Bob Woodward is a dick. I get it. I agree. He's a dick. Frankly, he's always been a dick. The fact is, he was just a functionary in exposing Watergate. He's no Dan Ellsberg. But then again, neither are the vast majority of people. The vast majority of people would not have taken the risk of turning over the Pentagon Papers. In fact, the vast majority of people today -- including most Democrats -- would consider it treason to expose ... treason. Because the vast majority of people are functionaries. It's not just Bob Woodward.
Bob Woodward is not, himself, the point. Suffice it to say, however, that claiming that the administration had nothing to do with 1) creating the sequester, 2) keeping it alive by talking and doing more about deficits than real recovery for the 90% -- recovery that did not mean trading down in wages, benefits or hours -- and 3) the fact that the sequester is happening today, is as much of a lie as it is that the administration actually threatened Bob Woodward. That's all I have to say about that.
Beyond the squiggly: What's more important than Bob Woodward?
What's more important than Bob Woodward in these times is that the world is beholden to functionaries in the middle. These are people who do what they are told. They are following procedure. They are fulfilling the literal duties of citizenship. They are official citizens. They vote. Some of them work on campaigns. Some of them contribute financially to campaigns. Some of them analyze, report and/or follow the horserace. Afterwards, some of them make phone calls, some of them write letters. Some of the letters are stern. The stern letters follow decorum. The functionaries accept the results of the elections, the phone calls, the letters, and prepare for the next election. If they strongly feel that the results on governance and people's lives are "unacceptable", they resolve to work "harder" the next election, even though they worked as hard as they possibly could the last election. Because that's what's in the procedure. And that's the advice they give to anyone else concerned with the impact of electoral politics and representative government on people's lives and the planet. There are no "serious" alternatives.
One of the things some people are unhappy about as it relates to how electoral politics and representative government are (not) working is, broadly, the fact the country is devoted to concentrating income and wealth. Now, I'm not going to link a bunch of charts showing how this fact has emerged over the past thirty years. I'm not going to dig down into how wages of 80% of the population have declined or stagnated or the fact that basically 1% of the population has taken and gotten credit for pretty much all of the country's success. (Read my sig.) I'm not going to list charts that show that everyone does better when the top tax rates are higher, income and wealth are more broadly distributed and there's robust demand. If you spend any time around here and you don't know these things in excruciating detail, you must be a fucking brain-dead moron and more charts won't help.
Cutting through the euphemisms (sequestration = austerity = balanced approach = shared responsibility = shifted responsibility = socialized risk, privatized reward for the wealthy = protecting the job creators = supply-side economics = concentrating the income and wealth = making the rich richer) clarifies what this is all about. "Making the rich richer" has become as certain as death and taxes. Unlike death and taxes, though, "making the rich richer" is socially acceptable. We're actually working to eliminate death and taxes. But, as austerity in a time of recession (which it still is, for most of the nation) demonstrates, stopping, much less reversing, record level concentrations of income and wealth isn't an objective, not for "serious" functionaries in the broad middle.
Look at Climate Change and what elections and representative government has gotten us over the past twenty years and you'll find similar patterns. Endless euphemisms; a problem become a crises; catastrophic limits racing toward us faster than incremental progress can or even seems to want to address; drone-like acceptance; adherence to the one, true procedure; and shut up, already, work harder and "get over it".
Yes. Bring up these issues -- income inequality, Climate Change, war crimes, drones, transparency, whistleblower rights, etc. -- to the "serious" people in our Party, and, after being told to work harder, you're likely to get back the equivalent of Scalia's obtuse response to stealing the election for George W. Bush: "get over it". "Get over it" encompasses everything from an embrace or acceptance of or resignation to the status quo. All the shades of "duh". You don't like it? Work harder next election cycle. Get over it.
What it means in practice is that these are topics that "serious" people will either fight you over, ignore, or limit their assistance to safe, formal processes that have limited chance of succeeding. Since nothing they "attack" (ha!) is pursued in any other manner, and such manner has very low odds of translating into substantive change for anyone currently suffering, they have a built in excuse for not even trying to address most problems. Most things are essentially "tilting at windmills", so you may as well stick to the procedure, see what happens, shut up get over it..
Even more, they expect you to help them with the procedure but would never consider pitching in on other approaches. PROTEST?? What, stand and chant for hours in a crowd and risk having my boss, customer or neighbor find out? DIRECT ACTION?? What, are we going to boycott everything? OCCUPY?? Are you effing kidding; I'm no DFH!
Just try and explain that relying completely upon the official procedure for electoral politics and representative government-- which is pretty much designed to keep "We the People" from having much influence on anything substantive relative to the Class War -- and most things relate to the Class War -- in less than several generations -- is tilting at windmills...
This quote is from a diary called "Shame".
A society that has allowed the predations of the powerful to become purely private matters mediated via “markets”, courts, academies, and bureaucracies, that has delegated “activism” to a mostly protected professional class, is nothing more than a herd hoping that today it is somebody else who will be slaughtered.We used to describe conservatism as a "devil take the hindmost" ideology. But when we have no or insufficient shame about what Democrats have allowed to happen, accepted and even supported over the past thirty years, that's essentially what Democrats have adopted. And for many, this state exists because they are too compromised by their personal ambition and involvement in the mainstream economy to want, much less promote substantive reform. Nothing, apparently, would cause them to re-consider this set of priorities.
[Liberals, by voting for Barack Obama, betrayed the core values they use to define themselves] the rule of law, the safeguarding of civil liberties, the protection of unions, the preservation of social welfare programs, environmental accords, financial regulation, a defiance of unjust war and torture, and the abolition of drone wars.We have to also face the fact that these things do not matter to many who are now Dkos users. Very sad.
Insert mine -> ["Would you rather have President Romney? If you don't like it, work harder in 2014..."]
To which I responded (abridged, paraphrased):
Exactly. Twenty years of the Third Way and now they've basically embraced the attitudes and policies of supply-side economics that enforce excessive concentration of wealth and income. These are just some of the things that are okay among many Democrats, as represented by the administration and many kossacks; they not only barely protest these conditions, they frequently support the attitudes and policies that cause them:Here are just a few of the remarks I've read here on DKos in the past day or two alone (yes, I'm paraphrasing):
1) A 40X multiplier that has grown to 400X for executive pay over employee pay. Not because of supply-side attitudes and policy, but because they "earn" it.
2) The current tax code that has, relative to its former effect, dramatically reduced "progressive" taxation. Because the 1% earns it. So when we champion substantively higher taxes for the rich, the frame is that we are re-distributing income they have earned -- rather than income that has been generated by the labor of others, which they now get to keep more of simply because the tax code and social acceptance -- including that of "Democratic" moderates -- says so.
3) The concentration of income and wealth, wherein the top 1% has doubled to tripled in share in the past 30 years alone. Not because of supply-side attitudes and policy, but because they "earn" it.
4) The banksters who created the economic crisis should not be demonized or prosecuted.
5) Appointing Wall Street friendly "watchdogs" as an acceptable response to a financial sector that continues to rob Americans every single day.
6) The American worker, who used to be the envy of the Western world in terms of pay and benefits as recently as the 70s, is now far behind and fading fast.
7) The relationship of the minimum wage which is now less than half what it would be if it had kept up with inflation, nearly one-third what it would be if it had kept up with productivity gains. You see, if the executives lay off workers and the remaining employees all work harder to get the job done, the executives should get the credit and the benefit. The lay-off was their idea, and they executed the lay-offs. Ditto for the shareholders. They were banking on management coming up with ways to increase productivity. They deserve the credit for being right.
8) The changes in the condition of wages and benefits for the American worker over the past thirty years are simply a practical result of globalization. It has nothing to do with the fact that executives are taking a larger percent of the revenue in compensation and are paying half as much in taxes. It has nothing to do with the complete lack of a trade policy that could support livable wages and environmental sanity by simply penalizing countries that exploit either. No, globalization. Nothing else. And nothing can be done about it. Even if it means one day 90% of the world population will be working for pennies a day... it will just be one of those uncontrollable, perfectly acceptable things. Like doubling the concentration of income and wealth.
9) Agreeing to place the deficit over the general welfare whenever Democrats are in power, while allowing the opposition to spend like drunken gamblers on wars, tax cuts and corporate welfare when it is at the reins.
10) The continuing privatization of public services.
11) I could go on and on...
By and large, our moderate Democrats seem convinced that we are at or near an economic model that is fair and healthy; indeed, if they would change one thing, it would be to cut spending for public services. How do I know this? Many of them actually admit as much in comments. And pretty much all of them admit as much in terms of what they are willing to do in order to rectify these conditions: follow the procedure.
The Third Way has utterly abdicated its role in protecting the general economic welfare, not only allowing it to worsen dramatically, whether they are out of or in power, but often supporting and sometimes even pursuing the policies that break it down.
Re: sequestration and the suggestion that we cut defense instead of social programs
"We're a superpower. Get over it. What do you expect us to do. Close bases? Cut aircraft carriers?"
(Um, yes. We can close lots of bases and drop half our carriers and still be a military superpower.)
Re: taxing the rich
"We can't solve everything by increasing taxes on the rich.
(Who said we intended to solve everything that way? Are you suggesting we can't solve anything that way?)
Re: taxing the rich
People earning over $125,000 already work 2 hours a day paying taxes. How many hours a day are you willing to work to pay taxes?"
(Um, I don't know. Why don't we ask people who work all day for the privilege of not being able to afford to live.)
Re: the problem of concentration of wealth
"We can't have a wealth tax".
(Okay, but we can have 50 million people living in poverty?)
Re: higher taxes on the rich
"That's just more re-distribution of wealth".
(Um, we're basically talking about people earning money off of other people's labor. We are already re-distributing wealth. How much is enough to compensate for the input of capital and talented, hard-working people at the top? Unlimited?)
Re: the sequester
"The sequester is not going to effect me directly or indirectly"
(The sequester affects us all, directly.)
(Guess you live on an island. With the Republicans.)
I'm 99% certain that there are kossacks who secretly agree with Mitt on the 47%.
Look, sequestration is not some foreign, unforeseeable monster created and unleashed by Republicans. It is the continuation of policy which they and the administration and most Democrats have pursued and/or accepted all along. It is austerity, a balanced approach, shared responsibility, shifted responsibility, protecting the job creators, supply-side economics, concentrating the wealth. And, whether they admit it or not, most Democrats, like all functionaries in the middle, are basically for it.
On the one side, you have people who believe there should be no austerity. On the other, you have people who think there should be nothing but austerity. And in the broad middle, you have people who think we need some austerity so long as it doesn't effect them and they can blame someone else for it.
It's a fucked up bell curve. Over on the far left are people who want to kill supply-side economics entirely or at least cage it in a Mixed Economy. On the far right people want to kill government and let supply-side economics run even more wild. And then in the middle are lots and lots of people who think the last thing we should do is go and try substantive change. Besides, it's not possible.