Tuesday, January 26, 2010

State of the Panic

I have no idea what Obama is going to say in his upcoming state of the union speech except that it is likely more of the same. I never really understood Obama’s appeal because the very first speeches of his that I read showed him to be exactly what he is, a stooge for the Establishment and indeed Wall Street was Obama’s largest backer in his election. His speeches are a conglomeration of clichés, blarney, and delusional thinking.

I still think that either not voting or voting against the democrats is an option. As Michael Hudson puts it…


At stake now is President Obama’s credibility as an agent for change. Voters see his main “change” thus far to have been favoritism to Wall Street. Jay Leno jokes that Obama has done the impossible: resurrected the seemingly dying Republican Party and given it the coveted label of the “Party of Change,” running against Wall Street.

This is the political setting for what must certainly be a hastily rewritten State of the Union message. Instead of celebrating a Republican- and Lieberman-approved health care bill, Obama finds himself obliged to respond to voters who celebrated his first anniversary in office by choosing a Republican as their designated voice for change.

Those voters in Massachusetts last week who felt duped by Obama’s promise as a reform candidate did not really turn Republican, but obviously felt that at least they could throw out the Democrats for failing to make a credible start fixing the debt-strapped economy. The President has begged the banks to start lending again. But this means loading the economy down with yet more debt. The $13 trillion bailout was supposed to help them do this, but the banks have simply taken the money and run, paying it out in bonuses and salaries, stepping up their lobbying efforts to buy Congress, and buying out other banks to grow larger and increase their monopoly power.

Also read this piece by Hudson.


The State of the Union address is in danger of purveying the usual euphemisms. I expect Obama to brag that he has overseen a recovery. But can there be any such thing as a jobless recovery? What has recovered are stock market averages and Wall Street bonuses, not disposable personal income or discretionary spending after paying debt service.

There is a dream that what can be “recovered” is something so idyllic as to be mythical: a Bubble Economy enabling people to make money without actually working, by borrowing and riding the tide of asset-price inflation to make capital gains. Corporate Democrat Harold Ford Jr. writes nostalgically that Bill Clinton’s eight years in office created 22 million jobs, “balanced the budget and left his successor with a surplus. This can be done again,” if only Obama moves further to the right (which Ford calls the center, meaning the Bayhs and Republicans).

It can’t be done again. Pres. Clinton’s administration balanced the budget by “welfare reform” to cut back public spending. This would be lethal today. Meanwhile, his explosion of bank credit and the dot.com boom (rising stock prices and bonuses without any earnings) fueled the early stages of the Greenspan bubble. It was a debt-leveraged illusion. Instead of the government running budget deficits to expand domestic demand, Clinton left it to banks to extend interest-bearing credit-debt pollution that we are still struggling to clean up.

Again and again the democrats keep stomping on the poor after which they turn around and congratulate themselves (like Obama giving himself a B+, heh, he’ll have to rethink that after Massachusetts) and then, as has happened in the past, the liberals will be expected to hold their noses and vote for the mules. Too bad for the dems that didn’t happen in Massachusetts and the results have been panic among the democrats including Obama.

Chris Floyd, as usual, nails it…


So yes, the spending "freeze" will be the usual bungling wheeze. It will not do what it is ostensibly designed to do ("signal seriousness about cutting the budget deficit"); it will not "foster bipartisanship" in the savage, petty factional infighting that characterizes our ruling establishment (which is actually entirely bipartisan when it comes to the essentials: making war on weak, broken nations, and making money for those already bloated to bursting with money). And yes, it is a panicky move meant to shore up Obama's sagging poll numbers -- and is also a craven sop to the financial elites who were miffed by his talk about "reining in the banks" a few days ago. And it may even be, as one Salon writer noted, a "Sister Souljah" moment, designed to slap down the "left" and show everybody what a big tough centrist hombre he really is.

But the shocked and injured tone with which this move has been greeted in some quarters seems entirely misplaced. Many of the writers seem to be operating on the assumption -- or under the delusion -- that Obama actually had some kind of political-economic-social agenda that he wanted to enact as president, and that he is now "failing" to enact it, "squandering" his opportunity. There still seems to be a belief that he ran for president because he wanted to do something with all that power.

And Chris Floyd mentions something that I briefly touched on which is – there is no plan, not really.


Still, what gives with all this? Are these people that disorganized and incompetent that they cannot even present a consistent lie that they all agree upon? The way it strikes me is that Obama and his erstwhile administration are playing this all by ear, making it up as they go as it were. The news media takes the slant that somebody is very afraid that Obama may actually pull the troops out and in their addiction to war, blood, and death, are going through a different kind of withdrawal, war junkies that they are. It seems to me that if these people are going to continue lying to us the least they could do is tell the same lie or is that just asking too much? We actually saw a very early example of what I call the Obama Phenomenon when Obama was telling us how NAFTA would be rethought while one of his aides was calling the Canadians telling them that Obama’s talk on NAFTA was only campaign rhetoric. This was a clear indicator as to the sincerity of anything Obama ever said and is a pattern that we see repeatedly.

But oh my, I’ll bet the war junkies saw their life flash before them when Obama said withdrawal in 2011. I wish I could have seen their jaws drop and the sweat begin to pour out right before going into spastic fits. No more war after 2011? AHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGHHHHH!!! Let me assure you the wars shall continue uninterrupted.

Hey c’mon, you didn’t really think there was a master plan did you? The only plan is to take the money and run and everything else is just improvised. Trust me. No? Okay, then trust in Obama, trust in Obama, trust in Obama, trust in Obama.

Not as elegant as Chris Floyd’s writing but you get the idea. And so it is, that the wars shall continue uninterrupted even in the face of deteriorating domestic conditions for the freeze that Floyd mentions does not affect military spending. Of course not! The military is our god right alongside with greed, the two are inseparable.

Who knows, perhaps what happened in Massachusetts is the last gasp from the rotting corpse of our “democracy”, a momentary but quickly fading bright spot in a world grey and cold. And perhaps it is too late for any kind of redemption as the iron fist of corporate control clenches ever tighter and tighter around the governmental throat and ours as well and choices diminish with each passing day.


At January 27, 2010 10:25 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Well: on one hand, with any luck we'll only have to endure two more SOTU addresses from President Change.

On the other hand, so many people said the same thing about GWB in 2006, in the childish certainty that whoever might replace him was bound to be somebody easier to stomach.

At January 27, 2010 11:42 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

That sums it up for me. I don't care much who is elected, as Bob says, they're all the same in the end because they are more like sock puppets for the corporate king pins which is quite true.

I read part of his speech but lost interest fairly quickly. I got as far as building the nuclear reactors where I realized that Obama was going to make Al Gore rich. I'm not sure what he can do for Billy Clinton.


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