Stuart Zechman: The Beatings Will Continue Until All Not-Yet-Right-Thinking Lefties Support the Infrastructure Bank Scam

Yves here. Stuart Zechman is a keen observer of how corporatist policies are peddled through various Rubinite/Hamilton Project organizations and other mouthpieces and skillfully messaged so as to snooker or co-opt bona fide progressives who ought to know better.

His article mentions Third Way. For benefit of those who have been so fortune as to have limited contact with the netherworld inside the Beltway, here is a brief description from an earlier post:

And make no mistake about the role of Third Way. Third Way runs the policy apparatus of the Democratic Party. In Congress, staffers attend regular Third Way policy briefings, where the group hands out pre-packaged legislative amendments in legal form, generic press releases, polling around those policy ideas, and talking points. It’s a soup-to-nuts policy apparatus. Most of these ideas are harmless – like increased volunteerism – but some are not, like various tax proposals.

The group has enormous juice. On the Congressional side, it has six honorary Senate co-Chairs, and seven House-side co-Chairs. Jim Clyburn, a co-Chair, is in the House Democratic leadership. Two current cabinet members are former co-Chairs. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, held regular briefings for the freshmen member staff in the last Congress.

On the administration side, former Third Way board member Bill Daley is now White House chief of staff. Ron Klain, who was Biden’s Chief of Staff, is now with Third Way. The White House is pretty much full of Third Way-style apparatchiks.

Third Way also echoes, nearly entirely, the White House’s political line (though it is slightly ahead on gay rights). Here’s Third Way praising the Gang of 6 talks, opposing cut, cap, and balance, encouraging entitlement cuts, pushing various free trade agreements

Finally, most of the Board members are from the FIRE Sector (Wall Street and real estate), including the head of equity trading for Goldman Sachs and one of the heads of investment banking for Morgan Stanley.

It’s a highly optimized political operation for the White House and Congressional Democrats, with PR muscle, elite validators, access, and policy-making infrastructure.

By Stuart Zechman, an entrepreneur and technologist, co-founder with Jay Ackroyd of the blog “Political Lagoon, and a frequent commenter at TIME Magazine’s political blog “Swampland”.

Well, well, well.

It seems as if some of you purists out there have been grumbling again about the President’s latest “jobs legislation,” even though his recent speech to Congress contained some cautiously populist rhetoric designed to get you to clap, vote and give your hard-earned money to his re-election campaign. How predictable of you movement liberals, never giving Our President credit for anything. What exactly do you people want, a Works Progress Administration, or something equally rife with New Deal orthodoxy?

Don’t you movement liberals understand that our neoliberal, Third Way program is the least rightist agenda that can ever be achieved in the United States? Haven’t you been listening to Dem-leaning pundits? Are you still insisting that there could actually be a separate, distinct, movement liberal, political-economic philosophy than what is currently held by the “center-left coalition” that runs the Democratic Party and its associated message shops and think tanks? Don’t you get that, if you’re anywhere left of movement conservatives, we’re all there is?

What is wrong with you magical-thinkers? Why can’t you accept that political reality dictates that you not exist!

And yet, there you are, complaining about inept policy blundering again, moaning about an obvious, overwhelming lack of positive economic results from our Consensus program for ordinary American voters. Listen, the Democratic President of the United States stood in front of Congress and literally demanded that this body pass his Administration-endorsed National Infrastructure Bank! He called for the passage of Kerry-Hutchison, loud and clear! He said “jobs” many times!

Wait…am I hearing that the National Infrastructure Bank proposal is just not good enough for you moldy, old Glass-Steagall types? Seriously?

But it’s Fareed Zakaria’s favorite policy!

But the New America Foundation loves it!

But the Progressive Policy Institute included it in their “New Book of Memos to the New President,” just as soon as Obama took office!

But Norman Anderson, the president and CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure, LLC, a “Washington, DC based Consulting Firm dedicated to the creation of Public Value via Consulting, Publications and Rankings and The Leadership Forum ( Infrastructure Conference)” made the case for Kerry-Hutchison again for PPI in March! Even such a policy and political genius as Tom Friedman was in attendance at this desperately needed Infrastructure Conference!

But Dr. Everett M. Ehrlich, one of the nation’s leading business economists, whose firm, ESC Company, combines economic analysis, business development, and communications skills to solve a wide range of business problems thinks it’s the best policy ever!

And Dr. Ehrlich (he of the “Everyday Economics” blog) said not to worry about how a National Infrastructure Bank proposal addresses unemployment at all!

This is more a vision of infrastructure policy than a blueprint for the immediate future. Admittedly, it will take years and a meticulous reorganization to produce this configuration. But the best way to measure our progress in infrastructure policy (and the merits of the administration’s proposal) is not to see how quickly we adopt the Bank’s specific features, but to see how the Bank addresses the underlying infrastructure policy flaws it is designed to fix.

And, maybe most importantly, liberal Democrats all over America heard the President say “Build schools, repair bridges, high speed rail, etc”, and they probably don’t even know about the “underlying infrastructure policy flaws” that the National Infrastructure Bank “is designed to fix”!

How can you not reluctantly, but gratefully accept this policy proposal, given the challenges of perpetual conservative ascendency in a fundamentally center-right nation that “senior Democrats” have identified for us?

For God’s sake, its ideological centrism and partisan Democratic rhetoric drew strong contrasts with rightist Republicans! Our President’s been out selling it to the country as a boondoggle-stopper for at least the past year!

This week, President Barack Obama proposed exactly this sort of bank, as part of a Labor Day push for jobs. The national infrastructure bank would “leverage private and state and local capital to invest in projects that are most critical to our economic progress,” the White House said. “This marks an important departure from the federal government’s traditional way of spending on infrastructure through earmarks and formula-based grants that are allocated more by geography and politics than demonstrated value.”

By Annie Lowrey | 09.10.10 | 12:40 pm

NIB is not literally privatization like that bad ol’ Heritage Foundation-GOP stuff, it’s the Third Way’s ideologically-based, private-public partnership policy agenda proposed with sophisticated New Democrat Network messaging designed to appeal to both Democrats and Independents! It’s the stuff a New Democrat’s successful presidential campaign is made of! As Muniblog helpfully explains,

Currently almost all American infrastructure is funded either through municipal bonds or federal funding. Even as federal funding has been constrained, municipal bond issuance has been very low this year, running at about half of last year’s rate. There is plenty of capacity to fund infrastructure with municipal bonds. From a funding standpoint it’s not clear why we need an infrastructure bank, especially a paygo infrastructure bank.

The AIFA legislation is very specific about the type of projects that can be funded:

Highway or road
Mass transit
Inland waterways
Commercial ports
Air traffic control systems
Passenger rail, including high-speed rail
Freight rail systems

The legislation seems to require public-private partnerships for funding. In the bill’s criteria for loan approval, there’s a preference for those projects which maximize private investment (page 41):

“the extent to which the provision of assistance by AIFA maximizes the level of private investment in the infrastructure project or supports a public-private partnership, while providing a significant public benefit”

The essence of the American Infrastructure Financing Authority is to use the full faith and credit of the U.S. government to loan funds at below-market rates to public-private partnerships — in other words, to privatize the cash flows from public assets.

When you read the congressional testimony and materials about the proposed bank you always hear about the vast sums of private money waiting in the wings to be invested. When Robert Wolf, Chairman and CEO of UBS Americas and close confidant of President Obama, testified to the Senate Banking Committee last year he said:

Preqin, a private equity industry consultant, estimates that there is over $180 billion dollars of private equity and pension fund capital focused on infrastructure equity investments. This capital can play an important role in bridging state and local budget gaps.

There is no question that private money is interested in being used for loans to infrastructure projects and guaranteed by the federal government and taxpayers. It’s almost identical to senior bondholders who loaned money to too-big-to-fail banks. It’s the best setup for private money because there is no loss.

So what are you un-pragmatic leftists demanding, anyway? Not to have the citizenry held hostage by the self-interested demands of money-center banks ever again? That’s crazy old 1930’s talk!

See, the National Infrastructure Bank proposal firmly, yet thoughtfully rejects old, liberal orthodoxies about ordinary people not having to rely on giant, corrupt, unaccountable market actors for almost everything of importance in their daily lives, and falls squarely within the 1990s Democratic program to “modernize” the government (and the population) to cope with the realities of the 21st century, global economy!

The President said that he was going to fight the conservatives and the Republicans, just like depressed liberal Democrats have been whinging and begging him to do, and take this policy of depending on the continued confidence of shitpile peddlers and inveterate gamblers (instead of dedicated tax revenues ) to be ratified by the public, where he’ll refer to it uncontroversially as “Jobs Plan! Pass It Now! Jobs Plan!”. Much of the liberal blogosphere just put on their Team D uniforms, picked up their pragmatist pom-poms and yelled “Give me an O!” when they heard the familiar strains of ’08 campaign-speak, so what more could you possibly want?

Are you one of those ideological purists who’s unhappy with anything that isn’t the total abolition of the DoD, and free pot for everyone, who lives to scream “Sellout” at the professionals who are trying to Get Things Done in the capital? Isn’t it your duty to praise the Administration whenever they offer the slightest hint of putting up a fight, and to leave the hard thinking about the agenda they’re pushing to the practical folks primarily concerned with “progressive unity” and Democratic Party success? Aren’t you afraid of being called a whiner for not “getting everything?” Have you been penitent enough about your role in Bush-Gore 2000, yet?

Can’t you see that, in order to defeat the GOP right, the “center-left coalition” has to all get behind the Third Way’s decade-old, National Infrastructure Bank dream date fantasy, toute-de-fucking-suite?

So how could this policy be wrong, if the only people who question it are rightists and un-Serious, non-establishment, magical-thinking, hippie-type liberals who, once given a taste of contrast-drawing 2012 campaign rhetoric, will endorse it anyway –whatever it does or doesn’t do for actual unemployment in the near term, however horrible in practice this lunatic policy actually turns out to be over the next decade, if passed?

Aren’t you being just like those unreasonable, crazee House Republicans, demanding the ideological and impossible instead of the Third Way and wonderful –sorry, I meant, “the most liberal it could be, given the circumstances?” Can’t you just shut up and vote for us and this policy, again, like we know you will?

Or don’t you live to see Our President re-elected next year?

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  1. toxymoron

    “We are going to get an infrastructure bank. The new bank will be initially funded with $100 billion. The $100 large will come from a special tax on corporate America. This is a deal from our boy Jeff Immelt. The tax will actually be a Tax Holiday for corporate America. The US multinationals are sitting on $2+T offshore. This money is subject to tax at 35%. It has already been taxed (foreign) at 10+%, so to bring it back home would trigger a liability of 500-600 bil. The $100b is 20 cents on the dollar for the multinationals. Two problems solved. We get a bank, corporate America gets an extra 500b.

    If this were to happen there would be 200 big-shot CEO’s who would be smoking Cuban cigars and drinking expensive French brandy. Overnight mega bucks for that crowd.

    Bruce Krasting ( had this to say

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      They are proposing to do this with only $10 “large” not $100, so this is even more of a deal for Jeff & Co.

    2. Stelios Theoharidis

      So I obviously don’t like a public guarantee for private lending as is suggested in this PPP, nor do I believe in propping up an inefficient infrastructure system based upon continuing sprawl/automobile based transportation is going to lead us towards oil independence or positive outcomes for future generations, or tax holidays for that matter.

      I do however think that this might be a decent opportunity to reframe the narrative concerning an infrastructure bank. Just as carbon trading is a large speculative tool and carbon taxation is probably a more transparent tool for addressing climate change. I think a large infrastructure fund, likely based upon a non-profit model, and directed towards energy/resource efficiency and roll out of renewable energy technologies with a documented ROI across the nation would probably move us in the right direction by both reducing our carbon impacts, creating real returns as fossil fuel prices inevitably rise, and reducing energy costs for consumers through increased efficiency measures both on small scale and the large scale. A fund that would act as a lending facility at market or (potentially below market rates) for projects with clear ROI set up by both private entities (ESCOs, renewable energy developers), non-profit community development funds, and public entities.

      The idea they are presenting has already been co-opted, but that doesn’t suggest that an infrastructure bank couldn’t work towards positive ends.

  2. psychohistorian

    I really like the “…toute-de-fucking-suite?” characterization of Third Way.

    Laugh the global inherited rich out of control of our society and into rooms at the Hague

    1. sgt_doom

      I love those Euro-con neolib/neocon descriptions:

      ‘”center-left coalition”‘ —- hilarious.

      Speaking of public-private partnerships, Dr. Goldberg, in forensic economic research of such things in Australia, made the most brilliant and pithy observations (and these are easily transferrable to so many other securitized financial constructs spewing forth from JPM, GS et al.):

      Paying equity dividends with virtually no cash flow available (CCT)

      The introduction of large spurious amounts of debt capital of unknown origin to augment cash flow, and the drawing down of fictional amounts of capital from
      reserves (LCT).

      The use of dual entries to disguise the non-amortization of project debt (M2).

  3. F. Beard

    it’s the Third Way’s ideologically-based, private-public partnership policy Stuart Zechman [bold added]

    Formerly known as “fascism” or “corporatism” or “crony capitalism”.

    If we need infrastructure building/repairs (and we do), then let the Federal Government finance it with “debt-free” Greenbacks.

    As for the private sector, let it find ways to finance itself without a government enforced money monopoly.

    1. ambrit

      My Dear Mr Beard;
      Your sociopolitical characterization is spot on. Unfortunately for us, this bunch doesn’t even want to bulid trains, much less get them to run on time.
      “Every time I hear the word ‘Democrat,’ I want to reach for my checquebook,” Peterson Koch.

    2. Bluntobj

      The “socialism” straw man that has been sold as the main enemy to the right, and sold to the left as the desired outcome, is being revealed as the fake boogyman. Control of government by the elite is the default historical condition, and that’s where we are heading; it’s not even needed to maintain the pretense of liberalism anymore.

      There will be disillusionment and the associated violence, but I would be willing to forecast that followers of liberalism will accept the decrees of fascism. How effectively can a intellectual tradition that relies on government to accomplish social policy goals by reallocation of material goods and freedoms resist a government that reallocates liberalism’s goods and freedoms?

    3. Cynthia

      Since most of our public services have been handed over to the private sector, the banks might as well jump aboard this gravy train for a free lunch, too. And it should be a piece of cake for them given that they have already become experts at privatizing their gains while socializing their losses.

      Needless to say, private-public partnership, whether it’s “Third Way” driven or not, is just a politically correct Orwellian way of saying crony-corporate fascism — something that would make Madman Mussolini green with envy. I don’t know if it’s in the genes or what, but some of this madness appears to have rubbed off onto Barrack Obama!

      1. Max424

        Good link.

        I always liked the Chaplin double-ass bump. I saw the movie for first time 35 years ago, and ever since, I’ve been waiting for someone — presumably a fat-backed striker — to score a goal with their derriere, but I have yet to see it.

        Charlie showed us the way, showed us La Technique. You’re in the box, you’re back is to the goal, the ball is waist high; what do you do? You blast it into the netting, with your ass.

    4. rotter

      Isnt it amazing how just by calling Fascism a “public private partership” you can get all kinds of otherwise non fascistic lumps into shiny jackboots and a black uniform?

  4. Kathleen4

    Translated message from swamp people:

    We are paranoid and greedy. This is the only way to keep our monies and power. There may be another way for the 99%, but not for us 1%. We call our doctrine the Third-Way.

  5. Fraud Guy

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t most, if not all, large government underwritings of private corporate infrastructure endeavors (canals, railroads, oil & mineral development) usually ended up as massive frauds or bubbles and scandals that wiped out the taxpayer investments while enriching the private investors?

    I’m thinking Crédit Mobilier, Teapot Dome, and the like.

    1. scraping_by

      The cheapest for the taxpayer are military installations and industries turned over to private industry at gimmie prices. Indeed, much of the industrial infrasturcture for WWII was built and run by the army, then sold off for a dollar a factory after VJ Day. This was much of our industry for the following thirty years.

      Harry Truman, as a machine politician from Kansas City, was way outside the New Deal circle until he investigated abuses of defense contracts by private companies. Far more cost, far less done with private contracting.

      So yeah, private/public partnerships are normally slanted.

  6. Middle Seaman

    What a surprise, I never knew that the Democrats are left of center; I believed that the Democrats left the center on the way to the right and haven’t stopped moving yet. The famous deal is almost a Teas plan fully supported by my Democratic congressman and my senators.

    For us old style progressives (i.e. union supporters, blue collar worker support, universal health care, employment as a right) Obama is a Republican dead horse.

    1. Pepe

      Left/Center/Right are really squishy terms, and are not always helpful in discussing policy. None of those positions are static. All keep getting pulled rightward by our Betters.

  7. CB

    This proposal is a repeat of the public-private boondoggle Obama promoted in Chicago in the Grove Parc Plaza housing project: The article appeared in the Boston Globe, of all places, in June 2008. It lays out Obama and his coterie in as much detail as anyone of reasonable decency can stand. It was easily found then, as now, on the web. IMO, the media, especially the fifth column faux liberal media, was in the tank for Obama.

    It’s long but well worth the time. Valerie Jarrett features prominently.

    1. MontanaMaven

      Thank you. Well worth the read indeed. Profiting from people’s desire to live in decent housing to lift themselves out of poverty is one of the most vile ways of making a living that I’ve seen. I grew up on the southwest side of Chicago. The housing projects were a huge mistake and I had hoped that a new way would be found. It certainly wasn’t the Third Way. Keeping the manufacturing jobs would have been where the young senator’s efforts should have been. But there’s not the easy money that is to be found in the real estate development game.

      1. different clue

        How was anyone going to keep jobs in Chicago or anywhere else in the teeth of Clinton’s NAFTA, Clinton’s MFN status for China, and Clinton’s WTO membership for America? (All of which were designed to exterminate millions of jobs in America). Not that Obama ever wanted to keep any jobs here anyway. Obama is just another Hamilton Project Rubinite/ Wall Street Clintonite in a Party full of similar vile filth.

        About the Boston Globe article, I never heard about it at the time. Did the Clinton Campaign make any serious efforts to publicise and viralize it?

        1. CB

          I didn’t see any effort along those lines, but I get nearly all my newsy doings off the web these days. Clinton tried to raise the issue directly in one of the debates and Obama threw up the STOP sign with “No, no, no!” Given the format and the environment at the time, that was the end of it. Obama’s momentum was really rolling and almost nobody in the MSM and the liberal media was raising anything but hosannas. Adolph Reed, U of P, refers bitterly to the left, especially the Nation, “idiotic slurping” over him. It’s a fascinating read because Katha Pollitt, who writes for the Nation, went bullshit rhapsodic in one of her pieces, called Obama the politician of a generation. I mean, she was IN LOVE. In the link, you’ll notice she makes one comment and then disappears, I suspect melting before the heat of Adolph Reed’s fury.

          Anyway, another fairly long read but worth every sentence of it.

  8. Dan B

    The political system cannot solve problems because its master solution is to reignite perpetual growth so that the current distribution of wealth, status and power -and corruption- remains intact. Peak oil changes this and so will/is accompanying ecological dilemmas as we hit the limits to growth. New jobs can come from designing a “Small Is Beautiful” society -if this is still possible without a population die-back. And we must act as if it is possible.

    1. Predict the future

      …and if your unevidenced faith in “peak oil” is false?
      What if, instead, oil is and has been grotesquely over-priced (in terms of sale price versus costs-of-production) solely due to “intractable violent conflict” in the Middle East, and any place else where there is oil?

      That is to say: maybe it’s the presence of the violence and conflict itself which is what makes the oil “valuable”?

      Maybe the wars of the Middle East are now about keeping the price of oil higher than it otherwise would be, a kind of tax on everything and everybody, everywhere.

      What won’t people do for money? Especially to people who are not considered to be their countrymen or co-religionists?

      1. Dan B

        “Faith” is not my concern, the fact that oil production hit a plateau in 2005 is. And your use of “maybe the wars of the Middle East” is another way of expressing faith in your speculation. Try this empirical prediction: the only way oil prices come down is when unemployment increases/demand is destroyed. If this relationship is incorrect, then peak oil is not here.

        1. Predict the future

          It seems that some VIPs have “invested” quite a bit in the “peak oil” theory. But where’s their proof?

          People who know the oil business inside and out would beg to differ. See the work of Daniel Yergin:

          which attracted an attack from here:

          The Foreign policy boys seem to NEED to buy this theory…why?

          So..where’s your proof of this “peak oil” THEORY?
          Or are Yergin’s history, facts and figures wrong? And if wrong, precisely where and how so?

          1. predict the future

            How about that the price of cotton and the US Civil war?

            “On the eve of the American Civil War in the mid-1800s cotton was America’s leading export, and raw cotton was essential for the economy of Europe. The cotton industry was one of the world’s largest industries, and most of the world supply of cotton came from the American South. This industry, fueled by the labor of slaves on plantations, generated huge sums of money for the United States and influenced the nation’s ability to borrow money in a global market. In many respects, cotton’s financial and political influence in the 19th century can be compared to that of the oil industry in the early 21st century. ”

            Like oil now, was it?

            “The cotton surplus delayed the “cotton famine” and the crippling of the British textile industry until late 1862. But when the cotton famine did come, it quickly transformed the global economy. The price of cotton soared from 10 cents a pound in 1860 to $1.89 a pound in 1863-1864.”

            Like oil now, indeed.

          2. Anonymous Jones

            It’s amazing how quickly the crazies come out when the words “peak oil” are mentioned.

            The “theory” of peak oil cannot be false. It is impossible. There is obviously a limited supply of oil under the ground. The earth is only so large. There are no gnomes under the ground making more oil down there. Eventually, we will reach a point at which we reach peak extraction (and future extraction will always be lower than that point). This is simply a truism, and that you don’t see it is extremely, extremely embarrassing and discredits everything you say.

            Yes, we might be two centuries away from reaching the point of “peak oil.” I certainly have no good predictions on when that point will be reached.

            But to not understand that this point will be reached? Sorry. Relax. Stop embarrassing yourself. Try to only talk about things you actually know. It’ll be less pain and embarrassment for you. I’m almost sure of it.

          3. Chris

            When oil companies make 9 billiion in profit in a quarter where demand had already tanked, little argument can bbe made that oil is over priced

        2. different clue

          About oil “peaky or not” . . . there are websites where one can go to read up on this. The Oil Drum.
          ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil).
          ODAC (Oil Depletion Analysis Center).

          A website called Energy Bulletin carries articles about this and other things.

          An amateur econoblogger called Steve In Virginia has a blog called Economic Undertow where he discusses post-peak oil from time to time.

          These sites can all be googled.

          1. rotter

            annony jones is quite correct. Our entire civilzation, the whole ,great post industrial moon landing emailing tea partying third way-ing culture is predicated on the continued availability of oil. All “arguments” against the fact that we must eventually use it all up, rely on magical “undiscovered technologies”. Technologies which will defy the laws of energy and matter conservation and provide something for nothing energy. oil is not magical, it is the chemically stored sunlight energy of long geological epochs of earths history. when its gone…its fucking gone. and no amount of alchol(maybe you should drink it instead?) or nuclear reactor produced hydrogen, or windmill cars, or farming the skies, will substitute for it. when this comes up the economist types who have been pretty fully defined on this site, start talking about sperm whales, or tulips, or cotton, or some other irrelevant nonsense.

      2. sgt_doom

        Well, it has been grossly overpriced thanks to ultra-leveraged speculation runs from time-to-time (i.e., Goldman Sachs/Morgan Stanley on ICE Futures, etc., along with Phibro), but today it requires one barrel of oil to extract three barrels, on the average, while back in the ’60s and ’70s the same one barrel would yield hundreds of barrels of oil.

  9. aet

    The British are big on these PPPs:

    …and it’s being spread around the world :

    The problem which needs to be ‘explained away”:

    …the cost per dollar of financing of PPPs is higher than government debt:

    • differenceof200-300basispoints

    That is to say, that PPPs cost the public more than governmentally financed operations over time….boy it’s important that people make money profits off everything that people do.

    Isn’t it?

  10. wunsacon

    Edward Bernays helped market cigarettes to women as “torches of freedom”. Plutocrats will sell us their ill wares in whatever packaging they think pleases some demographic.

  11. Mark C

    Give the movement conservatives credit; infiltrating the Democratic Party via organizations like the DLC and its mutant offspring like the Third Way was a masterstroke. It has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams no doubt

    At this point, through the efforts of closeted Republicans like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, they have almost completed the dismantling of the New Deal.

    All that’s really left is Social Security, and BarryO and the “Democrats” are killing that off by defunding it through endless payroll deduction cuts as we speak.

    Bring on this conservative utopia the Plutocratic Party has worked so tirelessly for over a generation to achieve, and that most Americans seem to believe they will be better off under. At this point I believe the American people deserve everything they (don’t) get.

    I’m prepared. Are you?


    1. ambrit

      Dear Mark C;
      We’re doing what we can mate.
      Those pesky conservative types are making a fundamental mistake in their thinking. I posit that the 1930’s reforms were designed to stabilize the society so as to reduce class conflicts to a manageable minimum. Hence, when the social disruptions begin, and no amount of ‘electronoc surveillance’ or ‘action team exaecises’ will stop it, the uber class will have no one but themselves to blame. Make no mistake about it, the coming decades will see the ressurection of militant unionism, and active anarchism. The mobs will roar and the bombs will fly. Read the history of America during the Robber Baron era if you doubt my predictions.

  12. chris

    Wonderfully pragmatic of the globalists/new world order roundheels to be so fully attentive to the oligarchical collective.

    Their reward shall be great.

  13. Meg

    I’m new to this topic and the politics lurking behind it. This NIB sounds similar the line of bull I hear in education circles: “charter schools is a solution to the education crisis!” Liberals do tend to get suckered into The Latest Political Theater Prop, although in my circle of friends “banking policy” is really not their main concern – it’s health care and education.

  14. Jeff

    Quoting an erudite NC poster from last week…
    apologies for forgetting your name

    “Our household routinely returns all Obama fund raising mailers with a polite note explaining we don’t donate to Democrats who advocate cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I voted for him and will vote for him again as the lesser of two evils, but I won’t give him a dime or display a yard sign or a bumper sticker. We have already cut up our Obama 2008 t-shirts to use as cleaning rags.”

    1. different clue

      If you vote for Obama, you risk getting a President who secretly conspires to destroy Social Security while pretending not to.

      Whereas if you vote third party (or not for any President at all), you lower Obama’s chances of getting another 4 years to plot against Social Security; and you raise your chances of getting a Republican who can’t get away with “Nixon goes to China” the way that Trojan Horse Obama the Manchurian Democrat hopes to. If we get a Republican President, the Democratic officeholders will pretend to defend Social Security in a way they won’t even pretend to if Obama gets re-elected.

  15. orionATL

    hey, wait a minute!

    there’s more than one third way?

    “… THE THIRD WAY was conceived and developed …to perfect the relationship between people and dogs by KNOWING more about dogs and dog behavior, LOVING dogs for what they are, and TEACHING dogs how to live in harmony with people. ..”

    substitite “your ordinary american citizen” for “dog” and

    “MOTU” for “people”

    and the two “third way’s” are resolved into one.

  16. steelhead23

    There is a certain ironic humor here. We, smarter than a 5th grader lefties, laugh at the tea party originators, who began with simple premise – TARP was unfair and government should “stop the looting, start prosecuting” and watched incredulously as the Kochs turned their fledgling populist movement into a fearsome God, Gays, and Guns conservative political machine. Yet, we cling to the Democratic Party that is corporatist to its core, because it is “better than the alternative.” I am going to change my political affiliation so I could vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary (yes, I know where he stands on the issues – I only care about one), but let me tell you, the Occupy Wall Street movement, with its incoherent anger at Wall Street, is closer to my political views than the majority of the Democratic Party – and certainly its leadership. In Nov. 2012, I may well vote for Obama, but I will not feel good about it.

    1. chris

      If you vote for the lesser of two evils you are still voting for evil.

      You may want to check Ron Paul’s campaign managers hiring a lawyer (Bruce Fein) that has ties to the MIC as well as representing foreign interests.

      1. Valissa

        I’m tentatively planning on writing in Ron Paul in honor of his admirably Quixotic Quest for the presidency of Pax Americana. Also considering NONE OF THE ABOVE or maybe I’ll make up some snarky fake name or if there is a tolerable 3rd party candidate maybe I’ll go that way… but I am most certainly not voting for any Demopublicans-Republicrats for prez. At the lower levels of gubmint, I’ll either vote strategically or whimsically… that will depend on what’s going on then. One thing’s for sure, there’s no point in voting based on ideology… that’s a suckers game for sure.

  17. Economista Non Grata

    It’s all just one big funny joke….. I mean, do these people really take themselves seriously….? All these great Ideas…. WOW….! What we need is a fish tank, not a think tank…!

    1. Valissa

      “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in the boat and drink beer all day.”—OldFox

      “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to sell fish and he eats steak.”—Author unknown

      “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you can sell him fishing equipment.”—Author unknown

  18. beowulf

    More like public-private graft. Why does the the US Treasury need to leverage anything, it has a license to print money! There was a bipartisan bill offered a few years ago that would fund infrastructure projects without inviting the three way crowd to the party.

    The Kucinich-LaTourette bill would create the Federal Bank for Infrastructure Modernization (FBIM). The bank, as an extension of the Federal Financing bank under the Treasury Department, would establish zero-interest mortgage loans for states and local governments to use to fund specific projects. The loans would bear a small fee of one-quarter of one percent of the loan principle to cover the administrative costs of the FBIM. The bill would not require Congress to appropriate any funds and would effectively double the amount of financing that is available to states and localities for infrastructure investment.

    1. chris

      You mean the same Federal Financing Bank that loaned (at obscenely low interest rates) funds to Solyndra?

      Why does that sound like crony socialism when the Democrats run the place and crony capitalism when the Republicans run the place?

  19. Hugh

    No one else owns your vote. It’s yours. Lesser evilism is predicated on the notion that you owe your vote to people who don’t represent your views. You don’t. It is sold to you as slowing the forces of corruption. This is untrue. Lesser evilism is a dodge that keeps real opposition from forming. Its effects are cumulative. So rather than facing a smaller evil early on you end up facing a much greater one later on.

    If Obama, the Democrats, and the Republicans don’t represent your views don’t vote for them. Don’t couch your capitulation to them as the wise or pragmatic move. It isn’t. All it does is pave the way for greater evil. Just say no.

  20. sgt_doom

    Outstanding blog post, and to add my humble comments regarding the entire political theater of the absurd, the official Wall Street smokescreen:

    Try examining all those presidential appointments in the Reagan, Bush #1, Clinton, Bush #2 and Obama administrations.

    Notice the incredible similarities???? Note the proliferation of reappearing names from Reagan and Bush in Clinton’s administration, then reappearing in Bush #2, then once again in Obama?

    Note how neocons from Schwarzenegger’s state government administration (CA) later appear in Obama’s administration?

    Note how the former consultants on that Cheney/Poindexter Total Information Awareness Project later appear in Obama’s administration?

    Note how that congressman, Jim Kolbe, who was Reagan’s point man for offshoring American jobs back in 1986 is now Obama’s trade representative?

    Note how Larry Summers and Timmy Geithner first appear in Bush #1’s administration, reappear in Clinton’s, then once again in Obama’s administration?

    When the same people appear from Reagan to Obama, that is called a seamless continuum, all the same perpetrators, just a few different sock puppets at top.

    And it’s even worse when the nepotism is examined? After all, Obama reappointed Bush’s (#1, then #2’s) Robert Mueller as FBI Director, while it was President John F. Kennedy who fired Robert Mueller’s grand-uncle from the CIA, Richard Bissell.

    Know who Timothy Geithner is descended from?? (HINT: related on the Moore-Mellon side, and was also treasury secretary at the previous worst time)

    Know who Diana Farrell’s daddy was? (She’s the number one jobs-offshoring specialist in America whom Obama appointed to his economics council — she’s since left — and she wasn’t even an economist!)

    How many of those on the Joint Chiefs of Staff also had daddies who served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff? The number is truly mind-boggling, dudes!

    Robert Gates, former SecDef, remember who was SecDef during the ’50s? Uncle Gates, that’s who!

    When one drills down, it gets worse and worse and worse……

    Matt Keiser and the great and wonderful Roseanne Barr:

  21. Stuart Zechman

    Why, yes!

    In this respect, it’s difficult to successfully parody the Third Way ideologues in the Democratic Party (and their associated think tanks and message shops).

    It’s like trying to write an Onion piece on Tom Friedman without actually headlining “Friedman to Arab states: ‘Suck. On. This.'”

    Here’s something that is, unfortunately, a little more serious.

    1. Barbyrah

      Stuart, simply…one of the most well-written, entertaining, clever, and (unfortunately) accurate pieces I’ve read about the “reality” of the Democratic Party.

      Thanks for sharing your talent for observing – and writing -with the rest of us.


      1. Barbyrah

        P.S. Just got through perusing the first 10-20 pages of the report you linked to in your own URL link above (Third Way and the Middle Class, February 2007). FYI: Jaw is still dropped to the floor.

        1. beowulf

          Borrow a page from the Republican stump speeches (“the Democrat party”) and intentionally call them by the wrong name, Three Way instead of Third Way.

  22. CR

    Think tank elites and pundits believe they have much more power and influence than they actually do. Only if dissent can be tamped down enough can their policy schemes be taken as definitive. As dissent becomes stronger, more visible, and more representative of actual lived experience their schemes are exposed for what they are.

    It is important to remind ourselves and remember, as obvious a fact as it is, that the brief of think tank elites and pundits is to plan and control and render “governable” the 99%ers in ways that privilege their benefactors. They are bought and paid for from day one. Their opinions and schemes are always suspect. They receive far more respect and deference than they deserve.

    It will become more and more difficult to dismiss as “merely anecdotal” the lived experience of tens and hundreds of millions of people.

    I wonder what would happen if people could refuse to endorse the candidates the kleptocracy offers us not out of despair but as a political act. Would it be possible to affect a partial boycott or strike of the vote in a way that could make claims of “consent” of the voters illegitimate?

    1. different clue

      Cast mainly blank ballots. Vote about initiatives and referrenda. If one finds a candidate who is not Third Way infected or Republican contaminated, one could vote for that candidate.

      Other than that, leave every line “about” someone blank.

  23. different clue

    If genuine legitimate “democratic” voter-citizens wish to purge, burn, disinfect, and decontaminate the Third Way presence from out of the Democratic Party, they are going to have to accept several election cycles of Republican pain in the meantime. Because the only political antibiotic I can think of for the Yersinia pestis germs known as Third Way is to vote against every Democrat in every election at every level until we get Democrats to vote for who are entirely non-infected with the Third Way political HIV virus. It would have to be a very thorough debridement and incineration at every level of the Democratic Party where the Clostridium perfringens Third Way gangrene is discovered to exist.

    If people are not prepared to suffer as many Republican years or decades as it takes to remove the Third Way cancer cells from the Democratic Party, then people are not serious about disinfecting and decontaminating the Democratic Party. In which case, they should stop pretending like they care if they really don’t care.

  24. rotter

    This is the infrastructure and municipal and public works equivalent of the odious Health Care Reform bill.They are quite litterally inhabitting and taking up ownership of their privately purchased Fed.govt. We are no longer governed by law, to say nothing of the absurdly quaint fantasy of, “of the people, by the people, for the people”, unless you are olnly talking about 3000 very very very monstrously rich people. Then that statement is untterly, and completely true and applicable. Its just the the rest of us arent quite “people” in the “New America”.

  25. anonymous

    if you could take ten minutes and remove all the ‘clever’ ‘witty’ asides and winks from the article, then maybe ordinary people could read it.

  26. Enrico Malatesta

    Why does this scheme come across to me as if they are structuring Student College Loans for Municipalities?

  27. djrichard

    Thing like this are easier to understand when I realize what we really live under is a kingdom (which includes Fed Gov, WallStreet/Banks). And the peasants are the play thing of the people who wield the power and the glory of the kingdom. Sometimes those in power are feeling generous and want the peasants to thrive. Othertimes, those in power want to move the pendulum back to what they think the peasants deserve (in a negative sense). Right now, the pendulum is toward the latter. [This is where Obama’s head is at too.]

    So any initiative either empowers the peasants, or it empowers those that are of the kingdom. There’s a layer in-between there as well, sort of a channel-to-market for the kingdom to control the peasants, and that can be empowered too.

    I place infrastructure banks in the category of things which empower the layer in-between.

    1. djrichard

      So peasants protesting against the kingdom now-of-days isn’t any different than peasants protesting against other kingdoms in older times. It’s kind of pointless.

      If the kingdom’s good depends on the peasant’s good, then there’s a common good, i.e. common ground and the kingdom should be able to connect the dots for a win/win solution. If there isn’t a common good, the peasants are screwed – they might as well be slaves. In which case, the only hope for the peasants is that the kingdom is not sustainable.

      In present day, the kingdom is dependent on the peasants being a market. If the kingdom wants that comnmon ground (the consumer market) to thrive, then it will eventually figure out what to do to make it functional. About the only power the peasants wield in this situation is to stop shopping.

      1. different clue

        Reverend Billy of the Church of Life After Shopping can offer you the spiritual inspiration and guidance you need to Stop Shopping! Stop Shopping Now! (Regretably, he has changed the Church’s name to Church of Earthalujah. Church of Life After Shopping was a much better name. )

        Seriously, if enough of us just slowed down our shopping . . . went on a National Consumer Slowdown . . . it might cause some attention-getting pain.

        If we focused our thinking tighter, we could rank powerful economic/bussiness actors along a scale from White Hat to Black Hat, with shades of gray, black-and-white checkers, and black-and-white plaid in between. We could divert our shopping towards the White Hat actors and sectors and away from the Black Hat sectors and actors. “Move Your Money” is an effort to apply this thinking to banking by moving your money away from Black Hat megabanks into White Hat minibanks and microbanks and credit unions. Better to pay my fellow American bicycle repair shop owner to fix my bike for the 25th time than to pay the Black Hat Outsourcers for a semi-slave labor new bike from China. Approaches like that.

        Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.

        I’d rather fix Phil Gramm’s wagon than pull it.

        I am not my keeper’s brother.

        1. djrichard

          I’m starting to think serious about this too, that this could be a protest movement that has teeth.

          In my mind it’s not any different than what african americans did in the 60s when they boycotted busses and establishments for equal rights.

          1. rotter

            I would add further, demand American made, if not locally made products. If there isnt one THEN dont buy, and make sure you tell them why you arent buying.

        2. rotter

          No need to qualify that statement with “semi”. Slave labor is a FACT in Taiwan, and Indonesia. When you buy products made in SE Asia, which is where the offshore manufacturing syndicate is heading in droves, FROM China, then you are probably buying slave made products. It hardly matters since even those workers not meeting the legal definition of slave, are certainly virtual slaves anyway.

        3. djrichard

          Continuing from above …

          The great thing about boycotts is that everybody can participate in it without risk. In addition, people understand how it’s worked successfully before and can understand how to repeat that going forward, the difference now being to do it on a much larger scale than what’s been attempted before. This has to be done on a national scale to bring the leverage needed to jolt the other side into recognition.

          The key is to boycott things that the other side can’t afford to ignore. I saw the mention further above about boycotting voting. Well our kingdom can afford to ignore that boycott. But our kingdom can’t afford to ignore boycotts which impact their bottom line: i.e. boycotts on shopping (e.g. at corporate chains), boycotts on increasing debt (better yet pay off debts), etc.

          [That said, part of me wonders whether the shadow economy is bigger than the main street economy. In which case, the kingdom doesn’t really need us peasants and could care less about any quaint little boycott we might attempt. I like to think that the kingdom still needs us peasants at the end of the day, so let’s give it a go.]

          Another great thing about boycotts is that they are not supposed to be the end game. Rather, boycotts are a suspension of business until remedies are effected. So it gives the other side a reason to seek out a win/win solution.

          1. different clue

            The experiment deserves to be tried for several years at least to see what happens. I myself am thinking of something beyond mere protest. I am thinking of us in the Lower Class Majority holding up our end of the Class War which the OverClass Minority has been waging against us for several decades without declaring it in hopes that we would never notice. But now we are starting to notice. So I am thinking of a Civil Cold War of Economic Extermination aGAINST the OverClass. Mass Leaderless Economic Rebellion.
            Uncivil obedience in the passive-aggressive-obstructive spirit of the old Spanish colonial saying: “I obey but I do not comply”.

            How many people would have to sever how many relationships with Bank of America before we collectively can force it into catastrophic liquidation? And with the inspiration of that victory leading us forward, which other Black Hat Perpetrator Banks can we target and force into liquidation? How many would we need to force into liquidation (if we can) to decrease their political power over us through brute force attrition of their numbers?

            If we can’t buy American because it doesn’t exist, can we at least buy European? Or buy semi-well-payed somewhat-unionized Korean? There are alternatives to buying from the Class Enemy Corporations who have outsourced our jobs into exile and captivity in China/SouthEast Asia/Haiti/Mexico/etc. There is a whole ladder of semi-bad between the high-wage Unionized Good and the slave-wage anti-Unionized Evil. We should research these things.

            (Oops. Back to work. Gotta go).

      2. LeeAnne

        Looks like they’ve decided to find their consumers in China where 300,000,000 middle class are anticipated. And Communism keeps the slave labor in line with less, if any, consumer protections or corporate regulation for American companies co-produce their shoddy goods.

        Can’t wait ’til they start selling made-in-China cars here. NOthing else made in China works. Talk about the race to the bottom. We won. Yeh! Go America. You can’t buy a safety pin that works -all made in China, and the metal in kitchen utensils is a potential threat for poison.

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