Honest Questions All Democrats Must Ask Themselves

Cross posted in Orange and the Stars Hollow Gazette

Ever since last weekend, I've been seeing Paul Ryan's mug everywhere and it is all anyone can talk about. I can't help but think this constant attention elevates him a little, even though as Elliot Spitzer said, if he turned his budget to the SEC he would be fined for turning over fraudulent documents. I also don't believe Ryan helps the Romney ticket at all, except for the pretense by the corporate owned media that he's an intellectual instead of someone who just likes crazy immoral Ayn Randian ideas and terrible mathematical projection fantasies.

Regardless, there are too many negatives and a lack of anything at all for Romney to run his campaign on. It won't be a contest, in my opinion, when you look at electoral votes(though the media will have fun playing up the head to head match-ups as if the popular vote still matters) and the President is lucky he doesn't have an opponent who excites the base at all. He's lucky because his record is a mediocre one at best when it comes to what should have been pursued in what many are now calling a depression(economic inequality and private debt overhang is on par with the Great Depression).

This isn't the 90s. He shouldn't have hired people from the 90s that helped crash the economy. He wasted this crisis, which conservatives never do when they get a chance to exploit one, ruining any chance for real reform and stability. It's really not OK because the opportunity only comes once every 20 or 30 years and he blew it. There will be more financial panics and bailouts in the nearer than you think future because of this wasted crisis.

History shows that Dodd Frank will not stop implicit bailout guarantees, specifically, with the massive political power, the biggest power, of TBTF banks. Our safety net is not safe even if Democrats win this election. The banks own our government, so we must be on guard when the lame duck period comes after next November.

I hope there is a major moment of self reflection for a party I'm having trouble recognizing by the second so I'm asking these questions to spur one. I'll give my take on each of them, but you all can answer them for yourself.

  • Q: Is a Democratic Global War on Terror rendering the 4th amendment dead that President Obama and Mitt Romney agree must continue worth it, and if so why?

    My take: No, it's not worth it at all. It upsets me just as much as when Bush was in office. Benjamin Franklin was right. Those that would trade their liberty for security deserve neither. It's really sad that we had people just pretending to hold these 4th amendment principles. Otherwise we might see this BS war on terror end, because it is ill defined, impossible to win, an excuse for civilian deaths, and used to take away all of our privacy rights rendering Al Qaeda more victorious than we thought in taking away the freedoms we thought we would enjoy.

  • Q: Do you feel safer with the National Security State George W. Bush created, because it’s run by a Democrat?

    My take: No. It's pretty stupid. Republicans are not the only ones controlled by fear of terrorism. Many Democrats laughed at soccer or security Moms in 2004, but they now accept this in which they should be ashamed of themselves because they don't stand for anything whatsoever. At least the security Moms had some consistent standards.

  • Q: Since we spend more on our military budget than all other nations combined, is it not insulting that we are told by our Democratic leaders that we must share sacrifice with the 1% to balance the budget?
  • My take: It's as if the hundreds of thousands of war contractors left in Iraq and still in Afghanistan don't have enough blood money. Now we have to pay for their subsidies with our blood here at home. They will be in Afghanistan and Pakistan long after we're gone, if we ever leave, which is doubtful. Too bad there is no intellectual curiosity to learn from this, so we have to pay for it and "share sacrifice?" That's kind of like cutting off our nose to spit in our face.

  • Q: Is it not insulting that we are even talking about the right way to balance our budget during a jobs crisis of demand when there simply is no deficit crisis except the fake deficit crisis in their heads?

    My take: Yes, it's very insulting, because wanting to balance the budget is an idiotic errand for those that know national accounting and the need for deficits right now. It shows a delusion about how wonderful the nineties were and why. It either shows divine Rubinite dangerous ignorance or total indifference to people suffering in this economy. The balanced budget of the late 90s helped make this recession inevitable.

  • Q: Is a nicer Democratic form of austerity acceptable with this level of real unemployment that's going to take massive deficit spending in these economic conditions?

    My take: No, because voters respond to politicians that stand for something and prefer an axe(bold move) to a scalpel showing Democrats needs to oppose the idea altogether(bold move absent). Second of all there is no need for austerity at all specifically with the double dip failures to point to in the Eurozone. But we have to listen to delusional crap pretending the 90s balanced budgets brought on the promised land instead of 2 recessions.

  • Q: Does it worry you that after President Obama and members of a Democratic Congress that are reelected they don’t have to care what you think about any of this?

    My take: Yes, it worries me a lot. Particularly because many here are going to be be shocked when Democrats go after SS and Medicare with impunity, but not me. Congress will buckle in front of this White House like they did on the public option. That will be a moment of sad truth unless Congressional Democrats remember they are Democrats and stop it.

  • Q: Does it worry you that Nancy Pelosi supports pursuing Simpson Bowles after the election even though it cuts Social Security?

    My take: Yes, it worries me a lot, because even the original Simpson Bowles had the chained CPI metric for SS which is a cut. Yes, it amounts to a cut, unless you don't understand that a lower metric means a lower measurement which means lower SS income. Also her statement on it being clear that "we must enter into an era of austerity" shows just how dangerously naive she is.

  • Q: Does it bother you that both campaigns in this election are accusing each other of coddling the poor while touting the merits of welfare reform?

    My take: Yes, given the human toll of this effective depression, to have a contest on who's more icky for supporting the poor while touting Bill Clinton's welfare reform as the metric is insulting. Especially since the word "poor" has become a dirty word in this campaign.

  • Q: Does it bother you that the foreclosure fraud sellout touted as a success is a failure that ended any serious attempts to help those drowning in private debt overhang from the housing bubble?

    My take: Yes this fake mortgage task force and foreclosure fraud immunity with foreclosures picking up this year with the million underwater in mortgage debt is an immoral and economic sellout of the highest order. It will continue to be even though so many want one of the biggest economic problems we have via debt deflation to go away. Well it's not going to go away even though our leaders shamefully are ignoring it.

  • Q: Does it bother you that our feckless Attorney General let Goldman Sachs off the hook for selling shitty subprime mortgage deals to their clients they laughed at in emails calling them Muppets among other kinds of fraud?

    My take: Yes, its' embarrassing that even the Bush Justice department had a better record of prosecuting financial crimes and this was an easy one. At this point it's embarrassing to defend Eric Holder's record. He should be fired.

  • Q: Do you think a financial system where fraud and financial crime becomes the new normal works for anyone but the .01% and the politicians they own?

    My Take: No and the historical record proves this all across the world. The only use of this financial system is for the Robber barons who own and control it.

  • Q: If Democrats do not properly respect the Democratic Party Platform defined by the New Deal and the Great Society, are they still Democrats?

    My take: No, they are not. Some may have a problem with all of this I bring up, but they cant tell me to go away because though they can decide to not care about this stuff, what they can't do is consider themselves real Democrats if one reads the party platform. It doesn't matter if the third way to economic hell is paved with delusional good intentions.

  • Q: If one is inconsistent on their stated positions on all issues depending on which party is in power, can they really claim to have the same principles?
  • My take: No. They can't claim to have the same principles. There's no ifs, ands, or "I have principles, BUT" about it."

Topic: 

Tags: 

Rating: 

0
No votes yet

Comments

Hard to choose between

triv33's picture

the party that wants to cut our safety net and the one that's willing to~

0
No votes yet

There it is

priceman's picture

that is the choice and it should be on a bumper sticker and it is the real choice in this election.

0
No votes yet

Principled stances?

geomoo's picture

My question would be: Is there any principle that trumps party loyalty? The Geneva Conventions? The rule of law? Compassion for the poor? Separation of church and state? International law? Anything?

0
No votes yet

Should have added that one

priceman's picture

They have to wear the mask as Obama did to separate himself from Hillary during the primaries.

0
No votes yet

They are not contradictions in terms ...

BruceMcF's picture

... neoliberalism is a story about how the world works.

A progressive who believes in the neoliberal fiction will support policies that are likely to be more reactionary than a moderate who relies on a view of the world that is better grounded in reality, but not everyone picks their view of how the world works based on the resulting policy recommendations ~ for example, there is a tremendous amount of trained incompetence in understanding the economy that is delivered to college students via the propaganda outlets sometimes known as economics departments, and for those who remain engaged in "public affairs", there is a tremendous amount of reinforcement of that propaganda in the "high brow" mainstream media.

0
No votes yet

I would posit they are contradictory terms

sartoris's picture

I'm not sure what sort of Venn Diagram would reveal an overlap for progressive and neoliberal thinking. Course, it might just be my Emma Goldman/Eugene Debs type of thinking of the definition of the term progressive. Heck, I mean there's even a car insurance company called progressive, right? I guess that word really it does not mean what I think it means.

0
No votes yet

That's always been the slippery thing ...

BruceMcF's picture

... about progressivism, that agreeing on what policies constitute progress requires not just agreement on aims, but also agreement on what the consequences of the policies are.

So Krugman can recommend a bigger stimulus than President Obama pursued, but still add as an addendum that "of course" we will need to reduce the deficit over the long term. In the mainstream economic model within which he works, even though his particular sub-branch of mainstream economics have tricked the model into being more realistic "in the short run", its still the standard mainstream automatic tendency to full employment "in the long run".

No matter how progressive his goals, working within the neoliberal fiction of the neoclassical "long run" full employment equilibrium implies mis-interpreting the consequences of a range of economic policies, and when considering policies under that fictitious long run there are policies with promise in the real world that he cannot consider, because they would be ineffective in that alternative reality that mainstream economists live within.

A long standing strain within progressivism, for over a century now, is how much progress can be made by reforming the current status quo, and what progress requires overturning the current status quo. Its seems a very useful stereotype that there are those who view the potential for progress by reform of the current status quo as being too great to risk by challenging the fundamental institutions of the current status quo as being the moderate progressive tendency, and those who view the fundamental institutions of the current status quo as being an absolute obstacle to the most urgently required changes as being the radical progressive tendency.

Of course among radical progressives, there can be endless disagreements on overall strategy and specific tactics for achieving the demolition of the fundamental institution(s) under attack that is required, but since they are potentially endless, we can let the debates of the day name the various positions of various factions.

0
No votes yet

excellent post, Priceman.

sartoris's picture

This is indeed the heart of the matter, Priceman. As usual, you have written an excellent essay which asks extremely serious questions. My own personal problem has always been with the so called pragmatist whose allegiance is first to a party and not to a principle. If one's principles vary depending on who is in the Oval Office then I would suggest that one has no principles. The pragmatist has no allegiance to society, only to the idea of power. I find that not only disgusting, but short sighted. Thanks for a very important essay.

0
No votes yet

Thanks, Sartoris! I appreciate that

priceman's picture

There's almost a whole block of voters who have turned into the same kind post 9/11 twits they say inspired them to get involved in politics. It's eye opening and shameful what these so called pragmatists are shilling for. No principles and a herd mentality party over pricniples for them.

0
No votes yet

The political calculation went on behind their backs ...

BruceMcF's picture

... and many of those who shed their "reality based community" ideals in the heat of the 2008 primary and general election campaigns in favor of "the ends justify the means" were perfectly happy to fall in behind the party line.

0
No votes yet

I remember

priceman's picture

People pretended like they were aware of what the Clintons' Rubinites did and bought into Obama's "can't have the same people" lie and that was part of it too; when that was relaized to be BS once the cabinet picks were chosen those that said nothing showed their ass.

0
No votes yet

Realized? I'd say confirmed ...

BruceMcF's picture

... I was arguing in August that it was a vote between an extreme right wing officially Republican candidate and a moderate right wing Hedge Fund Democrat. The cabinet picks confirmed that ... but people have to be willing in order to "realize" something, and the emotionally invested Obama partisans were not willing to realize it.

Hell, they weren't willing to realize it when the Banks got multiple trillions in lending, between the bail-out and the Fed, with no serious reform of the problems that led to the Panic of 2008, and the "big stimulus" was a quarter trillion dollars in its maximum year tossed into a trillion dollar recessionary gap.

0
No votes yet

I remember that too

priceman's picture

The degree to how RW was confirmed with those picks. Robert Reich and others were on his short list to fool people.

0
No votes yet

Whta's a mother to do?

Eddie C's picture

Face the facts, Obama is the best republican President we've had since George W. Bush. Bush's daddy is a screaming liberal compared with Obama and George H.W's record on prosecution after the saving and loan melt down is an example of just bad it has become to even admit that I am a Democrat.

But about your question "Are they still Democrats?" Yes they are. These are the people that own the Party platform, a platform that is now all about pushing the Republicans further to the right and handing over the national debate to the Republicans, except for just prior to each election.

0
No votes yet

Bitterly funny

geomoo's picture

Is this your line, because it's perfect:

Obama is the best republican President we've had since George W. Bush.

0
No votes yet

Heh, those are facts, indeed, Eddie C

priceman's picture

George H.W's record on prosecution after the saving and loan melt down is an example of just bad it has become to even admit that I am a Democrat.

But I don't know if we can say they are Democrats even though they control the platform FDR and LBJ created that they are perverting and subverting that platform once they truly dig into SS and Medicare. Maybe we can, but we must say "What is a Democrats?" say that to remind people who scream at me to fall in line that in some ways I am falling into line, just not in a third way.

0
No votes yet

I guees it is my line

Eddie C's picture

I used it once before when someone wrote that "Obama is the best republican President we've had since Eisenhower" and back when Obama was trying to bury anything said by any liberal Democrat while attempting to transform Boehner and McConnell into household names, I needed to point out that Nixon, Ford and Bush senior were all to the left of our Reagan touting Democratic president.

0
No votes yet

Good corrective

geomoo's picture

We could debate whether and how much he's a worse Republican President than Bush. Here's hoping W. Bush is about as bad as it gets. But I think Palin would set a record as that would stand for decades. Now that could make me care about electoral politics.

0
No votes yet

Eisenhower was a better Democrat than Obama

sartoris's picture

Eisenhower had principles that he never abandoned. He was able to actually lead and get his ideas enacted. Obama could learn a lot from Eisenhower. Some are leaders, some are followers and some are just part of the problem.

0
No votes yet

Eisenhower was an excellent president

geomoo's picture

He also left cleat marks from his golf shoes all over the floor of the oval office out to his putting green. I would take that over anything we've had since, in the world of television.

0
No votes yet

Oh, come on now ...

BruceMcF's picture

... "able to get his ideas enacted"? How is it possible to at the same time suggest that Obama has failed to actually get his ideas enacted, and also use the specifics of the legislation that has been enacted to indict him of being a conservative? I reckon he's had a quite good record in terms of getting his ideas enacted. Its the content of those ideas that I am more critical of.

As far as the pristine character of Eisenhower, the invasion of the Dominican Republic and the planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion laid the foundation for decades of US intervention in Latin America.

0
No votes yet

Point taken re sins of Ike

geomoo's picture

I guess you caught me in a revision curve. I considered Eisenhower a war monger for years. I guess it's mainly the comparison with later, but he really wasn't as bad as his mediocre reputation would have it. The inertia from WWII was already rolling our intelligence services into screwing with everyone at home and abroad. It has grown steadily since. After television, as Vidal pointed out, all it took was an actor. At least he was capable of directing an army succesfully. I've eased up my judgements of the 50's considerably.

0
No votes yet

Eisenhower was the last person to step from ...

BruceMcF's picture

... the position of command in a command organization into the Presidency, as Mitt Romney is bidding to do ... though being Supreme Allied Commander in Europe took quite a bit more political skill than being CEO of a Private Equity firm.

0
No votes yet

Then they have him confused with FDR

BruceMcF's picture

Eisenhower didn't set those rates, he left them in place. And then there's the interstate highway system, so beloved of real estate developers and big box store chains. If his major fiscal accomplishment was to do nothing and allow inflation to raise the effective tax rate on middle class households, his main foreign policy success to set us on the road to Vietnam, and his main domestic policy success to set our society further along an automobile addiction which threatens to destroy the US as a coherent industrial society ...

... a case could be made that his greatest successes were short term gain for long term pain.

0
No votes yet

They didn't say he set the rates or confuse him with FDR

priceman's picture

However, Esienhower continued all the major New Deal programs still in operation, especially Social Security, expanded them and rolled them into a new cabinet-level agency, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, while extending benefits to an additional ten million workers. Obama is gunning to cut SS.

In the US economy at the time the service sector experienced the biggest price increases due to lapses following the removal of price controls following WWII among other things though inflation was relatively low back then in that period. During the end of his administration he was more worried about inflation than unemployment which was a mistake, but tax rates were a lot more fair to middle class households whose incomes rose with inflation unlike the Great Moderation.

Yes, it's true from an environmental standpoint one can make the case that the Interstate Highway set forth events now that make it hard for the planet, but back then the science really wasn't in and it was an economic boon for commerce to flow so people didn't have to bust up the cars they bought going out of state or to market.

His main foreign policy adventures are not good, like Operation Ajax, but towards the end of his administration he did warn us about the Military Industrial Complex which was important. Obama doesn't seem to think it was or is a problem.

Eisenhower didn't cut top marginal tax rates like Kennedy(setting the trend and giving conservatives something to point to) did or refuse to do nothing and reset 35% GWB rates like Obama did in 2010 so that does put him to the left fo Obama and did more substantial things is the point, not that he should be revered like FDR or LBJ, domestically.

0
No votes yet

So on tax rates ...

BruceMcF's picture

... Eisenhower left the status quo in place, which saw the real tax rates on poor and lower middle class Americans rising due to price inflation versus nominal fixed brackets ...

... Obama modified the status quo effective tax rates when he came into office, making it more progressive, ...

... and so because we've all argued over what Obama might have done to make it even more progressive from what was in force when he came into office, Obama is judged against what we wished he would have done ...

... and the fact that Eisenhower left Truman's tax rates largely in place makes for a good "tax rates under Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan" debating point, we start crediting Eisenhower for FDR and Truman's tax policy.

It seems to me to be a bit of a double standard.

As far as the national highway system, the massive cross-subsidy from cities to suburbs was locked into place at the outset, the massively destructive system of running interstates through central cities was locked into place in the outset ... we were the only large industrial economy to build that onslaught on urban property values into our expressway building institutions. Those were regressive impacts from the outset. We felt ample pain in the 60's and the 70's from the founding design of the Interstate Highway System ~ it was short term gain for longer term pain long before we suspected the consequences of using the atmosphere as a free carbon dioxide dump.

0
No votes yet

Not sure I agree with your first part but i concede the second

priceman's picture

Obama hasn't really made any status quo effective tax rates better, besides arguably some of what was in the stimulus, more progressive. He did extend the Bush tax cuts and capital gains rate which was 15% instead of 25% under Eisenhower and like i said, income is no longer rising with inflation so that makes a difference. Anyway you slice it Eisenhower's economy was better though he was riding out much of what FDR and Truman put forth(and globally there has never been a better economic time which was starting via the golden age), he also added some improvements as I said.

Not changing a better tax system makes a difference instead of extending a non progressive one like Obama did in 2010(including an effective 0% capital gains tax for 1 year) and all he had to do was nothing because those tax cuts were passed with reconciliation. Also we can't ignore the difference with organized labor in which is not all of Obama's fault(Taft Hartley), but he has done nothing to right the ship at all via EFCA.

I agree the Intestate Highway system certainly could have and should have been designed better and those painful realizations were born out in the 60s and 70s but I don't think we can say we would be better off without it at all. I do wish we had trans instead though.

0
No votes yet

I guess I thought it was sort of obvious

sartoris's picture

See, that's sort of the problem, with comparing Obama and Eisenhower, they are not actually from the same party. I always thought that when one compared Obama to Eisenhower it was for the sake of irony (at least it is for me). Eisenhower was a Republican but he would be too liberal for today's Republican party. Obama is a Democrat but would be too conservative for the Democratic party of Eisenhower's day. I don't think that the comparison with Eisenhower (at least it is not for me) is meant to do anything more than actually show the difference between one who runs as a conservative and one who runs as a liberal. I think the whole point is irony. I always thought the point of the comparison was that Obama is supposed to be a Democrat but he often acts more like an Eisenhower style republican; not actually Eisenhower himself.

0
No votes yet

Yes, of course ...

BruceMcF's picture

... to be more precise, we would say that Obama is from the Rockefeller wing of the Republican party ... which between the era of Rockefeller and today have left the Republican party and joined the Democratic party, after the Dixiecrats started going the other direction.

But more people have heard of Eisenhower.

0
No votes yet

Even Goldwater would be too liberal today

geomoo's picture

at least on some important fronts, such as the separation of church and state. But you've hit the nail on the head--the point is to show the drift since Eisenhower. The world has changed a lot; for this reason, many comparisons are not instructive. Goldwater would hate what the Republican party had become. Incidentally, I highly recommend that documentary about Goldwater by his grand-daughter.

0
No votes yet

not convinced Goldwater would hate the Repubs

Shahryar's picture

It's very possible that he would be even further right than he was. We've talked about the Overton Window moving rightward. Every politician has moved with it. Goldwater, Nixon, Eisenhower would all be just as they were on the scale....in my opinion.

0
No votes yet