Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove

Hope and Change.

Except for, you know, what's important.

Chris Floyd:

If you want a glimpse of the fundamental moral obscenity that underlies our bold new era of hope and change, look no further than Barack Obama's promise this week to "overhaul" Social Security and Medicare. This effort to cut back on support for the sick, the old, the weak, the unfortunate and the abandoned will be a "central part" of the new administration's economic program, a linchpin of its struggle to curb federal spending, Obama declared.

He pointed to a looming federal deficit of $1.2 trillion this year, with more to follow, as urgent reasons to deal with "entitlement spending." Given the hundreds of billions of dollars that the Bush Regime has already given away in its no-strings bailout of selected corporate cronies, and the hundreds of billions that Obama plans to spend on "economic stimulus" (a large portion of which is going to "tax breaks" that will give, at most, a few hundred dollars to people losing their jobs and homes and medical insurance), it is imperative to get government spending under control, said the president-elect. The New York Times described Obama's remarks as an effort to offer "some soothing words to Republicans and the financial markets" – two groups who certainly need special comforting in these trying times.

The Times goes on to tell us helpfully that there is a threat that these "entitlement programs" might "grow so large as to be unsustainable in the long run." This is of course the same argument that George W. Bush made after the 2004 election, when he sought to sell off Social Security to those same "financial markets" that Obama is now trying so assiduously to soothe. No doubt, we will soon see the old scare stories that filled the media then trotted out once again, this time in "progressive" garb. But the truth remains the same: the programs are essentially sound and can be maintained with only relatively small adjustments for many decades, as far as one can reasonably project into the future.

Yet it is here, on "entitlements," that Obama wants to make a "tough stand" on government spending. It will be a "central part" of his entire economic program. Getting "entitlements" under control will be one of the first major campaigns of his administration, he says, promising plans in February, just days after he moves into the White House.

At the same time, he promises to expand – to expand – the multitrillion-dollar war machine that has literally bled the nation dry. He wants to expand a military-industrial-security complex that already devours more money and resources than every other military force on earth combined. He wants more troops, more weapons, an ever-increasing "global strike capability," an escalation of the endless, pointless "War on Terror" in Afghanistan and Pakistan (for starters). He has never said a single word about "curbing government spending" on this vast conglomerate of death and destruction. He has not said a single word about rolling back even a few of American military outposts that in their several hundreds now cover the entire globe. At every point, it seems, government spending on the war machine – including the tens of billions of dollars spent in secret each year on the various tentacles of the "national security" apparatus – will be increased under the Obama administration.

No "cutbacks" here then. No concerns that spending in this area might "grow so large as to be unsustainable in the long run." Spending on death and domination is sacrosanct, the true "third rail of American politics," and Obama is not going to touch it – except to augment it...

The president-elect has made his fundamental priorities clear – for anyone who wants to see them. The war machine and the financial markets will continue to be gorged and comforted in their wonted manner. Programs to help ordinary citizens, programs to enhance the quality of life for individuals and the well-being of society, will be the first – perhaps the only – areas to feel the budget axe. Whatever you may think of the efficacy of such programs, this ordering of priorities -- war and profits over people -- bespeaks the same depraved sensibility that has prevailed for generations in Washington. It is the same old rancid swill in a stylish new container

Read it all for the links.

Here's what the Oborg Prime Unit said today:

...Throughout America's history, there have been some years that simply rolled into the next without much notice or fanfare, and then there are the years that come along once in a generation, the kind that mark a clean break from a troubled past and set a new course for our nation. This is one of those years.

We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime, a crisis that has only deepened over the last few weeks. Nearly 2 million jobs have been now lost, and on Friday we're likely to learn that we lost more jobs last year than at any time since World War II. Just in the past year, another 2.8 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs. Manufacturing has hit a 28-year low. Many businesses cannot borrow or make payroll. Many families cannot pay their bills or their mortgage. Many workers are watching their life savings disappear. And many, many Americans are both anxious and uncertain of what the future will hold.

Now, I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and our standing in the world.

In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse...

Well, so much for the Shock part of the Doctrine. We must act Now! Without further thought!

...this plan begins with -- this plan must begin today, a plan I am confident will save or create at least 3 million jobs over the next few years. It is not just another public-works program; it's a plan that recognizes both the paradox and the promise of this moment -- the fact that there are millions of Americans trying to find work even as, all around the country, there's so much work to be done. And that's why we'll invest in priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century. That's why the overwhelming majority of the jobs created will be in the private sector...

Well, Dr. Krugman, so much for your public works program focusing on rebuilding the nation's infrastructure. Looks like it's going to go to Kellogg, Brown, and Root & Cheneyburton Affiliates instead.

...To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its cost, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five years all of America's medical records are computerized...

Bafflement. Pretty much they already are... oh, you meant for the insurance companies to have a current database, right?

...To get people spending again, 95 percent of working families will receive a thousand-dollar tax cut, the first stage of a middle-class tax cut that I promised during the campaign and will include in our next budget...

Trying to please Joe the Plumber, one supposes. Fuhgeddaboudit. You can not buy his vote.

...the time has come to build a 21st-century economy in which hard work and responsibility are once again rewarded. That's why I'm asking Congress to work with me and my team day and night, on weekends if necessary, to get the plan passed in the next few weeks. That's why I'm calling on all Americans -- Democrats and Republicans and independents -- to kut -- to put good ideas ahead of the old ideological battles, a sense of common purpose above the same narrow partisanship, and insist that the first question each of us asks isn't "What's good for me?" but "What's good for the country my children will inherit?"

Barry, baby, that's exactly what I'm thinking.

And what do you suppose the "old ideological battles" are about, Barry?


If progressives are not entirely on your side, it's because you don't seem entirely on our side.

FDR had good ideas to halt the Great Depression, ideas that were partially implemented, then repealed, prolonging the pain once they were repealed.

What ended the Depression even with Roosevelt being forced to abandon his public works program was a greater public works program known as World War II. This has not been lost upon some. Barry O. has his public service programs planned- and the Company has theirs planned too.

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