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his column this morning is titled Friends With Benefits.  It begins like this:

Government is not the enemy. Not always. Don’t believe that right-wing malarkey.

In fact, for millions of Americans down on their luck and at the end of their rope, they can quickly find that government is their last friend left. Governmental assistance can prevent the certainty of a hungry night and a homeless tomorrow. It can mean the difference between the comfort of stability and the ravages of poverty.

The column is chock full of data that proves the case.  Let me offer this as an illustration, informing you first that S.P.M. is the Supplemental Poverty Measure just announced by the Census Bureau:  

For instance, the report shows that if the earned income tax credit, a refundable tax credit for low-to-moderate-income workers designed to offset Social Security taxes and encourage work, was not included in the S.P.M., the poverty rate would jump from 16 percent to 18 percent. For children, it would jump from 18.2 percent to 22.4 percent.

Please keep reading.

The new report from the Census Bureau is full of powerful information, for example, that without SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the overall poverty rate would rise from 16 percent to 17 percent while for children it would rise from 18.2 percent to 21.2 percent.  Blow then reminds us that Paul Ryan's Republican budget

proposed slashing nutrition assistance by $127 billion over 10 years.
.

There is something immoral in "balancing the books" on the backs of poor people.

Children without proper nutrition do not learn effectively, thereby trapping them in continuing cycles of poverty.

To cut support for nutrition so that extremely wealthy people can continue to receive tax breaks they do not need so that they accumulate money that does not lead to the creation of jobs that helps break the cycle of poverty is more than immoral, it is obscene.

What good this administration has done is not understood.  Blow encapsulates that in this paragraph:  

Obama’s stimulus package may not have provided the jolt to the economy that the country wanted and needed, but it no doubt kept a jobs and poverty crisis from becoming a catastrophe. The administration’s inability to effectively convey that point is its own catastrophe.

Except here I will disagree somewhat with Blow.  I am not sure it is inability as much as it may have been in part deliberate.  After all, were the American public to fully understand the positive impact of the stimulus, it would undercut what little support there is among the people at large for approaches like the current attempt to find a 'grand bargain" that focuses on austerity measures beloved of the rentier class rather than raising the taxes necessary to truly address the economic needs of the people and the nation.  And it might fuel anger well beyond Occupy Wall Street to the point of demanding that those responsible for creating the crisis pay the costs they have imposed upon us as well as face additional penalties - financial and imprisonment - for the criminal wrongdoing they did.

Allow me to digress for just a moment.  What we are seeing at Penn State was a mindset that is way too familiar in far too many cases.  It is the attitude of protecting an institution by claiming the important thing is to look ahead and not backwards.  We saw in in the abuse of children in the Catholic Church.  We saw it in the actions of Leon Panetta running the CIA so that the American people never got an accounting of the abuses done supposedly in our name that have helped fueled recruitment of terrorists against us.  We see it in the refusal of the administration to go after the criminal wrongdoings of its predecessor in so many domains, including illegally and immorally taking us into an aggressive war of choice.  We are now seeing it in spades with the attempt to limit penalties and force minor settlements in the abuses of the mortage industry and the financial services sector that have created the world-wide financial crisis.

Of course the Republicans are oblivious to all this, whether out of ignorance or deliberate malice or sheer personal political ambition.    To quote again from Blow,  

The Tax Policy Center has found that Herman Cain’s now-famous 9-9-9 would cause 84 percent of families to pay higher taxes. Even After Cain changed his tune and said “if you’re at or below the poverty level, your plan isn’t “9-9-9, it’s 9-0-9,” an expert with the Tax Policy Center told NPR that “we’d still expect to see close to 84 percent of families being made worse off by the Cain plan.”
 

There are more details -  from Gallup and Healthways that Americans' ability to pay for food, housing and healthcare is at an all-time low;  from Brookings that population in extreme poverty neighborhoods where 40% of people live below the poverty line has risen by 1/3 (while the shift of income and wealth towards the top has accelerated.

And here let me note -  one may view oneself as still in the "middle class" except increasing numbers of those who view themselves as such are seeing their economic status slide ever closer to the poverty line.  If we allow the push towards austerity that some in the rentier class are using as an excuse to slash social programs -  and here I include the idea of chained CPI for Social Security which is very much on the table -  we will see the percentage of Americans in poverty continue to escalate.

We have a serious decision of what kind of nation we want to be.  Blow makes the distinction between the Obama administration, as flawed as it is, and the views of those who would seek to replace it, noting "government can play a very positive role in protecting the less-well-off from the interests of the more-well-off"  but only if the 'more-well-off" do not have near total control of the media, the legal system and the political process.

What the Obama administration has done is far better than what we would have seen under a McCain administration.  That's true.

It is also insufficient.  It is allowing this administration, and the Democrats in Congress, to be judged by an unacceptably low standard.  That the Republicans would fail even that standard should be of no comfort.

Either Government has a positive role to play that protects the American people from real financial catastrophe or it serves little purpose except oppression - political as well as economic - of the vast majority for the benefit of the already wealthy and powerful.

Or are words like those of Blow already too late, and America can no longer be a place of promise as we continue to slide into the economic imbalance of a banana republic?

Originally posted to teacherken on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 06:03 AM PST.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (205+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pinto Pony, gulfgal98, marykk, alizard, frandor55, glorificus, coloradocomet, Friend of the court, Onomastic, rmonroe, luckylizard, pat208, 2laneIA, historys mysteries, grannycarol, KibbutzAmiad, coppercelt, Kimball Cross, haremoor, foucaultspendulum, pioneer111, jgilhousen, Involuntary Exile, maryabein, ItsSimpleSimon, happy camper, Byron from Denver, lcrp, unclejohn, radarlady, zerelda, zeke7237, bythesea, bewareofme, One Pissed Off Liberal, SeaTurtle, saluda, litoralis, BMarshall, louisev, TracieLynn, annan, GenXBadger, Rogneid, Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death, Rick Aucoin, jabney, Youffraita, JML9999, rlharry, LWelsch, Amor Y Risa, SherwoodB, Polly Syllabic, side pocket, Marie, LaFeminista, opinionated, Steven D, markthshark, ORDem, Catskill Julie, murrayewv, sailmaker, OpherGopher, Emerson, ColoTim, anodnhajo, esquimaux, seefleur, annrose, allenjo, wxorknot, DRo, zedaker, Ginger1, The Hindsight Times, LamontCranston, Terminus, glitterscale, pfiore8, DWG, MartyM, BradyB, dagnome, yawnimawke, nellgwen, Brooke In Seattle, VTCC73, jimreyn, Gorette, barkingcat, tommyfocus2003, bronte17, Susipsych, Meteor Blades, Marjmar, Mostel26, DiegoUK, BachFan, aliasalias, lastlegslaststand, shopkeeper, ms badger, triplepoint, CenFlaDem, emal, Matt Z, paul2port, agnostic, Heart of the Rockies, Temmoku, SpecialKinFlag, oldliberal, Eric Nelson, createpeace, Arenosa, splashy, tofumagoo, carver, beforedawn, sockpuppet, Chi, SCFrog, nyceve, grollen, petulans, 3goldens, RFK Lives, cpresley, Lucy2009, pgm 01, zenox, Shockwave, SoCaliana, DixieDishrag, emperor nobody, CTPatriot, RhymesWithUrple, Miss Jones, joynow, science nerd, ezdidit, joliberal, dejavu, barbwires, drewfromct, a2nite, Mathazar, blueoasis, hester, Danise94, Larsstephens, Jinnia, leonard145b, IndieGuy, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, DBunn, terabytes, PrahaPartizan, Dube, millwood, dRefractor, fhcec, Seamus D, Mlle Orignalmale, ladybug53, doingbusinessas, bnasley, Ohkwai, Dirtandiron, dww44, psnyder, NJpeach, JayC, poliwrangler, exreaganite, ladypockt, frisco, TheLawnRanger, Garfnobl, kaliope, jhb90277, salmo, mofembot, HarpboyAK, riverlover, AreDeutz, KJG52, Old Woman, bigrivergal, jerseyjo, rugbymom, No one gets out alive, Justus, JanL, divineorder, MinistryOfTruth, shortgirl, oceanview, Sylv, Triscula, rgjdmls, flumptytail, Nada Lemming

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 06:03:38 AM PST

  •  linky? (5+ / 0-)

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 06:14:39 AM PST

  •  Good diary, but (4+ / 0-)

    one small quibble.  Is there anyway you can include the link to Blow's column in it?  Thanks.

    The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert. gulfgal98's corollary- We are fighting back to save our soul. Thank you, #OWS for empowering us all.

    by gulfgal98 on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 06:15:59 AM PST

  •  Thanks so much Ken. (11+ / 0-)

    If corporations are people, then I want to see some birth certificates and talk to their parents.

    by Onomastic on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 06:38:40 AM PST

  •  I think that there's a feeling that were the (18+ / 0-)

    extent of the issues fully known by everyone the shock would be almost overwhelming.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 06:56:01 AM PST

    •  Knowledge of 'the shock' and illegality sustains (11+ / 0-)

      me.

      I read "Three Times Is Enemy Action," by Mark Sumner in September 2008.  I concluded that Republicans openly aid & abet criminal endeavors, and through corporate campaign donations they are directly complicit in them, while Democrats are consistently guilty of abnegation ...and this has been true for several decades.

      Malfeasance is apparent even in SCOTUS which gave Jeffrey Skilling a pass saying that even if he knew what was going on at ENRON was fraud, he could not be held criminally accountable.  Adherence to cost-benefit analysis is the only standard by which a corporate executive can be judged - even if he knew there was fraud!  This is breathtaking:

      On June 24, 2010, the Supreme Court vacated part of Skilling's conviction and sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.
      •  I guess what gets me is the open criminality.` (7+ / 0-)

        Are we so compassionate here that we cannot yet condemn fraud and control fraud for what it is? It's CRIME, pure and simple, even if Obama claims that the bankers just skirted the law. CONTROL FRAUD IS THE NAME OF THE CRIME!

        We should get it through our heads that we are not maybe correct, but that we are 100% proof positive correct in calling it criminal!

        This is NOT CLASS WAR! This is about justice for ALL, not some.

        •  I am wondering (0+ / 0-)

          how would Joe Paterno be judged in these courts?

          •  Jerry Sandusky would get a pass. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            divineorder

            Paterno, a Congressional medal.

            'You can't throw such greatness on the trash heap because of some flaws, some peccadilloes,' they would say.

            Even Alan Greenspan - the one single individual who is arguably responsible for encouraging all of the insanity on Wall Street and around the world because of his insistence on free market theory, his condemnation of regulation as a force that distorts markets, his muzzling of Brooksley Born @ CFTC - even Alan Greenspan got away scot-free.

            One can be cynical as all hell about this, but it helps to understand the process by which we have arrived at this disgusting moment, besotted and beshitted by institutions that used to do a fine job.  

            Starting in 1980, possibly well-before then - even in the fifties - there was a concerted challenge against industrial regulation of any kind. (Evidence that Atlas Shrugged is the Republican/Libertarian/neo-conman's bible.)  From this push to anti-regulation, theories grew in an excess of stupidity to justify, culminating with free market theory - i.e., that unfettered money markets, like water, would seek their own natural balance, flowing from places of abundance to places of need...a natural theory, and a moral one, too, for the egregiously wealthy want desperately to justify the morality of their overabundance, lest they be called decadent.  

            The final act in this most obscene and scurrilous process of moral decay is the evidence of the lack of enforcement of the laws that we see today.  (It is Obama's signal to the elites that he is one of them in that he refuses to make a scene about the challenges to his judicial appointments. Even he doesn't think we should add to the problems by having an efficient justice system.)

            It's insane, but it works: if you eliminate the courts you can't have criminals!  That cuts down on the prison population, too! ...et, voila...a brave new world!  

          •  Strange as it seems, these perpetrators (0+ / 0-)

            of social mayhem are instinct-driven individuals whose behaviors are mostly responsive to prompts and those prompts, for the most part, emanate from the objects/people acted upon.  This is what "personal responsibility" means--that persons are agents who are able to respond to prompts.  It's sort of a mechanistic or automatic definition of human behavior which is not very different from plants growing in the direction of the sun-light.
            So, if adult persons are attracted to juveniles and seek to gratify their sexual impulses, it must be because the juveniles prompted that response.

            "monkey see; monkey do" isn't just a description of imitative behavior.  It also describes that behavior is in response to observation. "Look, but don't touch" is not in the nature of the instinct-driven person.

            "Blaming the victim" is actually in the same category as "follow the leader."  In either case, the agent is not in charge of his actions --i.e. there is no self-control. That's a good thing in a football team.  Or, anywhere, for that matter, where obedience is prized above all else.

            Obedience by the instinct-driven seems like an oxymoron, until it's understood that obedience can be inculcated as habitual behavior. Also, obedience is its own reward since the obedient person is never wrong--he just does what his superiors or his instincts instruct.

            People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

            by hannah on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:18:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Cost/benefit analysis is inherently (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        divineorder

        flawed because the allocation of costs is never to the same entities as the allocation of benefits.

        Even if "my benefits are greater than your costs," the calculation cannot be morally justified.  Accountants pretend that the entries on both sides of the ledger are merely to check for the accuracy of the calculations.  They do not concern themselves with the fact that the accounts disguise basic inequities.  Which is why it might be time to relegate accountants to the dustbins of history as being more destructive than lawyers.  
        Calculators have made accountants largely superfluous. So, they've invented a new role for themselves--the certification that actual transactions are consistent with plans and, ipso facto, in retrospect provide validation for plans that were immoral or inappropriate from the get-go.  In other words, numbers are being used to validate policies and procedures after the fact, which, if the policies and procedures were evaluated on their own, would have to be considered immoral and socially destructive. Just because things add up doesn't make them good.

        People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

        by hannah on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:02:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "...their last friend left." (58+ / 0-)

    A friend of mine works in a local office of the agency on aging.  Her observation is that many of those who whine about the government helping people are the first ones who demand (many do not know how to "request" anything) help when they find that their self-sufficient line of crap doesn't work.  Her office is a clearinghouse whose mission is to coordinate programs and point people in the right direction to get the services they need.  She loves her job and bends over backwards to make sure that people get help.  (Heck, she made a "house call" to me so that I could participate in a state nutrition program at the farmer's market this summer.  I am poor, but had no idea I'd qualify.  She came by with the paper work and gave me the vouchers on the spot!)

    I've been spending time at the local seniors' center and find that at least some of those who use the facility have no idea where the funding for it comes from.  Yes, there is a small annual membership fee ($24).  There are also fees for some of the programs, usually a dollar or two.  They think that those small amounts pay for the facility and services.  They would be surprised, I think, to find that it costs around $250 per hour to keep the doors open!  While the vast majority of that comes from fund raising, grant writing, and corporate sponsorship, a fair chunk is from state and federal coffers.  Without that, the place would close.

    I'm not sure what my point is, but people who bash the government need to wake up.  Elizabeth Warren is right: none of us got where we are on our own.  John Donne said it in the 17th Century, "No man is an island, entire of itself."  I suspect that people were saying the same thing before him.  We're not meant to be solitary creatures, wholly encapsulated, self-sufficient units.  The whole point of government is to do what we cannot do individually.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 07:06:54 AM PST

  •  War against poor and OWS (18+ / 0-)

    Important article.

    So many important issues are not covered, nor addressed.

    http://www.commondreams.org/...

    The democrats walked away from the issue of poverty in 1980.

    •  Great article (6+ / 0-)
      The organized right justifies its draconian policies toward the poor with moral arguments.  Right-wing think tanks and blogs, for instance, ponder the damaging effect on disabled poor children of becoming “dependent” on government assistance, or they scrutinize government nutritional assistance for poor pregnant women and children in an effort to explain away positive outcomes for infants.

      The willful ignorance and cruelty of it all can leave you gasping -- and gasp was all we did for decades.  This is why we so desperately needed a movement for a new kind of moral economy.  Occupy Wall Street, which has already changed the national conversation, may well be its beginning.

      Dailykos.com; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action 48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam

      by Shockwave on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 02:17:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Blow gets a lot right here (28+ / 0-)

    but I think he implicitly relies too heavily on the idea that inequality (or whatever economic outcomes happen before so called transfer programs) are natural, and government action is an intervention in the market.  But the way wealth is distributed in the first place is fundamentally shaped by all manner of government action.  The wealthy rely on government action to protect and increase their wealth.  Dean Baker makes this case well in The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer and The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive (which are available on line for free).

    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

    by David Kaib on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 07:18:34 AM PST

    •  Thanks for the link ... (5+ / 0-)

      Glancing at e-copies of both of Baker's books, they look like mind-expanding reads. Thank you for the links.

      Teacherken, thank you for this diary!

      "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

      by annan on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 08:10:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mind expanding (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annan, cpresley

        and entertaining. The idea that econ has to be dry, boring and impenetrable  makes it hard for us to engage these issues critically, but Baker (and Galbraith, to name two) show it's just not true.

        Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

        by David Kaib on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 09:38:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Glad to see you pointed this out (15+ / 0-)

      Government actions and programs have been benefitting the wealthiest Americans for decades.  For example, welfare for the very wealthy in the form of taxing unearned income at a lower rate than earned income is a direct benefit to the most wealthy Americans.  For each benefit that they get either through subsidies, tax breaks, or loopholes, that is money lost to benefit the vast majority of Americans.  In Florida, the Tea Party governor and legislature cut funding to public schools in order to give tax breaks to large corporations.  

      It is far more than just cutting programs that help the neediest among us.  It is also increasing the enormous amount of government welfare being given to the wealthiest individuals and to corporations.

      The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert. gulfgal98's corollary- We are fighting back to save our soul. Thank you, #OWS for empowering us all.

      by gulfgal98 on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 08:22:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  excellent article AND commentary ken (8+ / 0-)


    and your point is well taken: anyone living in poverty is acutely aware of what the stimulus did for government benefits for them and of what the Republicans heartlessly plan to whisk away from them to pander to the 1%.

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 07:51:32 AM PST

  •  How many must die? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette, Lily O Lady, Russgirl

      That should be the question poised to the GOP and their proponents.  

        One problem seems to be that no one, or not enough people, are pressing the repubs on this issue - do you care if people die based on your proposed cuts?  How many is too many?

       

    •  You make a very good point. I have (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Russgirl

      wondered the same thing. For the Pro-Life party, how many non-fetus Americans to die would be too many?

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 01:32:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hard to think (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zedaker, jimreyn, Chi, Russgirl, Eric Blair, salmo

    it's not too late what with the new trade deals and the onward march of the cat food commission's bi-partisan cutting spree. Once again another cry of could be worse. Of course government should serve the needs of a society, it should represent the common good and yes it could be worse if it were the Republican's. I understand this but what do the Democratic Third Wayer's that are running our party and this administration offer? More 'victories for compromise' with the corporations and 1% cutting deals and imposing austerity?

    I see nothing offered from either side but rampant anti-democratic wealth inequity with more and more poverty. Another useless editorial that says it could be worse. I take issue with this it doesn't have to be like this, and it wouldn't if the Democrat's didn't use the lunatic 's of the right for cover. why is the super majority still in place why is there a cat food commission 2.  Why is Simpson anywhere near the government? Why is Ben Nelson getting the support of the throughly corrupted  DSCC?  This is just not enough to make me believe that the Dem's agenda is simply the appearance of good cop to their insane bad cop.  The glass is not half full of anything but toxic corporate waste.    

    •  The Democratic Party in its present incarnation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, shaharazade, salmo

      is very important to the Corporate Kleptocracy because it pushes the conversation, the Overton window, to the right and to prevent the emergence of real progressive politics. The choice we are left with is between a party that is well to the right of Richard Nixon and an insane righwing party.

      I'm truly sorry Man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union--Robert Burns

      by Eric Blair on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 02:46:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not just the parties, though (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      salmo

      Most Americans eligible to vote, don't. It's easy to say they don't vote because they don't like the choices, but if they don't vote there's no reason for the parties to offer better choices...those who seek power will pitch to those who vote, which unfortunately these days includes a disproportionate number of teahaddists, racists, and xenophobes.  A lot of people suspect that a majority, perhaps a large majority, of those who don't vote have values that are substantially to the left of those of the people who do vote.

      One reason the teahaddists have a disproportionate share of power (besides wealthy backers, who are not the whole story) is that they vote at every level of government, starting at the bottom with local and state officials. If those on the left ran as many candidates, and voted as often as those on the right (i.e. if we had 80% turnout consistently instead of 50-60% for presidential and maybe 40% in off-years) I believe our government (and perhaps the parties as well) would look very different.

      One reason the right wing is so motivated goes back to their outrage at Roe v. Wade...it would be wonderful if Citizen's United could inspire a similar degree of motivation for those who are outraged by the corruption of our electoral system.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 04:50:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Democrat's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        salmo

        are not likely to do a damn thing more then they are regardless of more people voting. Their is no way in hell that more people voting Democratic would get rid of Citizen United, the entities that own our government both parties, the puppet masters wouldn't allow it. I registered a lot of first time voters in 2007-08.

        They voted Democratic and a fat lot of good it did any of us. Do you think they will vote again?  Why would they believe that the Democrat's will do anything other then preach the free market global screw as the way forward. People are not this stupid.  

        They don't vote because there really is no choice, just Koch Bros or Goldman Sachs regardless of who wins you get them both and then some. The only meaningful change, we will get isn't going to come from inside the corrupt useless electoral system we have.

         I don't know how but  the people somehow need to get our party, and representative system back. OWS is a start, at least it is taking away the fear of speaking the truth about our systemic anti-democratic FUBAR system.

        The Democrat's either fight for the people and our laws or they will lose and die off. Politics are not static and this bi-partisan extortion cannot hold. It could be worse just doesn't cut it when both parties are complicit in the theory and implementation of oligarchical collectivism.      

        •  Expand the scope of the conflict (0+ / 0-)

          When politicians operate in a closed system, such as that we now face, we are unable to use democratic means to change our society.  It could not be clearer that what we have is unsustainable, and therefore change will happen by means other than democracy if our politicians continue to successfully block an open market for political ideas.  Peaceful protest outside of the political parties, including but not limited to OWS, offers the last reasonable opportunity to avoid the bloody alternative.  

        •  A lot of those first time voters only (0+ / 0-)

          voted for president...I know that's how it was here in Florida, there was no change except the top of the ticket...real change has to come up from the ground level. If we want to take control of the Democratic party, people have to run for office themselves (starting with the local level). They have to build relationships in their communities, not just with like minded people online.

          The big problem in 2008 was people bought into the idea that they could elect a president who could make it all better. That was wildly unrealistic. Democracy isn't as easy as voting for one good looking guy who seems cool and promises good things...democracy means paying attention to what's around you, not just what's on TV or the internet. It means, for those with the ability, running for office yourself when you don't see anyone else sticking up for what's right. It means not giving up  when things don't change right away.

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 02:30:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Charles Blow..... (4+ / 0-)

    has become one of my favorite NY Times editorial writers.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 09:12:15 AM PST

  •  I'm Not So Sure Republicans Are Oblivious.... (7+ / 0-)

    they seem more calculated to me.  They know exactly what's going on.  They just don't care.

    The sensitivity chips that should be in the recesses of their brains are missing.  

  •  When our kids have bloated bellies, (6+ / 0-)

    are starving on the streets, even then the Republicans will be in favor of cutting nutrition and poverty programs. Because they are crazed ideologues without the "values" they always pretend to espouse. They have perverted the founder of their religion's teachings.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 09:43:36 AM PST

    •  That is a truly sad.... (5+ / 0-)

      ..image.  I heard some moron exclaim after viewing some photos of children in Africa with bloated bellies, "they don't look hungry to be  - look how stuffed their bellies are  - snicker, snicker"  I wanted to jump over some chairs and strangle the stupid asshole, but at 71 and a bad back it didn't seem prudent and my cane wasn't long enough to give the prick the caning he so richly deserved.
      What the dumb shit doesn't get is that the distended abdomen is the result of insufficient abdominal muscles to hold the viscera in.  This is caused by to little protein in their diet – more insidiously is that brain development is severely retarded by protein deficiency, a disease called Kwashiorkor which is not reversible. This condemns them to a life of greatly diminished abilities or retardation unable to improve the lot in their meager life.

      T&R

      The only shame in ignorance is when one takes pride in it. .......{- 8.25 / -5.64}

      by carver on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 12:48:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Blow believes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis
    There are more details -  from Gallup and Healthways that Americans' ability to pay for food, housing and healthcare is at an all-time lowl   from Brookings that population in extreme poverty neighborhoods where 40% of people live below the poverty line has risen by 1/3 (while the shift of income and wealth towards the top has accelerated.

    that this is not a catastrophe.

    There is no reason to take him seriously.

    She's the sort of person who would not only happily stay in Omelas, but would ask "Couldn't life be more wonderful if we threw a few more kids in there?"

    by JesseCW on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 09:47:42 AM PST

  •  Democrats (what's left of them) (10+ / 0-)

    need to stop comparing the performance of the Democratic leadership to the Republicans

    What the Obama administration has done is far better than what we would have seen under a McCain administration.  That's true. It is also insufficient.  

    and start comparing them to the stated goals of the Democratic Party platform and to how well they've achieved those goals. By those measures, they are consistently shown to be two-faced, devious liars whose true objective is serving the monied class at the expense of the average American.

    "middle class" except increasing numbers of those who view themselves as such are seeing their economic status slide ever closer to the poverty line.  If we allow the push towards austerity that some in the rentier class are using as an excuse to slash social programs -  and here I include the idea of chained CPI for Social Security which is very much on the table -  we will see the percentage of Americans in poverty continue to escalate.

    Obama's been hell bent since his first day in office on handing the ultimate gift to his Wall Street and corporate benefactors and pinning a cruel austerity package entirely on the backs of the average American. It looks like he is getting close, via his undemocratic 'Super Congress':

    Super Committee Democrats Propose Scrapping Bush Tax Cut Debate In Exchange For Billions In Revenue

    (I've predicted all along that Bush tax cuts would get scrapped, there wouldn't be a public option, etc...I don't understand why it's so hard to figure Obama out by now)

    A mandated transfer of wealth from the middle class to the health insurance monopoly with no cost controls, slyly working to put education on the path to privatization, token gestures toward unemployment while working assiduously to pass "free trade" deals, a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich via "austerity packages" consisting of huge cuts to the average American's measly, ever-dwindling Social Safety Net, lack of progressive taxation under Obama, accelerated income inequality and wage decline under Obama....

    ...NAFTA, corporate media consolidation, end of "welfare as we know it",  end of Glass-Steagall under Clinton laying the groundwork for the decimation of the middle-class and freedom of information... judging by the goals of the Democratic Party platform and not the Republican Party, how should the Democrats - the constituency they claim to serve -judge the Democratic leadership?

    The Democratic Party 2008 platform

    We Democrats have a special commitment to this promise of America. We believe that every American, whatever their background or station in life, should have the chance to get a good education, to work at a good job with good wages, to raise and provide for a family, to live in safe surroundings, and to retire with dignity and security. We believe that quality and affordable health care is a basic right. We believe that each succeeding generation should have the opportunity, through hard work, service and sacrifice, to enjoy a brighter future than the last.

    We should judge them as complete and utter failures and as the corrupt and devious liars they are, who are working for the very opposite of those they claim to serve and at their expense. We must no longer accept their "Republicans are worse" framing which only lets them off the hook and encourages them to continue to screw us over. The Democratic leadership must decide- reform themselves from top to bottom or continue their stubborn march to the bottom and to irrelevancy, handing ever more power to OWS - the future of America.

    "It depends what the meaning of 'is', is"
    Platform of the "New" Neoliberal Democratic Party
    Speaking out of one side of their mouth for the little guy, their nominal constituency, and the other for the plutocracy, their real constituency.

    by Sanctimonious on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 09:52:58 AM PST

  •  I was at Occupy KC yesterday (11+ / 0-)

    and a couple came over to talk. The fellow was a tbagger. His name should have been "Dick". His wife looked like somebody I had known. We got to talking (and my bud, the Ron Paul guy, ducked out and left me with them.) The tbagger started calling the protesters (and me too, since I was there ) Idiots you are all idiots! I told him I thought he was projecting and that stopped him for a minute. I said yeah, you are calling me an idiot and I know I am not an idiot and so I think who is this idiot calling ME an idiot! (That really is not how projection is often portrayed as working, but really, in this case it was apt.)
    As we talked further, in between his outbursts of "get rid of Obama" and "Push out the democrats" we had what I thought was an interesting talk. We meandered around talking about the Fed reserve and their evils (the Fed was just across the street from where we were standing.) and his bragging about being a tbagger and my take on it "You were coopted!". Then we got to what I thought was the meat. He had been disabled and gotten Sect. 8 housing and he thought Sect. 8 housing was pure evil! And then he had gotten some certificates from Cisco and Microsoft and now has a good? job as tech security. I was amazed. I said "That is crazy (speaking of his condemnation of Sect. 8.) you got a leg up and now you have a good job and you are now a tax payer." and he was proud of that latter part but was loathed to admit the first part. A lot of folks are like that: they cannot acknowledge the gifts that come their way. I told him: "You could have been thrown out into the street. You could have been dead by now without that help."

    We didn't necessarily end with he and I agreeing on anything, but I got my blood going and at my age that is a GOOD thing!

    Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. - Mark Twain

    by glitterscale on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 09:54:17 AM PST

  •  I reject the 9-9-9 proposal but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lastlegslaststand, Russgirl

    ...if:

    As for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program for food stamps, the report says that without it, the overall poverty rate would move from 16 percent to 17 percent and for children it would move from 18.2 percent to 21.2 percent.

    ...then, this 84% sounds about right as long as it's the RIGHT 84%:

    The Tax Policy Center has found that Herman Cain’s now-famous 9-9-9 would cause 84 percent of families to pay higher taxes. Even After Cain changed his tune and said “if you’re at or below the poverty level, your plan isn’t “9-9-9, it’s 9-0-9,” an expert with the Tax Policy Center told NPR that “we’d still expect to see close to 84 percent of families being made worse off by the Cain plan.”

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 10:06:17 AM PST

  •  Great diary! "Insufficient" is right...... (7+ / 0-)

    and ......yes:

    We see it in the refusal of the administration to go after the criminal wrongdoings of its predecessor in so many domains, including illegally and immorally taking us into an aggressive war of choice.  We are now seeing it in spades with the attempt to limit penalties and force minor settlements in the abuses of the mortage industry and the financial services sector that have created the world-wide financial crisis.

    What would have happened if Richard Nixon had not been held to account?  But in the following years things were left to slide, down, down, down. Then the hypocrisy brigade of Republicans took over and accountability became a nice little word they would use but just pretense.

    Allowing huge crimes to go unpunished, to be ignored, just leads to increasing moral decline. As you ask, is it too late? I don't think so, I hope not, but yet, perhaps. People tend to think once they've made some effort to improve things that that will endure. But it does not. We, at least some of us,  return to our original state of bad behavior, getting away with whatever they can. Even if it's just 5% of us who perpetrate the crimes, who bring us down, that's enough to ruin everything.

    I'm feeling pessimistic today about humankind.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 10:13:27 AM PST

  •  I like that---"the rentier class" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Shockwave, salmo

    pushing us toward austerity!

    You got extra points for that!

    Thanks, as usual.

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 11:17:16 AM PST

  •  Allow me to digress a moment also. Charles Blow (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, Shockwave, blueoasis, efrenzy, salmo, KJG52

    as with most every Democrat (and definitely all conservatives - it's their corporate handlers agenda) have accepted the premise or at minimum (probably in Charles Blow's case) allowed or not rejected the language that govt. can be addressed as an institution separate from we the people.
     A distinct entity -> That is the lie which has been thrust into our minds as a given.

    government can play a very positive role in protecting the less-well-off from the interests of the more-well-off, and this administration’s view of government is much more benevolent than those of the people who are seeking to unseat it.

    That’s worth remembering.

    This labeling or meme is the first coup by the republican/corporate interests wherein most every other argument against the govt. has it's foundation.
    We must break that foundation up. It's central to the "drown govt. in a bathtub" gambit, where drowning the people (govt.) or eliminating the public space  becomes falsely diguised as drowning a common enemy.

    A pretty amazing feat. Misleading an entire population into believing:
    1 - that the govt. is not the people and
    2 - that govt. must be minimized  for any number of creative lies/subsequent fabrications: efficiency, intrusive to freedoms, more lies ad nauseum

    The true enemy is the so-called consevative party (the largest benefactors/consumer of the peoples labor, land, resources and taxation) that actually needs and uses the govt. to meet it's own goals, and this is achieved by controlling the govt. while taking credit for it's demise all the while being sold as helping the people gain freedom from govt. WTF? sort of like:  "Let me free you of that paycheck"

    Helping out people, by eliminating the public space and making govt. the exclusive tool of the leisure class.

    Thx for the  Charles Blow recommendation. He's one of the good guys imo.

  •  Obama's has been wrong on economic policy (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, Lucy2009, Shockwave, Russgirl, blueoasis, KJG52

    The current economic situation proves it. Obama has been fundamentally wrong on basic economic policy from the very beginning of his administration.

    This isn't hard to see. And yet, there are many people who like to imply (or even state explicitly) that there was no way that Obama could have done any better. What I'm wondering is, have you thought through the logical implications of this belief?

    The belief is--Yes, the Obama administration's economic policy has been inadequate from the beginning, but they did the best they could, so therefore liberals should stop complaining about the lack of good economic policy because good economic policy is impossible.

    Well, if you truly believe this, then you believe that the American system of government has failed. If you truly believe that the American government is literally incapable of competency, no matter who is in charge, then that government is a failure and supporting anybody in the current political system is a waste of time. Overhauling the government is really the only option.

    Now, I'm not advocating for this. But that's because I believe that Obama and his administration could have and should have done better, and so therefore they deserve criticism. I think many people here disagree with that, but they haven't bothered to think through or refuse to think through what it means to disagree with that.

    The resolute defenders of Obama should think long and hard about what their beliefs mean. Because if you guys are right, all you're doing is spending a lot of time and energy propping up a failed state.

  •  A great site called Government Is Good (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Eric Nelson, ladybug53

    An unapologetic defense of a vital institution.

    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me.

    by plankbob on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 03:53:32 PM PST

  •  Tipped and reced (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 04:10:07 PM PST

  •  Your words encapsulate our "now" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    salmo, teacherken
    To cut support for nutrition so that extremely wealthy people can continue to receive tax breaks they do not need so that they accumulate money that does not lead to the creation of jobs that helps break the cycle of poverty is more than immoral, it is obscene.

    There is a baseline upon which our community called the USA ought to agree and that is Americans' ability to pay for food, housing and healthcare.  Anything less is bowing to a moral evil.

    Standard Operating Procedure cannot stand.  The turnaround is difficult with a co-opted media machine inducing hypnotic passivity into our masses.  But we have to persevere, there is no try, there is only do.

    Triple recs.

    Nuance is lost upon those who choose not to look.

    by poliwrangler on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 09:43:38 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this pointer, Ken. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, KJG52

    I have downloaded all of the primary documents that Mr Blow references in his piece, which I downloaded along with some reader comments.

    Poverty is on the rise here in Europe, and the euro crisis is obviously not helping matters, given the insistence of the wealthy elite on imposing austerity measures for everyone else to bear. It is going to be a long, cold winter... and one of many, I fear, unless we can break the yoke of the plutocrats now.

    Just because it's made up doesn't mean it isn't true.—Plan 10 from Outer Space

    by mofembot on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 01:47:01 AM PST

  •  You must be feeling better, Ken (0+ / 0-)

    glad to have you posting on non-medical topics again

  •  Excellent! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken

    This diary/comment section will be an excellent source for my 13 year old. She has been assigned to write a memo to the President discussing capitalism as the best form of government EXCEPT for the income inequality it creates. She is to come up with solutions to the current economic gap between the very rich and the rest of the country. Lots of luck! It will be interesting to see what she comes up with.

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