Black Report: Majority of Wall St. Money Now Goes to Romney

Bill Black is the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He blogs at New Economic Perspectives. Here he’s interviewed by Paul Jay of the Real News Network.

More at The Real News

Lambert here:

The whole thing is worth a listen, or the transcript worth a read, like anything from Black. But this paragraph caught my eye:

BLACK: Well, today I looked at what you would learn, if you read The Wall Street Journal, about finance, our premiere business reportage. And what you’d learn is something really quite extraordinary. You would learn that money had shifted dramatically in this election. Whereas in the first time the then-senator Obama ran for the presidency, he received 57 percent, or the Democrats received 57 percent of the funding, now the Republicans received 63 percent. And in this news report, mind you, not an op-ed, not an editorial, the reporters said that this was due to the fact that President Obama had demonized the industry. So, again, this is supposedly a straight news report that President Obama had demonized banking in the United States, and as a result, the banking industry had turned on him.

So this is just an extraordinary invention, because President Obama has actually bailed out the financial industry and indeed has protected the financial industry from criticism and from meaningful transition.

That funding shift sounds like the ratchet effect to me. I’m going to quote a great slab of material:

The American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties — Republicans and Democrats — play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation.

The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward.

The Democrats’ role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don’t resist the rightward movement — they let it happen — but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason [for example, the financial crisis of 2008], the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left. …

Here’s how it works. In every election year, the Democrats come and tell us that the country has moved to the right, and so the Democratic Party has to move right too in the name of realism and electability. Gotta keep these right-wing madmen out of the White House, no matter what it takes. [Sound familiar?]…

So now the Democrats have moved to the “center.” But of course this has the effect of shifting the “center” farther to the right.

Now, as a consequence, the Republicans suddenly don’t seem so crazy anymore — they’re closer to the center, through no effort of their own, because the center has shifted closer to them. So they can move even further right, and still end up no farther from the “center” than they were four years ago. …

The ratchet clicks: Nixon. The pawl holds: Carter. Click again: Reagan. And again: Bush Senior (and Iraq War I). The pawl holds: Clinton. Click: Bush Junior and Iraq War II; then another click, and it’s Bush Junior triumphant, and God knows what to come [Obama, a pawl]. …

I have a somewhat unlikely friend, a rich man in Chicago — let’s call him Al. …. [H]e is a well-connected, intelligent guy who has some pet political causes. I happened to ask him one year, during a Senatorial campaign, which candidate he and his friends were contributing to. Both candidates were quite friendly to his cause, and I thought he might have had a hard time deciding between them. Al looked at me as if I had just revealed unsuspected depths of idiocy. “Both, of course,” he replied.


“Well, we’re giving a little more to X [the Republican], naturally, ’cause he’s got a better chance of winning. But we’ve given a lot to Y [the Democrat], too. In fact, I think we may be his biggest single bloc of support.”

“But… which one do you want to win?”

He laughed. “It doesn’t matter. We own ’em both.”

So there you have it.

* * *

I’m not sure the ratchet effect works as a model; I think the political system is more complicated than that; but it sure does work as a metaphor, doesn’t it? Or does it?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Chris Rogers


    I think Bill hits the nail on the head, hence the current Presidential contest is but a joke, one regrettably upon the vast majority of the US population.

    The same can be said for the UK election of May 2010, both traditional legacy UK Parties (Conservatives and Labour) went into an election fully armed with fiscal debt reduction plans – much as both US Parties have their crosshairs on social welfare, medicare etc. etc.

    Indeed, as most have noted, these retrenchments/cuts will be more likely under Obama than Romney – so much for Progressive Democrats.

    For the sake of all, I hope a reasonable number of folks vote for Third Party candidates, specifically Jill Stein if she’s on the State ticket.

    1. RepubAnon

      Yeah, because the folks voting for Ralph Nader did so much to shift the Overton Window to the left.

      Let’s face it, folks: 2+ months before a Presidential election isn’t the time to try a third-party insurgency. Absent a large amount of money and the support of a major media organization, the time to start influencing the 2020 election is right now: first, by voting against Romney, next by organizing at the local level (in the Ron Paul model) to take over the local party apparatus.

      If we let the Republicans control the Executive branch as well as the Congress and the Supreme Court – anyone to the left of Rush Limbaugh will quite likely be preemptively arrested for something like attempted conspiracy to commit eco-terrorism, or some such. (Don’t laugh – some folks got themselves arrested and imprisoned during the 1950s Red Scares for attempting to conspire to overthrow the US Government. Their crime? Trying to form a third political party.)

      1. RepubAnon

        If I’m remembering correctly, the case was:

        DENNIS v. UNITED STATES, 341 U.S. 494 (1951) (

        Seems as though some folks were trying to organize a Communist Party – for which, they were imprisoned for a number of years, which a majority of the US Supreme Court upheld.

        From the dissent of Justice Black: “At the outset I want to emphasize what the crime involved in this case is, and what it is not. These petitioners were not charged with an attempt to overthrow the Government. They were not charged with overt acts of any kind designed to overthrow the Government. They were not even charged with saying anything or writing anything designed to overthrow the Government. The charge was that they agreed to assemble and to talk and publish certain ideas at a later date…”

        When Justice Scalia holds down the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, I expect similar laws will be enacted to prevent anyone from seeking to form a political party advocating environmental or banking regulations.

  2. F Libertarians!

    hahahahahahahaha…One of the reasons Obama sold out was because he believed that, if he lost his re-election bid, he would be guaranteed a position on the Board of Directors of one of the big Wall Street banks as compensation for his service to Wall Street. It is quite obvious that Wall Street has now turned its back on Obama. So what in Heavens will Obama do after he loses the 2012 election? Perhaps, he can become mayor of Oakland, CA.

    P.S. Yes, I am voting Third Party even though I know the Third Party has no chance of winning. I refuse to cast my vote for any of these fake pieces of shit Democrats and Republicans who are going to do absolutely nothing but blow hot air up our asses while they stab us in the back and deliver us to the big campaign financiers who literally own their positions in political offce. If there is no Third Party candidate, I am going to write my dog’s name in instead.

    1. sd

      Every vote for a third party candidate – any third party candidate – represents money that did not go into the legacy party coffers.

      And that’s a good thing.

      1. vtek


        as an aside, by describing the democrats only as pawls, the article slyly makes the case that the dems are the more palatable choice as at least they won’t move further to the right. i think this is misleading as obama has certainly moved further to the right on a number of key issues including presidential transparency and accountability and prosecution of whistleblowers, in addition to sanctioning just about any senior level financial crime.

  3. Jackrabbit

    Obama is not the same Muppet he was in 2008 so Wall Street is turning to an insider.

    Unfortunately, after poisoning the well of ‘hope’ by cynical, self-serving politics like ‘hippy punching’ and ‘runway foaming’, Obama is forced to fan fears of the ‘other guy’.

    I suppose The Teleprompter’s political handlers will try to spin his record, so a brief review is in order:

    – Obamacare: sell out to the insurance industry

    – Wall Street: ‘lacky’ is too nice a word
    (and now we can add ‘putz’ as Wall Street’s lack of gratitude was so predictable)

    – Global Warming: ??? Oh yeah, Solyndra ($500 million govt guaranteed loan to crony-owned Co. is vaporized)

    – ‘got’ OBL: Um…YOU didn’t do that :)

    – ended DADT: well, someone’s got to fight the wars.
    ‘Evolving’ stance toward gays: ROTFLMFAO.

    – Economy: FUBAR (but kudos for saving GM)
    The real savings rate is about -2%, The real unemployment rate is >12% and many of those who _are_ employed are working part-time and/or in low-paying, unfulfilling jobs.

    – ‘Fast and Furious’: aptly describes the outrage

    – Civil Rights? This Constitutional Lawyer signed NDAA; and, continues the practice of signing statements, which he said he would put an end to during the 2008 campaign. Oh, and Town Halls(which seemed to be part of the ‘change’ he promised)? Aborted.

    Maybe he would redeem himself in a second term. But many will not trust him again. Personally, I don’t even care about some of the above – except that, taken as a whole, it illuminates the character of the Obama Administration.

    But Obama is just a symptom of our diseased politics. That’s why I sympathize with the the earlier comments: the only rational vote this year is for a third party candidate.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      What the heck, it’s a lazy holiday morning so I’ll take the bait.

      I’m not pleased with Obama because he’s made some huge mistakes; but Obama was stopped at every turn by the GOP in Congress, who appear to believe that raped women don’t get pregnant, that global warming is a ‘hoax’, and that they could score political points a little over one year ago by defaulting on the federal debt.

      Obama may not be perfect, but he’s had to deal with lunatics.
      Meanwhile, who are the lunatics supporting? A hedge fund prince. Go figure.

      The GOP is so completely a tool of the EMH Free Marketeer fantasists that they are running a hedge fund prince, who does not believe that he has to reveal his tax records, nor account for his tax havens in the Caymans, Switzerland, or elsewhere.

      Fundamentally, what we have in the US right now is a crisis of legitimacy, and for good reasons. We have two political parties that suck at the teat of global finance, and basically function as political pimps for corporate interests.

      After a generation of Free Marketeer bullshit, after a generation of ‘cutting taxes’ as the solution to every perceived public problem, and after a generation of enabling corporations — both through the courts (see eCONned for more) as well as through legislation and ‘the revolving door’ between agencies and the private sector — a lot of us are completely fed up with the corrupt, mindless stupidity we see before us.

      I sympathize with, and respect, people feeling so completely alienated from this corrupt system that they are going to vote third party. If that’s what you need to do, then do it. But that does not make it okay to pose false equivalencies that argue that Obama is ‘just as bad as’ a callow, craven snake like Romney.

      Vote third party if you must.
      But please spare me the false equivalences: there is zero evidence that Obama ever set up tax havens in the Caymans or levered companies into such debt that they had to file for bankruptcy. Failing to make those distinctions leads to no end of confusion, and right now in my view we all **really** need to be thinking as clearly as possible about economics, economic models, and the dangers of bogus economic beliefs — of which Romney is the walking, talking, true believing embodiment.

      Anyone who has not read Taibbi’s latest piece on Romney and Bain Capital ought to take the time to read it, because it belongs in a time capsule of American history that looks back to the 70s, and attempts to distill the deeper, economic and social meanings of Romney’s candidacy:

      Romney is a True Believer in Finance, and he has no qualms about profiting from: loading companies with debt, sucking out the profits, and sending those profits offshore so that he doesn’t have to help pay taxes to support the families left behind, jobless.

      In other words, Romney appears to be the apotheosis of Unfettered, Unregulated, Free Market Capitalism: environmentally disastrous, destructive of community. Blinding ourselves with false equivilances between Obama and Romney will, I fear, blind us to the necessity of trying to see the problems with Romney’s version of Free Market Capitalism. And failing to try and understand the implications as clearly as possible is, in my very humble opinion, an act of moral cowardice because there is simply too much at stake.

      Romney shows himself as a man who uses Free Market ideology to absent himself from the demands of making moral judgments about economic decisions about the vibrancy, sustainability, and economic viability of communities.

      He calls upon himself to ask *only* whether a decision is good for (his) bottom line, and once his judgment is rendered, no matter how socially destructive, no matter the human cost, Romney views himself as ‘decisive’. But any one of us can be ‘decisive’ if we consider only 1 parameter (‘is it good for my bottom line?’), rather than mull over the complex interactions that might provide a more sustainable economic decision.

      Romney appears to take intellectual shortcuts in order to avoid having to navigate the complex array of emotions that come into play if one actually takes the time to try and suss out the long term impacts on a community of Action A, as opposed to Action B. But the only ‘community’ that Romney seems to value is the one created by his church, which works well for him. But what about the rest of us? (And this is not a slam at Mormons; I grew up among them and have no beef with Romney over his religion.)

      I sympathize with the frustrations on this thread (and at NC, more generally) about political parties, and I recognize that the entire system is undergoing a crisis of legitimacy. (With good reason.)
      But to falsely equate Romney with Obama is intellectually sloppy.

      Go ahead and vote Third Party if you need to, but don’t blind yourself (or me) with false equivalence.

      Romney is the purest expression of global finance that we’ve yet seen run for office. I find it intriguing that he’s running at a time when the system as a whole has become so delegitimized; what he doesn’t seem to realize is that his refusal to release his tax records, his refusal to talk about the money he has stashed in the Caymans, and his refusal to be more open about his history of bankrupting companies only further destroys the system that he claims he wants to control. That should give any voter at least a moment’s pause.

      1. Chris Rogers

        Please, please, please do not use that old chestnut that Obama was obstructed from passing any meaningful legislation, tackling your nations economic ills, passing meaningful comprehensive medical reforms, withdrawing from overseas adventure, enhancing civil liberties or overseeing the construction of a more equal society because of obstructionist Republican fruitcakes in Congress.

        My God man, Bush Junior managed to do more without Congressional consent that harmed the nation, than Obama has even attempted to redress the situation in favour of the vast bulk of your nation state.

        Now, from a purely tactical perspective, all those that desire real change in the USA had better hope for a Romney Presidency, if only to finally push the USA over the edge and allow persons who actually have some meaningful beliefs to come forward and move the nation in a better direction for all.

        In 2008/9 I actually believed that the financial crisis, the one so narrowly averted would be a wakeup call to the powers that be, I was wrong and now we have Romney, the worse of all possible candidates.

        Its has plain as the nose on my face, that four years of Romney, hopefully less, will unleash the next economic crisis, one far worse than the Great Depression – maybe then the Democrats will exhibit some spunk, or, a new socioeconomic system with new political groupings will take centre stage.

        Be it Romney or Obama you get the same – just follow the money and this says it all.

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          I suppose that I’m not inclined to wait for Candidate A or B to win/lose and let all hell break lose before change arrives. Claiming that change will come only when Romney (or whoever) drives the bus off the cliff doesn’t strike me as productive or satisfying.

          Romney will do his utmost to retain and entrench existing, non-sustainable economic models.

          But Romney is desktop.
          And desktop is dead.

      2. Jackrabbit

        The Democrats controlled Congress in his first two years.

        How many times did Obama take his concerns to the people when he was stymied? Why hasn’t he used the bully pulpit?


        There is a difference. Sure. I didn’t say the candidates were equivalent. In fact, in an earlier comment further down the thread, I noted that Obama would let the Bush tax cuts expire while Romney wouldn’t.

        And I noted that the real problem isn’t any one politician but the system. Politicians don’t work for people anymore, they work for the money. As long as the electorate is captured and played against each other, there is scant respect for our vote.

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          As long as the electorate is captured and played against each other, there is scant respect for our vote.

          I think that is pretty well stated. And it applies to all levels of government: local, state, and federal.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      No… The outcomes are constrained, not fore-ordained. Factional conflict up and down the hierarchy, relative autonomy by all the players, the role of “time and chance.” What Our Betters do is make sure of is that they can live with all the outcomes, in the style to which they have become accustomed.

  4. jake chase

    The response of the two major parties to the economic crisis is depressingly similar to the charade they played out over the Vietnam War. Change occurred only because middle class people took their anger (and their fear of conscription, death, dismemberment, etc.) into the streets. So the poltroon politicians ended the draft and now both parties run the endless wars on mercenary troops recycled to the public as ‘heroes’ in advertising and on sports telecasts. The electorate is expected to respond to competing claims that one candidate or the other is worse, a guaranteed disaster who will destroy the country. I wish one Democrat could tell me a single thing which a President McCain might have done which would have made his presidency worse than the one we got by electing BHO. Emma Goldman said it all in 1918: if elections changed anything they would stop holding ’em.

  5. ohmyheck

    Question— If Bill Black used that data, I assume he beleives it/thinks that it is true, but do you, Lambert, think this data is correct? Or do you think it is one blurb in a bunch of blurbs of blurbalicious baloney served up to us by TPTB via the MSM?

    “Well today I looked in the Wall Street Journal”…please.

    I see it as more, “Today the Wall Street Journal wants us to believe that Wall Street is backing Obomney, not Robama.”

    I see that some commenters are using the quote to premise their replies as if it is true. Sorry guys, but I’ll have to disagree. It may be true, it may not be true, but most likely this WSJ info will change tomorrow, all in the name of keeping this dog-and-pony show called an “election” in the minds of those who still believe that any of it matters.

    “Look! Over here!” All to be taken off to places like Red State or Daily Kos, to be scrutinized, analyzed and spun one way or another, to keep the show running and the money flowing, to all those who benefit financially from it.

    Like Lambert’s friend said, “they” back both sides–win-win.

    1. Jill


      I agree that we ought to question the numbers. It would take real reporting to get into the actual numbers. I recently learned about the black budget with regards to campaings. It may well be that the public numbers are exactly as reported. But the black budgets? Who knows,since those numbers aren’t publically available.

      I think the public numbers are being spun as propaganda. Obama supporters take it as a sign that Obama is for the people and they need to work really hard to get a man in there who opposes Wall Street. It seems to erase from their minds, Obama’s actions both currently and since the begining of his administration.

      I wish someone had the resources and courage to dig into the black budget of donations. It would be interesting.

      Still I agree with others that a third party is the only way to go. A vote for Romney or a vote for Obama is a vote for one’s own oppression. There is no reason to vote for either lackey!

    2. Jackrabbit

      Yes, “they” support both parties and Wall Street will do just fine no matter which one wins.

      But the report of more money for Romney vies with my perception that there has been a shift. For example, I hear complaints from Wall Street people about the regulatory burden.

      And many don’t want the Bush Tax Cuts to expire (Obama seems to have been clear on this issue: he will let the cuts expire). There’s a growing distrust of Washington as it slowly dawns on people that the debt ($16T!) is unsustainable and economy is not recovering sufficiently to address it. (In England, there are calls for a one-time tax on the wealthy.) It seems that _somebody_ is going to have to pay for this mess (now 16T of UST Debt!) after all; and with Romney that ‘somebody’ is the Middle Class.

      Obama 2008-2012: Get out of Jail Free
      Romney 2012-2016: Stick your poor relative with the bill

      1. ohmyheck

        I’m sorry, but why would anyone believe that Obama will let the Bush Tax Cuts expire, when he campaigned on it originally, and then, when he had the chance, he kept them in place?

        Lucy and the Football analogy here…I guess we will have to wait and see…if Obama gets re-elected, and then, when the issue comes up again. Sorry, but fool me once….

  6. briansays

    well of course if you have a choice between a corrupt lackey and one of their own/a true believer what would you expect?

    the one thing obama protected them from better are all the little people with their pitchforks but that brand/value has been seriously compromised

    still its far too earlier
    if say mid october it looks like their boy mitt can’t close the deal with the electoral college watch the money shift
    gotta be with the winner for continued access especially since obama won’t be running again and the motive of political self advancement will be diminished
    remember he is less the true believer but has shown he can be bought

    besides the late money won’t be reported until after the election

  7. jerry

    I dig the ratchet effect model, first I’ve heard of this. But it’s a near perfect analogy for sure, Obama is just the latest pawl.

    The third-party nonsense is getting pretty old, just give it up people, it’s lazy politics. The only way to create change at this point is to demand it in the streets, with broken glass and blood if need be.

    1. Chris Rogers


      Sorry, but I cannot presently concur with your comments calling for violent insurrection – my reasoning is simple and has been made previously, but I’ll spell it out again.

      Given the arbitrary powers of the Federal Government, combined with those at a State level, and increased substantially since 9/11, the further paramilitarising of the forces of law and order, and huge developments in brutal types of crowd control – see new chemical agents, high frequency noise generating devices, rifles, plastic bullets, metal shaving filled shotgun cartridges etc.etc. Who do you believe is going to come worse off from direct confrontation – you and your like minded peers no less.

      If we think TPTB were brutal with strikers, trades unionist, civil liberty movement, anti-Vietnam movement etc,etc. this was but all training for what is to come if insurrection were to break out now or in the near future.

      Yes people as pissed off, yes they want meaningful change, and yes to the fact many know the current election, that in 2008, 2004, 2000 and probably 1996 were a charade, a sham of epic proportions.

      Now, given the above facts, and the fact that the Legacy Parties do not represent the great many in the USA presently, is it not at least advisable on this occasion to get as many persons to vote as possible for non-legacy party politicians and hopefully, and finally put pay to the myth that their is meaningful democracy/political engagement in the States.

      By at least voting for third party candidates, you are being supportive of democracy and honouring hard fought for rights gained by past generations.
      Further, once it becomes apparent to a majority of the populace that most in Washington and State Capitals are corrupt and far from democratic, their disgust hopefully will be registered in a ballot box.

      Its not about giving the corrupt present system a chance, its about allowing the present system to bury/destroy itself from its own lies and contradictions.

      Indeed, the way its looking, and with a Romney win, the change you aspire too will come quicker than you may imagine.

      So, please do vote for a non-legacy party candidate and keep the fuse of your molotov cocktail wet ready for use another day, if it is necessary.

      Indeed, after another few years of this pretence Democracy, one spark is all it may take to bring the entire charade down – but do let them dig themselves further into their own grave before launching a violent insurrection with honourable motives that the vast bulk of the populace will support/ understand, if not actively engage in themselves.

      That day will come, but not this year I’m afraid.

      1. jerry

        Supporting democracy in a non-democratic state doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. You can sit back with your third-party vote and enjoy that warm little feeling, the rest of us don’t have another four years to sit around getting ass-raped by this parasitic economy and fraudulent political masquerade, in the distant hope of change from a third-party.

        It ain’t gona happen my friend, wake up. No one in Washington gives a shit about your precious third party, they will buy the votes and buy the elections as they have always done, this year is no exception.

    2. ohmyheck

      If it’s mass-organizing we are talking about, why not hit ’em where it hurts? Massive protests re the Money Flow—why don’t we all stop paying our mortgages, car payments, credit card debt, etc.?

      If this happened on a huge, organized level, the same way you think about violence in the streets, well, just think about the repercussions.

      Heck, it may come down to just what I suggested anyway, when people simply cannot keep paying. Drip, drip drip, or all at once, but TPTB cannot bleed blood from a stone.

      1. jerry

        Hm not a bad idea, a financial revolution you say! Although I see the end results of this course of action as being roughly the same – Johnny law will be in on the action sooner or later either way.

        1. darms

          Today over 1% of our population are in jails or prisons. Could they really afford to lock up >10% or more of the population? At the least, how could they find enough guards?

        2. btdt

          jerry, just saw you post a reply. perhaps you are still online. I could be wrong, but it sounds like you are new to the movement. For years there has been a constant debate between those who support and those who oppose the tactics of the black block. This debate continues because there is always a fresh supply of fresh angry young men (and a few women) who feel like a riot is the best way to express themselves and who have either not heard of alternatives or just are too angry to really consider the longterm impact of various strategies.

          In general, violence and property destruction statisfies the person doing it, but no one else. It is easily dismissed by the mainstream, so not only is the point lost, but it polarizes the issue and sets people against you. The only positive thing that results is that it generates media attention. If you are a lone wolf, perhaps that is your goal. If there’s a protest or occupation, then the media grab is unnecessary. Usually the black block just pisses off locals and business owners and worse it divides the left because non-violent organizers have to figure out how to be inclusive of this “voice.” Furthermore, non-violent organizers have been working for decades to remove violence from the image of protest so that the police and TPTB have no reason to crack skulls, switch to live ammo, or otherwise destroy lives.

          I don’t have a lot of time to lay it all out, but if you are tired of drum circles (and aren’t we all?) there is a host of non-violent direct action techniques available to you. Street theater is not just about puppets. For example: locking your neck to the bank door with a kryptonite lock and swallowing the key. This sort of sit in tactic allows you to disrupt business, to generate attention in a non-violent manner, to make a strong personal statement on your convictions rather than being part of a mob, and allows you to speak to the media directly (heopfully). The non-violent aspect of such an act allows you to clearly distrupt business as a statement of principle rather than giving a generic statement of anger.

          I’m glad to see you are interested in financial withholding tactics. Those methods are even stronger than personal acts. They also take a lot of organizing, so get busy! Breaking a window delivers no message. Spraypaint is lazy demonstrating.

          1. btdt

            guess I missed you

            p.s. standard disclaimer: I’m not advocating locking your next to anything, just citing an example of things people have done as direct action.

  8. Stuart Gittleman

    Please hold your nose and vote for Obama and Democrats, on an alternate line like Working Families if it’s available to show your disgust. Dems are far from perfect but they’re better than Republicans. Also, not voting for the lesser of two evils will play into GOP voter suppression efforts and can turn an election, like Ross Perot did for Bill Clinton.
    If nothing else, do it for Yves. Think of how much she’ll have to do each morning in a Romney-Ryan GOP House, Senate and statehouse environment.
    After the 1968 Chicago convention many anti-war folks urged voters to not support Hubert Humphrey, saying he’d be LBJ redux. We got Richard Nixon instead. His peace plan was to kill tens of thousands of US soldiers, millions of innocent Asians, lose the war, subvert the Constitution, put criminals in the White House and lie to the world.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s not a matter of holding your nose anymore. It’s a matter of putting on a decontamination suit. I think Jill Stein has the right question: “How’s that strategy of voting for evil been working out for us?” Like the Zen master says: “The way out is the door.” There are emergent parties on the ballot in most states; best to reinforce them as a check. We also know that Obama reacts only to threats (gays; Hispanics). In other words, they played a game of chicken with Obama — and won. The whole “hold your nose and vote” thing is designed to prevent that game from being played.

      * * *

      As for the counter-factual on HHH, I don’t go in much for hippie-punching, I’m afraid, although it never goes out of fashion for legacy party apologists. There’s no reason to think that a Democratic administration wouldn’t have slaughtered as many people as a Republican one, or that defeat and withdrawal would have come any quicker. (“We have to wait until after the mid-terms.”) The national security state and the empire are, after all, thoroughly bipartisan constructs. And from Nixon — last of the great liberals — we did get the EPA, after all, heh heh.

    2. Chris Rogers


      The only way of getting meaningful change within the USA, and many other Western Democracies, is by not voting for any of the legacy parties that are either corrupted or captured by external forces that are an antithesis to the founding principles of said legacy parties – the UK’s Labour Party being a case in point, or the Democrats in the US.

      Given both Obama and Romney represent the very same forces, are funded by the very same forces, and are ultimately only answerable to those said anti-democratic forces, by not voting for a third party candidate, you are doing yourself and your nation a huge disservice.

      We are all aware that the onslaught against what remains of your welfare state will come regardless of who wins in November, and that this attack may actually be more fervent under the Dems than the Republicans – just look at Ms. Nancy Pelosi – my God they are more interested in gaining political funds than the welfare or condition of the nation itself.

      If you vote for either Party, you get what you deserve as you actually perpetrated your own further disenfranchisement and drift into further debt, poverty, misery and ultimately enslavement.

      At least by voting for Jill Stein you are sticking up two fingers to all those that steal from you and oppress you – most of who presently inhabit Washington DC or New York, together with numerous State Capital’s.

      Its not the 60’s anymore, this is not 1968 and the differences between the two legacy parties are but semantics – i.e., a cigarette rolling paper will not fit between the supposed political and philosophical gulf between the two of them.

  9. Dwight

    Thank you for quoting from “The Ratchet Effect” – it accurately predicts the Obama Administration’s behaviors on many issues, and the current fake debate on Medicare.

  10. Susan the other

    Did anybody read the Huffpo/CNBC/Mees opinion piece yesterday? China did it, not the Banks! Because LTC crashed and Greenspan bailed them out, simultaneously with Clinton signing expedited trade agreements with China. Greenspan bailed the entire TBTF economy out with low interest rates which led directly to bubbles here and in China. The Chinese saving rate soared and money was cheap, and China, in order to export to us, was willing to buy our debt for very little return. Not the kind of return our banks were used to. Then the bubble and crash, and more bank and corporate bailouts by low interest rates and more bubble in China. Then the mortgage bubble which by 2006 had Greenspan so terrified he lost his elitist nerve and raised interest rates and crashed the credit bubble and the banks. I’m not sure how this analysis gets the Banks, Congress, the Administration (name your administration) or the Fed off the hook. And I’m pretty sure if Romney gets elected we will have a repeat of the above because he loves to get rich at other people’s expense. If Obama is re elected we will still have a long drawn out indulgence of the financial industry – so I do think we have a better chance for debt forgiveness under Obama. Because debt is the only thing keeping finance as Romney knows it alive.

    1. TC

      Enlighten us, then, why does the Obama administration vehemently oppose the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall? If there is to be any debt forgiveness, then a hopelessly insolvent banking system will need to be reorganized along Glass-Steagall lines if it is to survive. Why do you think all manner of criminal conduct is being overlooked by this administration? Here’s why: because if they were to prosecute, the banking system would collapse. It’s that simple. The banking system is choking on a mountain of insolvent garbage and the only way to fake otherwise is add more garbage while pretending this course can be sustained indefinitely (mind you, I am aware most so-called bank “assets” are core debt securities traditionally regarded sound, yet amidst a collapsing physical economy are no less garbage than the securitized crap whose former, burgeoning place in our so-called financial economy gave rise to “wisdom” of ever-greater indebtedness in the form of “core” debt securities). Every scam in the book — every criminal act of conduct — must be overlooked, lest the banking system fall. There is no good reason to support a coward, then, the likes of whom often are inclined to display a vicious affront, much as this open friend of al Qaeda in Syria is revealing in living color. I pray you come to your senses and end your hope for the man. There in none. He has had plenty of time to prove otherwise and still has nothing to show for it worthy any sane, thinking person’s regard. You can be sure, too, my sense of Romney is no less critical and condemning. We have two fascists to choose from at a time when the Treasury has never been more vulnerable. Siding with the lesser of two evils is by no means sound conduct at this frightfully dangerous moment in our nation’s history.

  11. tiebie66

    True, that both are owned. Then why fuss about an equivocal outcome from an economic point of view? Would not the 1 % benefit regardless?

    Perhaps something else is at play? Why might the ratchet be nudged to the right, right now?

    The Obama Administration does not wish to be dragged into a conflict with Iran…
    And this?
    Romney will go to war in Syria and Iran…

    Hope I’m wrong about another war coming up.

  12. TC

    Since the assassination of the Kennedys (as well as MLK) plainly the path of least resistance carrying those with political aspirations, among the likes of whom cowardice then found well-justified, bi-partisan rationale (how ever unspoken), the rightward motion you have identified certainly sheds light on those well-known foreign enemy enterprises likely with a hand in our 1960s bloodbath, and subsequent rightward (Tory) motion. What further dots might need connecting have come more recently via the locale from which every major bankruptcy precipitating financial crisis that in turn drew the U.S. Treasury deeper into a position risking its very insolvency found its origination. The likes would now lure the United States into an expanding Asian conflagration, that Russia and China ultimately be engaged. Thus might the United States’ demise in its currently dilapidated state be more greatly assured, all the more so as the use of nuclear weaponry, how ever unthinkable, by this pride-filled, physically and morally vanquished nation increasingly turning aggressor rightly might be thought a probability whose likelihood is astronomically rising in the current period. Indeed, one might but further connect the dots all pointing to the nation’s imminent destruction — this in a trap engaged by our ages old imperial enemy — if one supposes (as I do) the use of nuclear weapons on an innocent civilian population to end the U.S. war in the Pacific, indeed, was unnecessary, and only made possible upon FDR’s death. The turn right in fact began when FDR in the lead up to his 4th term was forced to take on Truman as his running mate. It has been downhill for the U.S. political class ever since, and to this proof was given by Eisenhower upon leaving office when he warned against a military-industrial complex taking over the political affairs of the nation. As you know, he wasn’t just speculating. Rather he was fingering a work-in-progress. We’d better wake up. Time in fact is short, and your effort to bring up to date the mechanics of the subversion of the nation could prove helpful in the fight that must be waged, lest the United States be destroyed.

  13. TC


    The Obama administration does not wish to be dragged into a conflict with Iran? Oh yeah? Then where is the administration’s explicit public warning to Israel instructing that nation’s fupped duck leader Bibi to back off from his incessant warmongering otherwise signaling an attack on Iran is imminent? Does Israel now believe it can unilaterally take out Iran without any backup from the United States? Truth is Bibi is insane, but he’s not that stupid. Obama is backing him 100%.

    As if the Obama administration’s finding common cause with al Qaeda in Syria weren’t enough clue this so-called leader is sold out to the Tory evil dominating U.S. political affairs for a time longer than anyone seems able to admit.

    There are just too many things to mention qualifying this president for impeachment. That no motion on this account has come just goes to show you how sold out the political class has become. Congress’ 18% approval rating is well deserved. Obama has made Nixon look like a cub scout and Cheney his den leader, and yet nothing — nothing — is done to honor the Constitution these creeps have sworn to uphold and defend (with the 112th Congress even going so far to read the thing at the start of its session — the first time in U.S. history this was done(!) — thus showing the Ivy League capable of teaching Americans how to read, but utterly incompetent when it comes down to how to comprehend).

    1. LucyLulu

      “Then where is the administration’s explicit public warning to Israel instructing that nation’s fupped duck leader Bibi to back off from his incessant warmongering otherwise signaling an attack on Iran is imminent? Does Israel now believe it can unilaterally take out Iran without any backup from the United States? Truth is Bibi is insane, but he’s not that stupid. Obama is backing him 100%.

      Netanyahu can’t get his own people to stand behind him on an attack on Iran without US providing backup. But do you think the American public is apprised of all the nuances of foreign diplomatic communications and posturing? Along with intelligence, surely this is the one area most likely to be played close to the chest. If Obama were to speak harshly to Netanyahu, he would be all the less likely to be candid because of the political repercussions. After all, our Mr. Obama is a political hound.

      I’m going to vote for whichever candidate is less likely to get us involved in another war. Iran could easily turn into another WW, one that might not end well for the U.S. if China, Russia, and possibly even Pakistan and India get pulled in. I haven’t decided which candidate that is yet. They’re both so damn duplicitous its hard to tell. One or both might be telling the truth about their intentions but how can anyone be expected to know?

      Perhaps the end result will be the same whether Obama or Romney become the next president, but 15 yrs. until an end-of-days scenario holds more appeal than 10 yrs.

  14. JustJokes

    The GOP decided to slap americans in the face by putting up a Finance guy as their presidential choice just after Finance obliterated the life savings of millions of people. Only masochists would vote for Romney.

    Sometimes I have to wonder if the GOP is just pulling of an inside joke: “See, they really are just stupid cattle.”

  15. ajax

    The comments are really good today. The Council on Foreign Relations is reputed to be one of the most influential organizations in the shaping of US Foreign Policy. There are about 4500 members, and it is “bi-partisan”. Many members give talks (say at the London School of Economics), and some talks are on Youtube. One question is whether the GOP and the Democrats differ substantively on US Foreign Policy. I view the vast quantity of papers and videos by specialists at the CFR as an approximation to frank opinion from CFR. In my opinion, these talks and papers aren’t intended for mass consumption. But they are easily available and could offer insight into beliefs held by CFR members of both parties.

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