What the Socialists just said …

Well, here goes my shot at ever working again.  I’ve not only proclaimed this week ‘I love Senator Bernie Sanders Week’, I’m going to quote the World Socialist Web Site and agree with socialist Barry Grey.

To be honest, the U.S. really doesn’t have an active Socialist movement or anything  close to the socialist left in Europe let alone other places.   WSWS is one voice of socialism.   Glenn Beck and the Tea Party are regaling themselves as mainstream and the dude they’re reading these days thought President Dwight Eisenhower was a communist agent.  If that’s the new normal, then, maybe I am a Marxist by that silly ruler.  But, anyway, at the risk of being labeled a red, here we go.

Grey’s article talks about Progressive (TM) hand wringing over Obama’s supposed lurch to the right.  There was no lurching involved imho.  Obama is  just one of those pols that says one thing and does another.  I frankly have no idea what he actually thinks.  So, the fun part of this blog post is reading Grey dissect what  is “more repugnant”, the villager’s “stupidity or their cynicism”. Grey cites a bunch of whiny, disillusioned villagers in the process.   He identifies their central theme as:

The general theme of these commentaries—amidst the pleading, scolding and whelps of despair—is that Obama must reclaim his “core values” and start fighting the Republican right. It is summed up by Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who writes: “At this point, the strategy is to shame [Obama] into fighting.”

So, this is my first issue.  I just was talking to BB earlier and I personally believe that Obama has no “core values’.  He just says what’s expedient for the moment that gets him where he wants to be.  He’s like the ultimate pragmatist; whatever works for the moment.  I even wrote a post to that effect years ago here that accused Obama of always “doing the chameleon”. It’s his past MO that convinced me of this two years back.  There are way too many ‘present’ votes in the Illinois legislature and tales of Obama hiding in the bathroom to avoid votes for there to be evidence that he’ll fight for anything other than a chance to get to higher office in a shorter period of time.  He seems to have joined and ditched groups–ask Jeremiah Wright–more for the connections than for the higher purpose.  As my post notes, he flip flopped all over the place during 2008.  Why should we expect anything different?

The article cites lots of examples of villagers looking for Obama redemption.

Among the notable examples of such lamentations is Frank Rich’s column in the December 5 New York Times, which makes the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Obama has been taken hostage by the Republicans and his behavior is best explained by reference to the Stockholm Syndrome.

Rich writes: “The captors will win this battle [over extending Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2 percent of US households], if they haven’t already by the time you read this, because Obama has seemingly surrendered his once-considerable abilities to act, decide or think.”

Liberal economist Paul Krugman, in a December 2 New York Times column written in response to Obama’s announcement of a two-year freeze on federal workers’ pay, is harsher:

“After the Democratic ‘shellacking’ in the mid-term elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?…

“It’s hard to escape the impression that Republicans have taken Mr. Obama’s measure—that they’re calling his bluff in the belief that he can be counted on to fold. And it’s also hard to escape the impression that they’re right.”

David Corn, the Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones and a columnist for PoliticsDaily.com, writes, more in sorrow than in anger:

“President Obama, in the instance of this apparent tax cut compromise, seems to be settling without waging a principle-driven battle, and that is puzzling many of his progressive loyalists… His reasons for eschewing a showdown remain a mystery… A deal like this … will drive many progressives crazy, for they’re looking to Obama to lead a charge against the Republicans, not yield to their threats.”

Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun, suggests that the best way to “get Obama to become the candidate whom most Americans believed they elected in 2008” is to challenge him from the left for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2012. The idea is not to defeat the incumbent, but to “pressure Obama toward much more progressive positions and make him a more viable 2012 candidate.”

As Eleanor Clift notes in Newsweek, “MoveOn.org is running ads with the theme ‘Bring Obama Back,’ calling on the president to ‘be the president we fought to elect’ and to hold firm on his promise to end tax breaks for the richest Americans… It’s a chance to reclaim his convictions, and Obama should seize it.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation, bemoans “Obama’s Disastrous Path” in her December 7 column in the Washington Post. Defining herself as a “progressive supporter” of Obama, she lists the president’s right-wing moves since the mid-term election debacle, ranging from his abject apologizing to the Republicans to effectively abandoning his July 2011 date for beginning to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Vanden Heuvel objects to Obama’s leaning toward the notion that “we should impose austerity now, instead of working to get the economy going.” The operative word here is “now,” as it implies her agreement with the official line of the administration that whether sooner or later, austerity must be imposed.

Absurdly inflating Obama’s stature, she declares: “This president has a historic mandate. Just as Abraham Lincoln had to lead the nation from slavery and Franklin Roosevelt from the Depression, this president must lead the nation from the calamitous failures of three decades of conservative dominance.”

This, she continues, “is the necessary function of a progressive president… If he shirks it, [Obama] risks a failed presidency.”

I still don’t know what some of these people have been smoking or drinking.  I don’t see anything in Obama’s past history that would give me the impression he would wage a “principle-driven battle” on anything.  He says he supports GLBT rights and then he shows up with some of the most notorious homophobic religious nuts in the country and expands their role in ‘faith driven’ government GOTV grants. He doesn’t appear to be using his bully pulpit or his pen to remove DADT. The most he appears to be doing is a few symbolic finger waggings.   He says he supports a woman’s choice on reproductive health and then immediately sells every women’s uterus to the Stupakistan terrorist groups to drive through Romney/DoleCare; the healthcare reform that was less liberal than Richard Nixon’s plan.  He says he doesn’t support War or torture, but then sends Holder on an endless mission to defend the Dubya policies and people at every turn.

What core values?  What principled actions?

I even read an Ismael Reed Op-ed this morning that says that Obama can’t afford to get angry without being tagged a militant black man.  Was any one ever intimidated or upset when Steven Urkel got really mad?  Even the Steven Urkel character had scripted moments when he took principled stands.  No one wrote any thing about intimidation into the script and TV scripts love stereotypes.  We can’t get a little righteous anger from our Nerd-in Chief?

Better questions come from Grey:

They all proceed from the premise that Obama is a “progressive.” Why? On what basis? There is nothing in his political career either before or after his election that suggests anything other than a conventional—i.e., right-wing—American bourgeois politician.

In the end, they brand Obama a progressive on the grounds that he is Democrat and an African-American. Here on full display is the political bankruptcy of the rejection of social class as the basic criterion in politics and its replacement by race and other forms of personal identity.

Yes,  yes, yes.  That is it.  (Well, except I wouldn’t call him an “American bourgeois politician” since I really am not a socialist by nature.) The richest among us slice and dice us into neat little angry groups of Tea Partiers and New Black Panthers so that we get more mad at the idea of Raj in Bangalore taking a job or the idea that civil rights can cause ‘reverse discrimination’ against white men or that we’re being invaded by Mexicans who are driving all of our wages down or all white people are natural born racists. It’s all the poison flowers of the same ugly little divide and keep them in corporate serfdom seeds.

Continue on with Grey.  He’s so worth reading.

What are the “core principles” that Obama has supposedly abandoned and must now reclaim? The only principles he has evinced are the defense of the global interests of US imperialism and the wealth and power of the American financial aristocracy. Aside from occasional cheap demagogy, he has shown nothing but indifference and contempt when it comes to the American people.

The apotheosizing of Obama by this political milieu is ultimately a function of their own social being. They represent a very privileged, comfortable and complacent layer of the upper-middle class, and their pro-Obama, pro-Democratic Party politics reflects very real, material interests—interests that are sharply at odds with those of the working class.

One need only ask, in precisely what does their “progressiveness” consist? They do not advocate serious social or political reforms, let alone socialist policies. On the contrary, they tenaciously uphold a political system dominated by two utterly corrupt and reactionary parties of the American plutocracy.

They do not, for the most part, even call for an end to the US wars of aggression that are killing hundreds of thousands and destroying entire societies in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The people who are writing these words are–as Grey writes–writing from the comfort of their own social being.  Dana Millbank and  the other villagers  are the constituents defending the Obama tax cave-in because they will be some of the few beneficiaries.   Check out this FDL Diary from Blue Texan and check out the comments. You can check out more on this vapid Dana Millbank column at Economist’s View. Krugman, Thoma, and Dean Baker all take a punch at Millbank who just loves him some hippy punching. Krugman has a statement about the topic here too.

So look at how the Village constructs its mythology. The real story, of pretend moderates stalling action by pretending to be persuadable, has been rewritten as a story of how those DF hippies got in the way, until the centrists saved the day.

The worst of it is that I suspect Obama’s memory has gone down the same hole.

Grey states it eloquently.

What really upsets them about the crass manner in which Obama prostrates himself before the Republicans and Wall Street is how thoroughly it exposes their own role in promoting him and aiding the marketing campaign that was used to get him elected. They are terrified that their political dog and pony show built around Obama has so quickly and ignominiously collapsed.

So, this is what REAL socialists say about Obama.  Actual socialist thought is not  the Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh fantasy philosophy that scares working class whites into seeing brown people as the threat.  It’s not found at all in progressivism (TM) that has warped like some magical Madison Avenue Marketing brand enshrouding Obama and the village into enabling the misguided notion that  it’s only white men that can prevent liberty and justice for all.  Ultimately, socialism asks people to look at how the very rich and the very powerful use divisive tactics to stop us little people from realizing who is taking the fruits of our labor from us. Even if you aren’t a socialist, this is an exercise worth entertaining.  Now, comrades, have fun with those links!!!

38 Comments on “What the Socialists just said …”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:


    Hey, those are a lot of links to read up on Dak…So let me get to it.

    One thing that I just found from Financial Times: FT.com / Columnists / Clive Crook – Obama must talk to the country

    Barack Obama continues to hesitate over a decision from which there may be no retreat and which could seal the fate of his presidency. Does he stand up to congressional Democrats, regain the esteem of the middle of the country and get re-elected in 2012? Or does he fight for progressive principles, further alienate the independent voters who switched to the Republican party in the midterm elections and make do with a single term?

    and then later:

    Could somebody in the White House please tell Mr Obama he cannot have it both ways? Either a) Republicans are evil, dealing with them is repugnant and you do it only with a gun to your head; or b) they are fellow Americans, with legitimate views (backed for the moment by most of the electorate) and working with them (however hard they make it) is a presidential obligation. Either of these positions is coherent. Trying to maintain both is a formula for mental illness.

    Granted, Mr Obama’s position could not be more difficult. Congressional Republicans are indeed an unreasonable, intransigent and reckless bunch, far better at blocking policies than coming up with their own. Greatly strengthened by the midterm elections, they know they have the president on the run. They will not volunteer to co-operate; they will have to be manoeuvred into it.

    • cwaltz says:

      I don’t know I think they’re pretty good at coming up with their own policy. Provided that you don’t insist that the policy be either smart or good for the majority of the country.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think Clive is being silly. People voted for Obama based on what he said and they’re mad at him because of what he has been doing. Obama made progressive speeches and he’s been acting like Dubya. What’s alienating independents–like me–is that we all didn’t want another Dubya term. How is moving further to the right correcting that problem?

      Clueless. The salaried Commentariat is completely clueless.

      • mablue2 says:

        Glen Ford has a much more interesting take on that in another spectacular column (which one of Glen Ford’s column is not spectacular? This is getting ridiculous)
        Obama: The Republicans’ Reliable Interlocutor

        It was an ugly performance by “an unrepentant, unreconstructed, center-right, corporate operative,” as President Obama defended his “latest grand accommodation with the GOP.” But it is incorrect to say that Obama “caves” to Republicans. His m.o. is far more aggressive – against fellow Democrats, whom he has relentlessly pummeled since his first days in office. With Obama in the White House, who needs Republicans?

        Barack Obama reacted reflexively to Monday’s orchestration of angry calls to the White House by lefties outraged at his latest grand accommodation with the GOP, spending much of his Tuesday press conference attempting a limp smack-down of Left Democrats. Oozing condescension and a certain cattiness, Obama dismissed Democratic critics for playing “games” while he did what was necessary to wring an unemployment benefits extension from the Republicans. As Obama tells it, he stood like a pragmatic rock – if one can imagine such a thing – between the Republican “hostage-takers” and the “purist” and “sanctimonious” Democrats – a party of one.

        The column gets even better from there. I wanted to write something about his but I won’t be able to do any blogging until Thursday.

        But Glen is onto something? Why do we keep saying Obama “caves”? He’s doing something he approves of, including kicking the left in the Bimbertons (coincidentally, that post was inspired by Clive Crook for the same silliness)

    • Sima says:

      Granted, Mr Obama’s position could not be more difficult

      He’s had it easy so far. He started out with an adoring public, a party that would do what he wanted (and damn well has, much to their own detriment I will add) and a frapping NOBEL peace prize. What the hell is difficult about that?

      Hell, I could lead this part of the government. Fight the Republicans, fight, fight, fight. Get your message on target, a few simple phrases (To riff on the picture Dak chose for this post, how about ‘taxes for the super wealthy, food for the rest of us’, or ‘Taxes for Paris Hilton, health care for the rest of us’) that work, and start saying them all the time.

      When ever a syncophantic media person wants to talk to you, just repeat the frapping phrases in a million different ways. Over and over again. Short, pithy and they make sense. And point out how the other side doesn’t agree with those ideas, over and over again.

      Fight, dammit, you snivelling coward Obama, fight!

      (I guess Bernie got me inspired, heh).

  2. Rickpa says:

    If we actually had a lassiez fair system where entrepreneurs achieved or failed on their own merits under the wise regulation of the marketplace itself, I would find Sander’s rants most offensive as they have as their base that we are not naturally entitled to anything created due to our efforts and investments…. that not being taxed is equivalent to government giving us wealth.

    What makes Sanders right about taxing the wealthy is that we do have a government, which through crony capitalism, corporate welfare, or whatever you want to call it, has used it’s regulatory might, and power of an extra-constitutional entity to circumvent both the deleterious effects of natural cycles, or the failings of human avarice to benefit only the most wealthy, who are generally the most favored of the state. Of course these people do owe a hefty tax for their government given advantage! Yet, I am positive that should such a tax come to be, the favored of state shall find loopholes of which the common folk can’t conceive.

    While the tax idea bears discussion, the real discussion should be about the enduring virtue of a system where working hard to give people what they want creates more success that being favored of state.

    • dakinikat says:

      Rick: That’s equivalent to saying if we only had a pure Communist system where …

      It only works on paper. Really. There are so many things that have to be in alignment for that to happen it’s not even funny. It’s more utopian than the Marxists. Every one has to have access to the same information, every single item needs to be produced in a market made of small buyers and sellers with not one have any market or pricing power for any reason. That one alone isn’t possible because of the huge size of plant necessary to generate power right now. That’s what we call economies of scale in economics. Also, no patents can exist because that delivers market power. Also, no one has to care who they by from so good bye product differentiation.

      The role of the government–in economics–is to even the playing field between buyer and seller and to ensure that no one has anything that would give them pricing power or arbitrage possibilities and even that is flawed.

      The closest thing to what could exist to a perfect market is some food markets and that’s about it. Anywhich way, the state tends to create a favored class but so do many markets. It’s a Hobson’s choice in reality.

      • cwaltz says:

        Even with food you would be looking at problems. I think one of the reasons we started subsidizing is because it takes a goodly amount of investment in equipment and due to nature there is no guarantee of return on that investment. I believe that’s why we established floors for things like milk.

        • Sima says:

          Yep, food is expensive to produce, even back in the 30’s it was, and super risky. The dust bowl events show that. And no matter who one cares to credit with the blame for making the dust bowl, the fact is farmers and their families and whole communities were going to starve in the face of it.

          The irony is that just a few years before the grain silos were overflowing. Even at the start of the dust bowl this was true. And grain was sitting loaded on railroad cars just waiting to be taken to market. But it couldn’t, it was more expensive to transport than the cost of buying it. The bottom had fallen out of the market because farmers had produced so much, so well, so quickly.

          And why did they do that? Well, the government asked and encouraged them to do so. There was a huge build-up before and during WWI to feed Europe and feed the nation. Victory gardens were part of that, but even more was pushing farmers to produce, to open up marginal acreage, to farm, farm, farm. And it gave good money for a while, then the bottom fell out when the government didn’t need the produce anymore. The marginal acreage went to dust and started… well, started hell on earth really.

          And FDR (maybe even Hoover, I don’t remember) started the farm subsidies to help alleviate all this.

    • bostonboomer says:

      We had a lassez faire system in the past. Guess what happened?

      See: robber barons.

      Pure capitalism leads inevitably to monopolies. We’re in the hole we’re in now because of cutbacks in government regulation–not the reverse.

      • Rickpa says:

        Actually, robber barons ended lassiez faire, used their power to purchase local, state, and even federal government to enforce their power.

        As I stated in the facebook thread, I used the lassiez faire extreme to make my point, because so many socialists (and progressives) believe that lassiez faire is our current system. Perhaps it’s invocation is a disingenuous polemic tool, but it’s used none the less.

        There is a perception among the left that we are in an era dominated by corporate interests which is not unlike the end of the 19th century

        I do believe our system needs to notched back in that free market direction, but I am mostly critical of Too Big To Fail government subsidized wealth for favored corporate entities. As I have long been fond of saying, we need to find the correct balance between the cage and the jungle.

        We cannot have lassiez faire anymore that we can have anarchism or true communism… which really aren’t so different in practical terms. 😉

        Thanks kat for putting up with my deviant views! ❤

        • dakinikat says:

          hey, I’m fine with your deviant views ! My only rule is be nice or leave!!

        • dakinikat says:

          We had mercantilism before capitalism and it was hardly laissez faire. Think India Tea Company and other monopolies like that from the Brit Crown. Royal monopolies were de rigeur in the 17th and 18th century. The 18th century was the mercantile century and it went beyond just the Royal Trusts. McKinley started the trust busting era in 1898. Some of the bigger nasties then were the tobacco and the shipping trusts which were left over from the colonial days.

    • Moko Jono says:

      What you are missing over all, it is much much worse than all that.

      This system is no longer a democracy, but a corrupt oligarchy and rising plutarchy. The Capitalists are running things, and making the laws that are destroying the middle class bourgeoisie faster than any red revolution in history. The rule of this age is monopoly, plain and simple. Government and croneyism, in this context, is putting it entirely too lightly.

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    Crook goes on to suggest that “speaking of mental illness, the Democrats” blah, blah, blah…Well, back to reading Dak’s Pink Links.;)

  4. cwaltz says:


    Did you have a chance to take a look at that first link I put in?

    Without the Build American bonds there seems to be alot of chatter about state defaults.

    It seems the Republicans want to make New Jersey into Greece, Illinois into Ireland and California into Spain. Since the states don’t have their own currency I see it as a real concern. If California defaults I don’t see how the country manages to avoid a full fledged Depression and how it doesn’t impact the global economy in a huge way. We’re talking eighth largest world economy even larger than Spain.

    Anyway it’s the first link I posted in Sunday reads.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’ll go look at it. I’ve been following the conversation on Naked Capitalism.

    • dakinikat says:

      Okay, that is the Yves thing … yes it’s very worrisome and it’s one of the reasons why balanced budget amendments are like ticking time bombs. The BAB program has been the only way around the bombs.

      If I were a senator from California, to counter this, I’d suggest that if they don’t renew the program, that the Federal government has to give back taxes to states based on their population and can’t give back more than states contribute in Federal income taxes. This would sink states like Nebraska, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Dakota. They couldn’t balance their budgets without federal dollars. They don’t have populations to support their infrastructures.

      That would serve them right.

      It should be extended until the unemployment returns to normal. Bloomberg explanation here. I can’t understand why Obama fought for expensing and ethanol tax credits for businesses but not BAB.

      The securities, which carry taxable interest rates similar to corporate debt, have allowed state and local governments to access investors abroad and others who don’t buy traditional tax-exempt bonds. That has eased the supply of tax-exempt bonds and buoyed prices, which move inversely to yields, a trend that may reverse next year if the program is killed.

      “It could get pretty ugly,” said Rob Novembre, managing director at Arbor Research & Trading Inc. in New York, who runs the company’s municipal-trading operation. “Whoever owns munis could potentially experience some pain.”

      Build Americas were created under President Barack Obama’s stimulus legislation as a means of driving down borrowing costs for localities and funneling money to job-stoking construction projects. More than $179 billion of the securities have been sold since April 2009, funding clean-water projects in Ohio, highways in Kansas, dormitories at Rutgers University in New Jersey and a new bridge spanning the San Francisco Bay.

      • cwaltz says:

        I don’t get the impression Barack Obama is well versed in economics or that he even had a basic economics course for that matter. I also don’t get the impression that he is overly intellectually curious about stuff he doesn’t know about. It seems like governing is an inconvenience he must put up with to get to travel and go to parties. Sigh. For the second time in so many years I am forced to evaluate between incompetent and corrupt. Either one is completely unacceptable.

        • dakinikat says:

          That dash from the presser was a defining moment for me. It’s like let some one else do the work … michelle and the party are waiting !!!

          • Minkoff Minx says:

            Exactly, he could not be bothered to stick around and inject his own comments during the press conference. And the excuse he gave was a lame one….he just did not want to be there.

            I got screaming kids to deal with now, hope to check back in later and see what is being discussed.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    With Harvard credits on his resume, an articulate speech at the 2004 convention, and few if any real skeletons in his closet, some geniuses got the idea that this untried politician whose only claim to fame was in smoozing up to the right people who could catapult him to fame, approaced this lunkhead and told him that he had all the correct ingredients to become Commander in Chief. He couldn’t resist.

    That’s it in a nutshell. The desire to break into history, sit at the tables of power, and be greeted by “Ruffles and Flourishes” each time he entered a room. He probably also took into account that 8 horrible years of Bush would afford him every courtesy available and would require nothing more than saluting whoever was standing at attention outside Air Force One.

    He is probably smart enough to know how to cover his deficiencies in a normal setting but asking the same when it comes to hardcore decisions or policies is just beyond him.

    For those still holding out that he is capable of taking a swing and hitting the ball out of the park, I would suggest that that time has been squandered. He wanted to be president, he has achieved that goal, anything else is as irritating as not letting him finish those waffles. It is just not his style.

    The difficulty of leading requires principles, passion, and interest. Just not in his DNA.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Well, if he so believed in the Bush/Obama Tax Cuts, then he could get up there like Ross Perot with graphs and a pointer or picture cut outs like Glenn Beck and tell us why it is so, since he seems to thinks we are too silly to get it. Well, if he is so IVY League then show us how it is going to work and why we shouldn’t worry about about the Deficit and those expensive WARS.

  6. Woman Voter says:

    Any excuse the can find for Obama passing every thing the GOP wants, they will put out, but really when is he going to do some thing historic? He has given to Wall Street, to the Insurance Company and now to the Millionaires and Billionaires, but the rest us have to wait another 60 years for the Public Option to be considered again. 😦

  7. zaladonis says:

    I even read an Ismael Reed Op-ed this morning that says that Obama can’t afford to get angry without being tagged a militant black man.

    But Obama does get angry; just not in a way that’s effective in passing legislation consistent with Democratic principles.

    He got angry with progressives, callling us sanctimonious purists; and he got angry with Republicans, accusing them of taking Americans hostage. But we still ended up with a tax proposal extending tax cuts for millionaires.

    The point is to fight for what he said he’d fight for.

    And if Barack Obama is afraid to fight because he’s afraid of coming across as a militant black man, then he shouldn’t be President. We need a President who’ll fight for what’s right. No excuses.

  8. paper doll says:

    Obama was installed to lie down for the GOP wet dreams as they are then branded as Dem ‘victories”. The GOP can then run against the disastrous results….oh and he was installed to go to parties…Obama left a press conference to go to a party and said so ….what more does he have to do for people to get it?

    He’s never fought for anything in his life. It’s all been handed to him ,including 1600 PA Ave…Obama doesn’t even understand the concept of fighting for something . He makes the Dem congress of 06-08 look like profiles in courage…they would at least wait two days before caving in . As it’s been said, Obama doesn’t even wait for the other guy to lace up his gloves before throwing the towel

    I’m sure part of the plan is to start a new war to make him look ” tough… ” and we’ll hear about the “new” Obama, The ” Churchill” Obama, the” steely eye” Obama blah blah blah …it’s Bush 3.5