Archive for September, 2011

What is it about ‘No’ that you don’t understand?

By Steve Klinger

It all boils down to a simple question: Why can’t Obama and the Democrats take the gloves off and expose the Republicans for the sociopathic subversives they really are?

Yes, physician Dr. Kidglove, as blogger Tom Wark likes to call him, gave a forceful speech and presented a jobs program larger than many expected. But as Robert Reich quickly calculated ( it would not make a big difference in reducing unemployment or otherwise stimulating the economy or avoiding a likely double-dip recession. At $200-300 billion of new spending it’s just not big enough, and many of the tax cuts are extensions of what’s already in place.

I said “would” because it will not become law. The Republicans will block it, using Mitch McConnell’s cynical talking point, no doubt coined long before Obama opened his mouth:
“This isn’t a job plan. It’s a reelection plan.”

Except the shoe is really on the other foot. To the Republicans, everything is about the election and nothing is about human suffering and national priorities. Obama has hesitated, procrastinated, accommodated and capitulated for the better part of three years, naively hoping for bipartisanship. His self-deluded attempts at leadership have repeatedly met with solid and unrelenting GOP resistance – no, flat-out obstructionism. Unlike some leftists who believe he is bought and paid for, I think he has simply shown himself to be overmatched  and incapable of necessary confrontation. So once again, abandoning principle for the sake of perceived expediency, he has presented a program he thinks/hopes/prays will get enough Republican support to be enacted as a half-measure.

But it won’t be good enough to matter if it does, and anyway, it will not, precisely because Obama again underestimates the cold-blooded ruthlessness of his opponents, who do not put country ahead of politics, and certainly not ordinary working people (or those who wish they were working people). This is what he and every Democrat and every sentient media commentator should be saying, over and over, until voters get the message: How can you trust the Republicans to help ordinary folks when they are constantly demonstrating they’re willing to ruin the country for the sake of reclaiming power?

As many have pointed out, the Republicans would say day was night if they thought it would give them an electoral victory in 2012. And they would, and do, watch millions suffer while pretending to act in their interest. Using their own past proposals to get their support did not work with health care or the debt ceiling,  and it will not work with jobs.  Maybe someone on Obama’s re-election team is planning to exploit GOP opposition to this plan once the campaign season starts in earnest. But in that case, as Reich asks, why not push the program that’s really needed so you can make a persuasive argument about how the right is selling the country down the river?

Take the gloves off and swing back. What is it about ‘No’ that you don’t understand?

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It Was a Good Time for Tossin’ th’ Haggis

By Thomas Wark


I remember a beautiful end-of-summer in Scotland ten years ago. In lovely sunlight the soft breezes carried the lilt of lassies comin’ through the rye and lovers takin’ th’ high road to Loch Lomond.

Back home unemployment was a rising concern; it had reached 4.9 per cent in August, the highest rate in four years. Private employers had just cut 130,000 jobs, ten times the predicted amount, and shipped nearly 50,000 jobs overseas.

Independent economists said the bad news meant the long-awaited economic recovery still was not in sight. Not to worry, “we’re about where we should be,” said the chief economist at Merrill Lynch, one of the Wall Street firms that was happily selling AAA-rated investment packages that seven years later would be called “sub-prime” and “toxic.”

On a hillside east of a small town in the Scottish highlands, a natural waste-disposal field was in its fifth experimental year. Although toxic slush was deep underfoot somewhere, the air was scented only by a profusion of wildflowers. There’s more than one way to deal with toxic.

The remains of an ancient Roman fortification crested the hill. Later in the afternoon we would stand in its shade and watch Scotsmen sling a haggis in a traditional festival game. A few days later, we took a leisurely drive toward John O’Groat., stopping often to admire rocky shorelines and the occasional sandy beach.

When we stopped for fuel, the attendant for the single pump recognized us as Yanks. “Did y’ hear about the Twin Towers?” he asked. BBC radio told us the latest about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The U. S. national debt was just a shade over $5 trillion.

When he finally emerged from hiding, the President of the United States led a campaign of fear, half-truths, outright falsehood and “cooked” intelligence to launch a war against a country that had nothing to do with the September attacks and whose sleazy dictator had nothing to do with those who organized and financed it.

When he left office, that president and his unfunded wars had doubled the national debt.

Unemployment was over 10 per cent.

The toxic assets Wall Street had sold as prime investments went “Poof!” and the richest banks in the world were on their knees, begging.

A new President printed new money and showered it on the bankers who had brought the world to the brink of depression.

The national debt rose to $12 trillion.

The wars went on.

The unemployment rate remained twice what it had been in 2001. That’s not counting millions more jobless who have been unemployed for so long they no longer count as “statistics.”

So far only one man running for President has offered a plan intended to provide jobs for some of the unemployed. It calls essentially for tax credits to private employers to encourage them to hire more people. (These are the same private employers who cut 130,000 jobs in August of 2010 and shipped 50,000 of them overseas, causing independent economists to warn that we’d better do something soon about unemployment.)

Last month, the U. S. economy did not add one new job. Zero. Zilch. As soon as John Boehner says it’s OK, the President will talk to the nation about jobs.

What he says isn’t likely to do much for the millions without work. Talk doesn’t buy groceries.

Last month, for the first time in ten years, not one American was killed in Iraq in George Bush’s war. However, it was the worst month ever for American deaths in Afghanistan, Barack Obama’s war. Nobody reports the losses here and there in the dozen or so clandestine wars we’re fighting.

No politician running for President is talking about ending the wars that put us deeply in debt as a nation. Yet all the politicians say the debt is a crisis.

It is such a big, big crisis that we can’t afford to create public sector jobs fixing a national infrastructure that has been neglected for so long that it’s a risk to life and limb for our common citizens.

But it’s not so big a crisis that we need to end the huge tax cuts we gave to our very richest citizens.

This isn’t a country. It’s a bloody zoo, and the animals are in charge.


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