Thursday, November 8, 2012

Yay, Romney's not president! Oh, no, Obama is still president!

BileJones noted in comments that, according to the right-wing Daily Caller, President Bill was in Philly the other day and asked, "Who wants a president who will knowingly, repeatedly tell you something he knows isn't true?" Well, not you or me, but then, I also don't want a president who tells you something that I know isn't true. And both of the Big Party candidates told me right-wing lies.

Here's the simple map that shows Obama's big take in the Electoral College and the addition of two more Democratic votes in the Senate. The House is still firmly in the hands of Republicans. The map at has more details.

There's a new Independent in the Senate, and his name is Angus King. He seems to be a "centrist" - he's for gay marriage, but also for the Bowles and Simpson letter. When he was governor of Maine, he vetoed a bill to raise the state minimum wage by 25¢.

On the bright side, poor old Lindsay Graham was angrily saying no one could tell him the Republicans lost the election because they weren't far enough to the right. And Karl Rove managed to rip off a lot of billionaires, much to their chagrin. The pseudo-libertarian right is sounding the death-knell of the nation (they seem to have missed the funeral in 2000), despite the fact that all Obama has done is extend policy further to the right than ever before, and, funnily enough, they didn't much notice their rights going down the toilet during the two terms preceding Obama's. The difference between the two parties has become insignificant on most of these matters, except where the most intimate personal freedoms are concerned, where the Republicans based most of their campaigns, it seems, on removing what freedoms are left. And while I can only agree that Obamacare is a crappy idea, maybe they should have taken that up with the Heritage Foundation for hatching the scheme in the first place, and not nominated the guy who first instituted RomneyCare. But the security state expands apace and the wealthy establishment power-base is shored up, because that's what the right-wing wanted. One of the truest measures of freedom - the ability to make a decent living and not fear losing it because you exercised a little free speech - is still on the wane, thanks in no small part to so-called libertarians of the right-wing.

And, while some Republicans are complaining that their rhetoric moved "minority" voters and women to the Democrats, it might just be that the real story of this election is the white voters who didn't show up, turned off by both candidates.

But there were victories worth noting, including the election of the first openly gay Senator in Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin (and, despite what this article says, she did not "move to the center" but simply campaigned as a liberal). I'm proud to say that my state voted for marriage equality. So did Maine and Washington. And Minnesota voted down a restriction on gay marriage.

But, "Peter Orszag of Bank Welfare Queen Citigroup is Selling Catfood Futures Hard: The Obama victory was less than 24 hours old when the Rubinite faction of the Democratic party was out full bore selling 'reforming' Social Security as the adult solution to the coming budget impasse, giving it higher priority than any other measure on the table while simultaneously admitting that this is not even a pressing (let alone real) problem. And the worse is that this snakeoil salesmanship, which comes from former OMB director, now Citigrgoup vice chairman of corporate and investment banking Peter Orszag, is almost certainly an Obama trial balloon."

So, there's a long list of issues where we need a real, substantive change in direction and we need to start putting the pressure on right now. By all means put your list in comments to this post. Start talking up expansion (not tweaks!) of Social Security and removal of the cap. (Remember: Most people don't even know there is a cap on SS contributions - make sure they learn about it!) Explain to anyone who will listen that Americans already pay more per person in taxes to maintain our medical system than do the British, and with poorer results. (And that those taxes paid for the superior medical care that foreign rich people come to the Mayo Clinic for.)

Gail Zappa on what Frank said. If you're going to get good fresh people into Congress (and we should), we should start working on that right now. There's another election in two years, and we deserve the choice to vote for people who work for us. Act locally now.

Even Kevin Drum knows that things have gone worse under Obama where things like the no-fly list are concerned.

"Buy American" used to be patriotic. Now, apparently, it's communism.

Air New Zealand - "The Hobbit" safety briefing

Your steampunk moment: Cool boots.

Google celebrates Bram Stoker's birthday.


  1. Electoral reform is on the top of my list: getting more voters registered, getting more voters turned out, and making space for third parties.

    1. The sine qua non is to delegitimize the corporate media and its message in the minds of members of the general public. Sure, all ready Republicans complain about a liberal media bias and Democrats complain about a conservative media bias but what the public has to start recognizing is that there are a host of corporate media objectives when it comes to public policy, that the corporate media promotes social controversy and petty scandals while advancing the idea that there is general wide-spread agreement between the parties when it comes to basic issues related to economics,* national security, civil liberties, government reponsiveness to the will of the people, and other areas near and dear to the wealthy.

      * Presenting for years at a time an argument on whether the top earned income tax rate should be at 39.6% instead of 35% means the corporate media is telling you that there is no substantial disagreement over what the tax rates should be.

  2. Replies
    1. Also recommend the realnews segment in the "Obama wins, System Broken" post below NC's Orzag post (linked by Avedon) for a realistic look at the next four years.

  3. Great safety briefing, Avedon.

    I'm with The Raven that electoral reform is the most important issue. Unfortunately, it will be impossible to get through the Congress.

    One thing I would suggest is allowing states to implement the healthcare exchanges on an expedited schedule. Vermont is already planning to use that to introduce the public option. Other states could follow suit.

    Filibuster reform is also do-able. Harry Reid is committed to it, and about 30 of the senators are pretty sore about it. Obstructors Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman are gone. Could happen.

  4. By the way, my problem with the Daily Caller is not so much that it is right wing but that, according to SourceWatch, it is a spin (i.e., propaganda) operation. The spin that it was engaged in was in distracting from Romney's dishonesty by drawing attention to Clinton having been impeached for perjury.

    But of course, that's dishonest, since the impeachment was not really for perjury but for being a charismatic Democrat. There was no conviction because the charge was absurd.

    There's some serious irony in using a propaganda operation to discredit criticism of a pathological liar like Romney. Yes, Clinton lied. All human beings do, and when they're in high office, their lies can be very damaging. But Romney is in a class of his own, a man who does not believe that truth exists and will therefore say anything for advantage.

    1. Everybody lies at least occasionally, but there was a real change in quantity sufficient to make a change in quality with Reagan. That was when lying was no longer treated by the media and by lots of the citizenry as wrong. It became a very clever strategy to be judged on its effectiveness, not on its morality. Morality, as in "The Moral Majority" or "Values voters", was redefined as compliance with patriarchal precepts on sex. These precepts include indulgence for the high class men of one's own tribe to engage in a wide range of sex, as Henry Hyde and Newt Gringich did, but not uppity rednecks like Clinton. And above all, not women.

    2. Yeah, Reagan and the liberating-the-death-camps thing was pretty scary. People who can't tell the difference between movies and reality should not run for higher office.

  5. The Man Who Would be King, or, as I prefer to call him, President-Reject Romney.

  6. Howard Zinn, The Coming Revolt of the Guards:

    There is evidence of growing dissatisfaction among the guards. We have known for some time that the poor and ignored were the nonvoters, alienated from a political system they felt didn't care about them, and about which they could do little. Now alienation has spread upward into families above the poverty line. These are white workers, neither rich nor poor, but angry over economic insecurity, unhappy with their work, worried about their neighborhoods, hostile to government- combining elements of racism with elements of class consciousness, contempt for the lower classes along with distrust for the elite, and thus open to solutions from any direction, right or left.

    In the twenties there was a similar estrangement in the middle classes, which could have gone in various directions-the Ku Klux Klan had millions of members at that time-but in the thirties the work of an organized left wing mobilized much of this feeling into trade unions, farmers' unions, socialist movements. We may, in the coming years, be in a race for the mobilization of middle- class discontent.

    The fact of that discontent is clear. The surveys since the early seventies show 70 to 80 percent of Americans distrustful of government, business, the military. This means the distrust goes beyond blacks, the poor, the radicals. It has spread among skilled workers, white-collar workers, professionals; for the first time in the nation's history, perhaps, both the lower classes and the middle classes, the prisoners and the guards, were disillusioned with the system.

  7. We definitely need work on electoral integrity, and on campaign funding. I think there's a slight chance that the big corporate funders will have realized that money won't buy them what they want; if so, maybe that'll be self-adjusting. That's probably too optimistic though, we probably need to change the rules. And that pretty much has to be at the level of a constitutional amendment, which makes it very hard and somewhat dangerous.

    We need to do the other half of health care reform, to get the savings. So far we've mostly done the parts that improve things but cost money.

    Something needs to be done about immigration policy -- something involving people recognizing we benefit from a lot of the low-wage workers who come in, maybe.

    When we get past this depression, we need to work out something saner on long-term debt. While going all cheap-ass at the start would have been disastrous, we need in the long run to restrict our spending to match our income (some extra income would be okay).

  8. CMike, did you see Thomas Frank's take on Occupy. I reckon you'll agree with a good deal of his criticism. I was particularly interested in this passage:

    "Actually, that’s an optimistic way of putting it. The pessimistic way is to open Michael Kazin’s recent book, American Dreamers, and take sober note of the fact that, with the partial exception of the anti-apartheid campaign of the eighties, no movement of the Left has caught on with the broad American public since the Civil Rights / Vietnam War era. Oh, there have been plenty of leftists during this period, of course—especially in academia. Studying “resistance” is a well-worn career path, if not the very definition of certain sub-disciplines. But for all its intellectual attainments, the Left keeps losing. It simply cannot make common cause with ordinary American people anymore.

    Maybe this has happened because the Left has come to be dominated by a single profession whose mode of operating is deliberately abstruse, ultrahierarchical, argumentative, and judgmental—handing down As and Fs is its daily chore—and is thus the exact opposite of majoritarian. Maybe it has happened because the Left really is a place of Puritanical contempt for average people, almost all of whom can be shown to have sinned in some imperialist way or other. Maybe it is because the collapse of large-scale manufacturing makes social movements obsolete. We do not know. And none of the accounts under review here get us any closer to an answer."

    1. Thanks for the link JCAPAN, Thomas Frank does a pretty powerful job with that one even before he gets to the part where he compares right libertarianism and the Tea Party with Occupy which is the real eye-opening stuff in his article.

      (A few days ago I read a post that took a similar view in bashing the role the academy has played in making the left irrelevant over the last forty years but I can't find it now and provide a link [maddening].)

    2. Please says it's not Somersby!?

      Seriously though, if you think of it I'd enjoy reading. The academic left and the professional left share many of the same weaknesses--creating discursive circles that spread few tentacles into larger fabric of society foremost among them. Not that there aren't temptations for academics willing to cozy up to power but in my experience they're far more likely to stand by their principles regardless of which party/person is wielding power. The professional left beyond the tower has a living to make and the amt. of money available to organizations and individuals varies considerably. Who's going to cash more checks or even more greatly monetize their blogs--the radical or the corroborator. Greenwald's recent post about the expected steps we'll observe in the grand bargoon springs to mind, though he doesn't go into some of the nastier consequences for principled holdouts.

    3. No, not Richard Gere [Link], nor Bob Somerby[Link]. It'll come to me, I can't find it with Google because all the words from the article I remember show up together in scores of other web pages and I can't remember the precise wording of any passage to search for within quotation marks even though there was one paragraph I was planning to copy and paste into a thread when the opportunity arose, as it did here.

    4. Thanks for tracking that down, CMike,

      Less than Masaccio's post itself, I appreciated some of the commentary--if memory serves #s 32, 41, and 42, which are in keeping with my own experience as a grad student and starving adjunct. And I don't think I saw it mentioned but another discussion to be had would center around the mind boggling sums of corporate cash that have flooded unis for decades.

  9. I hadn't thought of it this way:

    The Democrats could not have won so handily without the Citizens United ruling. That is what enabled the Koch Brothers to spend their billions to support right-wing candidates that barked and growled like sheep dogs to give voters little civilized option but to vote for “the lesser evil.” This will be President Obama’s epitaph for future historians.

    Re Thomas Frank, I know of people who've gone from Occupy to involvement with nitty gritty local issues where the products of academia make common cause with working stiffs (which, I guess, is what he means by "ordinary people"). If ground is being prepared for a more lasting movement, I wonder if Frank would be aware of it.

    1. The Citizens United decision was about freeing corporations (and unions) to finance political ads and, specifically, granting them the right to do so within thirty days of an election. Individuals always have had the right to make those expenditures.

      Wikipedia [Link] says:

      ...The majority [opinion] argued that the First Amendment protects associations of individuals in addition to individual speakers, and further that the First Amendment does not allow prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker. Corporations, as associations of individuals, therefore have speech rights under the First Amendment....

      Stevens [in his dissenting opinion] described "unfair corporate influence" as the potential to outspend others, to push others out of prime broadcasting spots and to dominate the "marketplace of ideas". This process, he argued, puts disproportionate focus on this speech and gives the impression of widespread support regardless of actual support. Thus, this process marginalizes the speech of other individuals and groups.

    2. The point is that Koch corporate money unleashed right-wing lunatics who drove voters to Obama. Hudson is an economist at UMKC and was writing for effect, not precision.

    3. I'd guess Frank would be but I certainly wouldn't living where I do. I'd love to read about any such instances though.

    4. KS, I was listening to Michael Hudson quite a bit in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown on the public radio stations where he was providing the clearest explanations of anyone as to what was going on, so I am familiar with who he is. I do take your point about writing for effect, though I don't necessarily agree with it.

      Here's [Link] what Digby said at one point about Citizens United:

      [Indent]>>>>>The disagreement between Eliot Spitzer and Melissa Harris Perry is instructive. It's clear that many of us are confused about Citizens United --- the fact is that nothing any wealthy individual like Sheldon Adelson is doing in this cycle is a result of that ruling. Citizens United lifted the restrictions on corporations and union spending in elections, period. It had nothing to do with wealthy individuals donating to PACs in order to support candidates. That has been legal since 1976:

      [double indent]>>>The Supreme Court's ruling in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) held that expenditures made independently of a candidate's campaign could not be limited under the Constitution. If expenditures are made in "coordination" with a campaign, however, they may be regulated as contributions.<<<[/double indent]

      Citizens United brought about the SuperPAC in order to facilitate the newly legal unlimited corporate giving, but the huge donations from wealthy individuals to these PACs is something they always could have done....

      So why the big change? I think it has to do with two things, one cultural and one economic. The first is simply that wealthy benefactors are willing to put their names on their politics. The overt lobbying for Randroid values among the super wealthy has been well documented. They are shameless....

      The second, and probably more important, is that these wealthy people have so much more money than they had before. Adelson is the 8th richest man in the United States. The Koch Brothers are the 4th and 5th. And their wealth has grown exponentially in recent years as everyone else has been struggling...

    5. Point taken! Figured Hudson was familiar to you but wanted to make clear to anyone reading these comments that I wasn't quoting "some guy."

    6. JC, Info comes word-of-mouth from a family member involved in Occupy, so no reading to link to, just knowledge of some activists shifting gears to work on tenants' rights and suchlike.