Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

We Deserve Better (2): The Damnation of the Democrats

A few days after President Obama took office I remember him emerging from a meeting at the Pentagon.  The summit was arranged to brief the Commander In Chief on the progress of the wars and to assure the nation that the new president was in-sync with his generals and admirals charged with running the war.  Emerging from the highly publicized meeting America’s new war time president stated “as long as the generals take care of what they have to do, we’ll take care of what we have to do.”  I found the statement to be unsettling.  It implied that  the new administration would not alter the course set by the previous administration insuring that the inertia of Bush’s policies and strategies would continue unabated.  On another level Obama’s statement also seemed to suggest an abdication.  I get nervous to think that the Commander in Chief  has ceded civilian control of the greatest military force the world has ever known.  The decision to pursue war or enjoy peace is too delicate a matter to be left to the decisions of an entrenched military-industrial bureaucracy.  The abdication of assertive control, weather its born from the desire to get along, build consensus or a deep seated need for acceptance has been a disturbing custom of Obama’s presidency and the prevailing characteristic of the Democratic Party.

Obama’s easy surrender to established protocols, processes, precedents has been a hallmark of his presidency.  It exemplifies the failure of the Democratic Party’s oppositional legacy to Republican rule during the two previous Bush Administrations.  At every turn, the Democrats gave in to the Republican conservative legislative agenda with little or no dissent.  The Patriot Act, the blind march to  two unnecessary wars, the dismantling of government oversight and regulatory controls on business, the slavish submission to Republican led expenditures or tax cuts in service to corporate welfare and the tepid lip service to the struggle for social justice made the democrats complicit accomplices in America’s dramatic conservative swing.

The democrats failure as an oppositional force to counter the reactionary juggernaut of neo-conservatism has emboldened the reactionary impulses of the ruthless power elites.  Threatened by economic distress and disintegration of our political institutions, Americas ruling  plutocracy has spawned a malevolent Tea Party movement to crush any progressive populism that may arise to counteract their social position, economic power and political sovereignty. The democrats adamant refusal to stand firmly against the destructive impulses of xenophobia and virulent nationalism has allowed an ugly chorus of fear to become our new national anthem.  The resentful voices of suspicion, intolerance and  exclusion grows ever louder each day as emboldened Falangists and neo-fascists take center stage on a surreal  commercial production of American political theater.

In defense of President Obama his presidential campaign and his administration have expressed a deep desire to pursue a political consensus.  This sentiment is admirable and the ability to form a consensus is an absolute and critical virtue to the health of a democratic society.  The freedom to express differing opinions, voice dissent, air grievances, petition, ability to listen, interest to hear, converse, change opinions and assimilate these competing impulses to form a consensus to express the common will are what makes democracies imperfect yet the fairest expression of governance.  Mr. Obama has sought to pursue and build consensus with an opposition Republican Party that has been nothing short of obstructionist since the democrats assumed control of the Executive office.  Rush “Country Firster” Limbaugh said it best “I hope he fails” set the tone and sealed the intractability of Republicans and any possibility of bipartisan cooperation to deal with the critical issues confronting the nation.

Last summers spectacle of town meetings designed to initiate a national conversation on Health Care Reform devolved into a partisan shouting match and an opportunity for the formation of the Tea Party galvanized by propaganda about a socialist takeover of the economy, death panels, and the idea that President Obama was a fascist dictator.  At this point President Obama still took the opportunity to sit down with the leadership of the GOP in a televised discussion to initiate a dialog.  The Consensus Builder in Chief was rebuffed again.  The democrats responded by killing single-payer and backing down on universal health coverage.  The watered down health care reform bill accomplished an extension of coverage for more, but not all Americans and eliminated preexisting conditions as a disqualification for coverage while also extending the power of insurance companies by making it mandatory that all tax payers purchase health insurance.

This reform is not a significant ground breaking legislative event.  President Obama and the democrats should have recognized early on the inability to work a compromise with the obstructionists in the Republican Party.  As is the case with Cap and Trade legislation, rescinding  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan war, financial services reform, TARP and the economic stimulus bill;  the GOP, “Party of No” has done everything in its power to derail the efforts of the democratic party to address the deep problems confronting America.  The Democratic Party should have leveraged its control of the legislative and executive branch of the Federal Government to push through a program for a new America.  The pressing circumstances of history required decisive leadership and bold ideas to address the complex problems confronting America.  FDR’s “New Deal” or Johnson’s “Great Society” were ideas accompanied by innovative legislation to solve systemic problems.  The democrats tepid response acquiesced to the conservative demands of the GOP.   The Blue Dog Democrats yelped and barked louder then any rabid GOP hound subverting a robust game changing legislative response to the problems confronting America.

The democrats would again demonstrate their timidity in how they responded to the Gulf Oil Spill.  If the free falling economy was the equivalent of economic Armageddon the Horizon Deep Water catastrophic oil spill was its environmental equivalent.  In each case President Obama fashioned piece meal responses designed not to offend “free market evangelists” for fear of being accused of over reaching.  Both instances provided opportunities to mobilize the nation and its significant resources in these titanic tests of national resolve.  In both instances the cojones challenged donkeys failed to seize the reins of state to wield its power.  I am still shocked by images of Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein pulling the strings on Timothy Geithner like a marionette to exact concessions during the banking crisis.  Or consider the high profile of BP CEO,  Tony “I want my life back” Hayward mounting a $50 million PR campaign to quell any concerns that the benevolence of corporate capitalism will eventually “set things right.”    The Republicans turned this into President Obama’s Katrina with Bobby “don’t spend no stim in Louisiana” Jindal taking the EPA to court for declaring a moratorium on deep water drilling.  And the fattest of fat cats Republican Mississippi Governor Haley “rebuild the casinos first” Barbour shaming Obama to spend a portion of his non- Martha Vineyard family vacation swimming in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  It was a PR disaster for President Obama because he failed to act with the resolve or manner of a strong decisive leader.

But now as the midterms approach the democrats must answer to a crumbling alliance of constituencies that they have taken for granted and failed to help.  They are unable to see  constituents as anything other then a demographic voting block devoid of a face, personality or soul.  The democrats see stereotypes not people.  Labor unions are blue collar voters that now approximate 7% of registered voters.  This year the democratic controlled legislature failed to act on Card Check legislation that would protect the right of labor unions to vote and organize non-union companies.  Another important constituency of the Democratic Party is the LGBT community.  The military said it would comply with the decision of a California District Court  that overturned Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Incredibly, President Obama’s Attorney General appealed the decision and asked the court to reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Teacher unions are also big supporters of the Democratic Party, but many democrats support school vouchers and Charter Schools and seem unconcerned that financial and institutional support of public schools continues to erode.  Working class families and woman  are under severe distress as unemployment rates approach 10%, home foreclosures rise , spiraling cost of living increases spike, the cost of sending kids to college slip out of reach and a marked erosion in quality of life and expectations for a secure future and comfortable retirement evaporate.    The democrats did little to solve these pressing problems save the offer of cheap lip service that they understand their pain.  Charlie Rangel secure in the refuge of his four rent controlled apartments will not feel the cold experienced by a homeless mother and her children this winter;  nor will Hillary Clinton lose any sleep worrying about  deploying Chelsea to fight an incomprehensible war in Afghanistan.

This mid term election democratic candidates are running away from their unpopular president.  They will run on a platform of tax cuts and appear as local election district manifestations of gun toting patriotic Christophanies.  The poverty of a party with no conviction of principle is made plain.  Having no principles, Democrats have not offered a true alternative to reactionary Republicanism.  Nearsightedness has robbed them of a vision for a new republic.  They offer no demarcation with the broken policies that preceded their rule.  The hallmark of their governance has been the complete compromise with an recalcitrant opposition; content to administer a broken and corrupt apparatus rather then chart a new path.  The democrats remain shining examples of self serving politicians retuning to office  on mythical inertia to secure rent controlled apartments while public housing remains an endangered and dear want for many.  They believe themselves to be righteously led by the presiding shame of a president made possible by an epic civil rights struggle who cannot muster the fortitude or conviction to extend the equal right of marriage for one of his liberal constituencies.

We deserve better.

You tube Music Video: Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Compared to What

Risk: democracy, two party political system, liberalism

 

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Bush, conservatism, culture, democracy, democrats, environment, labor, LGBT, Obama, politics, recession, republicans, social justice, TARP, taxation, Tea Party, unemployment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

God Damn America Redux

Liberty Leading the People
Delacroix

The great ubur Patriot and obviously Non-Country Firster Rush Limbaugh damned America by proclaiming his hopes that the Obama Administration fails in its mission to resuscitate the economic fortunes of the nation. Rush in a rare moment of truthfulness and sober clarity, bravely waved the Republican Party banner. He implored all GOPers that this is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party and work against the recovery program of the ideologically impure and reprobate Obama Administration.

Ann Coulter, pictured here in top hat immediately took up the call and is looking to skewer any traitorous democrats that cross her path next time she is granted an interview at MSNBC. Rush, pictured above in the yellow dress is desperately in need of a man bra if he hopes to be able to physically storm the battlements of his entrenched enemies within the enclosed marble walls of the Capitol building.

When asked about this, Rush, in a pure profiles in courage moment stated, “damn the man titties, this struggle is even bigger then my ego. We must not allow Obama to succeed or I may lose some rating points.”

When asked about the sky rocketing unemployment, home foreclosures and growing social unrest Rush said, “It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am proven to be right by keeping America on the right course of right wing conservatism. Right? Isn’t that what the EIB is all about. Right? Sarah Palin was right. You Betcha.” At this point Rush began to slur his words and the rest of the conversation was unintelligible.

See past Risk Rap posts on subject, Winning the War, Losing the Peace, Our Ship of State, USS TARP, Foggy Mountain Breakdown,

You Tube Video: La Marseillaise

Risk: partisanship, division, political stasis

January 23, 2009 Posted by | media, politics, republicans | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is This Treason?

Benedict Arnold’s Procession Wagon

Living my entire 52 years in New Jersey I am constantly reminded of our beloved state’s revolutionary heritage. Commemorative plaques and historical road markers are everywhere. New Jersey played a critical role in the American Revolution and almost every house that was around at the time has a plaque to attest that George Washington slept there. Old George slept around a lot in New Jersey. He couldn’t afford to linger long in anyone spot because the damn Redcoats were always close on his heels chasing him across the state. But it is heartening to know that so many of the long passed Jersey citizens supported the cause by giving the Continental Army’s General a bed for the night. Yes I am proud of my states contribution our country’s revolutionary cause. This pride continues to fuel my detest of the name and memory of Benedict Arnold. He was the guy who betrayed the confidence of General Washington by conspiring to deliver West Point into the hands of the British. For this dastardly deed Benedict Arnold’s name will forever more be synonymous with treason and traitor.

Treason is a pretty strong word. It conjures up depraved villains engaged in subterranean subterfuges employing Machiavellian machinations in unholy alliances with foreign subversives intent on bringing our great country to its knees. Lately the word traitor has been liberally bandied about by the likes of Ann Coulter and Michael Savage to describe anyone who’s vapid nationalism falls short of their fanatical obsessions. This summer Michele Bachmann the congresswomen from Minnesota gained some notoriety for stating that she believes that an anti American cabal exists in the legislative branch of our government. According to them treason is rampant and traitors in the guise of democrats, progressives and liberals are everywhere.

The word treason has now curiously surfaced again to describe the Republican Senators who are opposing government financial assistance to save US auto manufacturers. The Big Three auto makers, Chrysler, GM and Ford; desperately need a capital infusion to remain solvent. Southern states are home to foreign automakers. They located down south because these states offered generous tax incentives and the availability of cheap non-union labor. These Southern Senators have vigorously opposed the aid package insisting that the Big Three need more fiscal discipline. They point to the generous wage scales and benefit programs the UAW workers at the Big Three receive. To some observers it appears that these Senators are more intent on protecting the foreign auto companies located within their states. They seem willing to sacrifice millions of jobs and the manufacturing infrastructure of the United States. The southern based foreign owned manufacturers are a more important constituency for these Senators then their Big Three competitors. This is a striking example of the economic and political contradictions that globalization creates for nation states.

In and of itself I don’t believe that the southern Senators political position is evidence of treason. The accusation of treason is pretty serious stuff. I am disposed to accept the southern Senators protestations that their opposition to the Big Three aid package is based on firm ideological commitment to letting the free markets do its work. If a capitalist enterprise cannot sustain itself it deserves to fail. After all, they claim that fiscal responsibility is a true Republican virtue even if the evidence of record budget deficits during the past 8 years of the Bush administration belies that claim. But the surfacing of the Action Alert Memo circulated to Senate Republican’s prior to the vote of the rescue package in congress raises some serious doubt about their true motives in opposing aid to the Big Three.

If it is authentic, the memo advises Republicans to block the Big Three aid package as a weapon to bust the UAW to weaken their Democratic Party rivals. Gone are their concerns for free market capitalism. In its place is the attack politics that the Republican Party have perfected to cram their conservative agenda down America’s throat. We witnessed the hollow pronouncements of The Country Firsters during this years presidential election. Their patriotic posturing and love of country claims offered the country no vision or alternatives to the existing Bush agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy, continuation of aggressive foreign policy, pro business anti-labor industrial policy, social welfare cuts and an expansion of the culture war on all fronts. The Republican privatization practices of using tax receipts to enrich parasitic private sector profiteering was a center piece to their program. The Republican legislative agenda funded the creation of the private mercenary army Blackwater and a myriad collection of other service providers to address elections, education, prisons and homeland security.

Is it treason to create and fund corporate entities to serve and administer government functions that are corrupt, wasteful, ineffective and whose primary allegiance is to shareholders? Probably not, but using taxpayer money to finance a mercenary army whose primary allegiance is to its shareholders probably comes pretty close.

Since the Reagan Administration this conservative agenda has resulted in the dismantling of our manufacturing base and a corresponding erosion of union jobs. In 1980 20% of the workforce was engaged in manufacturing. Today the number of manufacturing jobs is less the 10%. Our free marketeers engaged in a concerted program to outsource our industries to lower cost ares of the globe to improve returns on capital allocations to the private benefit of shareholders. Billionaire Micheal Milken plundered the “rust belt” states by closing down outdated factories in need of retooling and moved them overseas. By doing so he enriched the shareholders of the companies, his investors and the national economy of the country where the factory relocated. Unfortunately the economy of the town and state where the factory moved from didn’t fare to well. Workers saw their quality of life deteriorate due to lower wages and the social and cultural decay that accompany a deteriorating economy. State and local governments also took hits in tax revenue and had to pony up extra dough to pay for unemployment benefits and expanded social services that economically depressed areas require.

When you do this to enough towns and states, pretty soon it has a negative effect on the nation. Is that treason? Probably not, but a concerted policy to enrich yourself by helping a foreign country benefit at the expense of yours gets pretty close to the definition of treason.

To fill the economic vacuum caused by the closure of our factories we built a service economy based on the unbridled expansion of our banking industry and the availability of cheap credit. This lead to speculative bubbles in the equity, real estate market and credit markets. These bubbles spawned a perverse credit culture that mortgaged our future and transferred enormous wealth to well heeled investors and speculators. Much of the wealth has been transferred to the sovereign wealth funds of foreign nation states. They now hold the mortgage on our country’s future. Benedict Arnold sold the plans to invade West Point for a Generals Commission in the British Army and the sum of 10,000 Pound Sterling. Vulture capitalists aided and abetted by an accommodating conservative political agenda and willing politicians plundered and exported Americas prized assets in allegiance only to their own self interest and economic benefit.

Is this treason?

You Tube Video: My Country Tis of Thee

Risk: labor unions, industrial policy, recession, privatization

December 12, 2008 Posted by | business, economics, politics, unions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wasilla Hillbillies

It is said that success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan. So its not surprising that as the McCain campaign came to its blessed end no one wanted to be blamed for the train wreck. Indeed the professional class of campaign elites that handled the failed republican bid for the presidency was looking to pin the progeny of McCain’s homely orphan on someone. Sarah Palin was again called to the service of her good party to take one for the team.

Much is being said about the Wasilla Hillbillies plundering Neiman Marcus from coast to coast. Much is being said about Palin’s confusion about weather Africa is a country or continent, what North American countries are NAFTA signatories and her refusal to prep for TV interviews and the resulting gaffs due to the lack of preparation. Fair enough. However I believe that most American’s couldn’t answer those “tough” questions by the liberal gotcha media and given the chance at a free coast to coast shopping spree would act in a similar if not more covetous fashion.

What really must be asked is who is responsible for anointing Sarah Palin to assume the office of VP? McCain’s Country Firsters, whose unfathomable depth of love for country is understandable only by God, insisted that Ms. Palin was the best person to sit in the office one heart beat away from the presidency. The Country Firsters erected the cult of Palin to solidify its right wing base and appeal to a broader populist mass of hockey moms, Joe Six Packers and Joe the wanna be plumber. The Republican Party does this every four years. At election time, the party of power and privileged elites comes before the electorate like a wolf in sheep clothing. They play on populist sentiments and fears. They viciously attack democrats as lesser American, non Christian, unpatriotic liberal elites whose sole purpose is to excessively tax the salt of the earth working people to send welfare checks and social assistance to the slackers of society.

Now that the election is over the republicans have no need to curry favor with the lower class rabble whose votes they need to remain in office. The deification of Palin is a cold slap in the face of an electoral sector that allows itself to be beguiled by a political machine to support a program that is painfully at odds with its own self interest.

Palin’s deification also signals a badly split republican party. Mitt Romney for example, has the social conservative credentials to appeal to Palin’s peeps with the glaring exception of his Mormon faith. The rejection of Romney as a suitable candidate speaks volumes about the religious bigotry rampant within the Republican Party. The Christian Rightists will righteously eat their party’s own out of bigoted zeal while rejecting apostates communion wafers offered at the Lord’s Table by mainstream Christian denominations. This party needs a reformation. Perhaps a Martin Luther will surface and nail a new 95 Thesis on the door of the RNC.

You Tube Video: Granny Sings “She Wants to Go Home”

You Tube Video: The Beverly Hillbillies Original Trailer

You Tube Video: The Beverley Hillbillies Theme Song

You Tube Video: Weird Al Yankovic, Money For Nothing

Risk: social class, party politics

November 8, 2008 Posted by | class, culture, McCain, Palin, politics, pop, republicans, TV | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

"That One"

Last night as McCain wheezed his way through America’s virtual town hall meeting an uglier side of his character emerged. McCain’s use of the pejorative term “That One” shows a willingness to till soil that sow seeds of division and encourages partisan factionalism. This is no surprise. Sarah Palin, his lipstick wearing pit bull has incited partisan crowds with rhetorical speeches about Obama’s cavorting with terrorists. Cries of treason and kill him have been shouted by some of the gathered low information voting yahoos who are fully invested in the emotion of attack politics. We pray that one of these self deluded uber-patriots don’t act on their fantasy and plunge this country into a national nightmare.

Luxuriating in the language of division may become and titillate the Ann Coulters of the world; but it does nothing constructive to strengthen our beloved and much endangered republic. Consensus is the cornerstone of a representative democracy. Consensus is built on dialog and compromise that brings together and synthesizes opposing views. Trust and respect for institutions and process is key to building a national consensus. Consensus also presupposes that you recognize the humanity, equality and rights of your countrymen to hold and express views that you may not share.

The political rhetoric coming from our Country Firsters is anything but. Like Lady Hamlet, “the lady doth protest too much”, our Country Firsters insistence that their deep abiding love of country places them above partisanship. Unfortunately this claim is belied by their reliance on attack politics, division, dehumanization of their opponent and insinuations of sedition threatens the foundations of our democratic republic.

The United States is in peril. We are engaged in two wars. Our economic distress is deepening, our institutional trust has been grievously violated, leaders have failed us and anger, resentment and suspicion grows among the populous. This is the type of climate that calls for bridge builders not demolition crews sowing division with incendiary rhetoric.

America is the global standard bearer of the democratic ideal. Yet we hear media reports that voter rights are being challenged with increased regularity. Reports that the participation in the electoral process is being made increasingly difficult and is discouraged and challenged in some swing states is most disturbing. America is best served by protecting and promoting full participation of its people in the right to decide who governs them. Any party or practice that runs contrary to this necessity has clearly put their party’s interest above America’s.

As our country’s most storied POW knows, when in a war the first thing you do is to dehumanize your opponent. Our Country Firsters should consider their tactics and demagogic pronouncements they engage to win this election. Is sacrificing the democratic principles of our republic the price of victory Mr. McCain is willing to pay? What price victory Mr. McCain? If you win with an exceedingly ugly damn the torpedoes campaign do you think that you’ll be able to effectively reach across the the gapping divide your campaign tactics created on Main Street? Do you think that your hollow pronouncements about Maverickism and bipartisan fealty will be able to apply a tourniquet to the gaping wound you are willing to inflict on the American body politic? Methinks you think too much of yourself.

Today is Yom Kippur, “The Day of Atonement.” I believe McCain and Palin should recite the Al-Chet. It would also be a particularly fitting day and most instructive for Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin to consult the pages of Martin Buber’s “I and Thou” that stresses the necessity to recognize humanity of all beings without objectification or the prejudicial otherness. We have seen the horrific manifestations of objectification and otherness in the Jewish Holocaust. Never again Mr. McCain.

Lets take the Day of Atonement for some circumspection and a recommitment to recognizing our shared humanity and putting our country first.

Shalom.

Music Video: Three Dog Night “One”

Risk: factionalism, social unrest, institutional breakdown

October 9, 2008 Posted by | elections, holiday, McCain, Obama, pop | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Ship of State: USS TARP

It seems they clinched the TARP deal. (Troubled Asset Release Program). Paulson’s Ark the USS TARP is about to leave port. Our elected representatives have christened the USS TARP with a $700 bn bottle of Christol. The USS TARP will immediately set sail to conquer the intrepid sea of bad debt and clean up massive pools of dirty US banking assets. We wish the USS TARP great success and offer our prayers for a successful dispatch on its maiden voyage.

The launch of the USS TARP was the result of a strange and unexpected political alchemy. Democrats took the lead in the bailout bill and are now the official party of the big money on Wall Street. If the USS TARP fails to conquer the calamitous economic seas severe partisan warfare will surely plague our nation and threaten to swallow it in a swirling whirlpool of political instability.

If Obama wins the election and if the USS TARP grounds itself on the troubled shoals of the global economy; he will be the focus of scorn, derision and vitriolic invectiveness by Country Firsters. It will make effective governance by Obama’s Administration difficult if not impossible. I can already hear the first taps of the syncopated drum beats of divisiveness by the howling yodelers of Country First Talk Radio. Their aim will be to cripple the possibility of civil political discourse. Country Firsters will closely chart the progress of the USS TARP and will loose a fusillade of political attacks if it starts to take on water. They’ll certainly refuse to help man the pumps to prevent the USS TARP from swamping. No doubt they’ll be first to launch the life boats as Country Firsters quickly become Me Firsters.

The Country Firsters will look to repeat the vitriol imposed on the Clinton Administration. The extreme Rovian attack politics on Clinton’s sexual dalliances put this country through an unnecessary national trauma. The Monica Lewinsky affair distracted the Executive Branch from focusing on the pressing issues confronting the nation. This distraction made it impossible for Bill Clinton to focus on terrorism, the economy, social welfare and national security. Our Country Firsters were only too willing to back burner these critical national security issues to prosecute Clinton. This sorry chapter in our nations history contributed to our country’s unpreparedness that lead to the devastating losses from the 9/11 attacks.

Constitutional democracies need consensus to function. If consensus cannot be achieved democracies cannot survive. Consensus is built with dialog, trust, honesty and compromise. If our nation cannot form consensus due to our inability to communicate and negotiate a democratic republic cannot function. If democracy cannot function authoritarianism and fascism will be the bastard incubus born from our political impotency.

Patriots will serve their country first. All Americans must rise to serve our country first, last and always.

God Speed USS TARP.

Music: Beach Boy’s “Sail On Sailor”

Risk: depression, fascism

September 28, 2008 Posted by | Bush, McCain, Paulson, politics, pop, republicans, TARP | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment