Showing posts with label PROGRESSIVE ERA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PROGRESSIVE ERA. Show all posts

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Debt Ceiling Roulette - by Stephen Lendman

Markin comment :

Agree or disagree, and mostly disagree on the solutions questions (nothing short of a workers government is going to make a dent, even a small dent in the systemic social problems we face today), I am always glad to put the prolific SteveLendmanBlog on this site. It gives me a feel for the pulse of the old-time (and vanishing) non-party (non-Democratic Party) progressives out there.
Debt Ceiling Roulette
by Stephen Lendman

Debt Ceiling Roulette - by Stephen Lendman

In this game, the house always wins. Bipartisan complicity stacked the deck against millions of working households, needing to know that political Washington is scamming them.

The end result is the banana republicanization of America. American writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter: 1862 - 1910) coined the term (his fictional Republic of Anchuria) in his book, "Cabbages and Kings."

It refers to a country (often politically unstable and/or repressive) where a small percent of the population has a disproportionate share or wealth and power, where ordinary people are exploited, often persecuted, and where profits are privatized while working households bear the burden of debt.

It's also a kleptocracy run by criminals, complicit with corporate thieves who bribe them to get their way. It's corrupt, rotten to the core gangsterism, run for personal gain, both sides profiting at the public's expense.

It's in plain sight in Washington, the heart of darkness, where bipartisan crooks are destroying personal freedoms, democratic values, and general welfare to grab everything for themselves and their corporate partners.

Previous articles discussed it, accessed through the following links:

Read them and weep, or better still, react by refusing any longer to put up with bipartisan corruption, stealing us blind for the Big Monied interests that own them. Obama was made president to play ball, a Democrat engineering what no Republican would dare, at the same time duplicitously claiming populist credentials.

As president, he's been hardline and neocon, advocating Democrat Leadership Council ideology, around since the mid-1980s until operations ended early this year, perhaps because too many caught on to its scam.

Ralph Nader called it "corporatist (and) soulless," ideologically hardline. Obama fits the mold. He's anti-populist, anti-labor, anti-welfare, pro-business, while at the same time militaristic and pro-war for unchallengeable world dominance. Nader explained that:

"To the DLC mind, Democrats are catering to 'special interests' when they (pretend to) stand up for trade unions, regulatory consumer-investor protections, a preemptive peace policy overseas, pruning the bloated military budget now devouring (the federal budget), defending Social Security from Wall Street schemes, and pressing for universal health care coverage. So right-wing is the DLC....that even opposing Bush's tax cuts for the considered ultra-liberal and contrary to winning campaigns."

Its ideology is indistinguishable from Republican extremism. It opposes rights for Blacks, Hispanics, Latino immigrants, Muslims, labor, the poor, consumer protections, populism, progressivism, environmental protection, peace and those for it, prosecuting corporate criminals, honest elections, and democratic governance.

It's for the privileged few at the expense of the many, the bipartisan cancer that's destroying America, Obama the point man in charge because who could imagine a Black president would dare. In fact, he was chosen for his commitment to wealth, power, global dominance, and grand theft at the expense of working Americans and ordinary people everywhere.

He's a fraud, a crime boss, a moral coward and serial liar, fronting for wealth, power and privilege. No wonder James Petras (weeks after his election) called him "the greatest con-man in recent history," comparing him to "Melville's Confidence Man."

"He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to fight wars in the Middle East....He solemnly mouths vacuous pieties while he empties your Social Security funds to bail out the arch financiers who swindled your pension investments. He appoints and praises the architects of collapsed pyramid schemes to high office while promising" better times ahead he won't tolerate to assure powerful interests get it all, the public crumbs at best.

In July 2009, Kevin Baker's Harper's article headlined, "Barack Hoover Obama: The best and brightest blow it again," saying:

"Three months into his presidency," it's hard imagining the unthinkable that Obama will fail because he won't "seize the radical moment" to change a broken system responsibly.

Even then, some observers ludicrously compared him to Franklin Roosevelt. A better comparison is Herbert Hoover who faced a similar crisis, though doing so isn't fair.

In early 2009, plenty of evidence showed how destructive Obama would be, unlike Hoover who at least tried some ways to confront the great crisis, if inadequately. He established national voluntary initiatives to create jobs, provide charity, and create a private banking pool, but failed.

He also set up a dozen Home Loan Discount Banks to help people refinance mortgages to save their homes. In 1932, he established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), capitalized with $500 million with authorization to borrow another $1.5 billion.

In its first six months, it loaned banks over $800 million to no effect. Like today, they retained reserves and shunned lending. Moreover, public trust was absent because political leadership lacked courage to do more, hidebound by ways no longer working.

Roosevelt then streamlined RFC's bureaucracy, increasing its funding to recapitalize troubled banks and corporations. Despite understanding the problem, Hoover failed because he was part of a broken system he wouldn't change.

In contrast, Roosevelt confronted the crisis aggressively in first 100 days, enacting 15 landmark laws, including:

The Bank Act of 1933 (Glass-Steagall), separating commercial from investment banks and insurance companies, among other provisions.

Streamlined the RFC with more capitalization and other measures to restore public trust, including by funding agencies like the Home Owners Loan Corporation, Farm Credit Administration, Rural Electrification Administration, Public Works Administration, and others, as well as emergency relief loans to states, something Hoover never did, let alone establish New Deal policies.

The Securities and Exchange Act of 1933, requiring offers and sales of securities be registered, pursuant to the Constitution's interstate commerce clause. Along with the 1934 SEC Act, it was to enforce federal securities laws, the securities industry, the nation's financial and options exchanges, and other electronic securities markets, unknown in the 1930s along with derivatives and other forms of speculation.

It was also charged with uncovering wrongdoing, assuring investors weren't swindled, and keeping the nation's financial markets free from fraud. Nonetheless, its fulfillment fell short of its promise. Unlike today, however, it tried.

The Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) to refinance homes and prevent foreclosures.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to create jobs building roads, bridges, dams, developing state parks, planting trees, and various forestry and recreational programs for the Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, and Soil Conservation Service.

The Civilian Works Administration (CWA) to fund states to reduce unemployment.

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), establishing the National Recovery Administration to revive economic growth, encourage collective bargaining, set maximum work hours, minimum wages, at times prices, and forbid child labor in industry.

The Public Works Administration also established projects to provide jobs, increase purchasing power, improve public welfare, and help revive the economy.

So did the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that became the largest New Deal agency, employing millions in every state, especially in rural and western areas.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), providing navigation, flood control, electricity generation, and economic development, as well as promote agriculture in the depression-impacted Tennessee Valley area, covering most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) that fell short by restricting production by paying farmers to reduce and/or destroy crops and kill livestock at a time millions were impoverished and hungry. The idea was to decrease supply and raise prices, at the worst possible time.

The Farm Credit Act of 1933 to help farmers refinance mortgages over an extended time at below-market rates, and by so doing, helped them stay solvent and survive.

The May 1933 Emergency Farm Mortgage Act, established during the time of the Dust Bowl, provided refinancing help for farmers facing foreclosure.

Despite its flaws and failures, FDR's New Deal accomplished much, if not enough. It helped people, put millions back to work, reinvigorated the national spirit, built or renovated 700,000 miles of roads, 7,800 bridges, 45,000 schools, 2,500 hospitals, 13,000 parks and playgrounds, 1,000 airfields, and various other infrastructure, including much of Chicago's lakefront. It also cut unemployment from 25% in May 1933 to 11% in 1937.

However, (because victory was declared too early), it spiked to 19% in 1938 before early war production revived economic growth and sent it lower, heading for full wartime employment.

Later came the Wagner Act that, for the first time, let labor bargain collectively on equal terms with management. Today it's entirely lost.

The 1935 Social Security Act was to this day the single most important federal program responsible for keeping seniors and others eligible out of poverty. Obama plans to destroy it, perhaps first by letting Wall Street privatize it, what Bush failed to do.

Unemployment insurance was instituted in partnership with the states. By 1935, nearly all the unemployed got social benefit payments.

The so-called "Soak the Rich" Revenue Acts of 1934 and 1935 made high income earners pay their fair share. In contrast, Obama favors the rich over working Americans and the poor.

The Revenue Act of 1936 established an "undistributed profits tax" on corporations. Today, profitable corporations pay minimal taxes. Many get large rebates. Yet Obama wants even lower taxes, perhaps eliminating them for business altogether, so only the little people pay them.

The Revenue Act of 1937 cracked down on tax evasion. Today, it's practically de rigueur along with sanctioned speculative excesses and grand theft.

A minimum wage, 40-hour week, and time-and-a-half for overtime was guaranteed under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Labor rights today are being eviscerated and lost, Obama as committed to do it as Bush.

Roosevelt also established other initiatives to reform a broken system, put people back to work, and revive the sick economy. Nonetheless, it didn't happen until WW II because much more was needed, including incentives for business to invest.

Under Obama, however, corporate crooks take the money and run, rewarding themselves with generous bonuses, stock options and benefits, investing some abroad, and stashing the rest in offshore tax havens.

Moreover, Obama wants all New Deal/Great Society programs ended, returning America to 19th century or earlier harshness. George Bernard Shaw might have had him in mind when he said:

"Democracy (especially American-style) is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for the appointment of the corrupt few."

Promising change, he broke every key pledge he made, conspiring with Wall Street, war profiteers, and other corporate crooks to loot the nation's wealth, wreck the economy, and consign growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures.

His legacy is already written, explaining how he betrayed the public trust, looted the nation's wealth, waged war on the world, presided over a bogus democracy under a homeland security police state apparatus, and initiated the destruction of America's social contract, governing to the right of George Bush.

In his latest article headlined, "Obama's Ambush on Entitlements," Michael Hudson explained, saying:

He's scamming old people to believe his budget deal will save them. "It is a con. Obama has come to bury Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not to save but kill them."

It was clear before he took office. His economic dream team appointees told all, including Trilateralist Paul Volker, Geitner at Treasury, Fed chairman Bernanke assured of reappointment in 2010, and Larry Summers responsible for financial market deregulation and massive fraud under Clinton, as well as others chosen for their fealty to wealth and power.

At the time, Hudson compared him to Boris Yeltsin - a giver who kept giving to "kleptocrats to whom the public domain and decades of wealth were given with no quid pro quo." In other words, a license to loot until they've got it all, hollowing out America in the process.

In his latest article headlined, "The Political Theater and the Debt Ceiling Crisis: Are We Being Had?" Paul Craig Roberts suggest a possible political theater/charade end game, saying:

If August 2 (the nominal deadline) brings no resolution, Obama may accept Boehner's plan he already favors but won't admit it publicly to hold his weakening base.

Why? To assure "the troops are not cut off from supplies, Social Security checks can continue to go out, and the dollar (is) saved. Having (rhetorically) opposed Republicans to the last minute," he can do what he does best - lie, saying "he had no other recourse."

In other word, who "wants the troops deserted on the field of battle and the elderly without groceries? Who other than the rich can stand the higher prices from dollar devaluation?"

It's the perfect scam "for getting rid of the New Deal and the Great Society, (using) money (wanted for) wars and bailouts and tax cuts for the rich."

Instead of using existing presidential directives and executive orders to declare a national emergency, suspend the debt ceiling limit, and keep issuing it to avoid default (perhaps Plan B), he can use his preferred option (Plan A), gutting America's social contract for the corporate bosses who own him.

Perhaps he'll do it by "cut(ting) Social Security, (and other social programs) loose from the federal budget, (so his) Wall Street (friends) can privatize them," ripping off recipients like they scam investors.

In fact, the entire scheme may have been cooked up in Wall Street board rooms years ago, awaiting the right time under the right president to spring it on millions unsuspecting beneficiaries and future ones, unaware of the subterfuge planned to defraud them.

Before he took office, Petras nailed Obama cold, calling him "the greatest con-man in recent history." Perhaps the greatest ever, given the stakes.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
See also:

This work is in the public domain

Political Washington Fiddles While Rome Burns - by Stephen Lendman

Markin comment :

Agree or disagree, and mostly disagree on the solutions questions (nothing short of a workers government is going to make a dent, even a small dent in the systemic social problems we face today), I am always glad to put the prolific SteveLendmanBlog on this site. It gives me a feel for the pulse of the old-time (and vanishing) non-party (non-Democratic Party) progressives out there.
Political Washington Fiddles While Rome Burns
by Stephen Lendman

Political Washington Fiddles While Rome Burns - by Stephen Lendman

With an approaching August 2 deadline, Paul Craig Roberts assessed the state of things accurately like he always does, saying in his new article headlined, "Disastrous Outcomes From An Orchestrated Crisis:"

"Americans need desperately to ask themselves why they put into political office such utterly irresponsible and incompetent people capable of creating such a totally unnecessary crisis loaded with such disastrous potential outcomes."

Michael Hudson's new article also covered important ground headlined, "The Debt Ceiling Set For Progressive Repealing," saying:

Obama's "blatantly empty threat (claims) there won't be money to pay Social Security checks next month (if Congress doesn't) 'tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform.' "

As always, Obama did what he does best. He lied. His threat "is not remotely true. But it has become the scare theme for over a week," and will be repeated until political Washington agrees on a deal destroying America's social contract, claiming it was done to save it.

In the end, of course, the debt ceiling will be raised as done routinely numerous previous times, including 10 times in the past decade and 74 times since 1962. Moreover, raised or not, no default will occur. Threatening otherwise is a lie. Failure to act, however, will lose America's AAA rating.

But that's virtually guaranteed anyway, given decades of reckless spending, largely on out-of-control militarism and handouts to Wall Street and other corporate favorites.

In contrast, America's entitlements are fiscally sound, needing only occasional tweaking to keep them steady-as-you-go for decades, maybe in perpetuity. But you'd never know it from bipartisan lying, regurgitated by managed new media deception.

America's Looming Debt Disaster

Worry also about financial expert/investor safety advocate Martin Weiss' assessment. Earlier he downgraded US debt to C-, the equivalent of S&P's BBB- or one notch above junk, heading for it eventually.

In doing so he said:

Regardless of the debt ceiling/budget debate charade outcome, "few will escape the far-reaching consequences of America's unfolding debt disaster."

Even if resolution is reached, "it could be just a dress rehearsal for the true tragedy of a nation unable to end its own financial decline any more effectively than a Greece, Ireland, or Portugal."

Why? "Among the 49 sovereign nations Weiss Ratings covers, the US has one of the heaviest debt burdens, the weakest international reserves, and the least stable economy."

More than any other nation, it depends on others for deficit financing, making up shortfalls by out-of-control money creation. The Fed, in fact, accumulated trillions on its balance sheet, making up for what foreign countries won't buy, plus trillions more in toxic debt, offloaded to them by Wall Street. Moreover, consumers are extremely debt dependent through mortgages, credit cards, and other ways they borrow.

Most dangerous, however, "America's largest banks have the greatest exposure to high risk derivatives - nearly 40% more today than during the debt crisis of 2008." They're a ticking time bomb able to explode anytime when least expected.

Today, in fact, "there are so many canaries in the coal mine, the din is deafening." Others include the nation's greatest ever housing depression with no end in sight, rising unemployment (much of it hidden and unreported), "skyrocketing" poverty (two or threefold the official rate), and many other deepening problems that won't quit. Moreover, the contagion is global.

Trends analyst Gerald Celente monitors it, offering Trend Alerts. On July 13, he headlined, "PIIGS, PRESSTITUTES AND THE GLOBAL MELTDOWN," saying:

Serious economic trouble keeps getting worse, highlighted by few jobs, and most around are low pay, low or no benefit ones, often temporary that workers can't count on for steady, reliable income.

As a result, "the more people out of work (or with too little income), the less they consume. And in (America) where consumer spending accounts for (around) 70% of GDP," less of it assures economic decline. Moreover, Europe is reeling under similar problems, and China faces a "ready-to-pop property bubble."

"And as goes the US, Europe and China, so goes the rest of the world....(N)o nation will escape the economic fallout and few will escape the political consequences."

No matter, major media scoundrels regurgitate lies, "cover(ing) for the politicians and financiers, the Presstitutes of the world - with their stable of 'well-respected' pundits - are accomplices in promoting" the Big Lie about recovery because they're well paid and secure to do it.

In fact, they're mindless of what ordinary people face - the greatest economic disaster in our lifetimes, worse than the Great Depression when a president actually focused on putting Americans back to work and reforming a corrupted system. Not perfectly but he tried.

Today, in contrast, despite a looming economic disaster, the combination of corrupt congressional leaders, a go-along majority in both Houses, and a cowardly, feckless president (the nation's worst by far) fiddles while Rome burns. Instead of governing responsibly, they're arranging an end game to rob people of their futures, while further wrecking a troubled economy heading south.

Representing Wall Street, not Main Street, they're arranging "to bury Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not save them," says Hudson, and he's right. It was planned long before Obama took office, but he jumped on it after his November 4, 2008 election. In fact, he set in motion what he didn't reveal, pretending he'd serve everyone equitably as America's first Black president. He lied, of course, and one led to another until every major pledge was broken.

That most of all highlights his tenure - a leader who promised one thing but did another, serving wealth, power and privilege, not millions counting on him for real "change to believe in." They're still waiting as the US ship of state sinks, its aristocracy safely offshore, plotting new ways to steal more.

A previous article explained that economist Arthur Okum began calculating America's Misery Index by adding the unemployment and inflation rates for a sense of public pain or lack of it in good times.

In May, it hit a record high, exceeding 25, surpassing the earlier June 1980 21.98 top, based on how both measures were calculated then, not today's methodology, distorted to hide painful truths.

However, it's currently approaching 30 based on 1980's formula, according to economist John Williams' calculations, putting unemployment at 22.7% and inflation at about 7%.

In fact, International Forecaster editor Bob Chapman estimates unemployment at about the same level with inflation at about 10%, heading for 14% by year end and still higher next year, explaining serious economic weakness getting worse.

A Final Comment

In August 1971, America's financial system unraveled when Nixon closed the gold window, ending the last link between gold, the dollar, and sound money. Thereafter, currencies floated, competing with each other in a casino-like environment, manipulated by Wall Street, powerful insiders, hedge funds, and governments.

Today, a new unraveling threatens because irresponsible politicians seek political advantage over what's best for the country and most people in it. As a result, the financial storm that struck in fall 2007 may turn out to be prelude to a catastrophic greater one coming.

International Forecaster editor Bob Chapman and others predict it, but it's anyone's guess precisely when. It may arrive by surprise when few people expect it. When it hits, however, it'll be with tsunami force, sweeping away everything in its path, except kleptocrats out of harm's way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
See also:

This work is in the public domain

America's Media: Dancing Around the Budget Debate Charade - by Stephen Lendman

Markin comment :

Agree or disagree, and mostly disagree on the solutions questions (nothing short of a workers government is going to make a dent, even a small dent in the systemic social problems we face today), I am always glad to put the prolific SteveLendmanBlog on this site. It gives me a feel for the pulse of the old-time (and vanishing) non-party (non-Democratic Party) progressives out there.
America's Media: Dancing Around the Budget Debate Charade
by Stephen Lendman

America's Media: Dancing Around the Budget Debate Charade - by Stephen Lendman

Previous articles explained an Obama-led bipartisan conspiracy to destroy America's social contract, returning the nation to 19th harshness harshness. But you'd never know it from major media reports, op-eds and editorials, ducking the issue even when critical.

The debate charade's gone on for weeks, both sides concealing their basic agreement on major cuts for political advantage.

Republican strategy is attacking big government, excluding its biggest part related to defense spending, imperial wars, and one-sided support for corporate interests and America's super-rich.

Waging no holds barred class war, they echo Ronald Reagan's 1976 Chicago's South Side presidential campaign speech theme when he attacked "welfare queens" without calling them Black. Today, all working Americans are "Black" in terms of struggling more than ever to make ends meet, and needing political Washington's help, not greater planned trickle-up poverty.

Obama and congressional Democrats agree with Republicans but won't admit it. According to Washington Post writer Zachary Goldfarb, Obama's also gambling on winning the political center saying:

His "political advisers have long believed that securing an agreement (even by slashing entitlements) would provide an enormous boost to his 2012 campaign, according to people familiar with White House thinking. In particular, they want to preserve and improve the president's standing among political independents, who abandoned Democrats in the 2010 midterm election and who say reining in the nation's debt is a high priority."

Perhaps Obama needs new advisers, given clear evidence that Americans overwhelmingly oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare with good reason. Their payroll taxes pay insurance premiums to receive them.

Taking the money and running may jeopardize any politician's reelection, especially for high office. That said, Obama's strategists may, in fact, count on winning by default, given no viable Republican candidate opposing him. At least, not so far.

There's no ambiguity where Murdoch's Wall Street Journal stands, including in a July 30 editorial headlined, "The Debt-Limit Hobbits: The GOP fantasy caucus is empowering Nancy Pelosi," saying:

"The shame is that the debt-limit absolutists have weakened (Boehner's) hand in negotiating a final bill with Senate Democrats. At the most practical level, (his) plan is better than (Reid's)."

In other words, under orders from Murdoch in charge of editorial policy, scorched earth slash and burn social contract cuts should leave none of them in place even if it takes multiple steps over many months to complete it. Failure will make Republicans "not (look) like adults to whom voters can entrust the government."

The editorial omitted saying what "voters" they mean. For sure, not working Americans.

Like the Journal, The New York Times also supports cuts, at the same time playing off good guy Obama v. irresponsible Republicans, instead of exposing political Washington's dark side.

On July 29, after Boehner's bill passed in the House, it's editorial headlined, "It's Up to the Senate," saying:

Only the Senate can avoid default by "piec(ing) together a compromise that can pass with bipartisan majorities in both chambers. (Doing so) would eliminate the imminent threat of financial chaos."

In fact, the debt ceiling will be raised. Default won't happen and Times writers know it. They also know both sides agree on destroying America's social contract, but won't denounce it responsibly. Doing so would expose its one-sided support for wealth, power and privilege, while pretending to care about working Americans it never did and doesn't now. Only its rhetoric differs from positions Murdoch's Journal endorses.

On July 26, columnist Thomas Friedman, a shameless free market fundamentalist, headlined "Can't We Do This Right?" endorsing slash and burn cuts as long as by strategic planning, saying:

"Only after" constructing one can we say, "OK, given our current fiscal predicament, where should we cut spending and where must we raise new tax revenues so that we can bring our government back to solvency and, at the same time, reinvigorate our formula for growth and success."

He then quoted Johns Hopkins University Professor Michael Mandelbaum ("a foreign policy expert," he said) stating:

"Such a plan requires cutting, taxing and spending. It requires cutting because we have made promises to ourselves on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that we cannot keep without reforming each of them."

Mandelbaum may know foreign policy. Neither he or Friedman understand economics or they'd know and admit Social Security and Medicare are fiscally sound, needing only minor adjustments to keep them that way, not major cuts.

Moreover, Medicaid provides essential healthcare to society's poor who'd get none or too little without it. Only a heartless corporatist would support policies denying them. Perhaps Friedman and Mendlbaum do without saying so.

In a July 24 column, Friedman also endorsed the "radical center," even though "it sounds gimmicky," he said. He explained the idea earlier in 2007, suggesting that if Obama won the Democrat nomination, he "might want to consider keeping Dick Cheney on as his vice president."

Why? Because he'd be much more effective with a Cheney "standing over his right shoulder, quietly pounding a baseball bat into his palm." For Friedman, in other words, mixing Obama's right wing politics with Cheney's is centrist. Maybe for zealots like himself, not for mainstream Americans, wanting better options they're denied.

On July 29, Times writer Jackie Calmes headlined, "That Aug. 2 Dealine? It May Be Impossible, Veteran Lawmakers Say."

Citing former Senator Tom Daschle as well as former Republican Reps. Tom Davis and Vin Weber's views in Calmes' words saying, "This time, be afraid. Be very afraid," instead of exposing the fraudulent debate, explaining the stakes responsibly, and endorsing what's best for all Americans. In addition, saying no deal is better than a bad one, causing irreparable harm to millions.

Instead Calmes also quoted a Chamber of Commerce headline, saying:

"Failure to Raise Debt Ceiling Could Turn the Economy Back Into a Recession." For Main Street, in fact, it's been in Depression since 2008, what neither the Chamber or Times writers will admit forthrightly. Instead, they shamelessly front for wealth and power, claiming it's for the good of the country.

In virtually all US managed news reports and opinions, supporting powerful interests at the expense of working Americans is standard policy, saying like a July 29 Washington Post editorial headlined, "Debt-ceilng sanity is now in the Senate's hands:

"(W)e continue to hope enough clear-thinking lawmakers will conclude that the time for compromise is now."

Unexplained was that any deal leaves working Americans in the cold, on their own and out of luck, especially after subsequent cuts eliminate what round one omits.

That's the ugly future no major media report will explain. That's why popular anger has to stop it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
See also:

This work is in the public domain

Heading Toward Economic Ruin - by Stephen Lendman

Markin comment :

Agree or disagree, and mostly disagree on the solutions questions (nothing short of a workers government is going to make a dent, even a small dent in the systemic social problems we face today), I am always glad to put the prolific SteveLendmanBlog on this site. It gives me a feel for the pulse of the old-time (and vanishing) non-party (non-Democratic Party) progressives out there.
Heading Toward Economic Ruin
by Stephen Lendman

Heading Toward Economic Ruin - by Stephen Lendman

Bad policies assure bad results. Destructive ones assure calamities. Well before Obama took office, bipartisan initiatives plotted a course for disaster.

Bush accelerated it. Obama much more, so today America hangs on the precipice of what a previous article called the banana republicanization of America - a kleptocracy run by corrupt politicians and corporate crooks, scamming the public with austerity, debt peonage, and banker occupation, heading them toward mass impoverishment, misery and neo-serfdom.

Washington's current debt ceiling/budget debate centers around slashing entitlements and other social benefits to avoid a manufactured looming crisis. Off the table, however, are:

-- cutting military expenditures minimally in half, ideally much more, including closing overseas bases, reducing force levels, ending foreign occupations, and renouncing imperial wars;

-- taxing speculators and the rich;

-- making corporations pay their fair share;

-- strengthening America's social contract, not destroying it;

-- stopping the offshoring of high-paying manufacturing and professional jobs plus many others;

-- real regulatory reform with teeth;

-- abolishing monopoly and oligopoly power;

-- returning money creation power to Congress as the Constitution demands; and

-- investing the nation's capital in productive growth, not handouts to Wall Street and other corporate favorites, as well as permanent imperial wars, turning America into a corrupted, fascist, lawless sinkhole not fit to live in, except for the elite few pulling the strings.

At the same time, political theater, malfeasance and machinations come at the time the economy is heading south. The latest Commerce Department data showed it stalled so far in 2011. In fact, conditions are much worse based on economist John Williams' calculations.

His Shadowstats Government Statistics (SGS) analysis "reflects the inflation-adjusted, or real, year-to-year GDP change, adjusted for distortions in government inflation usage and methodological changes that have resulted in a built-in upside bias (aka cooking the books) to official reporting."

As a result, his annual growth calculation bottomed out in early 2009 at minus 6% GDP, elevated to over minus 1% in early 2011, and now has it at over minus 2% heading south. In other words, the true state of economic America is bad, getting worse.

In response to it, Obama-headed political Washington plans forced austerity at a time massive stimulus is needed - for productive economic growth and job creation to get America healthy again.

Once accomplished, tackling out-of-control debt should be done responsibly, not on the backs of working households, giving corporate crooks and super-rich parasites a pass, people who made their money the old-fashioned way. They stole it.

On July 29, trends analyst Gerald Celente told Russia Today viewers to believe nothing politicians say. "Deal or no deal," America's debt problem is real, getting worse. Washington's "economic policy is a total failure."

Bush's policies didn't work. "Obama's stimulus didn't work. The (Fed's) backdoor loans and QE I and II didn't work. The Republican program is not going to work. The country is going bankrupt."

"The (policies and) numbers don't lie. The politicians lie. (Moreover), they're devaluating the dollar," reflected in rising gold prices, real value, not fiat paper losing it because privatized money power debases it.

The problem is "we don't have a representative form of government. That's only for little kiddies to believe. We have a government that only represents the very powerful and very rich, and that's all this is about - letting them keep their perks."

And look at what passes for government in Washington. "It's like looking at the three stooges and waiting for an intelligent answer to come from Larry, Moe or Curly, or Boehner, Reid or Polosi....Politics is nothing more than show business for ugly people."

"They're incapable. They're inept, and the same people who caused the problem. We're now looking for them to solve it. That's a definition of insanity (or better still stupidity)."

"They'll pay the debt. I don't see a default coming, but the collapse is coming regardless. Let's look at the real numbers." They're bad and getting worse. The solution is "let the people vote on these issues," not corrupt politicians only "representing the rich and powerful."

Congress operates like Mafia "mob rule, the Bonannos and Gambinos. Just put a different name on it. The Republicans and Democrats....At least if we the people vote, we'll get the future we deserve, not the one being foisted on us."

In his straight-talk analysis, Celente pulls no punches. Neither does Progressive Radio News Hour regular, economist Jack Rasmus. His latest economic analysis explains a "double dip recession on the horizon."

In fact, Obama's "recovery" was due "to what economists call inventory adjustment and export-driven manufacturing. But both are now slowing sharply." With the global economy decelerating, export sales "hit a wall."

Moreover, consumption is also slowing, except for "the wealthiest 10 percent." At the same time, "(r)eal weekly earnings continue to fall, meaning less real consumption spending as prices for gasoline, food, health care, education and local taxes continue to soar."

In addition, inventory accumulation ran its course. Housing is in depression. Job prospects are bad and heading south. John Williams calculates real unemployment at 22.7%. Expect it to rise as conditions weaken.

In 2011 Q I, 400,000 discouraged workers left the labor force. From December 2010 - May 2011, only 14,000 full time jobs were created. Most private sector ones are low pay, low or no benefit part time or temp ones.

Now, recent National Association of Independent Business surveys show small firms (responsible for creating half of all jobs) plan cutting back. So are larger companies. At the same time, state and local governments are slashing payrolls at a rate of about 25,000 a month.

Later in 2011 and next year, Washington plans the same. Meanwhile, corporate America is sitting on over $2 trillion in cash and liquid assets, "refus(ing) to invest in the US to create jobs" because profit potential is poor.

Overall, public and private sector cost-cutting is de rigueur across the board, making a bad situation worse. As a result, "there is little if anything on the economic horizon to suggest....renewed economic growth and recovery." Conditions are bad, getting worse, and planned budget cuts will be disastrous for working Americans.

On the July 30 edition of the Progressive Radio News Hour, Rasmus discussed "Teapublicans" v. "Timidcrats" theater. He also said pay more attention to August 6 than August 2 when the new July employment numbers are released.

Comparing the US economy to a "punched-out fighter in the 8th round," job creation from July through September may prove a knock out blow. "That's called a double dip recession."

And with planned budget cuts hammering most Americans, it's called Depression. Working households have experienced it since 2008 because political Washington abandoned them when they needed help, and now plans to hit them harder.

No wonder Gallup's latest July 26 - 28 daily tracking poll showed Obama's approval rating hit a new low at 40%. Earlier in July, Congress scored an abysmal 18%.

Expect political Washington's approval to head further south once Americans learn how an Obama-led bipartisan conspiracy scammed them by stealing their welfare and futures. Hopefully they'll get mad enough to react. It's their only chance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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This work is in the public domain

Friday, February 25, 2011

All out In Solidarity With Wisconsin's (and other states' soon to be under fire) Public Workers Unions'- Mass State House Rally- Saturday February 26, 2011

Wisconsin Solidarity
Sunday, February 20, 2011
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50-State Mobilization to Save the American Dream
Saturday February 26, 2011
12-1 PM
In front of the Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108

Calling all students, teachers, union members, workers, patriots, public servants, unemployed folks, progressives, and people of conscience:

In Wisconsin and around our country, the American Dream is under fierce attack. Instead of creating jobs, Republicans are giving tax breaks to corporations and the very rich, and then cutting funding for education, police, emergency response and vital human services. The right to organize is on the chopping block. The American Dream is slipping out of reach for more and more Americans, and we have to fight back.

We call for emergency rallies in front of every statehouse this Saturday at noon to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. Demand an end to the attacks on workers' rights and public services across the country. Demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.

We are all Wisconsin.
We are all Americans.

Endorsing organizations include: Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, AFL-CIO, SEIU, PCCC, Color of Change, CREDO Action, Democracy for America, Campaign for Community Change, National People's Action, TrueMajority, US Action, Progressive Majority, Courage Campaign, and Van Jones

Monday, April 26, 2010

*At the Dawn Of American Imperialism- The Life and Times Of Teddy Roosevelt- A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for American President Theodore Roosevelt.

DVD Review

Teddy Roosevelt: An American Lion, The History Channel Productions, 2003

A number of American bourgeois political figures, usually presidential, come to epitomize the era that they live in. For example one thinks of Washington as founder of the American bourgeois republic, Jackson as the advocate of the rough-Hew democratic element that built the country and drove it westward, and Lincoln as its war time preserver and extender. The subject of this review, early 20th century President Theodore Roosevelt, readily brings to mind that period when the American republic went from being something of a backwater democratic experiment, an important one to be sure, but still outside of the main currents of world affairs to the first nibbling of its current imperial status. Needless to say that symbols of eras do not have the final say in what their era was about but certainly the life of old Teddy came as close as it could to that end.

If most people were asked one thing about Teddy Roosevelt that one thing would probably be his experiences as leader of the eclectic army unit, “The Roughriders” , that fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, a war that closed out the 19th century and ushered in the new age of inter-imperial rivalries. That however, as this three plus hours production, at times painfully demonstrates, is only a small part of the personal story of the man. As usual in this type of documentary production a good number of “talking head” commentators, including Teddy scholars, historians of the “robber baron” era, surviving relatives, and other specialists give their take on the meaning of the man, his influence on history and his role in the creation of the American imperial state.

And what was that role? Part One of this two part production centers on Teddy early sickly childhood, his struggle for health, and his intellectual and physical pursuits. It then moves on to his college career at Harvard, his marriages and family life and all the other sidelights that give substance to these visual biographies. The key though, given his patrician class background, is his magnet-like attachment to the political rough and tumble, first in local New York Republican state politics and then later as campaigner and official in various national Republican administrations in the late 19th century. This segment finishes up with Roosevelt’s above-mentioned war adventure in Cuba that he did so much to encourage, his time as New York Governor, as accidental American Vice President and equally accidental President after McKinley’s assassination.

Part two centers on his presidency which included his fight against the trusts, his fight to save the Western lands for the future, his role in international diplomacy, his creation of a strong navy that he had started earlier in his career as a Navy Department official, and his acknowledged indifference, although not hostility, to the fate of black people in this country at a time when “Jim Crow” was gripping the South (and got reflected by de facto segregation in the North as well). The remainder of the documentary details his post-presidential years including his run as the “Bull Moose” candidate in 1912, his support to Wilson’s war efforts and his last years away from the center of attention. All in all well done, with many good photographs and film clips from the period plus a spirited Teddy narration by actor Richard Dreyfuss. For the Teddy aficionado probably not enough but for the novice a very good primer of what it was like to stand at the head of the American Republic at the dawn of the imperium.

Friday, April 27, 2007




At one time I used to believe that the Progressive Era in America, roughly from 1900- 1920, was the real source of post World War II ideas of social progress such as Truman’s Fair Deal, Kennedy’s New Frontier and Johnson’s Great Society. Previously I had placed those ideas on the doorstep of Franklin Roosevelt. Ah, but those were the silly days of my youth when I believed that the Democratic Party could be pushed to the left and made the equivalent of a European social-democratic organization responsible to its working class base.

I now believe that the progressive period is decisive but for a different reason, that is, its role in sucking up the leftist political landscape and preventing a hard core working class-centered socialist party from crystallizing in this country. For those, like myself, who look hard for antecedents, this is important to an understanding of why today, in face of incredible provocations by the two major political parties, we have no independent class party of the working people. Thus, a look at the period becomes essential for understanding the malaise that we find ourselves today. A good place to start, and I would emphasize the word start since the book originally took form in the 1950's, is Professor Hofstadter’s book on the period. While one does not have to be sympathetic to his generally pro-Progressive tilt this little book, complete with important footnoted source references, gives a very good outline of the personalities, issues and sociological trends that broke the back of fight for an independent mass socialist party in the period.

Ironically in Europe, in the period under discussion, large, well-organized class-conscious labor parties some of them, like the Bolsheviks in Russia even revolutionary were rearing there heads. Although a relatively small, loosely organized, and programmatically amorphous Socialist Party did emerge in the United States at this time it was definitely (and occasionally, by choice) subordinated to the Progressive movement. Unless one is eternally committed to the political strategy of the ‘popular front’, that is multi-class organizations based on the lowest common denominator policies in order to achieve social change this was a very badly missed opportunity by socialists.

Hofstadter makes the interesting, and basically true, point that the whirlwind Populist movement that sprang out of the farms of the American prairie in the early 1890’s and embraced Free Silver and Bryan in 1896 was fundamentally hostile to the urban classes and particularly to the working class. I have argued elsewhere that the working class had no interest in the inflationary silver coinage issue. Moreover the populist movement, except in the South where it had the potential of driving a wedge against the rampant race segregation there, was the last gasp effort of the small capitalist family farmer in the face of the victory of mass industrialization and the rise of finance capital. I would however, argue that as late as 1896 it was still possible that the bedeviled populist movement could have been an auxiliary to an urban-based workers party. With the rise of the middle class Progressive movement such a possibility was derailed.

The rise of the Progressive movement is the strongest part of this book. Hofstadter having staked out his own personal political philosophy under the aegis of that movement has many interesting things to say about it. The fundamental driving force behind this movement was the fact of ruthless industrialization and the reaction to it by those who either had previously benefited from society, the classic “Mugwumps”, or were being driven under by ‘ the captains of industry’. Particularly well done are the analyses of the rise of the professoriat, the increase in the number of cities and their size and with it the creation of new political organizations, the change in the status of the clergy and the free professions, immigration (that round of it, anyway) and the changing mores which broke down the prevailing ideology.

While one may, as this writer does, disagree with the depth of the positive effects that the various pieces of legislation that the Progressives were able to get passed one can nevertheless see that a different class axis would have been necessary in order to make fundamental changes. Thus, although Hofstatder will not be you last place to look in understanding the evolution, such as it is, of American society for this crucial period in working class history it certainly should be your first stop.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006




William Jennings Bryan is a rather interesting and paradoxical figure in American political history. While America has produced its share of political chameleons Bryan is a different breed- a true believer. Although famous, or infamous, for the fight for cheap silver and later the fight against the teaching of evolution in the public schools, which militants then as now oppose, he stood for more than that. In Bryan one can observe an apparently sincere political fighter who supported many progressive issues vital to the rural and urban working classes of the day, including legalizing the right to strike, reigning in the trusts and the fight against the bankers. A proud forthright fighter, a vanishing type of politician, then as now.

Although Bryan was the Democratic Party candidate for President in 1896, the only one of his three presidential campaigns for militants today to seriously investigate, I do not believe that party would be his home today, nor would the progressive part of his politics resonant with the substance of Democratic policy today. It is ironic that over a century later Bryan’s politics would be far to the left of what passes for the Democratic center today. Nevertheless, on the dark side, his alliance with the Old South Democratic Party and its Jim Crow policies concerning blacks in the South and dependence of the urban political machines in the North precluded any support for the Bryan ticket by militants at that time.
Moreover, there are limits that even a sincerely religious man can bring to political discourse. His Christian fundamentalism never let him really fight to the end for the program of agrarian relief and industrial reform that he articulated so well.

Mr. Kazin’s mainly admiring biography does much to reintroduce the events surrounding the rising and declining fortunes of Mr. Bryan who today, if remembered at all, is mainly known for being on the wrong side of evolution question in the Scopes trial. However, that later issue does not define what Bryan represented in American history. Rather, one must look at the populist, agrarian forces in revolt and the program Bryan tried to implement in his bid for power.

Bryan political career represented the last dying gasp of the agrarian revolt that flared up in the America Midwest and West in the last third of the 19th century. That such a revolt, left to its own devices, was doomed in the face of the rise of industrial production; the increased mechanization of agriculture and with it the decline of the family farm, and the dominance of finance capital do not make that revolt any less poignant. The question faced by Bryan and any other potential leader was the manner in which the revolt would be harnessed to win power and what allies would be sought to fight against the ravages of capitalist expansion.

Mr. Bryan took an essentially parliamentary, traditional road by trying to use the Democratic Party as a vehicle for social change. Many later politicians have also broken their teeth trying that same strategy of using the Democratic Party for progressive social change. In 1896, and perhaps earlier, such a road was futile. In short, Mr. Bryan could have led an independent third party revolt, based on the already existing People’s Party (which in his early career Bryan had been closely linked to) allied with the industrial working classes of the Northeast and Midwest. Interestingly, many of the radical leaders of the early 20th socialist and communist movements who would form third parties, were influenced, directly or indirectly by the 1896 campaign.

This third party strategy was left to other forces that later formed the Socialist party in 1901. Mr. Bryan’s political trajectory, however, was not to join that fight for working class independent political expression. Over time he moved dramatically to the right culminating in support for the suppression of radicals in World War I. We have that seen that political phenomena before, as well. That said, this is an important book that details one type of parliamentary strategy still followed today by many progressives about the way to bring social change. That today the strategy has produced meager returns and is bankrupt does not lessen its interest. In Bryan's time it at least made some rational political sense. Forward.