The rhetoric and framing of the debt deal is much worse than it’s already objectionable content. The actual cuts made to social programs are very small and the cuts made in defense, while also small, are somewhat larger than expected.
What’s noxious is that the Republicans got their way in forcing a manufactured crisis and in watching the whole political and chattering class play along with them. That we are even talking about social spending cuts when economic growth appears to be brink on a double dip recession is nothing short of obscene. That Democrats have capitulated to Republicans by expunging the word “taxes” from the political lexicon and replacing it with the obscure term of “revenue” is equally obscene. That ANY cuts whatsoever, needed or not, all fall on the lower income and tax categories while the wealthy continue to have a chuckle is nothing short of revolting.
What are the takeaways?
Doom and Gloom.
This horrid side show goes right into the record books as one of the most stunning displays to date of an entire political system rotten and corrupt and unresponsive to the core.
I am not going to defend Obama’s posture and position in this crisis as it seems rather obvious he could have done a lot better. He certainly could have framed this whole issue properly from the beginning, he could have called out the Tea Party for the blackmailers they are, and — perhaps– he could have recurred to the 14th amendment and told the House to go fuck itself.
It certainly would have FELT better. I cannot, however, in good faith affirm in any way that it would have worked out any better. I know what the polls say. I also knew what the polls said about Reagan’s policies (and they no real-life effect). I don’t know that an American president remains viable by being a tribune for higher taxes and and by telling the country the truth about deficits i.e. at this point in history they should not be our primary concern. Is there a majority constituency for all that? Could Obama have built one? Well, go ask Don Rumsfeld, the expert on Unknowables because I sure as hell don’t know.
I do know there is plenty of guilt to go around here, enough to make this whole episode a national shame. It goes way, way beyond Obama.
We can look at the large financial houses that have become the primary funders of the Democratic Party. We can look at House Democrats who, in majority, are actually OK with this bill. We can look at Harry Reid who authored a measure not terribly different than this one. We can look at a Democratic congress who, until 2010, didn’t have the fight to to the mat over repealing Bush tax cuts and kept on gorging the Pentagon budget.
I wouldn’t exactly look at the Republicans in this case. More fitting is to take a dump on them. A truly lunatical fringe grouped together in the Tea Party first took the rest of their feckless party hostage and then went on to hold the entire country as captive. John Boehner could have stopped this cold, but then again he probably would have lost his job. So he willingly joined his captors in highjacking the government and using the GOP hold on the House as a cudgel to beat up Obama and everybody else in sight. I am not convinced he had any more room for political maneuver than Obama did.
This is a morally bankrupt party that holds no concerns whatsoever except for serving the wealthiest one percent of the country (and, yes, opposing abortion clinics). That’s about it as far as I can tell. And I think Michelle Bachmann would be the nominee that best embodies the current soul of the GOP.
A special dose of onus must be reserved for the MSM which, in my view, has performed as miserably during this crisis as any time in recent history including during its squalid performance during the run up to the war in Iraq. The simple fact is that the media never reported the underlying story i.e. that this was a stick-up by the Republican Party which purposely confused two separate issues. This story was consistently reported as some sort of tennis match between the two parties with detailed descriptions of every lob, serve and spin of the ball. Nice color. No substance. I come out of this episode with the firm desire that more networks and newspapers close down as we will be missing nothing when they do.
A few words about the American people: They are certainly the hapless victims in this horror show. But, heaven knows, they are an easy mark. Try and raise the retirement age by 2 years or cut medical services by 3% in France or Italy and all I have to say is, stand back! Many have tried and many have died. Within hours this is a general strike with 5 million citizens in the streets.
I have read of NO popular mobilizations to defend our own social welfare programs in these last few months.
Use them or lose them.
We are all losing something this week. Maybe not as much as some feared — or in perverse ways hoped for. But we’re most definitely on the slippery slope.
—Marc Cooper on Monday, August 1st, 2011 at 04:36PM |130 Comments
To those of you who have inquired… I am still here. Just swamped with a summer project and some other stuff. Health is fine. Spirits are high. Life is good. Will be back blogging sometime in a week or two. Thanks to all who have asked.
—Marc Cooper on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 12:50PM |27 Comments
This was inevitable, at least to those who were not living in denial. So Anthony Weinerwas sending out explicit pix of his weenie to women who were NOT asking to see the member’s member. And this while his wife is pregnant.
Any of you who argued that his “personal life” doesn’t matter now ready to reconsider?
The man is sick.
—Marc Cooper on Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 at 04:29PM |294 Comments
Looks like the Anthony Weiner show has aroused me from my blog slumber. Thanks, Tony!
Look, I don’t this think has much to do in any sense with the greater good of the nation. And I have no idea whatsoever to what degree Weiner is emotionally unstable. Maybe he’s just a bit randy and careless. Or maybe he’s a friggin’ pervert.
Either way, the guy has to resign. The rank arrogance of coming out, kissing Breitbart’s ass, and standing there for 40 minutes saying he accepts all responsibility but…but…he’s staying in office, is just immeasurable.
What’s his crime? Perhaps none. What’s his transgression? Flat-out lying to the press, the public, his constituents and his staff for a solid week. This type of deception is just not acceptable from a public official. At a minimum, he has now made himself and his party a ripe target for distracting and damaging attacks during the current election cycle. The right thing to do is to step down and take a few lessons in digital privacy.
Now, is Weiner the worst element in Congress? Not by a long shot. Lies and deception are common currency on Capitol Hill and there are many, many others who deserve a lot more scorn than he’s currently reaping.
Too bad. He still has to go.
Just as a footnote: long before the Twitter scandal broke, I had my eye on him. Weiner has become something of a “progressive” darling because of his Type A personality, his frequent appearances on MSNBC and his very witty swipes at his partisan foes. In reality, Weiner is about as “progressive” as a man in the moon. He’s a protege of the ultra-slimy Chuck Schumer and he’s hardly the populist champion he pretends to be.
Indeed, Weiner is a Clintonite hack who is little more than a grandstander. My bud Tim took him apart way back in the summer, when he was cleverly joining forces with the Tea Party over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.
Please don’t check your voter reg card before you decide how to react to this sordid episode.
—Marc Cooper on Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 05:55PM |86 Comments
If my memory serves me right it was just about a year and half ago that the Chattering Class ruled Scott Btown’s victory as proof-positive that the tide was turning against the Obama administration and that Republicans were resurgent. The Tea Party was brewing and bubbling and Brown presaged a “correction” after the 2008 Democratic victory.
OK. There was only one little wrinkle in this narrative. The Republican Party had been pretty much washed away with Katrina in 2005. It’s pretty damn difficult for something to be reborn in the afterlife. Once your head is cut off, yes, there can always be a few involuntary jerks (no pun intended) but that’s different than actual rebirth,
So here we are 18 months or so later and Democrat Kathy Kochul stages an upset victory in the very red NY 26th congressional district. And she didn’t win because the third party joker spoiled it for the Republicans. No. You can place the blame where it belongs: squarely on the shoulders of Rep, Paul Ryan and the House Republican zombies who unanimously endorsed a budget that would trash the single most popular universal entitlement program in America — Medicare.
The press baptized Ryan as a “grown-up” — presumably for having the courage to make Granny pay an extra eight grand year while his insurance company contributors and other millionaires got a renewed tax cut.
You can call it grown-up if you wish.
I call it plain stupid.
Stupidity born of ideological zealotry, of course. You know, like in the Soviet Union when central planners actually believed they knew how many millions of pairs of blue Oxfords to manufacture in one year.
That Ryan budget has become downright radioactive. And a few, I repeat, a few GOP Senators (including Brown) are now running from it. Mark my words: the overwhelming majority of the Republican senators (s0mewhere north of 42 or 45) are still gonna vote for it! Why? Because, Virginia, as I told you, the Republican Party died about 5 years ago and the surviving walking dead are, well, brain-dead.
They have no program. Only an ideology. And you can ask Breshnev, that’s rarely enough to get you through.
No accident that Hochul wins more or less the same time that the Republican Field of presidential candidates is collapsing before the campaign even gets underway. The other supposed “grown-ups” like Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour have decided not to run, precisely, because they know they would likely get their asses handed to them by Obama. That leaves Mr. Nobody Pawlenty, Tiffany-backed Newt Gingrich, the Godfather Pizza guy who didn’t know what the Palestinian right-to-return meant, and –waiting in the wings– the absolutely unelectable Mitt Romney (architect of Obamacare!).
None of this is to glorify the Democrats nor even to remotely suggest that they have much of a pulse either. But as we say around the poker table, you can’t beat nothin’ with nothin’.
The Democrats might be as much as narcoleptic but they do have Obama. And last time I looked, his numbers were floating above the 50% mark and were no less than soaring above his possible Republican rivals.
Ahh, but you say, with unemployment so high and the economy sputtering, he’s an easy mark. That’s true, in theory. The Democrats have a pretty weak hand. Indeed, the best they can show is Ace high. A single Ace in their hand. Obama.
But that beats the Jokers the GOP is holding.
On the conservative radio talk shows today I kept hearing the name Jeb Bush being desperately called out.
That’s just what America is clamoring for. Another Bush!
—Marc Cooper on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 at 10:10PM |236 Comments
Almost 40 years after his death, the body of former Chilean President Salvador Allende was exhumed today under judicial order of a new forensic investigation. What scant coverage of this event exists mostly misses the point. This is NOT primarily about determining whether he was killed or whether he committed suicide moments before he was sure to be killed.
The bigger question in play is whether the 1973 coup was some sort of act of abstract “political violence” or whether it was a criminal enterprise. Another 725 cases are also being examined and a number of aging officials of the dictatorship are facing the prospects of spending their golden years in prison.
My co-author Peter Kornbluh and I try to make the point about what’s really at stake in our piece in today’s Los Angeles Times.
What do you see as the most pressing problem in the inner city today?
The parenting problem. A lot of minorities have such a problem with the single-parent situation. The parents are the single most important influence on a child, followed by education and the peer group. The number of single parents in the U.S. has quadrupled since the ’60s, and there has also been an increase in violence and school shootings. All that stuff has increased largely because of a lack of parenting, and many households only have one biological parent — so many of them are fatherless. It really creates a big problem…
I see it firsthand in my family. If I am away on a film for three weeks, even though I come home every weekend, you can see the kids getting out of control. One person cannot create the discipline and the guidance and helping with homework. When I am at home, Maria and I drive the kids to school together; we pick them up together; we take them to dancing, soccer, horseback riding lessons. It takes a lot of effort. If you are not on top of the situation, the kids lose confidence in you.
I think the situation with single parenting [in minority groups] is disastrous. The statistic is that 64 percent of blacks are with one parent, while with whites, it’s like 26 percent. With Hispanics, it’s maybe 35 percent. It’s gone up so much since the ’60s. In the ’60s, among minorities, only about 20 percent had single parents. — Arnold Schwarzenegger, Salon.com 2001
Poor Mr. Strauss-Kahn. The dirty old man who has been heading up the IMF seems to have gotten his dongle caught in a wringer and instead of being the next President of France he seems headed for being the plate du jour in some New York state pen.
There’s much one can say about the repercussions his arrest and detention might have just as the IMF delves deeper into the European debt crisis. I’ll leave that to the business writers.
I’m more interested in his person.
As a journalist, you soon learn it’s the little things that give away the big story. I am fascinated that this creep got caught while staying in a $3,000 a night hotel in Manhattan. Excuse me, but who the fug does he think he is? He’s supposed to be the symbol of world economic responsibility. HaHaHa.
As we all know, the IMF is notorious for imposing what are politely called “structural adjustment” programs on any country, especially of the Third World variety, that it can get its hands on. This high-falutin’ terminology always boils down to the same simple and crude formula: slash social spending, roll back government subsidies and balance the books on the backs of the poor while transferring wealth upward. Raise the bus and gas fares to pay off the foreign debt to the G-8.
You’d think that a guy in charge of dishing out this bitter medicine would have the basic decency of not openly flaunting his own regal privilege and might limit himself to, say, a nice $500 a night suite at the Park Lane. Given NYC hotel rates, that seems at least somewhere in the cushy above-the-hoi-polloi ballpark.
But three G’s a night? You gotta be kidding.
Here is a man contemptuous of women, contemptuous of the poor and probably fairly contemptuous of himself.
I wasn’t sure if I was having an nightmare or was just suffering a hangover from some discouraging poker play late Saturday night, but I awoke Sunday morn to see a zombie actually talking on network TV! There was newly announced presidential candidate Newt Gingrich yammering away on Meet The Press (as if he had not passed away around 1998) and it made me want to crawl right back beneath the covers.
Look, Newt is nuts. Period. Full Stop. The night before I had heard him while driving late at night on C-SPAN radio making an address to a pack of fellow Georgia right-wingers as he called for abolition of the NLRB, the EPA, the SEC, the progressive income tax, any and all capital gains tax, the inheritance tax, repeal of new regs on the financial industry, as he blew the race-laced dog whistle and said America had to choose becoming Texas or, um, Detroit and as he called Barack Obama the “greatest food stamp president in American history.” I tuned in too late, apparently, to catch his plug for the restoration of generalized child labor.
It’s an impossible task to keep up with the firehose flow of idiotic and inflammatory comments from this guy. Some people have tried, but there’s just no way to keep pace with a philandering jerk who one day says we are falling into paganism and the next warns that the secular gay-fascist machine is overtaking good old Americanism — and all this while he’s dumping yet one more wife for a younger gal pal.
More astounding than the crap that flows from this guy’s mouth is the absolutely dishonest and deferential treatment he gets from the beltway Newsosaurs. It’s in a case like Newt the Fruit where the “objective” View From Nowhere press model reveals its utter bankruptcy. This phony ethic prevents reporters and pundits from simply telling the truth: Newt Gingrich is a pol whose career busted out more than a decade ago, who had to resign his leadership post in political and personal disgrace, that he’s a world-class hypocrite in his “personal values,” that he holds what are clearly extremist views, that he openly and cynically race-baits, that he is the author of several AWFUL pseudo-historical books, that he, in fact, has NO great ideas, that he is not a valued or recognized intellectual, and that his chances of winning a general presidential election against Barack Obama are about 25 million to 1 (which is why I will be supporting him as the GOP nominee– for which he is about a 100 to 1 shot).
If a reporter said that on national TV he or she would simply be telling the TRUTH. Isn’t that we are supposed to do?
Instead, on the fart-sniffer Meet The Press roundtable this morning, I had to hear Helene Cooper from The New York Times,the horrific Mark Halperin, David Gregory from NBC and columnist Peggy Noonan (Bitch from Hell), actually go through the acrobatics of taking this guy seriously and hemming and hawing about what he’s really about and what his real chances are. What is the point of this sort of insulting charade? Do these pundits think anyone takes them more seriously because they just can’t come out say that The Deranged Guy in the corner is really The Deranged Guy in the corner?? The equally derganged Noonan went so far as to speculate that 18-20 year old voters might be attracted to Newt because he’s “new” to them! So would a resurrected Warren B. Harding be “new” but I doubt he’d have any more appeal than Newt will among young voters. What is Noonan smoking?
There is one interesting aspect to the Newt boomlet this week. It shows you just how far the political center of the country as a whole and of the GOP in particular has shifted to the Right. As far back as 15 years ago, Newt was seen as the far fringe of his own party. But with the likes of Paul Ryan, the Cheneys, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Rev. Huckabee and GodKnowsWhoElse stinking up the stage, all of a sudden the rotting cadaver of Gingrich is dug up and celebrated as a Great Mind.
Houston, we have a problem.
P.S. While we’re on the subject of media deference….. squeezed in between the barrage of geriatric Big Pharma drug ads tonight, I caught a few minutes of Katrie Couric’s60 Minutes profile of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He seems an interesting guy but unfortunately the piece ended abruptly as Katie mysteriously disappeared up Gates’ rear end. Another rescue mission for SEAL Team 6?
P.P.S. Confession: Peggy Noonan’s treacly, self-serving memoir as Ronald Reagan’s covert brain, “What I Saw At The Revolution,” is the only book in my life that I ever burned. It was sometime in the early 90′s and I was reading it on a winter night in my living room in an easy chair next to a crackling fire. I remember vaguely, her ending the book on some platitudinous gibberish about Jesus Christ and, reflecting on this woman’s role in writing the cover speeches for Reagan’s massive murders in Central America and his beating up on the poor, I finished the last sentence, snapped the paperback closed and tossed it without a second thought into the flames. I’d do it again.
—Marc Cooper on Sunday, May 15th, 2011 at 09:37PM |14 Comments
To paraphrase the president’s recent remarks on a different subject, anybody who really believes there’s going to be any meaningful reform in the near future “needs their head examined.”
There is going to be NO liberalization or rationalization of our broken immigration policy in the foreseeable future. Instead, individual states are going to continue ahead implementing more and more punitive and retrograde nativist measures that show the worst side of our national character.
Yes, Obama said all the right words on Friday. Indeed, it was a great speech. But it was purely political theater. We’re already deep into the 2012 election cycle and the Latino vote is going to be key in so many, many states — and not just in the Southwest. Let it be noted, as his advisers certainly have, that Obama’s popularity among Latinos has sunk 25 points over the last year, according to Gallup. From a favorability rating of 79% among Latinos, Obama is down to just over 50%.
Blame must be properly apportioned here. Just when comprehensive reform seemed a real possibility a handful of years ago, the Republicans got cold feet and punked out. It’s hard to imagine that the grumpy, nasty and reactionary John McCain of today was the same guy who in the middle of the decade co-sponsored truly enlightened reform legislation in partnership with Teddy Kennedy. McCain reversed course abruptly and yet he’s still paying a price for it among his know-nothing Republican constituencies. Immigration reform COULD have been a reality if the GOP has followed the blueprint laid out by none other than GWBush in his 2004 State of the Union speech where he offered a surprisingly forward view of the issue.
So. first and foremost, the Republicans must take the blame for maintaining our official policy of denial.
The Democrats, however, are in close second place. During the four years they controlled congress, and two of those during the Obama administration, they didn’t lift a finger to advance comprehensive reform. Nobody fought for it, including Obama. And ‘nary a Democrat as much as even talked about reform. Even the tepid DREAM Act, which addresses only the tip of the iceberg, was relegated to a lame duck session by Harry Reid in which it was defeated.
The common wisdom is that comprehensive immigration reform is too hot an issue for an election year. Well, folks, every year is an election year. So you can do the math.
One can also argue that the math is such that Obama is prisoner to a reactionary congress. That’s true, for the most part. The president could stand on his head and spit nickels and it would doubtfully open any congressional doors on this issue.
The president could, however, use his executive and administrative power to at least not make things worse. Instead, he has done the opposite. The rate of deportation is now higher than ever as Obama’s ICE has taken on an unparalleled aggressiveness. His abhorrent Secure Communities program, effectively granting federal immigration authority to local police, has been rejected in several states by his fellow Democratic governors and legislators — who would also like to get re-elected.
Staying well within his constitutional authority, the president could direct his Justice Department and DHS leaders on where to put their emphasis. It has been a conscious decision by Obama to have the DOJ ease up enforcement and federal bigfooting on state marijuana laws, for example. There is a whole host of similar directives — both formal and informal– that the White House could issue that would treat the enforcement of immigration law in an infinitely more rational and humane way.
For the Democrats, refusal to take immigration reform seriously is a cynical fraud.
For Republicans to continue to impede it is nothing short of mid and certainly long-term political suicide.
Too bad they have to take so many other honest people down with them.
—Marc Cooper on Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 at 12:08AM |38 Comments