The Shock Doctrine, In Practice


Putting the brakes on the auto industry bailout package of $14 billion dollars (which was designed to last until March or April, when Chrysler and GM could come back with better, more formative ideas of future strategies) has absolutely nothing to do with pricipled ideals about capitalism and the free market for Senate Republicans. If that had been the case, the previous $700 billion financial market rescue would have been filibustered and held up infinitely — and Henry Paulson would not be moving the goal posts on how the money is supposed to be used every couple of weeks.

It has nothing to do with waiting for better strategies and plans from those companies, either. If it had been, they would have asked for a clearer explanation from Paulson, the Fed and banks on not hoarding the credit, as they are doing right now.

This is about busting the United Auto Workers union, pure and simple. It’s Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine on display: use an emergency situation to force radical, unrelated changes in policy that you had wanted all along.   Please note the plan of one Tennessee senator named Bob Corker yes, the same hick fuck who race-baited former Representative Harold Ford, Jr. in order to win his Senate seat — that the G.O.P. proceeded to line itself up behind:

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A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Idiocy

inanimatecarbonrodThe staggering development of soon-to-be former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s apparent corruption, charges so blazen and blatant they would make “Lincoln roll over in his grave,” to paraphrase U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (yes, that very same one in the Valerie Plame investigation; he is an equal opportunity angel of justice), is not staggering because a Chicago pol has some skeletons in his closet.

It is staggering because by all accounts, the Inanimate Carbon Rod, a Democrat, is quite possibly one of the dumbest men ever to hold elective office if all of the accusations hold up in court. He is accused of pay-for-play tactics that, per the FBI’s Robert Grant, shocked even the most hardened and cynical of agents.

Here is a basic laundry list of the most audacious alleged crimes contained in the indictment (PDF file):

  • Schemed to sell the appointment of President-Elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder in exchange for either a high paying position with a non-profit or a labor union, a placement for his wife Patricia on corporate boards, campaign funds, or an ambassadorship or cabinet post (he wanted to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, apparently)
  • Threatened to put a halt to any public help to the Tribune Co. in selling Wrigley Field if they did not fire members of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board who wrote unflattering portraits of him
  • Wanting to hold up $8 million dollars for Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital because its administrator didn’t cough up $50K for his re-election campaign

The last one is what really makes it art. Earlier in the day, I thought it boring, quid-pro-quo crap; there was no particular skullduggery that made it stand out, but as soon as you get the health and care of kids involved, there’s a new level of arrogance there that would make Karl Rove smile from ear to ear, no matter what the political party.

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A Crook Gets A Standing Ovation

So, what kind of crime do you have to be convicted of to get complete silence after you make your last speech on the floor of the Senate. Clearly, idiocy is not a barrier, as Ted Stevens is the infamous moron who described the Internet as a series of tubes, but he was also convicted of seven counts on corruption charges recently — which probably led to him losing his re-election battle.  Nevertheless, the whole damned Senate gave him a standing ovation after his final speech.

All of you, up against the fucking wall, right now. Asking if any of them had a scintilla of shame is a silly question that we already knew the answer to. He may be your friend, but HE ABUSED HIS FUCKING OFFICE. How hard is that to understand?

I think the reason they applauded was because Mark Begich saved them from having to decide whether or not to kick him out. Oh, and because they’d all like to do what he did — except get caught.

Rope-A-Dope, Revisited

What debate #2 essentially boiled down to was a collection of attempted jabs, no haymakers, no whipping out any of the stuff referenced in the campaign ads recently. (Which is a shame, because there were a couple of opportunities Barack Obama ceded to whack John McCain on the Keating Five and its connection to current economics.)  However, Obama’s jabs were better, and more adept — such as the one in the video above on foreign policy and “not understanding.”  McCain’s rhetoric didn’t change dramatically from debate #1 — in fact, neither candidate varied too much from that script save the zingers — and he was the one who needed to up the ante, bring something new to the table.

Unfortunately, barring massive errata on Obama’s part between now and a week from today, we’ll be talking about how Obama is simply “that one” to him.

The funny thing going in is the town hall format is supposed to McCain’s best — and he did seem more at ease, willing to pal and joke around, although I put the “my friend/s” count at 30, and if you play a drinking game to that, you’d be dead halfway through, and the majority of McCain’s references, seem, well, a bit out of touch.  But, he looked stilted (and we can chalk some of this up to age and injuries suffered in his POW days) and stuck to the same rhetorical themes, so much so on economic policy that you wonder if his campaign hands him and Sarah Palin the exact same script with a few different tweaks.

Obama gets the benefit of any ties — essentially, this is a rather dull affair overall — because he sat back and let the punches come towards him before countering on foreign policy, and the particularly effective jab on McCain’s health care proposals. I am never confident enough to say “this one is over,” but I don’t know where McCain made up any ground, because whenever he tried to instill doubt in Obama, he did so in himself as well. Referring to yourself as a “cool hand” when you have a record of impulsive behavior (including your VP pick) and savaging Obama for the “speaking loudly” on Pakistan when you do so on Iraq and Russian actions towards Georgia shows a complete lack of cognitive dissonance.

Things I am rather tired of coming out of the mouths of these two:

  • Good old American exceptionalism. Sadly, this will not fucking die: we must be the beacon on the hill, we have the impetus to go after and invade countries. McCain is the bigger talker when it comes to this stuff, but Obama, being an American politician, is not immune.
  • Will no one press either of them on the War on Drugs?
  • Neither candidate, thanks to Walter Mondale’s 1984 tank job, will ever admit to Americans what they have to give up or may have to pay more in taxes to get the government back on track.  In bad economic times, we deserve a bit more honesty, but politicians know better than that.

Also, we’d like to tell Tom Brokaw to suck it. I know the candidates agreed to the format, but it was awfully confining.  Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, and now Brokaw — all underwhelming moderators, with some stinker questions and/or an inability or unwilligness to ask good follow-ups.  Hell, I know local reps from the League of Women Voters who could do better jobs moderating than this. Get a general host to introduce, then turn it over to th LWV moderator. Anything for better questions.

The Last-Ditch Gambit

John McCain’s impulsiveness is not the characteristic I want in a president; it’s one of the many reasons I’m not voting for him. But I’ll be damned if it’s not making the campaign interesting in the last few months.

As you likely have heard, McCain is calling off his campaign and looking to delay the first debate on Friday in order to go back to Washington and get hands on with the economic plan and the miserable failure that the Bush Administration’s $700 billion dollar bailout proposal is on the floor of Congress.  “Dead on arrival” is almost too kind to describe it.  It is rare that you can get both Republicans and Democrats outraged at the pique of a proposal that would centralize the funds in the hands of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson without any sort of oversight, but that is where we stand — and rightfully so. Giving out $700 billion to a trillion dollars to essentially socialize the failure of the market without regulation is utterly ludicrous.

(Personally, if Congress must do this, then get some severe regulation in line and only pony up a portion of that money — call it the Chuck Schumer Plan, as I think he was the first to bring up that idea.)

And I can’t state enough just how much people hate the idea of a bailout at this point. In my little corner of the world, we’ve done MOS (man on street) interviews and, of course, completely unscientific polls, and it has been hard to find a person who will utter a word of support of handing over $700 billion to the rich failures right now.

But McCain is up against a wall. The economy is not his strength, and his rollout of his economic plan last week looks to have backfired on him in the sense that the facts on the ground and with regard to the bailout proposal have rendered it outdated in the news cycle — never mind his “the economy is fundamentally strong” gaffe.  Since he is behind Barack Obama on these economic issues, is now reeling from his campaign manager still being on Freddie Mac’s lobbying payroll, and Sarah Palin saying there has to be a bailout plan, he’s boxed in.  Never mind that the longer this economic talk and policy goes on, someone might bring up McCain’s relationship with Charles Keating again.

I would like to ask Obama, “What the fuck are you doing?” when it comes to reaching out to formulate a statement with McCain. Be a leader. Make your own damn statement, say what you would do as president, and hammer that shit home.  When sincere policy differences matter in how economic bills are handled, DO NOT hide behind post-partisan claptrap.  Hillary Clinton would have laughed at such an idea, and this is the time when for the good of smart policy, distinctions in politics are what matter. Push your middle-class tax cuts; keep talking about bringing back the regulation and oversight that was missing, hammer home the need for ordinary Americans to get something out of this.

McCain is essentially politicizing the bailout negotiations now after a week of hardball when both candidates were far away from the morass in Washington.  This is the last-ditch effort to catch up on the economy: McCain has been a post-partisan “maverick” when it suits him and is advantageous; to suspend a campaign two days before a debate reeks of pulling out while you are behind and masking it in post-partisan rhetoric (which I loathe when it comes from Democrats and Republicans; more often than not, it is used to muddy the waters and pretend sharp policy differences do not matter when we all know they do.)  Obama was severely mistaken by saying it was no longer a “Democratic or Republican” problem — more than two decades of Republican-led deregulation policies got us down this path — but he was right in saying this is not the time when a debate should be canceled.

If anything, a debate right now is essential — change the focus to economic and domestic policy rather than foreign, but right now, we need to hear what both McCain and Obama would do, and draw differences between each other. If you want to go back to Washington, let’s go back to D.C., and hold that debate in an unused Capitol office, without fanfare.  Now is not the time to hide.

The Speech And The Fallout

After listening to Barack Obama outline what he would do as president last night in Denver combined with his oratory skills, I’m convinced the man could sell me anything and I’d buy it happily:

Republicans were not expecting that speech. It was a laundry list in the style of Bill Clinton’s State of the Union speeches, but a necessary one — for someone blasted by his opponent as short on substance and high on style, that was a speech for wonks, encased in well-written rhetoric. It pounded nearly all the important points down the line and knocked each one of them, itching for a fight.

The one thing I was disappointed in? Not much mention the whole convention on the blatant Constitutional violations of the past eight years. I mean, the man is an attorney and Constitutional law scholar. This is bad: either the party has decided that Constitutional issues are too heady for big speeches or that they’d rather not mention the violations, so that their politicians can violate it when they’re in power. Not good.

Regardless, this is the first case where the nominee took it to John McCain — and there has been an overreaction on the part of the Republican’s campaign, reaching for a Republican governor who hasn’t finished even a term as an executive for his running mate.  Sarah Palin just finished speaking with McCain at an Ohio rally, and after introducing her family, kissing up to the top of the ticket, and talking about her reformer credentials — as if a politician connected to British Petroleum by marriage can be “free” of special interests — she laid out the real reason why McCain made this pick: a socially conservative woman to try and pick off women that voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary.

The people who voted in primaries for Clinton can’t be that stupid.  Thus, this is the GOP conceding the experience argument against Obama, because they picked someone who’s very green in terms of the national stage, and it’s not going to look good against Joe Biden in vice presidential debates.  The McCain campaign has stolen a bit of the thunder back with the press attention — but people are referencing the pick in contrast to what happened at the Democratic convention.

I’m not buying the supposed “change” that McCain’s selling — in his reformer credentials comes the memory that everyone forgot; he was knee-deep in the S&L scandal of the 80s, he just escaped more trouble because he was the first to squeal in the Keating Five mess.

Regardless, it’s going to be very close come November — and we’ll all be taken for a ride for the next couple of months. I’m willing to bet Obama will be asking a certain former rival of his to take to the trail and the TV shows over the next couple of months.

“And Now, The Senator From MBNA Has The Floor.”

And, apparently, a spot on the Democratic ticket.

It’s not that I hate or actively dislike Joe Biden. He’s probably what the Obama camp is looking for in terms of an attack dog and someone who knows foreign policy. two things Barack Obama has not shown himself to be the most proficient at (at least in the media’s point of view.) Biden makes the veep debates instant viewing for pure psychosis alone.

Please, oh please, let the psychogeezer McCain select someone like Joe Lieberman as a running mate. Those debates would be endelessly amusing.

But Biden was one of the big boys behind the bankruptcy reform bill that essentially made it more difficult to declare bankruptcy, continuing to stack the deck in favor of credit card companies with predatory lending and card-issuing practices, thus. I’m not going to expect any sort of meaningful economic reform if this ticket is elected.

And honestly, I’m with Holly on this one: Wes Clark’s decree that POW status didn’t qualify John McCain to be president was still the right thing to say. Too bad no one in the campaign seems to believe it, and went with the least unknown out of a set of candidates that were tiny blips at best.

Not like I won’t vote for this ticket over the old crank on the GOP side. And hey, at least it wasn’t Hillary Clinton, much as her kamikaze die-hards (partially a media creation) will gripe about how she earned a spot on this ticket, but — yeah, just kind of non-plussed about the whole mess, except for the fact that the wolves are already trying to sink their teeth in — when did this kind of crap analysis start being issued by the Associated Fucking Press?

Now, for pure entertainment value, please, oh please, let McCain choose Lieberman or Mitt Romney. Love to see Republicans twist themselves in knots over a Mormon on the ticket.