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Blather Dither Prattle and Drone

July 2, 2009

Might as well listen to the tacit assessments of a one ton hunk of tentacled protoplasm. At least they’re fairly intelligent creatures. Because you’ll never find out what’s really going on by heeding the corporate harlots squawking on the goggle box or the slatterns chattering from their Congressional cathouse where all the walls are papered green with lobbyist largess.

Elections have consequences we are told. Just check the box on your ballot with the capital ‘D’ beside it and change will be on the way. But when millions did just that in 2006 the Democrats immediately backtracked, telling us they didn’t really mean 2006 would be the start of something different. Because well, they couldn’t impeach the obviously criminal Republican in the bully pulpit because it would distract from all the important things that must be done, but because that same Republican president was still there they couldn’t pass anything he wouldn’t approve. So they spent their first two years in control of Congress rubber stamping the Bush agenda or simply doing nothing of substance at all. But all that would surely change in 2008 if we could just put a Democrat in the White House, maybe get a new Supreme or two, and then this nation would be altered like a Sunday school marm on an MDMA bender. This stodgy authoritarian gray dame of a country would be transformed into something fresh and new. We’d all get health care, better jobs, go green, stop the corruption and fraud, and end the wars that raged. There’d be shiny happy people everywhere. All the Whos would be singing and we’d all get roast beast.

At least that’s what they told us. But there must be a Republican dog catcher somewhere in Des Moines throwing a wrench in the works because things haven’t turned out that way with the Democrats in power and there are few signs of things getting better any time soon.

Take health care. We’ve seen this show before about 16 years ago when Bill Clinton took office with the promise of a progressive new system. But once the lobbyists and insurance companies had their say the only thing progressive about what we got was that it got progressively worse. And now the sequel starring Obama is looking a lot like the original. The carrot being dangled this time around is some vague public option and even that will likely fail if insurance lobbyists have their way again. Insurance companies were the only ones offered at seat at the table to discuss potential reforms at recent forums and when single payer advocates had the temerity to show up anyway they were arrested. Just yesterday Obama held a very Bush-like “town meeting” in front of a cherry picked audience and offered the same old claptrap that while single payer might be nice for some countries, we couldn’t have it here because so many already got private insurance through their employers. Of course he didn’t mention whether people actually liked that system nor did he mention that unless you’re a multimillionaire, the only options for most are to accept that system or go without. Guess it just wouldn’t do to go changing things now.

During the campaign season the Democrats gushed that if only we’d elect more of them, they’d begin to improve the lots of the unions and working class in this country by passing the Employee Free Choice Act tout de suite. But after the Chamber of Commerce and Wal Mart lobbyists trotted out their standard boilerplate about how working stiffs having two nickels to rub together would send us all down the road to perdition, Congress began watering down the proposed legislation to render it largely meaningless in the event they actually have to even vote on it at all. And now the EFCA is floating belly up.

On environmental issues, Congress had to let Old King Coal and the rest of the polluters put in their two cents and rather than simply requiring those who are fouling and desecrating the only planet we’ve got to stop, the best idea they can come up with is cap and trade legislation to allow polluters to trade carbon credits. As Congressman Lloyd Doggett mentioned the bill will likely make matters even worse than doing nothing at all because it reduces the enforcement authority of the EPA and exempts new coal plants from the regulations. It would also allow the Wall Street bankers to make billions by brokering deals for the carbon credits. But because it was so important to make sure the big energy companies got what they needed, Pelosi and the Democratic “leadership” actually took a break from their luau to go twist arms and make sure this bill passed. Even Doggett eventually got his mind to the political right and voted yes after some threats from the Obama administration.

The bailout boondoggle continues unabated and there are no signs that the fraud will stop any time soon. We are told that all this is for the collective good because anything less would cause the entire economy to crumble, but the banks continue to hoard the taxpayer cash they were handed while failing to loosen credit to jump start the economy which we had been assured was the purpose of the bailout in the first place. The financial system is rotten and yet no meaningful regulation is being proposed to keep another disaster from happening. And as people continue to struggle just to make ends meet, the Senate can’t muster enough votes to pass the cramdown legislation which would have made it easier for those struggling to keep their homes.

We were assured that the illegal wars started by Bush would be brought to a close but instead Obama and the Congress bill us with more Bushian off-budget war funding and an increased defense budget which included items even the Pentagon didn’t want just to keep the defense contractors happy. The conflict in Afghanistan has escalated and we’ve increased bombing in Pakistan. The situation in Iraq remains a disaster and as the talking heads twaddle about US troops leaving Iraqi cities this week they generally fail to mention the asterisk – there are still about the same number of US troops in the country as when the fiasco began although generals refuse to say exactly how many, and the government has changed the definition of what constitutes a city – and the asses of millions remain at risk in the Dis we have created in the desert.

However true all these inconvenient facts may be, merely listing the facts is not enough to wake the majority from their torpor. Or as Chris Hedges noted recently, the truth alone will not set you free. The oligarchs who rule this country have their own narrative they’d like you to hear and both the media juggernaut and craven government who do their bidding are more than willing to regurgitate it for them. What is needed is an entire alternative view of the world to counter the bushwa and bunkum we hear on a daily basis. Oratory that will put the powers that be on the defensive for a change. Rhetoric that rings true, that will awaken the populace until the arguments of the aristocracy are as discredited as the ether.

When citizens petition the government with grievances about health care or pollution or low wages or education or the waste of our belligerent wars it must be made clear that these are not simply special interests which can be discounted one by one because the overall welfare of a nation’s people is not a special interest. No more dividing and conquering. No more rigging the system to allow the already wealthy to fatten themselves further from the labor of the poor. We no longer have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people – the corporation has replaced the people as the object of all those prepositions and if that stands then the rest of us will be prone with our faces in the dirt. A line must be drawn so that no more will the few be able to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us. We need a William Jennings Bryan for the new millennium who will remind us that we’re all in this together, who will stand up on both feet and tell the CEOs and bankers and lobbyists and defense contractors You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.

But until that happens and the citizens of this country wake the hell up, expect the jackass party currently in charge to keep up their elephant talk in the hopes people won’t notice that amidst the constant palaver, nothing ever really changes.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    July 2, 2009 11:53 am

    Incredibly well written. You should submit this to magazines or bigger blogs for publication.

    We have come to a place in time, long planned by the Milton Friedmanites, where private interests now dominate the public sector and they have become the new arbiters of totalitarianism. This used to be called fascism. It needs a new term. Corporatism works I guess. Corporate totalitarianism is too long and fascism brings out the Godwins.

    Of course in the end Americans need to wake the fuck up and I don’t know how that is possible when they are plugged into their own private Idahos on the tv, ipod, xbox etcetera. Squobama was supposed to be the great new leader and it is really hard to see how he is, in spite of his lovely speeches, when he keeps rewarding the Corporatists at the expense of the rest of us.

    Here is another King Crimson I saw on the side, with a title that seems apropos. These guys were awesome!

    Larks tongues in aspic

    • cometman permalink*
      July 2, 2009 12:32 pm

      Thanks for the compliment. I got everything that’s been pissing me off lately off my chest in one post. Read that Hedges piece a few days ago and decided I needed to practice my rhetoric :) I thought about dropping the F(ascism)- bomb in the post but I think that word has largely lost its true meaning these days.

      I was actually thinking of trying to have this posted at some blog where it might be more widely read but nothing jumped immediately to mind. Maybe I’ll try it at docudharma to start. I thought about Huffpo but I don’t know much about that place.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    July 2, 2009 11:57 am

    Squobama was just on the tv covering his own ass on the bad job numbers released today. He is surrounded by the CEOs of energy companies. Jeebus. One is from Standard, another from Dow. I wonder if anyone from Envion was there?? He says these CEO’s are the future, not the Status Quo. Yeah, right.

    Here is a paraphrase:

    -Extraordinary measures have been taken to blunt the hardship
    -Took years to get in, will take more than a few months to get out
    -We will unleash the great generative powers of the American people by supporting their efforts.
    -New foundation for lasting growth –
    -Energy – clean energy economy, great bill passed by Congress

    gag me with a spoon. That he is surrounded by a bunch of CEO’s, the real constituents of this govt, is quite telling.

    I have to ask –

    “altered like a Sunday school marm on an MDMA bender” ?
    You have experience with this? hah! Or is that the description of some of the kumquat front pagers? ;)

    • cometman permalink*
      July 2, 2009 3:07 pm

      Ha! Yeah I used to spike the Sunday school teacher’s tea every week. But I used acid. Really livened up the class :P

  3. cometman permalink*
    July 2, 2009 12:14 pm

    Here are a couple people who have cranked up the rhetoric and put the oligarchs on the defensive lately – Matt Taibbi and Gretchen Morgenson. The nation had a nice article on Morgenson recently and her critics really don’t like her:

    At this point, it is almost impossible for business reporters and editors not to have an opinion about Morgenson. Supporters cheer her tell-it-like-it-is style; detractors call her simplistic and agenda-driven. In certain Wall Street and business circles, she is flatly detested.

    “She rules,” says Aaron Elstein, a senior writer who covers Wall Street for Crain’s New York. “She grasped that the game was rigged way before it was fashionable to do so.” (He was talking about bogus accounting practices, but the remark holds more generally.)

    “Unreadable,” snaps a business journalism peer. “She writes like an Escalade running into a concrete barrier. And her relentless and repetitious pounding of simplistic issues is maddening.”

    “The consensus view of her among actual business people I know is pure contempt,” says Jim McCarthy of CounterPoint Strategies, a public relations firm that has represented high-profile business-press targets. “Her work has a sort of drive-by, potshot quality to it that leads to habitual mistakes and ideological laziness. She is reflexively opposed to free markets and assumes bad faith in almost every subject or person she examines.”

    And in this Rawstory review of Taibbi’s latest article on Goldman Sachs the author notes:

    On his blog, Taibbi has begun a discussion of the public reaction to his article. Some commenters have suggested that Taibbi’s understanding of high finance is limited, accusing him of misreading Goldman Sachs’ actions.

    Check out that blog link. Taibbi really lets the critics have it.

    Doesn’t seem like the critics can dispute the facts that either of these two provide and resort to accusing them of being stupid or ideological. But as we know the truth has a well known liberal bias :) They must be doing something right.

  4. cometman permalink*
    July 2, 2009 12:22 pm

    And another man who uses art instead of rhetoric to cut through the truthiness and get to the heart of the matter – Robert Shetterly. If you’re just stopping by and haven’t heard of Shetterly before, check out his series of portraits called Americans Who tell the Truth. Maybe even buy a copy of his book. They are really beautiful paintings of people throughout US history who haven’t been afraid to speak the truth to power, some famous and others not so well known. He takes the artwork to museums and schools around the country to educate kids.

    A few years ago Shetterly stood up at a speech that Susan Collins was giving and publicly called her on whatever bullshit she was spewing at the time which brought a round of cheers from those assembled. We could use a lot more like this guy.

  5. Stemella permalink*
    July 2, 2009 4:34 pm

    Another catastrophuck in banksterville today. Seven banks have been taken by the FDIC
    six in Illinois and one in Texass.

    Founders Bank, Worth, IL
    Millennium State Bank of Texas, Dallas, TX
    The First National Bank of Danville, Danville, IL
    The Elizabeth State Bank, Elizabeth, IL
    Rock River Bank, Oregon, IL
    The First State Bank of Winchester, Winchester, IL
    The John Warner Bank, Clinton, IL

    Bringing the total bank failures to 52 for 2009

    I also believe that Illinois is one of the States, like California, that hasn’t been able to come up with a budget to cover billions in deficit.

  6. Stemella permalink*
    July 2, 2009 5:02 pm

    Oh you must check this out – Vampire squid on face over at Tyler Durden’s

    and then watch this interview hot off the intertubes
    of Matt Taibbi on BNN (Canadian eh?) video

    • cometman permalink*
      July 2, 2009 5:48 pm

      That was great. Fuck ’em up Taibbi!

  7. cometman permalink*
    July 2, 2009 5:13 pm

    And speaking of chattering slatterns, looks like the WAPO just got busted:

    Washington Post Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Katharine Weymouth said today she was cancelling plans for an exclusive “salon” at her home where, for as much as $250,000, the Post offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to “those powerful few”: Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and even the paper’s own reporters and editors.

    The astonishing offer was detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he felt it was a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff.”

    A lobbyist who makes their living paying out bribes to get access to the powerful has qualms about paying out a little more?!?!?! Must be Weymouth’s stuffed mushrooms don’t exactly melt in your mouth and $25,000 a pop seemed a little steep.

    They fire Froomkin, one of the few reporters with any integrity there, and then offer paid access to the ones that are left. WTF is wrong with these people? And I thought my rhetoric in the post above was a little on the harsh side…

  8. Stemella permalink*
    July 3, 2009 11:13 am

    More truth tellers here, revolving around America’s attempt to extend the Empyre further and longer, starting with Chalmers Johnson’s post on Tom’s Dispatch:

    How to Deal with America’s Empire of Bases: A Modest Proposal for Garrisoned Lands

    and Chris Floyd’s take on the same article, here: The Base Court: Another Fortress Rising in America’s Ring of Iron

    While one has very little sympathy for religious parties anywhere (just look at the murderous, sanctimonious gits of the Republican and Democratic parties, all of them — Obama included — oozing Heepish piety as they rob the poor and wage ceaseless war all over the world), in this case Mr Ahmad hits ye old nail on the head. “Micro and macro management” of the imperial satrapies are indeed the feverish obsessions of our Potomac poobahs — especially in a world which they darkly suspect is rapidly slipping from their accustomed control.

    Chalmers also makes the vitally important — hence universally ignored — point that the American power structure, whether led by Neanderthal conservatives or ultramodern “progressives,” has no intention of giving up the global archipelago of military bases that are the physical footprint of the American imperium

    We will always be at war with Eurasia

    It seems likely that all that stimulus money is going into building up the infrastructure of our imperial outposts, rather than here at home. I get the feeling that we are being intentionally ignored and broken down so that one day we will happily and most desperately take the low wages and deplorable working conditions now endured by China and India.

    Floyd goes on

    It is one of the most extraordinary episodes in world history. But it will almost certainly not be mentioned next week when Barack Obama visits Moscow — where, as the proud head of a war machine that has killed a million innocent people in Iraq and is killing thousands in Afghanistan, as the stout defender and expander of the authoritarian power grabs of his White House predecessor and a staunch shield for torturers and other war criminals, he will scold the Russians for their lack of liberty and scanting of human rights. The vast sacrifices that the Russian people have made in the peaceful surrender of their empire — the shattering of their society by the foolish adoption of Western “shock doctrine” economics and the Western-backed oligarchism of the bufoonish Yeltsin, all of which opened the door to the thuggish authoritarianism of the current Kremlin regime — will once again go unremarked.

    ~snip~

    Perhaps — when the last T-bills are called in, when the gigantic Ponzi scheme of the bailout scam runs out of suckers, when thousands of angry ‘natives’ are beseiging the walls of the Crusader fortresses the empire has raised in the midst of the “garrison lands,” when the whole, sky-blackening hoard of imperial chickens comes home to roost — perhaps the American elite of the day will rise to the moral level of late-20th century Soviet hacks, and let go. The history of America’s bipartisan, multi-generational elite does not exactly inspire confidence in this regard, of course — although stranger things have happened, I suppose, so it remains at least an outside chance. But I fear that when and if the Iron Ring comes down, it will not be “without great fall of blood.”

    Happy Birthday, America, your Christian soldiers and Empyre marches on, wielding the same bloody swords of destruction of your monarchical grandfathers you revolted against 233 years ago … for money.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 5, 2009 9:33 pm

      Addressing your point that people will be happy to take whatever they can get, I think that unfortunately you are right. I’ve heard way to many people say in the last year that those who still have jobs at all should consider themselves lucky. Makes me want to strangle somebody every time I hear it. Too many people think this crisis just happened and that it isn’t really anybody’s fault and just resign themselves to whatever happens. Not nearly enough people are mad yet, and they damn well should be.

  9. sisdevore permalink
    July 6, 2009 10:33 am

    agree with Stemella. well said. I am clapping with all of my tentacles.

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 6, 2009 9:23 pm

      Thankee Miss Dee. Kind of you to say so. :)

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