Biden’s Problems Go Back To 2009

This post is in honor of Seeing the Forest’s 20th Anniversary.

As the country dissolves into fascist turmoil, it’s useful to look back at How We Got Here. 2009 was The Year Democrats Could Have Done Something, but chose not to.

The W Bush Years

‘W’ Bush lost the 2000 election but was appointed president by the Republican Supreme Court. The Bush years were terrible for the country and ended in absolute disaster. He oversaw an administration of lies, corruption, enrichment of the rich, scams targeting the poor… The Bush administration ignored warnings so we were attacked on 9/11 Republicans used the attack to polarize the public into an illegal war for oil.

Remember this?

“People like you are still living in what we call the reality-based community. You believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you are studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors, and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

THAT was how the nation was “governed.” The Bush response to Hurricane Katrina and the financial collapse showed the public how that sort of “governance” works out for them.

And the voters knew it.

2008 Election – The Public DEMANDED Change
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July 16 Marks 20 Years Of Seeing the Forest

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

First post, July 16, 2002, Ralph Nader is a Scab:

In the union movement we learned the hard way that the only way to fight the moneyed interests is to stick together. It’s called SOLIDARITY. It’s what “union” MEANS.

When unions are in a fight the members stick together, and those crossing the lines are called “scabs”.

In the 2000 election it was the usual fragile Democratic coalition fighting the usual moneyed interests. Ralph Nader broke the solidarity, divided the coalition, and lost us the election. Ralph Nader is a scab.

No one was “taught a lesson” by people voting for a 3rd party to “teach the Democrats a lesson.” We got Bush and death and corruption and destruction. OBVIOUSLY “the Democrats” did not learn the lesson.

Vote for the right person in primaries! Get the bad Democrats out. Then show up and vote for the Democrat in the general. No matter what. Otherwise the fascists win.

The Far Left

Advocating for government to do things that make people’s lives better means you are on the “far left.”

Do what scientists say is necessary to fight the climate catastrophe. “Far left.”

Teach about and fight systemic racism. “Far left.”

Raise the minimum wage. “Far left.”

Provide healthcare for all. “Far left.”

Restore democracy. “Far left.”

Fight corporate and billionaire influence over democracy. “Far left.”

Dem “Establishment” Lucrative Losers

The Democratic party “establishment”… The elderly “centrist” leadership, the high-paid consultants, the fundraisers, the lobbying class…

For all their “practicality” about turning to the right to win elections, obviously the only winning election strategy is showing voters they’re on their side. But the “conventional wisdom” and advice to candidates is rarely to do that.

It’s all about the money. Raising enough money for candidates requires backing off from anything that smells like it might be “to the left,” which means helping actual working people. (Also known as “the voters.”)

The “practical” belief that only lots of money (showing donors whose side they are on) can win elections has cost Democrats so many local and national seats over the years. And it has cost the country & planet almost everything. But you have to admit it has been a lucrative practice for a lot of top Dems.

It is difficult to get top Dems to understand something, when their lucrative payoffs depend on their not understanding it.

Congratulations Corporations, The Next President Will Be Your Business Partner (Updated)

This post first appeared at Government Cheese – Chronicling the collapse of democracy

It hasn’t sunk in yet but yesterday’s vote to allow Republican election-rigging and keep the filibuster marks the end of democracy. From here on out the fight is over. Republican efforts to rig the next elections will now accelerate. They know they have a free hand to do what they want. The public will tune out, understanding that nothing can change.

Billionaires and corporations funded and engineered the effort to keep the filibuster. Their thinking is that they’re at the top of a system rigged in their favor, and the filibuster keeps anything from changing. The filibuster has maintained their position at the top of the pyramid, blocking all efforts by the people to use government to change the rigged system. All Republicans were part of this pay-for-play operation, of course, but so were many Senate Democrats under Obama, and now Manchin and Sinema.

The corporations and billionaires think the current system of paying politicians to keep the money flowing to them has been locked in.
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The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party (Updated to recognize Jesse Jackson and Jerry Brown)

Remember Howard Dean?

On March 15, 2003, Dean showed up at the California Democratic Party Convention and changed politics. He started his speech saying, “What I want to know, what I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President’s unilateral intervention in Iraq?”

He listed a few other things “so many Democrats” were doing, then said, “I’m Howard Dean, and I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

And that was that. He articulated something that had been bothering so many of us: what had happened to the Democratic Party that was supposed to support the working people of the US in the fight with the wealthy few?

We’re still fighting that fight.

“Thank you!

What I want to know, what I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President’s unilateral intervention in Iraq? [cheers].

What I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States? [cheers].

What I want to know, is why the Congress is fighting over the Patient’s Bill of Rights? If the Patient’s Bill of Rights passes, is a good bill, but not one more person gets health insurance and it’s not five cents cheaper.

What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren’t standing up for us joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in having health insurance for every man, woman and child in America? [cheers, chants “Dean”].

What I want to know, what I want to know, is why so many folks in Congress are voting for the President’s education bill — “The No School Board Left Standing Bill” — the largest unfunded mandate in the history of our educational system? [cheers].

As Paul Wellstone said — and as Sheila Kuehl said when she endorsed me — I’m Howard Dean, and I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. [cheers].”

You don’t have to listen after that. It was done, he started a movement.

UPDATE – What’s wrong with me? Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition in 1984. And Jerry Brown in 1992!! I somehow forgot the ‘We the People’ campaign, with the 800 number. I even set up the Santa Cruz effort, and held fundraisers.

The Benefits Of Trade And Automation Were Stolen From Us

This post first appeared at Government Cheese.

The capitalist economist’s argument for “free trade” was the Jetsons Economy argument: the future will be glorious. They explained that when you move production to places where workers were paid less, everyone here would benefit because it freed up resources that would be applied to better jobs with higher wages, more free time, etc. The resulting gains would benefit everyone. And everyone where the jobs were moved to would also benefit from climbing the same ladder.

Sounds nice. A democracy would have made sure that was written into trade agreements, for everyone on both sides: The gains must be shared by everyone.

Same for automation, technology, etc. The gains were supposed to go to everyone. A democracy would have guaranteed that’s what happened.

A democracy would certainly have outlawed what did happen: Big money used “free” trade and automation/technology to pit workers against each other to force wages and benefits DOWN, with all the gains going to the top few.

What actually happened is that the Jetsons economy was stolen from us.

The Brand-Name “NAFTA”

All of this and the consequences — the benefits of trade and automation going to the top, everyone else forced ever downward, homes lost (and bought up by private equity to rent back to the former owners), factories closed and abandoned to rot, businesses closed and replaced by private-equity-owned chains, communities destroyed, etc – is covered by the brand name “NAFTA” for voters who were affected by this. That’s a big part of what brought us Trump and destroyed the Democratic party in the minds of all those voters.

Why Blame Dems?

Those textile mills and furniture manufacturers and all the rest of the manufacturing that went away when the Jetsons Economy future was stolen, the hollowed out cities with abandoned stores & homes downtown, ringed by private equity chains in malls out by the highway, bitter people forced out of the middle class blaming Dems for what happened to them…

The dilemma: This stuff branded NAFTA was a Republican/Wall Street neoliberal project all along but some Dems went along with it. Carter with deregulation, Clinton with trade, Obama with Wall Street. Wall Street/corporate money and propaganda getting them into office. (The famous chart showing the split between productivity and wages started under Carter/Volker. Then driven home by Reagan.)

The reason it’s identified with Dems more than Republicans now is that Dems were supposed to be the party of labor. The Democrats were supposed to protect working people from the things big money wanted to do to us. So Dems get the blame for breaking that wall of solidarity.

It’s like how Dems get the blame for things every single Republican is doing. We expect Republicans to be the party of capital, not Dems. Of course it wasn’t all elected Democrats who did this, but the capital bought enough Dems to get away with it.

Democrats PLEASE Sell The Soup

New poll: The public overwhelmingly supports Democratic POLICIES, and at the same time Republicans have the biggest lead in the “generic ballot” EVER.

How can that be?

For a while I had a software “evangelist” job where I would go out to small startup companies full of engineers that were developing software products for an operating system, and try to help them become real companies. These “companies” were small groups of programmers who had come up with a product. I’d explain the need for investment capital, a good Board, etc…

But mostly I had to explain marketing.

Engineers always believed that if they made a great product they would do really well. People will flock to their product because it was better. They never, ever understood that people wouldn’t do that. I had to introduce them to the idea that they are not their customers. That the ways people get information are not the ways THEY got information. This was almost impossible to get across to people who in their own lives researched everything about technology and understood what they wanted and how to find it…

One of my formative moments was when I was visiting a software store to see how things were going. I say a guy pick up two competing software products, weighing them in his left and right hands. He bought the heavier one.

Dems really have to learn that the public doesn’t hear a list of product features, they hear the benefits. Sell the soup (h/t Anat), not the ingredients. AND SELL THE SOUP don’t just think people will hear about your soup because it tastes better. And seeing something about it in the NY Times does not mean people in Oklahoma are hearing about it.

The reason Campbell’s dominates supermarket soup shelves is because Campbell’s PAYS stores to put more of their product in front of the customer.

Democrats have for DECADES refused to invest in communication. (Remember the whole thing around creating Air America?) “Conservatives” have put literally billions into communication since the 70’s. They have developed a huge propaganda apparatus. Part of that has been the research, training and hiring that now means the public hears almost no Democratic-supporting voices ANYWHERE.

The Hawley Nonsense “Porn” Interview – A Master Class In Propaganda

You probably think I’m going to mock this. Nope.

Watch this interview. It is a master class in propaganda. What he says was obviously (to me) written in one of their well-funded think tanks. He has obviously rehearsed this. Those of us who mock it just don’t get what the real message is and how effective it is.

As I keep saying, the current Republican fascist appeal all goes back to “NAFTA” – which is the brand name for the neoliberal austerity attack on the middle class, pushed by Wall Street, by all Republicans, and bought into by the “corporate Dems.” (See below)

How can you make these claims?, Hawley is asked. Answer: “If you look at the policy of deindustrialization…

The Virus That Carries the DNA Therapy

The porn nonsense is like the virus that carries the DNA therapy. The virus isn’t the point, the embedded DNA is. The virus is used to move around the body, targeting the right cells, leaving behind the intended therapy.

The “porn” part will be repeated widely because of the outrageous nonsense, but… Then there is this nugget (and a few others like it): “The [Democrat] policy of deindustrialization.” It is slipped in there, as if it is something we all know and agree with. The Dem policy is why you are all suffering, out of work, etc.

The nugget – the real message here – is the things slipped in as taken for granted now that they have your attention.

The REAL message in this is: “Democrats did this to you. We (the fascists) are here to make it all better.”

See the longer interview here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=583015609418505

It All Comes Back To NAFTA

“NAFTA” is a brand name for all the neoliberal policies that wiped out the factory towns and turned blue collar workers against Democrats.

The Clinton admin went all-in to get NAFTA passed. The televised 1993 “debate” between Al Gore and Ross Perot over NAFTA is worth revisiting. “Giant sucking sound” of jobs leaving the country – and that’s what happened. (The damage was really more from China entering the WTO, but “NAFTA” is the brand name for all of it.) The “benefits” of free trade were all directed up to a top few. People were threatened with, “Do you want YOUR job moved to China, too? No? Then shut up and take the pay cut.”

And everyone in the Midwest and other “post-industrial” areas that were wiped out understand this.

Obama understood, too. In 2008 he campaigned in the Midwest as the candidate who is going to do something about NAFTA and all the shit that is happening to you.

Blue-collar workers voted for Obama because he campaigned on fixing NAFTA, but then he didn’t. During the campaign there was a scandal that Obama had reassured Canadian leaders that he didn’t mean it. Then, immediately after taking office he went back on renegotiating NAFTA,

The administration has no present plans to reopen negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement to add labor and environmental protections, as President Obama vowed to do during his campaign, the top trade official said on Monday.

Then came full-on neoliberalism. Dems did not even bring the promised Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made it easier to organize unions in the workplace, up for a vote. Wall Street was bailed out and instead of removing (and prosecuting) the executives whose fraud caused the financial crisis the bailout funds were used to give bonuses to those executives. Austerity was imposed. The “recoverey” left millions behind, especially in the “deindustrialized” regions.

Then the Obama/Wall Street years clinched the wipeout of the middle class. For millions upon millions things didn’t get better, they got worse. People don’t forget things like that.

So Trump campaigned on getting rid of NAFTA, etc. Add in the right’s propaganda infrastructure )”Republicans are the party of the working class”) and here we are.

PS The Onion has more on this, demonstrating how the virus spreads, so it can implant the DNA. Also it’s hilarious: Josh Hawley Slams Video Games As Threat To American Masculinity After Bullshit Sniper Ends His ‘Battlefield’ Killstreak

Brilliant – Watch This Clip

Watch this clip. Brilliant. Follow the money behind the votes. It really is just paid corruption.

“David Sirota critiques coverage of DC budget battles
Reliable Sources

Former Bernie Sanders campaign advisor David Sirota says the news media should be following the money on Capitol Hill, sharing context “about which industries are buying which politicians.” Sirota also argues that the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 is impacting American politics today.”

I can’t find a way to post the clip here so Click This to watch.

Planet-Killing Corruption In Plain Sight

This post first appeared at Government Cheese.

One senator who makes a fortune from coal is blocking the country from last-ditch efforts to keep the climate crisis from becoming catastrophic. Well, it’s really one Democratic senator and EVERY Republican – all of them, their entire party and propaganda infrastructure paid by the fossil-fuel industry. But they go unmentioned.

The Guardian explains, in, Joe Manchin leads opposition to Biden’s climate bill, backed by support from oil, gas and coal,

In the current electoral cycle, Manchin has received more in political donations from the oil and gas industry than any other senator, more than double the second largest recipient. He is also the No 1 beneficiary of donations from the coal mining sector, leads the way in money accepted from gas pipeline operators, and is sixth in the ranking of senatorial donations from electricity utilities.

… But Manchin’s ties to the fossil fuel industry run deeper than political donations. After initially working in his family’s furniture and carpet business, Manchin set up a coal brokerage firm called Enersystems in 1988, running it until he became a full-time politician.

… His shares in Enersystems are worth between $1m and $5m, according to his latest financial disclosure document, with the senator receiving more than $5m in dividend income from the company over the past decade. The coal brokerage represents 71% of Manchin’s investment income, and about a third of his total net worth.

For history there should be a memorial monument that names names. It should list the names of individuals who contributed to the horrific situation they inherit.

But place that monument well above sea level.

The Bipartisan Mistake

Joe Biden’s agenda – if it survives at all – was massively watered down by the insistence on negotiating a “bipartisan infrastructure bill.” This is the same thing that happened to Obama’s health care bill.

– Negotiating with bad-faith Republicans wasted months
– The result was ridiculous and requires the reconciliation bill to restore essential components
– The reconciliation bill is being watered down by corporate interests paying some Democrats
– The reconciliation bill might even be killed by these corporate interests

What is it about Democrats that causes them to instinctively require Republican permission to get anything done?

This time they’re fucking around with the last remaining effort to do something to contain the climate crisis.