In the Belly of the Beast: 7/7/11: A Modest Proposal: Impeach Obama Now!

Obviously we lack any ability to impeach Obama. But what are the abstract merits of the act, assuming we were able?

Evidence is emerging that Obama is part of a cabal that wants to shred what remains of our social safety net (see Counterpunch article:

How Monica Lewinsky Saved Social Security

). Clinton was also part of this cabal (play the video clip below that caught him smoozing with Paul Ryan), along with many Blue dogs.

“High Crimes and Misdemeanors”: the operative phrase in the constitution re impeachment of the president.

IMHO, running on a campaign of “Change you can believe in” and then morphing into Herbert Hoover and trying to destroy Medicare and Social Security, is a “High Crime” against “we the people” who elected Obama.

Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for, in essence, trying to restore political power to the slavocracy that had just been defeated in the Civil War. (WEB DuBois’s book “Black Reconstruction” is an excellent source on this.)

The issue, re impeachment, is whether Obama’s behavior in office was conscious and planned, or whether it is just a reflection of random events: his personal style, weakness, always wanting to compromise etc. IMHO, he is not “weak” or “stupid” or vacillating of confused: he has been pursuing a conscious policy that has been partially hidden from the public, especially during the 2008 election.

Freedom Rider: The Evil of Two Lessers

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Not only is Obama keeping the country in a perpetual state of war,” but he abandons core Democratic programs “at the first sign of Republican resistance.” As a consequence the GOP, which has fought and schemed for decades to “starve the beast” by cutting social programs while fattening the military and the wealthy, “are closer than ever to seeing their dream realized.” No longer can it be said that the Democrats are the “lesser of two evils,” since they are the party in charge that is making the evils possible.

more….

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How Monica Lewinsky saved Social Security

There’s a fascinating 2004 article at Counterpunch by Robin Blackburn called “How Monica Lewinsky Saved Social Security” (h/t Matt Stoller). The gist is that Clinton and crew wanted to do what Obama’s trying to do, but in Clinton’s case he Wienered himself.

Our 2011 route to salvation will probably have to be different. But the list of names that turns up in the article is (as they say) “ripped from the headlines.” Here’s a taste (my emphasis):

Had it not been for Monica’s captivating smile and first inviting snap of that famous thong, President Bill Clinton would have consummated the politics of triangulation, heeding the counsel ofa secret White House team and deputy treasury secretary Larry Summers. Late in 1998 or in the State of the Union message of 1999 a solemn Clinton would have told Congress and the nation that, just like welfare, Social Security was near-broke, had to be “reformed” and its immense pool of capital tendered in part to the mutual funds industry. The itinerary mapped out for Clinton by the Democratic Leadership Committee would have been complete. …

We have this on the authority of high-ranking members of the Clinton Treasury who gathered in Harvard in the summer of 2001 to mull over the lessons of the 1990s. At that conclave it was revealed that on Clinton’s orders a top secret White House working party had been established to study in detail the basis for a bipartisan policy on Social Security that would splice individual accounts into the program. Such was the delicacy of this exercise that meetings of the group were flagged under the innocent rubric “Special Issues” on the White House agenda. …

The “Special Issues” secret team was set up by then-Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers(later elevated to Treasury Secretary and now President of Harvard) and Gene Sperling, the head of the Council of Economic Advisers.

A similar piece by Jane Hamsher (one almost identically titled) adds other names, including:

By 1997, Bill Clinton felt he had the upper hand with Congress and it was time for him to make historic moves. He had replaced Leon Panetta as Chief of Staff with investment banker Erskine Bowles late in his first term, and as author Steven Gillon tells the tale, Bowles brought a sense of order to the White House. Bowles planned to return to the private sector as Clinton’s second term began, but Bill and Hillary implored him to stay on for one final task: “fixing” Social Security.

The list, of course, includes Bill Clinton himself. You remember Clinton, don’t you? He’s this guy:

Can’t know the players without a scorecard.   


What Obama Wants

By 

On Thursday, President Obama met with Republicans to discuss a debt deal. We don’t know exactly what was proposed, but news reports before the meeting suggested that Mr. Obama is offering huge spending cuts, possibly including cuts to Social Security and an end to Medicare’s status as a program available in full to all Americans, regardless of income.

Obviously, the details matter a lot, but progressives, and Democrats in general, are understandably very worried. Should they be? In a word, yes.

Now, this might just be theater: Mr. Obama may be pulling an anti-Corleone, making Republicans an offer they can’t accept. The reports say that the Obama plan also involves significant new revenues, a notion that remains anathema to the Republican base. So the goal may be to paint the G.O.P. into a corner, making Republicans look like intransigent extremists — which they are.

But let’s be frank. It’s getting harder and harder to trust Mr. Obama’s motives in the budget fight, given the way his economic rhetoric has veered to the right. In fact, if all you did was listen to his speeches, you might conclude that he basically shares the G.O.P.’s diagnosis of what ails our economy and what should be done to fix it. And maybe that’s not a false impression; maybe it’s the simple truth.

One striking example of this rightward shift came in last weekend’s presidential address, in which Mr. Obama had this to say about the economics of the budget: “Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.”

That’s three of the right’s favorite economic fallacies in just two sentences. No, the government shouldn’t budget the way families do; on the contrary, trying to balance the budget in times of economic distress is a recipe for deepening the slump. Spending cuts right now wouldn’t “put the economy on sounder footing.” They would reduce growth and raise unemployment. And last but not least, businesses aren’t holding back because they lack confidence in government policies; they’re holding back because they don’t have enough customers — a problem that would be made worse, not better, by short-term spending cuts.

In his brief remarks after Thursday’s meeting, by the way, Mr. Obama seemed to reiterate the Herbert Hooveresque view that deficit reduction is what we need to “grow the economy.”

People have asked me why the president’s economic advisers aren’t telling him not to believe in the confidence fairy — that is, not to believe the assertion, popular on the right but overwhelmingly refuted by the evidence, that slashing spending in the face of a depressed economy will magically create jobs. My answer is, what economic advisers? Almost all the high-profile economists who joined the Obama administration early on have either left or are leaving.

Nor have they been replaced. As The Wall Street Journal recently noted, there are a “stunning” number of vacancies in important economic posts. So who’s defining the administration’s economic views?

Some of what we’re hearing is presumably coming from the political team, whose members seem to believe that a move toward Republican positions, reminiscent of former President Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” in the 1990s, is the key to Mr. Obama’s re-election. And Mr. Clinton did, indeed, rebound from a big defeat in the 1994 midterms to win big two years later. But some of us think that the rebound had less to do with his rhetorical move to the center than with the five million jobs the economy added over those two years — an achievement not likely to be repeated this time, especially not in the face of harsh spending cuts.

Anyway, I don’t believe that it’s all political calculation. Watching Mr. Obama and listening to his recent statements, it’s hard not to get the impression that he is now turning for advice to people who really believe that the deficit, not unemployment, is the top issue facing America right now, and who also believe that the great bulk of deficit reduction should come from spending cuts. It’s worth noting that even Republicans weren’t suggesting cuts to Social Security; this is something Mr. Obama and those he listens to apparently want for its own sake.

Which raises the big question: If a debt deal does emerge, and it overwhelmingly reflects conservative priorities and ideology, should Democrats in Congress vote for it?

Mr. Obama’s people will no doubt argue that their fellow party members should trust him, that whatever deal emerges was the best he could get. But it’s hard to see why a president who has gone out of his way to echo Republican rhetoric and endorse false conservative views deserves that kind of trust.

Black Agenda Report
Published on Black Agenda Report (http://blackagendareport.com)
Home > Blogs > Margaret Kimberley’s blog > Freedom Rider: The Evil of Two Lessers

Freedom Rider: The Evil of Two Lessers

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Not only is Obama keeping the country in a perpetual state of war,” but he abandons core Democratic programs “at the first sign of Republican resistance.” As a consequence the GOP, which has fought and schemed for decades to “starve the beast” by cutting social programs while fattening the military and the wealthy, “are closer than ever to seeing their dream realized.” No longer can it be said that the Democrats are the “lesser of two evils,” since they are the party in charge that is making the evils possible.

Freedom Rider: The Evil of Two Lessers

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Medicare and Medicaid are in danger because the president and the rest of the Democrats have acquiesced to Republican attacks on them.”

One of the Republicans’ major goals is to starve funding from any and all government programs which do not support military spending or the further enriching of corporations and wealthy individuals. They have worked towards this end for decades and, ironically, now, with a Democratic president, are closer than ever to seeing their dream realized.

Senate Democrats like Charles Schumer and Joseph Lieberman are publicly agreeing with Republicans that Medicare and Medicaid are “on the table [5]” and may be sacrificed in order to meet Republican demands for budget cuts. The end result of Barack Obama’s photo opportunity golf game with Republican House Leader John Boehner, is that Boehner wins and the people lose.

Neither President Obama nor any other Democratic leaders are willing to stand up for what used to be bedrock principles of their party. Democrats once knew with certainty that the already fragile American safety net was protected by their own and under threat only from the other side. Now we see that it is under threat from all sides, with no one in the political system willing to take a stand and fight for their constituents’ needs.

The 2012 political campaign has already begun in earnest. President Obama is raising millions of dollars for his campaign and congressional Democrats are doing the same for themselves. They base their request for fund raising and other support on Democrats’ fear of Republican control, but there is no reason to once again remain loyal to them when they have no loyalty to anyone except the heavy hitter fundraisers.

Fears of Republican control of the White House and Congress are overblown.”

At this juncture in history, fears of Republican control of the White House and Congress are overblown. It is Barack Obama who appointed conservative former senator Alan Simpson to his deficit reduction commission. It was a Democratically elected congress who joined with Republicans to defund and destroy ACORN. It is Democrats who have launched yet another war based upon lies, this time against Libya.

Democrats’ automatic antipathy to the Republican agenda has less and less basis in reality. When they should be paying attention to the machinations of their own party, they instead focus on utterances from Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh, neither of whom are responsible for Democrats who act against the interests of the Democratic party base. It doesn’t matter if they make outrageous or racists statements about Obama or other Democrats. Palin, Limbaugh and the other right wingers used to keep Democrats in an uninformed state of panic, are out of power and unable to do away with or cut Medicare. Medicare and Medicaid are in danger, and they are in danger because the president and the rest of the Democrats have acquiesced to Republican attacks on them.

While Democrats were always a war party, just as much as Republicans, they were also known for their willingness to use the federal government to create and enhance programs which benefited working people. They protected and expanded the modern welfare state as it existed in this country. President Johnson was responsible for the horrific escalation of the war against Vietnam, but he also was responsible for the very existence of the programs which Democrats are now ready to eviscerate. Johnson was the embodiment of the lesser of two evils argument, attacked because he waged an aggressive and immoral war, but at the same time credited with responding to movement demands and eliminating poverty for millions of people.

When they should be paying attention to the machinations of their own party, they instead focus on utterances from Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh.”

That lesser of two evils argument now has almost no meaning. Not only is Obama keeping the country in a perpetual state of war, but at the first sign of Republican resistance, he is willing to throw what used to be the foundation of the Democratic party under the wheels of a bus.

Sadly, most Democrats fixate on Michelle Bachmann’s misstatements about history or Sarah Palin’s snide remarks about Michelle Obama. At the same time they give Obama and the Democrats a pass for stabbing them in the back. It is time to call those in power, the Democrats, to account for their actions. That will mean ignoring the people who have been used to keep us in an irrational state of fear. If Medicare is cut by Democrats, the bizarre utterances of the right wing are not among the issues we should spend time thinking about.

The resolution of these questions will be complicated and difficult, but it will not be impossible. Another election season should be a call to debate and action, not a time to throw in the towel with the same tired arguments about why we should keep supporting people who do not support us.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. [6] Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.

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DCCC warns GOP put Soc. Security cuts on the table as 3rd ranking House Dem put them there too

Got an email from the DCCC tonight with the subject line “Off the table”:

I need your urgent help. Republicans are gearing up enact their radical plan to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, women and people with disabilities.

At this moment, Speaker Boehner is crafting a deficit deal that would gut Medicare and Social Security, while slashing benefits for senior and the middle class in order to make sure he protects tax breaks for millionaires. This is unacceptable and House Democrats will not stand for this….

Sign our petition right now and join me in telling Republicans that Social Security and Medicare cuts are off the table. [emphasis added]

We’ve got bigger problems than Boehner. President Obama put Social Security and Medicare on the table.

And, the DCCC needs to meet James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House. He too said today that Social Security is on the table:

“When you say Social Security is ‘on the table,’ it’s been on the table all the time,” Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told The Huffington Post. “In the Biden talks we talked about whether we ought to do something like raising the caps. If you raise the caps it’s a whole lot different than raising the retirement age.”

Clyburn opened the door to means-testing, which would reduce or eliminate benefits for wealthy individuals based on income levels.

“That’s the kind of stuff we ought to look at,” he said. “Don’t get nervous about Social Security being on the table — that could very well be what the president is talking about, and I hope that’s what the president is talking about.”

Yep. Third-ranking Dem. in the House. Hearing this kind of talk makes us very nervous.

This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise since Clyburn is an honorary co-chair of Third Way, the corporate, conservative group that’s always trying to undermine the Democratic agenda. Apparently, Clyburn’s more loyal to Third Way than the Democratic agenda. Bil Daley used to be on the Board of Third Way, too. That group is gleeful that Obama put Social Security on the table — almost as gleeful as the GOPers who couldn’t achieve such cuts under Bush. Since Third Way is undermining the Democratic base, maybe the group’s staff should do all the volunteer outreach, lit drops and phone-banking for the 2012 reelection campaign. Wait, they can’t. They’ve got no constituency except for their corporate benefactors. But they’ve apparently got a seat at the same table the Social Security cuts are on.

Can’t wait to see the DNC, DSCC and DCCC fundraising emails if Democrats actually sell out on Social Security cuts.

Taylor Marsh, 2007: Obama “wants to hold hands with the wingnuts to save some fantasy Social Security ‘crisis.’ “

John and Joe have done a great job of covering the Obama “Grand Cave” on Social Security and Medicare — from rumor to news to denial (three of the four basic food groups, politically speaking).

This leads to several questions: Is he really going to do it? Are Dems going to follow? How should progressives react?

On the first, there’s plenty of evidence that he’s going to try really hard, despite the denials. Thanks to the alert research of Matt Stoller, we find this from Taylor Marsh writing in 2006 (my bolding throughout):

[Barack Obama] is so far off the Democratic party reservation I don’t know where he’s planting his primary flag, but it’s nowhere a progressive Democrat or our party should willingly go.

It’s bad enough that Mr. Obama continues to use wingnut talking points on Social Security. … Paul Krugman asked nicely, Why, Barack, Why?, then took him out.

[It is] just incredible that Barack Obama would make obeisance to fashionable but misguided Social Security crisis-mongering a centerpiece of his campaign. It’s a bad omen; it suggests that he is still, despite all that has happened, desperately seeking approval from Beltway insiders.

Here’s the up shot, folks. If you are a Hillary hater there’s one candidate who isn’t the anti Hillary. His name is Barack Obama. So if you’re in his camp and you think he’s got the answers, I suggest you check your idolatry, because this guy isn’t about Democratic ideology, that’s for sure, which I told you months ago. He’s a deal maker, first, last and on the bottom line. Social Security is in “crisis,” according to Mr. Obama, nod to the Republicans, but don’t forget that wink.

“What they want is somebody who understands the struggles they’re going through, is going to be thinking every day about how to make their lives better, has a grasp of the issues that not only Democrats, but Republicans and independents are worried are not being attended to in Washington. And if I provide that kind of leadership, I think that they will feel confident that I’m going to be able to do the job.”

– Barack Obama, Meet the Press (11.11.07)

What this Democrat wants is that our nominee passionately pursue Democratic party ideals, jamming them down the throat of Republicans if we have to, because those guy are clueless on how to implement policies that work for the American people, the world, as well as foreign and military policies that include, dare I say it, competency. Barack Obama isn’t interested in that, however, he wants to hold hands with the wingnuts to save some fantasy Social Security “crisis.”

That’s 2007. I’ve already mentioned the Ken Silverstein Harpers article, Barack Obama, Inc., from 2006. My view — he wants it bad.

Will Congressional Dems follow along? Not sure. Some, like Van Hollen, are making noises like they won’t, but Van Hollen is seriously suspect, as this interview shows. What will Pelosi do? Don’t know; did she even get a tweet into yesterday’s fabulous TweeterCon? And Pelosi gave us Steve Israel.

But the real question is, what should progressives do? Many believe, understandably, that Obama’s won’t loseto the “Republican clown car“. I’ve stated publicly that I disagree, that he can lose, and under a variety of scenarios.

But that avoids the question. It’s been argued that Obama must be primaried from the left to preserve the progressive name (I hate the word “brand”), and it’s been said in these pages that the one who primaries Obama and loses in 2012 is the next Dem president, the next time a Dem is elected.

As regular readers know, I tend to the primary camp as a way to enforce discipline and cull the strays. To be sure, the consequences of primarying Obama are far greater than the consequences of primarying McCaskill.

But (1) how will we ever win if we don’t take risks? And (2) how can Obama win if he keeps offending Democratic consciences, if he insists on removing what for many Democrats is “the last straw“? Because, in answer to this question, more and more Dems, pros and ams alike, will be forced to consult their consciences before saying Yes.

Stiglitz on how tax cuts, wars, recession and health care bankrupted the country

from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by John Aravosis (DC)

And here’s a surprise, it didn’t have to. Nobel economist Joe Stiglitz in Slate:

A decade ago, in the midst of an economic boom, the United States faced a surplus so large that it threatened to eliminate the national debt. Unaffordable tax cuts and wars, a major recession, and soaring health care costs—fueled in part by the commitment of George W. Bush’s administration to giving drug companies free rein in setting prices, even with government money at stake—quickly transformed a huge surplus into record peacetime deficits.

The remedies to the U.S. deficit follow immediately from this diagnosis: Put America back to work by stimulating the economy; end the mindless wars; rein in military and drug costs; and raise taxes, at least on the very rich. But the right will have none of this, and instead is pushing for even more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, together with expenditure cuts in investments and social protection that put the future of the U.S. economy in peril and that shred what remains of the social contract. Meanwhile, the U.S. financial sector has been lobbying hard to free itself of regulations, so that it can return to its previous, disastrously carefree, ways.

RACISM, SEXISM, 
 CIVIL LIBERTIES TODAY
“Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary sector of monopoly capital”

THE ECONOMY

THE ULTRA-RIGHT


     
ENVIRONMENT



    
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