The ownership of state power was wrested from the middle classes gradually over a generation to promote the idealogies of the hard left and right.

    All of these states have in common hollowed out manufacturing bases, open border immigration (both legal and illegal),massive expansion of government,membership of international treaties(GATT,NAFTA) and organisations (EU and Eurozone) which diminish state sovereignty.

    Perhaps we need a return to national sovereignty and citizen power ,not a left right divide when the reality is the left and the right are both riding the same horse.

    1. Ignim Brites

      Fascism? You seem to believe that the left is irrevocably opposed to fascism. What about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the crime of the century? Where was the left then? Why not a perfectly serviceable classical word: Plutocracy? Or if that seems to aloof, how about the prosaic, crony capitalism.

  7. Glen

    mortgage deadbeats

    Now that’s an interesting comment. People buying a house probably wanted to just buy a house as a place to live and an investment. They get trashed credit for a LONG time and no place to live, and are losing money.

    House flippers might have gotten caught when the market tanked, they also are losing money and trashing their credit.

    Those guys who knowingly made bad loans, they walked away with a bucket load of cash in fees and whatnot. The guys who packaged the loans and sold the loans, they walked away with money too, and the guys “managing” the assets, they’re getting fees while they foreclose on the homes without even a proper title.

    Follow the money.

      1. Alan Wynnewood

        So, Neil, you are naming the devil, and also suggesting we enforce the relinquishing of the souls? Shouldn’t we be forcing the devil back down, while figuring out how to break the devil’s infernal contracts?

    1. Mairead

      Funny how convenient his murder, never fully explained, turned out to be for FDR.

      Nah, couldn’t be.

      Could it?

  8. kevin de bruxelles

    Really good piece.

    On the comparison to Italian corporatism I think there is a fundamental difference with the current situation in the US. In basic political typology, Fascist Italy was the rule of the One. One of their slogans was “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”. Now of course Mussolini was very generous to favored companies and interest groups. But the logic remained the the Stae was supreme and that he was the supreme ruler of the State.

    The current slogan for the US would be, “Everything in Wealth, nothing outside Wealth, nothing against Wealth”. To me in the US we are seeing the rise of an aristocratic order which in political typology is the rule of the Few. The state is not supreme, it is quickly becoming simply a tool to further the particular interests of the Few, and it is the interests of these Few which are paramount. So the Few want the state to be powerful enough to further their interests but not so powerful that it could be captured and turned against them.

    I see two key dilemmas for the Left that will be difficult to overcome. Many on the left can recognize that a Federal Government captured by the wealthy few is now the enemy. But after so many years of supporting the accumulation of power at the Federal level, many on the Left are now loath to attack the very monster they helped create.

    The second dilemma is that the Left has become far too Bourgeois and has lost most if not all connections to the working class. In fact many so-called progressives are actively hostile to working class interests, seeing these people as ignorant, racist peasants. On illegal immigration, look for example at the generation of people who worked in Cesar Chavez’ movement. Those were true working class heroes who tried to unionize the farm workers. But their main enemy at the time was illegal immigrants who the wealthy agricultural interests flooded into any recently unionized area. These self same union organizers would now be discredited as racists for not embracing illegal immigration by many on the current left.

    So one has to ask the question, if Huey Long were to be reincarnated and placed back in the US where would be fall in the current political lineup? Would he be a dKos sellout backing Obama or would he search (perhaps in vain) for a small authentic portion of the much larger and mostly co-opted Tea Party? Or would he organize a third party?

    1. craazyman

      he might be driven mad by the bright dream into the refuge of anti-psychotic medication or some sort of institution for the mentally insane.

      when the soul power has no where to localize its creativity it burns itself like a caged animal.

      the other fascist principle that doesn’t pertain is blood tribal dna — Germany, Japan, Italy — worship of fertility and the projection of cultural identity into the archetype of the supreme leader.

      In that sense, the usa is totally anti-fascist. Clearly, wealth is the metaphor for fertility in the USA.

      The left has indeed lost its connection to the working class, because the bright dream — attention, celebrity, sucess then personal deification into eternal presentness in the realm of stars — that is the god above even the God of wealth, and the media confers deification, and the working class if forever in the shadows, forever lost outside the light of the dream.

      They are like turds, held by two fingers at a distance from the nose.

      This is pyschoemotionalnoetic Darwinism. It’s sort of a fascist archetype but democratized into a million points of light, like a swarm of stars.

      Back to Huey Long. He might organize a third party, but then I think he’d go insane from the dissonance of all the elemental pyschic forces roaring through the gates of his perception. It would be a circus with rioting clowns going mad. It’s beyond even surrealism. This is what happens when the id energy and the collectical mythical imagination get lost.

      IT’s strange. In Burkhardt’s Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy he makes the startling observation that generations of Italian poets floundered in the emergent energies without success — until the invention of the sonnet. And then it all came together. It’s easy to underestimate the forms of consciousness that organize reality and that channel the imagination.

      The case of a resurrection of Huey Long is an interesting counterfactual that creates a field for such analysis.

  9. Ellen Anderson

    Of course – he was murdered. His last words were “God, don’t let me die, I have so much left to do.”

    A system where corporate charters are permanent and corporations have the rights of persons but not the responsibilities is not reformable. That has been demonstrated over and over. The liberal democrats are learning it again. Fortunately, I think the whole system is about to do itself in. If enough of us can survive to avoid Huey Long’s fate perhaps we can help to pick up the pieces in a just and sustainable way. But we will have to start by reforming food production, distribution and banking.

    Not only should everyone know the history of the Grange, but you should also listen on Alternative Radio to Richard Grossman on “Revoking Corporate Charters.”

    And you had better hurry. I think the time is near when TBTB will begin to censor the internet under the guise of protecting us all from “Cyber War.”

  10. Sam

    There is one serious answer for those of us on the Left.

    Join either one of the major socialist groups within or outside the Democratic Party:

    – DSA
    – SP
    – Solidarity
    – ISO

    (and there are others)

    or if so inclined join the Green Party.

    You can continue to vote DP – noone knows who you are voting for.

    We need to build up the organized forces of the Left.

    We have to “get out of the comment boxes” – we waste a lot of time babbling at one another anonymously on the web.

    1. anon

      I’ve voted for very few Ds and no Rs in the last decade. I voted for and gave money to the Green Party or the Peace and Freedom Party, not because I particularly liked their candidates but because I wanted them to be on the ballot so that they include their positions in the voter information handbooks that are distributed before each election. (They generally need 2% of the vote to do that in California.)

      California’s Prop 14 made it harder for minor parties to get on the November ballot.

      On Sept. 14th, a judge refused to issue an order blocking Prop 14’s implementation.

      It looks like in California, registering for a third party is more important now than it was before Prop 14 but voting for them is far less important.

  11. Dzoner

    Orahma = the Freddy Krueger of progressive dreams.

    Declining Oil (2011) = the death of the world’s fiat money/debt based finanicial system.

    Obama = how to turn a political silk purse into a sows ear in under two years while pounding the final nails into America’s coffin.

  12. Kevin

    Why no outlet for the left? Ha! The left has been in power for the last decade and a half. The only noise has come from the usual culprits, the reactionaries – the neocons. And at least they were relatively open about their romantic notions of violence – just a means to an end.

    Sadly, the left’s highly selective pro-business policies of the last period have just about killed our free market. Maybe it is dead already in which case you have won. Gut the middle class and be done with it. Stop this embarassing charade. Declare victory openly and proudly. You have seen the future now be the future. You know you want to.

  13. Mark G

    “Which leaves a more troubling question: what if this particular “Big Dog” is actually nothing more than a lap dog – guarding the very special interests that he purports to oppose?”

    A neutered, balless lap dog at that.

  14. Deja-Vu

    Mussolini? That’s a really strange thing to say.
    Yes, President Obama is a disaster, and I agree with most of what you’re saying, especially about healthcare, which will be turn out much worse than people realize.
    And then Huey Long? The last thing we need in this country is a demagogue.
    Are you feeling alright, Mr. Auerback?


    1. Mairead

      Dem = people, gogue = leader. We don’t need a leader of the people?

      Huey did more, and did it faster for the common people of Louisiana than FDR did for the common people of the nation. Tax-paid textbooks for all kids, abolished the poll tax, ordered a full network of roads and bridges built, and pulled the rug out from under the planter class. It’s not for nothing that even Black folk named their sons after Huey (e.g., Huey P. Newton, the Panther).

      Which side are you on?

  15. mpinco

    The article not once mentions Geithner. Now why is that? Historical revisionism? The bailouts were architected out of the NY Fed. Obama’s presidency was simply just the overt transfer of power to those who already were managing the flow of money from taxpayers to banks.

    I agree on CDS bets built on subprime lending. The fuel? The 1992 Boston Fed decision that traditional lending criteria were outdated.

  16. Arciero

    ” As a result, this President risks turning off an entire generation of new voters who were once genuinely excited by the man’s promise.”

    Because that new generation of voters were morons for believing everything they were told, just as the people that voted for Nader ten years ago were morons. If you voted for Obama and actually thought there would be an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, you’re a f*cking idiot. And I could’ve told you that outcome in 2007.

    Now if you want to say Obama was the wrong candidate for the Democratic Party to nominate, that’s perfectly fine. But who would you have replaced him with? Hillary? She’d’ve been Bill Clinton’s third term pretty much as far as policy and the left HATED Clinton as president (hence why Nader was able to get 3% in 2000). Edwards? The guy spouted whatever policy based on which way the wind was going, look at what he said when he first won his senate seat in North Carolina and compare it to what he said when he ran for president in 2007 and 2008: two completely different people. Dodd was a bank instrument. Biden is the VP now and as Obama was clueless on foreign policy when he took the job, Biden’s foreign policy is certainly helping guide our current direction. Richardson was a Clintonista-style Hispanic moderate. Kucinich failed abysmally at running Cleveland, you want him to run the country? And Mike Gravel was a wingnut off his meds.

    1. Arciero

      I’ll sum up my post with the following. I think George W. Bush was a puppet put forth to represent certain people. He was a Republican answer to Bill Clinton in being style more than substance (although Clinton was the consummate Blair-style politician that was shrewd and just loved the game of politics). At the end, it became clear of Bush’s puppetdom. So what did the Democrats do in 2008, they nominated their own puppet. I remember looking at the fundraising map while the primaries went on that the New York Times did based on telephone area code. For being a short-length senator from Illinois and competing against New York senator Hillary Clinton (and Giuliani who was also running), he received a ton of money equal to Clinton and Giuliani from New York City.

    2. Still Above Water

      How some people read the 2000 US Presidential Ballot:

      D) Millionaire Skull & Bones Frat Boy Yale Grad
      R) Millionaire Skull & Bones Frat Boy Yale Grad
      I) Ralph Nader

      A Kerry presidency may not have been as maddening as Bush’s, but we’d still find ourselves in an economic crisis today.

      “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’re an American, and you vote either Republican or Democrat, you either are either in favor of maintaining the status quo, or you’re insane. Which are you?

  17. Ellen Anderson

    @Sam – Actually, I am not posting anonymously. But I do not plan to do anything to get myself shot. I don’t think organization will be necessary to achieve social change on a large scale. That is coming no matter what we do. The question is, “what happens next?” We might well look back and re-open the questions that were settled in the late 19th century and that had been fought over since the American Revolution. Someone earlier in this blog pointed out that Jefferson/Jackson lost and Hamilton won. (He also was shot though for different reasons.)

    IMHO the most accurate statement made by Bush the Younger was “This sucker’s goin’ down!” Thanks to the greed of the financial sector it is happening earlier than it needed to – for our citizens to continue their greedy behavior relative to the rest of the planet, that is.

    @Deja-Vu. I suppose you are saying that Long was a demagogue. A common tactic of the right is to put a label on something so they can dismiss it. I am sure that no one on this blog would do a thing like that!

    Again, we need to be farmers, philosophers and historians in that order. And, probably we could use a bunch of engineers and low-techies as well. We do need to stop obsessing about how to reform the financial system. It is again IMHO, hopeless.

  18. gf

    Relax people these things run in cycles.

    Marx will be proven correct.

    The right will destroy everything in its path including itself. It is their nature.

  19. Paul Tioxon

    Let me be clear. Your focus on domestic issues diverts your attention from a possible World War breaking out over Iran. No mention of actual battles over leaving Iraq, which he has done as promised. No mention of the battles and firing Gen McCrystal. No mention of Israel/Palestinian/Iranian disaster in the making. No mention of SecDef Gates cutting the budget and preparing to get rid of the creeping brass problem of having over 1000 generals and admirals.

    As to Velma who is so sick and tired of defending Obama. Boo Fucking Hoo. I saw this woman, with her secure tax payer funded Veterans Job, which she no doubt achieved by her other federally funded career in the military. Her employed husband, her 2 kids in private school. And maybe, she might have to face the diminishment of her human dignity by going back to eating hot dogs and beans to make ends meet. Translation, Mr President, how come I’m not living large like Oprah? Wow, is this a broken American dream or what?

    Then there is touchy professional left who complains about hippie punching, Obama’s Sistah Souljah moment to show the moderates that he has not gone all Dashiki with dreadlocks on them, after sneaking into the Oval Office as one of them, a button down Ivy League Lawyer. Hey professional left, be glad he doesn’t send the Ohio National Guard after you.

    Health care wasn’t want you want Marshall, let me explain the facts of life to you. That New yorker map, with Manhattan looming large and nothing much between it and London and Paris, that was satire Marshall, New York City is actually a parochial region, just like all of the other backwaters, but with Wall St and better eats, that’s all. You see, Obama had to rely on the people in congress, especially a guy named Stupak from Ohio, that is the place where you don’t want to see the National Guard coming to your kids campus, he had a lot to say about the public option. But the devil is not in the details of whining like it is in getting kicked in the teeth not only by the republicans, which did not vote for this at all, but also getting stabbed in the back by fellow Dems. Just like you are doing now. I don’t think the pres needs this much fire held to his feet to remind him that he has fallen short of his policy goals. Maybe if you incredibly well informed concerned citizens spent some time outing more closeted gay republicans and ruining them, maybe if you could dig up some dirt on prostitute using, drug taking, child molesting kick back taking and other political hit jobs instead of crying like a bunch of pussies who can’t win a fight because it does not involve you using your favored skill set
    form the honors society, then maybe, we could get what we want and have the thrill of defending it in mortal combat over the body politic. But then, if you put yourself in harms way you might not get to see us in the promised land, you might not get to write the book and receive the adulation, you might wind up losing or even worse, be out of a job using your favored skill set and be forced to get a job, any job to pay the bills. And that would kill you even more than beating back the republicans in battle and having your side win without you.

    Then, there is no

  20. Clyde


    Did you know that Richard Syron, who so incompetently ignored (as Freddie Mac CEO) the warnings of the Freddie Mac chief risk officer on insuring no-documentation mortgages, was the regulator who authored the forward on that 1992 Fed Boston study?

    Staring into the abyss of infinite losses, he hurled the trillion-dollar enterprise to its doom. And he walked off handsomely as a result.

  21. ep3

    you hit the nail on the head and then you step away from driving home the ultimate point, which you swing back to on the last sentence.
    way to go, none-the-less. you are exactly right.

  22. steve from virginia

    Where is the left? Why all the talk about ‘fiat money’?

    The left is in Siberia. Fiat money is getting harder even if that is difficult to parse at this moment in (quantitative easing) times.

    There is no organized progressives as the idea if progress itself is bankrupt. Progress and modernity are fashions like miniskirts and tattoos. Until a new idea of progress – mebbe we can call it something else like regress – is born there will be a steadily disappearing ‘left’.

    What remains is the ‘New Feudalism’. Every man a king, right?

    1. Valissa

      Great link! Barry Ritholtz NAILS IT… here is the title of the post…

      The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations

      Many of us have figured this out already, but Barry does a succint job of summarizing key points.

      Personally I think discussing what’s wrong with the so-called left and how one might ‘fix it’ is a waste of time given that premise is stuck in a fading and more-irrelevant-by-the-day political paradigm.

  23. brian

    Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

    Dryden: Well. It seems we’re to have a British waterworks with an Arab flag on it. Do you think it was worth it?
    General Allenby: Not my business. Thank God I’m a soldier.

    And it seems we are to have an Italian government (1930s version)
    And a Japanese economy (1980s-90s version)
    Soldier on…

  24. Doug Terpstra

    Thank you, Marshall (and Yves), for a righteously wicked post! Why not you, as Huey, Marshall? Worried about “extra-judicial punishment”, are we?

    Of course, you covered key ‘failures’ quite well, but the full story is even worse: including the Patriot Act, GITMO, rendition, Abu Ghraib reclassification, citizen assassination, gay rights, union disempowerment, SHAFTA, Palestine, land mine treaty abandonment, lobbying, secrecy, etc. In fact, Obama is doing far more damage as a Neocon ringer, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, than any naked con could get away with, and it is my suspicion that Rahm’s Chicago game is far more devious—that midterm “losses” are part of the game to consolidate a Neocon agenda. Next on the block, courtesy of the Obama-stacked Cat Food Commission, is Social Security—under the cover of the same prickly briar patch Clinton used after 1994 for welfare reform, SHAFTA, repeal of Glass-Steagall etc. The willful blindness of some Obama apologists here is rather stunning.

  25. Stelios Theoharidis

    It takes a really special kind of idiot to think that you can have legitimate financial, tax, military, prison, or healthcare reform without first actually having political reform in this country. Comparing Obama to Mussolini is such absolute and utter BS, who here amongst us expects that the political and economic class that brought us into this quagmire to be the same one that brings us out. What just because you insert some sort of political outsider into it that is going to change the army of insiders around him. By making that characterization you are no better than the idiot tea baggers who want to dress him up like Hitler in posters. Obama didn’t put us where we are but he has to deal with all the complexities of our position. Sure many decisions have led us further into collapse, but we are basically in a political system with widespread capture, you can’t make meaningful reform in that kind of situation and his and our largest failure is chase after financial and healthcare reforms when we should first be making political reforms.

    No matter who would have been put in there the situation would have varied little. The same people (Summers, Geitner, Orzag, or their republican counterparts) are going to get into the political process as before. The same power brokers and lobbyists are going to influence the direction of legislation to the benefit of special interests. You talk about Obama as if he has options, that illusion of choice is one we like to maintain. But, choice is basically a few predetermined options, that more and more seem the same. We had an inherited war, an inherited debt, corporate shills in SCOTUS, a massive lobbying complex, and an inherited political class that has put us on that trajectory and will neuter any attempt to get on a different path.

    Change doesn’t happen because we vote someone into office. When has real reform happened without people getting out in the streets to get their heads beat in. It is pretty much going to be the same political and economic class, but change will only happen when they learn to be afraid about losing their bread and butter. Otherwise they are just going to continue milking the cow until someone kicks the bucket out from underneath their ass. Any political class only maintains power through consent.

    The decent portion of the progressive left is too busy building alternative economies and disconnecting themselves from the detrimental social and environmental impacts that our present system is generating. Why even try to make futile efforts to prop up this deteriorating behemoth.

    Howard Dean’s people, who tried to work through the political process, only managed to push a bunch of moderates into power that did nothing but slow down any real reform.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      “It takes a really special kind of idiot…”

      “You talk about Obama as if he has options…”

      Careful with the finger-pointing. Of course he has options, he also has real power, or did, with 59-seat majority. That’s what elections are supposed to be for. The problem, as Auerbach has ably shown, is that Obama has consistently made affirmative choices in exactly the wrong direction on issue after issue for two years now.

      See Andrew Bacevich’s “Prisoners of War
      Bob Woodward and All the President’s Men” at TomDispatch for another example of recent bad, in this case criminally insane, choices our president is making.,_the_washington_gossip_machine__/

      I repeat, “The willful blindness of some Obama apologists here is rather stunning.”

    2. Tom Hickey

      The decent portion of the progressive left is too busy building alternative economies and disconnecting themselves from the detrimental social and environmental impacts that our present system is generating. Why even try to make futile efforts to prop up this deteriorating behemoth.

      Right. This process began back in the Sixties, when a lot of us realized what was going on and that the mainstream would never change without a revolution. Revolutions happen spontaneously. In the meanwhile, thinking and feeling people are continuing to network and create their own underground economy.

    3. anon

      The “idiot tea baggers who want to dress [Obama] up like Hitler in posters” are most likely followers of Lyndon LaRouche. They show up at antiwar protests (with the same Obama as Hitler posters) too. Few in the tea party (or in the antiwar movement) agree with them.

  26. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Standing in front of my computer clapping an ovation for this post…
    And now, to listen to it again….

  27. emca

    Huey Long was an American populist’s phenomena.

    Sometimes credited with moving FDR more toward the Left, noted for improving the lives of many of the rabble in Louisiana which faithfully supported him and in general, pulling the state out of ravages of neo-feudal corporate colonialism through implementation of policy of state investment in the welfare of the common.

    The definitive work on the life of Huey Long is a book by one Harry T. Williams. For anyone interested in a straightforward (and with Long, this is about as impartial as your going to get) account of Long’s life, I recommend this book.

    Here’s a quote from a Long speech given in support of re-election of Senator Hattie Caraway (D-AR)which could still resonate today:

    “They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side, but no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen.”

    Long was assassinated by a disgruntled conservative ‘aristocrat’ (by a doctor no less) seeking to free Louisiana from its ‘demagogue’ dictator.

    He was though reportedly targeted by several conservative ‘death squads’ so it all may have just been a matter of time and indeed Long himself may have understood this.

    Their about many good quotes about H. Long, in ending here are a few to humor my indulgence:

    “He has not only common ways, but a common, sordid, dirty soul.”

    and from Drew Pearson epitaph:

    “He was a crook — but he had no money; a corrupt politician — but the cost of government is third-lowest in the country; a demagogue — but he kept his campaign promises; a hillbilly — but he had no racial prejudices; an ignoramus — but he ran a business administration; a dictator — but he broadened the suffrage; an opportunist — but he had ideals.”

    and an observation made while Long was a mere Public Service Commissioner for the state of Louisiana:

    “They don’t know Huey Long. They never saw him and would not know him if he stepped off the train at our station. But they know him in name and you can’t make them believe he is not their defender.”

  28. Ellen Anderson

    @ Paul T. The world economy has been propped up by permanent war and, probably, drug dealing since WWII. War is critical to keeping the current system up and running. You really can’t think that you will be able to end wars without restraining corporate control of the dialogue.

    Thanks for that link, Steve from V. That is great to see this dialogue breaking out on financial blogs.

    As Bill Moyers recently discovered “It’s over and money won.”

  29. Tom Hickey

    Gosh, Marshal, you are sounding like me. Or maybe I am sounding like you. Whatever, The Mussolini analogy fits.

    What we have is what President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address, a military-industrial (financial)-government complex aka the corporate state — or what Jamie Galbraith has called “the predator state” in his book bearing that title.

    What you did not mention is that the US runs on military Keynesianism. It is government expenditure on the military and related operations. often black, that accounts for a major portion of US demand. Couple that with low tax rates, low inflation due to imports that favor the multinationals but deprive US workers of jobs, and reduced bargaining power of labor due to business-sponsored legislation and global labor arbitrage, and you have the recipe for an economy that inflates assets and keeps worker incomes low while allowing income and wealth to explode toward the top.

    The only things needed to complete this picture are t privatizing SS by handing it to Wall Street, privatizing government institutions thereby creating a toll booth economy, and delivering health care including Medicare and Medicaid entirely to the insurance industry. This is all on the table.

  30. Ed

    There is an academic debate about what exactly fascism is. Corporatism is definitely an important element, and US federal economic policy is increasingly corporatist. But other important elements include a sort of hypernationalism and military adventurism, along with the silencing of internal dissent. I’m worried that we will see more of this in the future, but we are not there yet.

    Kevin de Bruxelles makes some important points that got lost as the thread started verring in some odd directions. First, one thing the Obama administration has demonstrated is that the federal government may well have become too corrupt and corporate influenced to effectively deliver “progressive” politics. The Right in the U.S. may have been more correct than they knew when they argued that well, other countries could run single payer health care systems, but the U.S. couldn’t. The American left may have to make a strategic switch and start arguing for a weaker federal government, plus no new programs without substantial political and administrative reform. It would look more like the eighteenth century and nineteenth century left which, after all, included Smith and Ricardo as well as Marx.

    Kevin is correct on his second point. I’m amazed at how insistent commentators on some left-leaning websites have become at making support for essentially open borders a litmus test. Its pretty clear that increased immigration, at least in the short term, lowers wages by increasing competition for employment. I’m not sure why exactly you would want to bring more workers into countries with high rates of unemployment, nor how that benefits the immigrants. But it seems the only people even addressing the weakening power of labor are the paleocons.

    In 2008 the candidates for President who got substantial support, in terms of winning primaries, were Obama, Hilary Clinton, McCain, Romney, and Huckabee. Of this group, the also rans were to the right of the winner on national security policy and civil liberties, and with the possible exception of Huckabee on economic policy as well. It was a somewhat more restricted choice than in past presidential elections, but the options keep getting narrower each cycle.

  31. Hugh

    It’s a good rant but doesn’t answer the question where the alternatives are that the left can organize around. My take which I laid out at greater length on Yves’ post on the subject is that most of the current crop of liberal/progressive groups and organizations are dominated by the Democratic party, either overtly or tacitly. They oppose, stifle, deride, and deflect attempts to organize third parties and anti-Democratic protest through them. At the same time, they continue to soak up most of the bandwidth, money, and resources that would make alternatives to the two parties possible.

    I am reminded of what John Jay Chapman wrote in Practical Agitation (1900):

    “Men cannot transcend their own analysis and see themselves under the microscope. The work we do transforms us into social factors. We are a part of the changes we bring in. Before we know it, we ourselves are the problem.”

    With the internet, we got a burst of new advocacy organizations, but those that brought them in conceive of politics within the frame of the two parties. They can imagine nothing else. In the beginning, they did some good, but now their failure of imagination means they are just in the way. They have, as Chapman noted, become part of the problem.

    1. EmilianoZ


      you never explained how single payer would automatically lower HCR costs. Single payer would presumably be the government. What if it’s as usual captured and agrees to pay exorbitant prices to BigPharma et al.?

      I always thought public option was a stepping stone towards single payer. How would you implement single payer? Nationalize every health insurance company overnight? My understanding was that the public option would grow progressively, the private companies would shrink gradually so that the transition would be as painless as possible.

      1. Hugh

        No, the PO was a fill in the blank. Initial talk based on the Hacker proposal would have covered 129 million Americans or half the non-Medicare population. The PO that received some discussion for legislative purposes would have covered only 4-6 million and access to it would be restricted. As a consequence, it would have had little power to negotiate rates across 50 state markets. Indeed it was arranged in such a way that its premiums would be fairly unattractive to potential buyers. Finally, it would not even be available until 2013 or later. It was a bridge to nowhere. The idea that it could be built on was just the desperate hope of its beleaguered supporters.

        As for bringing this on line, Johnson got Medicare up and running in the 1960s in a year with computing machines you would have to go to a museum to see now. So yes, it can be done. Redoing payment plans and transferring the money to government funds is entirely feasible. It’s important to realize via Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare one of every two dollars spent on healthcare in this country already comes from the public side.

        The argument that the government is too corrupt to run such a plan while true misses the point. We are not going to get universal single payer precisely because the government is so corrupt. When we clean up government, then single payer universal healthcare will be one of its natural reforms. To put it in your terms and your order puts the cart before the horse and erects a strawman.

        It will not be a small undertaking but again quite doable, minus today’s climate of looting. One problem that I don’t see getting much attention and one reason private insurance wants to keep its stranglehold on its market is that the pools of the insurance companies set up with insurees’ premia may have been seriously compromised by involvment with the Wall Street casino. They may not be worth what they say they are. This could increase costs of the transfer but it is money that one way or another we will end up paying anyway.

        1. EmilianoZ

          The insurance industry was all up in arms against something as small and insignificant as a PO for 4-6 million people? Surely they must have feared extension.

  32. Ellen Anderson

    @ Hugh – you are so right. Move is trying to get me to put up a lawn sign for Congressman Olver. Now, I will probably vote for him because what else am I going to do at this point, but I am certainly not going to campaign or give any democrat my precious remaining few pennies.

    When the internet begins to look as though it might truly organize people like us to limit corporate power and expose the truth about our economy – its links to drugs and war as well as the dilemma of peak oil (which makes the financial situation truly unrecoverable this time) – you can bet that it will be shut down. Or maybe not?

    1. Paul Tioxon

      I referenced Chalmers Johnson, please tell me you’ve read at least one of his books on the military industrial complex. If you have, surely you must know that he calls for shutting down nearly nearly all military bases around the world, including the ridiculous number of carriers afloat. My response is directed to the specifics I read in MAs essay. I don’t have the time or inclination to bring up every point of the oligarchic political economy every time I address one piece of writing here. Although I have been accused of digressing on occasion, on NC, I try to stick at one outrage at a time. I’m glad you are voting, can you please put up the damn law sign for the candidate of your choice. That’s a good start.

  33. Glenn Condell

    Barack Obama is the biggest disappointment in history. Never have so many felt so betrayed by so few. We have been had. Change, my arse.

    There have been worse presidents, Bush for one, and we are a long way from say Idi Amin, but what did anyone expect of these people? The weight of the world’s expectancy, generated largely by his own soaring rhetoric (tellingly, his signature talent) has simply been ignored and those he should have been limiting have been set free to enslave us all. He is too intelligent not to know what he is responsible for.

    My candidate for the next best disappointment in history is another who specialised in noble-browed platitudes to move the masses, one W. Clinton, who is almost as smart as Obama.

    Anyone else seeing a pattern here?

  34. Marcello

    He sure strikes me as a Manchurian Candidate. it is a plain and simple answer to his puzzling behaviour.

    funny, but search Obama Manchurian Candidate and you get a lot of hits.
    Many people are thinking the same thing

  35. Tom Shillock

    I suspect Obama and his corrupt regime understand that ideologically and policy wise they are the successors to the Bush Cheney regime. But he and the Democrats are playing a game similar to the one Bill Clinton played in which they co-op Republican issues and carry water for oligarchs and plutocrats while pretending otherwise. That enables them to snag oligarch and plutocrat campaign I suspect Obama and his corrupt regime understand that ideologically and policy wise they are the successors to the Bush Cheney regime. But he and the Democrats are playing a game similar to the one Bill Clinton played in which they co-op Republican issues and carry water for oligarchs and plutocrats while pretending otherwise. That enables them to snag oligarch and plutocrat campaign funding while it forces Republicans into more of a corner, as it were, where they have to adopt more extreme positions and tactics to distinguish themselves. Promoting Tea Party types shows they learned something from Karl Rove about the value of clean hands. The point is that Obama need only vaguely blather on about “change” and use the rhetoric of social and economic justice in order to be re-elected. As angry as people may get with him the alternative probably seems less palatable and probably is. If the majority of Americans truly want change they will have to look to history for guidance: 1776, 1789 and 1917. After all, we have voted many times since Jimmy Carter yet the financial crises have worsened, inequality has widened and life has become more financially precarious for most Americans.

  36. Ellen Anderson

    @ Paul T. I understand that this is a financial blog. I read it a lot but don’t usually have anything to contribute. However, today and yesterday Yves raised a question that I do feel qualified to answer and have tried to do. I agree that we have a duty to vote. However, there is no point in organizing to fight the military industrial complex or corporatism or whatever you want to call it. Perhaps some people will choose to try to reform around the edges, but most of the activist lefties and other well intentioned citizens I know are busy at the local level where they may be able to make a real difference.

  37. Maxine Udall

    “But consider the fact that these “powerful interests” were some of the President’s biggest campaign donors.”

    He’s also likely going to need them if he wants to have a life after being POTUS. Imagine how hard it will be to raise money for his foundation that does good works in the world, say, if he’s annoyed the rich and powerful. Extreme and independent wealth was an advantage FDR had that BHO does not.

  38. Paul Tioxon

    You will find a useful treatment to answer the question, Where is Huey Long when you need him? We don’t need him today because objective conditions have changed. SSI, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, pensions, food stamps, WIC, S CHIP, and other government and local efforts provide the safety that did not exist when Huey scared the crap out of FDR. We are wealthier and less desperate. Let’s see how bad things can in the 21st century.

    And for christ sake Marshall, you sound like a fool with the Il Duce crap. Here is a link to give you valid, relevant information about our country today.

  39. bob goodwin


    Your post about ‘why are there is not political outlet from the left’ was well written and well reasoned. My only complaint is that I agree with almost every point you make, and I am aligned with the political outlet on the right. In otherwords you are make rational arguments against corporatism, which is what is really animating a lot of the tea party. Nothing gets the hackles up of a libertarian faster than a bailout of the elites and regulatory capture.

    I share my disdain of both Bush and Obama with you. I think they will go down as the worst two presidents in a hundred years.

    I am sure we would each chose different solutions to the problem. But the problem is not ideology. It is that ideology is the wedge that keeps us fighting with each other rather than pointing our pitchforks at the perps.

  40. Darrick the Dog Breeds Enthusiast

    Thank you very much for giving us some honest suggestions on dog insurance. I have located a great variety of good suggestions about dog insurance and some poor ideas. Do you have any more good suggestions or places on the Web that I can find more detailed suggestions? This would be certainly appreciated! Either way, keep up the good work!

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