Turning the Suppressed Grapes of Wrath into Fruit for the Masses

Not only are the RWAs and Teabaggers upset with President Obama, so too are many of those on the left who hoped for real change in Washington. That combined with the continual lobbyist wins in the U.S. Congress and a growing not receding economic crisis has caused a diffusion of blogging and protest actions that in the aggregate have achieved little. According to an NYT article Saturday, the banks are not that worried about the public’s wrath over their record haul in 09 thanks to the American taxpayer:

The bank bonus season, that annual rite of big money and bigger egos, begins in earnest this week, and it looks as if it will be one of the largest and most controversial blowouts the industry has ever seen.

Bank executives are grappling with a question that exasperates, even infuriates, many recession-weary Americans: Just how big should their paydays be? Despite calls for restraint from Washington and a chafed public, resurgent banks are preparing to pay out bonuses that rival those of the boom years. The haul, in cash and stock, will run into many billions of dollars.

Bill Moyers, America’s top TV journalist, who the Corporate Communists have probably driven off PBS in March, had an absolutely vital discussion which aired Friday on his Journal with MOTHER JONES journalists David Corn and Kevin Drum on the grave damage Wall Street has done to America’s Middle Street and its Congress. Some Key exceprts:

BILL MOYERS: Let me read you a letter that was posted on our website a few days ago from a faithful viewer. His name is Mike Demmer. I don’t know him personally, but I like to hear from him. He says, dear Bill, I watch your program all the time. What I don’t understand is how a bunch of greedy bankers could bring the world to the edge of catastrophe and then in less than a year, already move back to their old ways. How do they do it?

KEVIN DRUM: Well, that’s the $64 million question. Or maybe it’s the $64 billion question these days. Yeah, how they do it? They’ve got all the money. And they use all the money. And they use it in Congress to get rules passed and get laws passed that they want. They use it to lobby the Fed, they use it to lobby the S.E.C. They use it to lobby the executive branch. And they get rules passed that allow them to make a lot of money. Just like any of us would. It’s not that American bankers are greedier than anybody else’s bankers. It’s that our rules, our laws, allow them to do things that they can’t do everywhere else. We let them take advantage of the system.

BILL MOYERS: And what does that say to us?

KEVIN DRUM: It says that the banks are in charge. And they’re in charge, they get people, you know, right now, banks are in, you know, nobody wants to be around Goldman Sachs, right? So, what they do is what you were talking about. They get the car dealers and they get the local banks and the credit unions and so forth to basically front for them. And these corporations go in and they say, “We want an end user exception.” And they get it. And then all it takes is a few congressional aides here and there to change the wording a little bit–

DAVID CORN: Now, the interesting thing is at this point having a conversation like this, we’ve already lost. Because now we’re arguing about how the technical side of things are handled. And we- what the Wall Street collapse didn’t really lead in Washington or anyplace else was sort of a reevaluation of what finance is supposed to be about. And what government’s role might be in advancing a financial system that benefits citizens at large. Wall Street has become a place- and the banking industry, where you don’t lend money to improve local businesses and industry. You basically, you know, create new- they call them instruments, devices- to make money yourself. It’s really turned into nothing except a casino, in which they lend money and then they make bets and side bets and bets on the side bets about what’s going to go up and down. So, a lot of the action is really, at the end of the day, not about providing credit and keeping capital flowing. It’s about what- how they think they can make more money through more trades.

DAVID CORN: This is the Stockholm Syndrome. Where you’re hostage starts identifying with the people holding them captive. Americans have been, you know, have been talk- said- told over and over again that if the Dow’s going up, if Wall Street’s making money, it’s good for you.

BILL MOYERS: Often when workers are being laid off. That’s-

DAVID CORN: Yeah, but other measurements of the economy aren’t taken to- aren’t held in such high esteem. And so, when I was talking to members of Congress and pollsters about why there was not more popular, you know, revulsion against Wall Street that was leading to action in Washington, Congressman Brad Sherman — he’s a Democrat from California. He led during the whole TARP argument- what he called the skeptics caucus. They were kind of opposed, but they were just raising questions. And he says the problem is that people are told that if you don’t serve Wall Street, Americans will be out on the streets fighting for rat meat. That basically the whole-

BILL MOYERS: Rat meat?

DAVID CORN: Rat meat. Those- that’s his- those are his words, not mine. I never- think I never would come up with that. With that image. But that- basically, we’d all be out fighting for grub on our own. And that so- what happens is people are — while they’re angry at Wall Street, particularly on the, you know, on the corporate compensation front, which is very easy to get angry about. They also are fearful of taking Wall Street on, because they’ve been taught that if, you know, if the DOW falls, if you take on the big banks, it’s going to be bad for all of us. So, it really is this Stockholm Syndrome, where we’re forced to identify with people who are holding us hostage without our interest in mind.

BILL MOYERS: So, your conclusion from all of this is, and I’m quoting you, “…the simplest, most striking proposals for reigning in bank behavior aren’t even getting a serious hearing.”

KEVIN DRUM: Back in March of last year Congress was considering a bill to deal with bankruptcy and home foreclosures. And the Obama Administration thought this goal was a shoe in. They really didn’t think they were going to have any problem passing it. And it failed. And–

BILL MOYERS: Fail? You mean it was beaten?

KEVIN DRUM: It was beaten by the banks. They got the bill rewritten. And in fact, not only did they get the bill rewritten the way they liked it. They actually got several billion dollars of extra bailout money put in at the same time.

Our 21st century great recession is much more devious psychologically than the 20th century’s great depression. It raises the dilemma posed by AlterNet’s Don Hazen, Les Leopold and Bruce E. Levine, Are Progressives Depressed or Too Privileged to Produce Social Change? Or Are We Just Failing to Organize Effectively?

Each blogger has written a post on that dilemma. Don Hazen in his intro wrote:

Like most important debates, there is no one truth, and Leopold and Levine both make important and provocative arguments. On the one hand, resources are not going to be more fairly distributed and corporations are not going to be held accountable unless there is more effective mobilizing with both grassroots pressure and in the electoral arena. But at this point what is the path to change? Especially when disenchantment with Obama seems to breed cynicism and withdrawal, rather than anger and action?

Is traditional organizing for social change feasible in the current environment? And how might it happen, especially given Levine’s suggestion that elite progressives are too comfortable to be in the streets fighting for poor people or against wars with a voluntary army, which provide employment to many young people at a time when jobs are scarce.

While I admire Les Leopold’s principles, I wish they were more effective at this point in history. And I do think progressives have minimized the class question. As a consequence, some of us have a hard time imagining, or perhaps don’t want to think about, how hard it is for tens of millions of people in this country to just get by.

Les Leopold wrote, “Perhaps Levine’s most eye-popping claim, at least for me, is that the American people may be so broken that the truth will not set us free.”

That to me is the most critical question. If the masses had the time physically and mentally, there is ample information available on the Internet to seek out the truth. As sufferers of the Stockholm Syndrome, even if they did search effectively, the truth would probably elude them. If the masses just heeded Moyer’s latest Journal airing, an effective uprising could happen. What is missing is a charismatic leader which many of us hoped would be Obama. He still could be, but it is highly unlikely, he will be.

That leader would have to have sufficient current stature so the corporate controlled M$M could not ignore him or her. There are many possibilities and I would like to hear your suggestions. On the top of my list is Alan Grayson because he is worth $31 million and can’t be bought. He knows how to speak in a frank style that the M$M can’t ignore. I don’t think anyone will ever own him.

Another key was spelled out by the NYT’s Frank Rich Saturday in his article, The Other Plot to Wreck America:

What we don’t know will hurt us, and quite possibly on a more devastating scale than any Qaeda attack. Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. Without that reckoning, there will be no public clamor for serious reform of a financial system that was as cunningly breached as airline security at the Amsterdam airport. And without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks — secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses.

The window for change is rapidly closing. Health care, Afghanistan and the terrorism panic may have exhausted Washington’s already limited capacity for heavy lifting, especially in an election year. The White House’s chief economic hand, Lawrence Summers, has repeatedly announced that “everybody agrees that the recession is over” — which is technically true from an economist’s perspective and certainly true on Wall Street, where bailed-out banks are reporting record profits and bonuses. The contrary voices of Americans who have lost pay, jobs, homes and savings are either patronized or drowned out entirely by a political system where the banking lobby rules in both parties and the revolving door between finance and government never stops spinning.

It’s against this backdrop that this week’s long-awaited initial public hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission are so critical. This is the bipartisan panel that Congress mandated last spring to investigate the still murky story of what happened in the meltdown. Phil Angelides, the former California treasurer who is the inquiry’s chairman, told me in interviews late last year that he has been busy deploying a tough investigative staff and will not allow the proceedings to devolve into a typical blue-ribbon Beltway exercise in toothless bloviation.

He wants to examine the financial sector’s “greed, stupidity, hubris and outright corruption” — from traders on the ground to the board room. “It’s important that we deliver new information,” he said. “We can’t just rehash what we’ve known to date.” He understands that if he fails to make news or to tell the story in a way that is comprehensible and compelling enough to arouse Americans to demand action, Wall Street and Washington will both keep moving on, unchallenged and unchastened.

The Teabaggers, Wall Street’s ignorant masses, are too gullible to count on in any uprising. However, there are libertarians, true conservatives and independents who could be brought on board. By my calculation that gives us at least two-thirds of America’s citizens, more than enough for the people to take over their own government and destiny.

Our Grapes of Wrath ancestors succeeded under great odds and so can we. We owe it to the grandchildren of the world so they will not only survive, but thrive. The dreaded socialism must prevail around the world over the decadent version of capitalism now dominating everything. The greedy don’t need nearly as much wealth to live comfortably while so many around the world suffer and die with no dignity. Those of us who still possess compassion, need to take over. Yes we can!!!

42 Comments

  1. cocktailhag says:

    I really enjoyed the Moyers piece, and find it depressing that the rest of the MSM is basically ignoring the story. It’s no surprise, though, all of the MSM has been hyptnotizing us all these years, treating the stock market as the only thing worth reporting, and bombarding us with tales of heroic CEO’s and Wall Streeters, while ignoring a disappearance of the industrial base and massive income inequality.
    Basically, economic news is reported from the perspective of the fat cats, and that’s it. Worse, the media stars are rich themselves, and have nothing in common with ordinary Americans, so they shovel out trickle down claptrap as though it were some iron law of economics, when it isn’t.
    The fact that so many people believe in Tom Friedman’s “Flat World or Charlie Gibson’s false notion that cutting capital gains taxes increases revenue isn’t because they’re stupid, but because they’ve been indoctrinated.
    Then you have Rush Limbaugh on 600 stations spouting the same thing, along with his many imitators, not to mention FOX; we might as well be the Reaganite version of Soviet Russia. Except there, everyone knew the news was propaganda.

    • rmp says:

      Part of the problem with the public’s ignoring Moyers is how good his show is every week but he is perceived as public TV discussion, not real news. I wished he was younger and had the energy to do an MSNBC weeknight show in place of the Countdown repeat.

      On Wall Street and MSNBC, I have hope for Dylan Ratigan who Monday starts a 4pm ET gig. If he continues his aggressive approach to interviewing and frank style, he may keep moving up. He would clearly champion a people’s WS uprising.

  2. rmp says:

    OT on my previous Avatar post and obsession; $1.34B and counting:
    ‘Avatar’ remains in orbit with $48.5M weekend
    http://www.salon.com/wires/allwires/2010/01/10/D9D50HB00_us_box_office/index.html

  3. nailheadtom says:

    ” especially given Levine’s suggestion that elite progressives are too comfortable to be in the streets fighting for poor people”
    ___________________

    Herbert Spencer said: “The kinship of pity to love is shown among other ways in this, that it idealizes its object. Sympathy with one in suffering suppresses, for the time being, remembrance of his transgressions. . . . after counting the many loungers about tavern doors, or after observing the quickness with which a street-performance, or procession, draws from neighbouring slums and stable-yards a group of idlers. Seeing how numerous they are in every small area, it becomes manifest that tens of thousands of such swarm through London. “They have no work,” you say. Say rather that they either refuse work or quickly turn themselves out of it. They are simply good-for-nothings, who in one way or other live on the good-for-somethings–vagrants and sots, criminals and those on the way to crime, youths who are burdens on hard-worked parents, men who appropriate the wages of their wives, fellows who share the gains of prostitutes; and then, less visible and less numerous, there is a corresponding class of women.

    Is it natural that happiness should be the lot of such? Or is it natural that they should bring unhappiness on themselves and those connected with them? Is it not manifest that there must exist in our midst an immense amount of misery which is which is a normal result of misconduct, and ought not to be dissociated from it? There is a notion, always more or less prevalent and just now vociferously expressed, that all social suffering is removable, and that it is the duty of somebody or other to remove it. Both of these beliefs are false. To separate pain from ill-doing is to fight against the constitution of things, and will be followed by far more pain. Saving men from the natural penalties of dissolute living, eventually necessitates the infliction of artificial penalties in solitary cells, on tread-wheels, and by the lash.” 1884

    • rmp says:

      So because Wall Street believes in capitalism, theft and bribery, they should be able to ruin millions or billions of lives so they can live in totally unnecessary luxury. I guess in your world, anything goes as long as it is labeled capitalism. Not any world I want to live in. Why do you?

  4. cocktailhag says:

    You know, RMP, that suffering only comes to those who “deserve” it. This notion makes the oligarchs feel better about their lavish lifestyles, and absolves them of any obligation to alleviate it. It’s not a new idea, as you see. The unfortunate corollary of this worldview is that people with megamillions start to believe that they are just that much more valuable than everyone else, and act that way.

    • rmp says:

      When I think of nailhead, which isn’t often, attempting to dress up bullshit and greatly over valuing turds, something the Repugs are very good at, comes to mind. This article in Common Dreams says it better and is supportive of my thinking and post today:

      The current ugly nature of our political discourse is perhaps simultaneously the greatest ‘victory’ and greatest tragedy of the regressive revolution in America these last thirty years. Not only has the state itself been captured for purposes of thorough looting by oligarchs, but the very political consciousness of the nation has been diluted and polluted – all while our faux patriotism is saluted – beyond recognition.
      Government is bad. Government always screws up. Corporations are heroic. Greed is good. Conservatism is about protecting freedom. Personal sacrifice for national improvement is for fools. Personal destruction is an appropriate form of politics. Hypocrisy is even more acceptable. There is one set of rules for elites, another for the rest of us.

      All these form the fabric of our national ethos today, woven deeply into our political consciousness. Regressives understand in ways that progressives tend to be clueless about, the simple idea that, who narrates governs. The explanation for the right’s visceral appreciation of this wisdom is likely rooted in the survival instinct at the core of the human creature’s very DNA. When you’re peddling an absolutely absurd and destructive pile of bullshit, even dressing it up in pretty pink ribbons isn’t going to be enough. If you hope to have any prayer of making the sale, you gotta teach people from their earliest days that turds are really, really valuable. Get yours now!

      The Implosion of the American Political Consciousness
      http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/10-4

      • cocktailhag says:

        I read that, and it was spot on. I think that’s also why righties turn so quickly to personal attacks; if they can silence the speaker, no one will hear his/her words. Certain things must never be mentioned, because to do so would make them look like the selfish asses they are.

  5. mikeinportc says:

    More on how Goldman-Sachs did it, at McClatchy , yesterday.
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/goldman/

    How they do it, short term, short verion : If you were given $1B, & everything you bought with it was valued at 10c on the dolar, or less, all of that went back up to ~ original price, and you only had to pay back the original $1B, whenever it was convenient , you could probably make out quite well also.

    I noticed a long time ago that what drives Wall Street up is usally bad for ~everyone else.

    …so they shovel out trickle down claptrap as though it were some iron law of economics…….

    Triclke Down Theory is based on a false premise , that is that money is like water. It’s not. Money flows uphill. Everybody tries to”obstruct” as much as possible, and the people at the top try to remove as many “obstructions” as possible. The galling thing about it is the idea that it’s right,proper,and holy that the few have the reservoir(ocean?), while the vast majority get a trickle.

    tom, that quote by Spencer illustrates, i part, the “Ought/Is Fallacy” . That is, the idea that what is, is that way because that’s how it ought to be.

    … Saving men from the natural penalties of dissolute living, eventually necessitates the infliction of artificial penalties in solitary cells, on tread-wheels, and by the lash.” Spoken like a true authoritarian prick. He’d fit right in,in today’s “conservative” movement. Any relation to Cheney? ;)

    • cocktailhag says:

      I think he’s really my crazy grandmother, Etta, haunting me from the grave. She was Archie Bunker in a mink coat, only meaner.

      • rmp says:

        Scary image. Be careful about badmouthing Archie. At least he was honest in his discrimination and occasionally learned from his mistakes. Can’t say that for the thugs today.

        • retzilian says:

          Plus Archie Bunker was a FICTIONAL character in a sit com. He was a composite, a caraciture. He was not a real person.

          The real people who are real bigots, liars, hypocrites and amnesiacs are the problem, not some fictitious character.

          Tom is a real person, even if he’s a troll. He just wants to pick a fight. I just don’t care about his opinion anymore. He has no perspective or empathy, he’s a parrot, at best.

    • retzilian says:

      The other misconception about “trickle down” is the fact that resources are finite, not infinite. Our monetary system is based on phantom money instead of real value and this is why the bankers and investors made all sorts of money that wasn’t even real – it was just numbers on a spreadsheet that were valued or devalued based on other phantom things like credit defaults or interest rates or derivatives – nothing based on actual value or production.

      The entire system is a ponzi scheme.

  6. rmp says:

    If we had only listened to Jefferson’s dire warning in 1802. Hey, we still could, right Barack? Have you forgotten how many times you warned us about this during your presidential campaign?

    Papantonio: The Banking Industry – America’s New Thugs,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOErQ65UZUU&feature=player_embedded#

  7. cocktailhag says:

    Great quotes…. Papantonio’s show, “Ring of Fire,” with Bobby Kennedy, airs here on the weekends, when I don’t have the radio on, but I love the guy.

  8. retzilian says:

    The love of money is the root of all evil.

    And that about sums it up, really.

  9. DCLaw1 says:

    I listened to that Moyers show on podcast today. Damn was it good. And nice piece here, Cocktailhag.

    Also really liked Frank Rich’s connecting the concept of terrorism to these Wall Street extortionists. It quite literally is, “Nice little economy and way of life you’ve got here – be a shame if something happened to it.”

  10. dirigo says:

    If anything could demonstrate more clearly Tom’s crackpot ideas about the current malaise, post 9-11, and after the 2008 Wall Street crash-o-rama, quoting Herbert Spencer can’t be beat.

    The Great Original Coiner of the term “survival of the fittest” – if he were among us and at least marginally sentient and honest about what we see in 2010 – might actually take Tom to task for suggesting that what has happened in the last few years is somehow in the “natural order of things.”

    Tom, you are peddling tripe. Nothing more, nothing less. You have to be suffering some dementia in order to keep this up.

    Or, you might simply be a paid hack troll from the Hoover Institution.

    Whatever, I think you are a useful idiot here at Hag’s blog, because a rigorous application of irony, applied to the bald facts of the flat-out rape of the American economy, and, the now very clear and deliberate destruction of the middle class, engineered more or less since the end of the 1970s, can be shown to have an empirical basis, a pattern of deliberate intent.

    Act of nature indeed. You mean like the effect of the Johnstown Flood on people downstream? Something like that?

    All that needs doing is to put in relief the absurd irony of the current situation against the terrible facts – including holding up to ridicule, constantly, repetitively, and without relief, the culprits – and after a while, enough people will wake up to the crimes that are clearly apparent to a few thinking people.

    No amount of rubbish quotes from British Victorian philosophers, or missives from other Hobbesian “state of nature” masturbators, will defeat the facts that are there, if they are presented clearly, without fear or favor.

    • Herbert Spencer. Droll. Wanna bet Peter Drucker is next? Tom doesn’t know it, of course, not having any Italian, but Mussolini said it best:

      Credere. Obbedire. Combattere.

      This was once painted on every wall from Palermo to Rome. Didn’t help much once Patton arrived, but for a while the Camicie Nere felt quite invulnerable when repeating it.

    • nailheadtom says:

      It’s only natural for intellectual Chapter 11s like yourself to attempt to perpetuate the class warfare myth, interestingly enough a phenomenon that also received a big boost in Victorian times. So we have the evil “rich”, versus the worthy “poor”. Just as anyone driving faster than you is a maniac and anyone driving more slowly is an asshole, so to is the human population classified. Classification is the word. There is no room in the leftist menagerie for the individual, he must be assigned to his class and there exhibit the characteristics of that class. The process of collectivization requires that one of these classes be eliminated, however. That means the rich will have to go. And, when they are gone, social ills will have disappeared as well. The confiscation of the wealth of the rich will enable the elevation of the poor. It’s as simple as that. Even though the social director of your mental cruise ship, Karl Marx, stipulated that such a development was a natural, inevitable occurence, you fools insist on believing that altruistic demi-gods are needed to push the program forward. Thus the evil “rich” will be replaced with “public servants” drawn from the very same pool of prospects. By taking the oath reuired for federal employment, they will be miraculously saved from a lifetime of committing rape and plunder and sent down the road of mandatory charity at a reduced income. And everyone will be much happier, just as they were in post-war Poland, East Germany, Hungary, etc., etc. By the way, if the ideas of Marx, the foundation of socialism, have any validity, on what date can we expect to see that the State has withered away in Cuba? After all, it’s been 51 years and it’s still a police state.

      • dirigo says:

        Mr. Head, few of us here are arguing what you think we’re arguing.

        Not to speak for anyone else, but I think we’re aware enough in these parts to believe the Cold War ended twenty or so years ago, thus settling, pretty much, the debate over capitalism versus communism. I was in the military before then and damn well know what the stakes were. I’ve read all the big books.

        You must not have gotten the memo.

        The problem now isn’t some half-baked debate over those old chestnuts. This faux argument is a diversion, just like, for instance, the crap in the new book just out about the ’08 campaign and John Edwards’ sex life, or this week-end’s bullshit about Sarah Palin.

        This is a new time.. The problem now is picking up after the humongus mess created since 1989, and nurtured before then, by our own American oligarchs and mullahs, who plainly want to return us all to state of poverty and a pre-modern state of nature.

        And as far as I’m concerned, this has been juiced up, post-9-11, by the sustained exploitation of fear, and the crude, unfair (to those actually having to serve), and possibly criminal use of force by the government as a response to the terrorist attacks.

        These people you support are and have been determined to prove there is such a thing as absolute capitalism. Under God too! – according to the likes of people like Palin. The wreckage we see now is a testament to their work. And now we have created a burning, stinking pyre of bodies in the Middle East and South Asia.

        Since you appear to be a ferocious defender of it all, by all means, please: Take full responsibility.

        You obviously think we should just keep going with all this, as if the country is just some big social Darwinian lab. Others disagree, not least because of a concern about some semblance of community.

        This concern does not translate to a drive to an absolute test of socialism, but rather toward a perfectly mainstream adjustment to fairness and balance within the American tradition.

        It has nothing to do with any of the asshat countries we all know about: like Cuba, Russia, or Venezuala. They are irrelevant, except for the noise they keep making, as denizens of the “dustbin of history.”

        In any case, quite apart from your hackneyed and outdated raving about economic theory, these countries are no threat to us, so tamp down your paranoia a bit. You’ll feel better in no time.

        That you might regard yourself as some sort of philosopher-king, ever ready to issue pronouncements from your castle, while refusing to join anything that might be called a community, is beside the point.

        No one here cares what kind of car you drive or whether you drive it in a clown suit.

        • rmp says:

          Rather than just nail Tom, you have tried to reason with him in a manner better than I could. Here are some other possible factors on why Tom is so steadfast in his beliefs:
          Book: Idiot America How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
          http://www.amazon.com/Idiot-America-Stupidity-Became-Virtue/dp/0767926145/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t#reader_0767926145
          http://www.amazon.com/Idiot-America-Stupidity-Became-Virtue/product-reviews/0767926145/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1 reviews
          Simple Brainwashing: Have you ever wondered why otherwise intelligent people can’t see what’s right in front of their own faces?
          http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/770.html

          • dirigo says:

            Actually I’m pretty much done trying to reason with the gentleman; but to be honest, in a selfish way, I do enjoy marshaling some arguments in print against a reactionary such as Tom.

            It’s an exercise, and it helps me write better. That he is a foil in our presence, and an object of scorn and ridicule, is a bonus.

            He’s a type: a purely selfish American man who thinks the world still wants to listen to him.

            Sad to say: It doesn’t.

            He seems the the type who insists on having the last word, believing perhaps that such a tactic wins the debate, as a fait accompli. It doesn’t.

            He may also think I want to hear more from him. I don’t.

          • dirigo says:

            Thank God for Charlie Pierce, one in a long line of great Boston writers.

        • nailheadtom says:

          “This is a new time.. The problem now is picking up after the humongus mess created since 1989, and nurtured before then, by our own American oligarchs and mullahs, who plainly want to return us all to state of poverty and a pre-modern state of nature.”
          ____________________

          Let’s just assume that your ridiculous statement contains even a molecule of truth. There’s no denying that the economy of the country, at least, has some problems. You say that they are “created and nurtured” by our “oligarchs and mullahs”. OK, who are they? What are their names? What is it, exactly that these individuals have done to achieve these ends? Are any of them part of government? For years we heard about Dick Cheney and his buddies at Halliburton. Are they still the “oligarchs and mullahs” that “want to return us to a state of povery, etc.”? Or, since there’s a new sheriff in town, is there a different shipload of pirates looking to set up a pre-modern state? And if it’s the same pirates, what do the elections then mean? How can one group of politicians be bad and another good, if nothing is changed? What’s the point in all the political acrimony?

          Even if the nameless “oligarchs and mullahs” could “return us to a state of poverty and a pre-modern state of nature” (Incidentally, exactly the stated goal of left-wing, climate-freaked psuedo-environmentalists) what would be their motive? How would a “state of poverty and a pre-modern state of nature” (Which, incidentally, has never existed in the US, so a “return” is impossible) be advantageous to the “oligarchs and mullahs”? Your fevered scenario, which has occured only through the efforts of socialist tyrants, takes precedence over mine, an alternative that describes that very thing.

        • It pains me a bit to say this, Dirigo, but you don’t, in fact, speak for me.

          1) The debate between communism and capitalism, such as it was, is far from over. 2) The military is the last institution on earth which can teach you what the stakes are, and 3) calling Venezuela an asshat country is to participate in the very kind of casual arrogance which you claim to detest in others.

          This ain’t the place to discuss these things in detail, but it probably is a place to speak up when you aren’t part of what someone else asserts as a consensus.

          • dirigo says:

            Well, I think I stipulated I wasn’t attempting to speak for everyone, and can be educated on this or that weakness in my world view.

            Tom is simply a partisan, and is unwilling to acknowledge one thing about the two presidential terms preceding the current one and its band of pirates (“OK, who are they? what are their names? What is it, exactly that these individuals have done to achieve these ends? Are any of them in government?”)

            As for “oligarchs and mullahs,” I reserve the right to whatever poetic license suits me, or, “as much as I may consume.” No debate will be won or lost in these exchanges anyway. Tom may think so, but I don’t.

            It is true that the military has its limits when it comes to understanding “the stakes,” except for one thing: It taught me to look at the government as a whole, not at any party.

            Pirates come and pirates go, and the government tilts and rolls under the influence of whichever crew has the tiller.

            I don’t serve any of them, or any hack party line.

          • Fair enough, D. I’m not any fonder of Tom’s cognitive dissonance than you are, but I am a leftist, and therefore somewhat allergic to any suggestion that somehow America has reinvented history, or that we’re entitled by our own dubious virtues to consider that …what’s past is prologue; what to come, in yours and my discharge. (As though the rest of the world were a mere figment of our imaginations.)

            It’s not a world view that I’d necessarily want to inflict on fellow occupants of the lounge; I just hate making any concessions at all to the America-firsters who fetch up here from time to time with shriveled lumps of coal for hearts and sawdust for brains.

          • dirigo says:

            My experience of being whipsawed by the right and left nearly forty years ago, while trying to make sense of that formative time, that “coming of age” chapter in my life, is what makes me allergic to the claims of either side. I’m completely outside of that spectrum.

            But I’m much more allergic to the America-firsters and the nationalists who still cling to the notion of exceptionalism.

            I scorn them absolutely, and therein lies a fierce judgment.

      • timothy3 says:

        when they [the rich] are gone, social ills will have disappeared as well. The confiscation of the wealth of the rich will enable the elevation of the poor.

        Heh. Better to identify the cause of our many “social ills”? The wealthy, after all, consistently confiscate from the poor, which is why they’re poor.
        Health insurance costs, wage stagnation, the elite’s/Wall Street’s access to the doors-flung-open Fed, armies of lobbyists, evisceration of unions, and on and on.
        You’ve got it completely backward.
        However, I did get a laugh from your “intellectual Chapter 11s” line.

  11. nailheadtom says:

    “Better to identify the cause of our many “social ills”? The wealthy, after all, consistently confiscate from the poor, which is why they’re poor.”
    —————-

    Wow, timothy3, mommy must have let you put too much sugar on your cornflakes at breakfast before taking you down to the corner to catch the school bus. If the poor are “poor”, by definition, what is it that the “rich” are “confiscating” from them? Aside from the fact that there is only one group in this country that can confiscate anything from anybody, and that is the government at its various levels, even our distorted market economy still allows some freedom of choice in purchasing. Or did. Any legal private transaction that involves the transfer of money in this country is voluntary. Of course, wealthy individuals and organizations can make deals that involve the funds of private citizens. But they can only do so with the assistance of your pals in the government. Your taxes can be given to others; farmers, arms manufacturers, dysfunctional public school systems, bizarre research projects, and on and on. But Ford and Microsoft and UPS can’t show up at your door and demand money. Only the government can do that.

  12. timothy3 says:

    But Ford and Microsoft and UPS can’t show up at your door and demand money. Only the government can do that.

    Sure about that? What do you think is the role of lobbyists? They, by definition, “show up at your door and demand money.”

    You seem blissfully unaware of how government functions, who it benefits and who suffers as a result.

    Your conventional understanding, such as it is, of a separation between government and wealth is sadly mistaken.

    As for my “pals in government,” I don’t think you understand either this blog or its participants.

    • nailheadtom says:

      Yeah, I am sure about that. Every person in this country that has a job, that, if legal, requires filing a W-4, had taxes withheld from their pay. And in fact, the IRS is now increasing the amount withheld even though your exemptions and tax liability haven’t changed. The feds are increasing the size of the interest-free loan they extract from every taxpayer all year around. Evidently, you haven’t gotten past Dick, Jane and Spot, because your reading didn’t pick up what I said about individuals, money and business. Business (and other pressure groups) have to go through the government to steal our money. Lobbyists can’t make me send them money.

  13. retzilian says:

    I took a couple of economics courses in college (which I found really boring, I’ll admit), so I’m no expert. However, I have been involved in business and politics my entire adult life and know from first-hand experience how government works *and* how successful business works.

    If I wanted to start a business today, and I needed a loan, I’d have to create a business plan and bring that to a bank. The bank lending official would have to decide if my business plan was viable, if I could demonstrate that I’d make enough money to pay the bank back in a reasonable period of time. Presumably, I’d have some kind of product or service that was in demand or was original enough or good enough for enough people to want to buy it. I could not base my business plan on imaginary values, risk of some other intangible thing going up or down, a “derivative” of some other product, or any of this other nonsense that made Citi and Chase and Goldman Sachs (ptuey, I spit) and the barons of Wall Street rich.

    Wall Street doesn’t even operate from a standard business model, and yet we are supposed to respect that? Could any of those clowns even open a business? Write a business plan? Get a loan as a real person and not some kind of number crunching ghoul?

    Very few mainstream writers are addressing the core problems with what is happening to our country right now. Pundits and idiots obfuscate the real issues with what I’d call “pseudo-issues” – gossip, drama, ideology, polls, horse races – but never real problems that require real solutions.

    For one thing, there’s plenty of blame to go around when it comes to our economy; however, the chief problem today is the lack of jobs. The crash last year hurt so many industries: school systems (I lost my job because my main customer was schools), small businesses, large businesses, etc. Everyone who needed revenue from a tax base lost their shirts last year. How can we replace that revenue without jobs?

    Once upon a time, we were a manufacturing powerhouse and the economy created from that surplus of jobs made many of our parents (and maybe some here) pretty well off. Good were affordable, energy was cheap, life was relatively simple. Anyone with a halfway decent education could get a job.

    When I was a little girl being indoctrinated by the Catholic School System, I recall very vividly a course we had on economics that was presented as a cartoon: early civilization learning how to trade with each other for what they needed. Everyone with a skill had something to barter. Ancient banks loaned money. People had businesses, made things, grew things.

    I suspect our solution is to return to that type of economy: where we all grow things, make things, trade things, barter, loan, work as communities in our own geographies. Global economy be damned.

  14. dirigo says:

    HEY TOM:

    Related to the market predators of recent years (the oligarchs and mullahs of Wall Street and the top five percent) and the never-ending soft-porn news media (the perfect diversion for our teabagged populace), are lingering security issues and possible constitutional violations which flow from the previous administration.

    In the news weeds early this week is this:

    http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/01/hbc-90006339

    As a man with an answer for everything, I’m sure you can finesse this one.

  15. nice post friend..i hope success for you..have a nice day