August 4, 2010

ACLU Civil Liberties Report


The ACLU has released a report on civil liberties under Obama as they relate to “national security” issues. The report gives a mixed verdict, concluding “that the administration has taken positive steps and made genuine progress in some areas”, but that:

Regrettably, in a pattern that has repeated itself throughout the administration’s first eighteen months, a significant achievement was followed by a step back: the administration reversed its decision to comply with a court decision ordering the release of photos depicting the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it supported legislation granting the Secretary of Defense unprecedented authority to conceal evidence
of misconduct.(p.2)

Actually the report doesn’t support this “some good, some bad” conclusion. Rather, it depicts the administration as having started out well but then having taken nothing but “steps back” since then.

On January 22, 2009—his second full day in office —President Obama signed a series of executive orders that squarely repudiated some of the most egregious abuses of the Bush administration. The new orders categorically prohibited torture and limited all interrogations, including those conducted by the CIA, to techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual. They outlawed the CIA’s practice of secret detention and shut down the CIA’s overseas prisons. And they mandated the closure of the Guantánamo prison within one year. These auspicious first steps towards fulfilling candidate Obama’s promise of change were more than symbolic gestures: they carried the force of law, they placed the power and prestige of the presidency behind restoration of the rule of law, and they gave weight to the President’s oft-stated view that adherence to our nation’s fundamental principles makes us safer, not less safe.

There’s the good words at the outset, and indeed, since I can’t imagine why Obama would have signed those orders at all if he meant to trample their spirit later on, I guess here’s one place where I can believe he started out meaning well. But that doesn’t make any difference. Nobody should care about good intentions even where they do fleetingly exist, if one has the power to follow through but refuses to do so. As the report details, Obama not only hasn’t followed through, he’s flipped to a reactionary position, as he seeks to entrench and normalize Bush policy across the board.
(The report itself admits that its anodyne conclusion is more of a political olive branch than a firm belief:

The ACLU will continue to monitor the impact of the administration’s national security policies on fundamental civil liberties and human rights. We hope that this report, published less than halfway
through the President’s first term, will serve as a vehicle for reflection and further dialogue; we hope that the administration will renew its commitment to the principle that the nation’s fundamental values are the very foundation of its strength and security.


The report is divided into seven subjects.
1. Transparency:
In seeming accord with his campaign promises, Obama started out ordering all federal agencies to maintain a “presumption in favor of disclosure”. This seemed to directly reverse the “Ashcroft Rule” which demanded a presumption of secrecy. There were some lesser cosmetic improvements.
The most important action was the release of the Bush torture memos.
But “the administration’s commitment to transparency has been inconsistent, and it has waned over time.”  Obama continues to flout court orders to release torture photos from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since its change of heart on the abuse photographs, the administration has fought to keep secret hundreds of records relating to the Bush administration’s rendition, detention, and interrogation policies. To take just a few of many possible examples, it has fought to keep secret a directive in which President Bush authorized the CIA to establish secret prisons overseas; the Combatant Status Review Transcripts in which former CIA prisoners describe the abuse they suffered in the CIA’s secret prisons; records relating to the CIA’s destruction of videotapes that depicted some prisoners being waterboarded; and cables containing communications between the CIA’s secret prisons and officials at CIA headquarters. It has argued that the CIA’s authority to withhold information concerning “intelligence sources and methods” extends even to methods that are illegal. The administration has also fought to withhold information about prisoners held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Indeed, the Obama administration has released less information about prisoners held at Bagram Air Base than the Bush administration released about prisoners held at Guantánamo.

Although the existence of Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional assassination program has been publicized and acknowledged, he refuses to release any details. Meanwhile, even as he refuses to investigate Bush-era crimes (for the obvious reason that he and his thugs are committing the same crimes), Obama, contradicting another campaign promise, has been aggressively pursuing and indicting whistleblowers. Thomas Drake and Bradley Manning are the two most prominent citizen activists who are being persecuted by the man who during his campaign promised to “make sure those folks [whistleblowers] get protection.”
I guess like so many other things he said, that statement had an Orwellian connotation as well.
2. Torture and Accountability:
Here’s where Obama’s initial declarations were at their best. He released the torture memos and ordered that all prisoners be afforded the protections of the Geneva Convention. He ordered the close of secret CIA dungeons and Red Cross notification regarding all prisoners.
But unlike most other countries involved in the torture crimes – the UK, Germany, Canada, and Spain – this administration has curtly rejected all calls for accountability for these crimes under Bush.

The truth is that the Obama administration has gradually become an obstacle to accountability for torture. It is not simply that, as discussed above, the administration has fought to keep secret some of the documents that would allow the public to better understand how the torture program was conceived, developed, and implemented. It has also sought to extinguish lawsuits brought by torture survivors—denying them recognition as victims, compensation for their injuries, and even the opportunity to present their cases.
(p. 8 )

Obama has thrown up a welter of pseudo-legal barricades to legal accountability which would make Bush envious. He has sought to expand the noxious “state secrets doctrine” (Mohammed vs. Jeppesen Dataplan), lied about the law (Rasul vs. Rumsfeld), invented Kafkaesque conundrums and pseudo-federalistic mumbo-jumbo (Arar vs. Ashcroft), all in order to keep the cases out of the courts completely. (Never mind that this is exactly the situation the federal courts are for according to arch-federalist Hamilton himself.)
Another Catch-22 has been the administration’s bogus arguments that civil suits aren’t necessary because the Justice Department’s own investigations are sufficient. This is a twofold lie: first, the DoJ, even if it were undertaking good faith investigations, represents the community, not the victim himself; and second, it’s a lie that any such investigations are taking place anyway.
All the DoJ has done is announce a lame “preliminary review”, which they explicitly proclaimed a priori will seek to establish only the “abuses” committed by bad apples. They ideologically ruled out of consideration any indictment of systemic, top-down policy. (This is a standard corporate liberal trick, one of many places they join hands with the real fascists. As detailed in Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, everyone from Amnesty International to the South African Reconciliation Commission has agreed to go along with the bad apple Big Lie wherever the real torturer was the neoliberal power structure.)
Of course throughout Obama’s notorious watchword has been “look forward, not back.” The slogan of criminals down through history. As the report says,

In fact the choice between “looking forward” and “looking back” is a false one. While it’s crucial that the Obama administration adopt new policies for the future, we cannot ignore the abuses of the past. And while President Obama has disavowed torture, a strong democracy rests not on the goodwill of its leaders but on the impartial enforcement of the laws. Sanctioning impunity for government officials who authorized torture
sends a problematic message to the world, invites abuses by future administrations, and further undermines the rule of law that is the basis of any democracy.
(p. 9)

“The impartial enforcement of the laws” is in fact precisely what Obama, his supporters, the MSM, and the establishment in general do not want. Where it comes to Obama hacks, we’ve seen plenty of examples (Krugman defending Obama on the Gruber flap; Sunstein advocating illegal subversion of Internet democracy) of how, as long as the Democrats are in power, we shouldn’t have the rule of law or the rule of principle or the rule of anything other than our faith in their benevolence. (Of course, Republicans are the same way with their own criminals.)
(Of course I don’t assume that torture has actually ended or that the dungeons have all been closed. Obama says lots of things he doesn’t do.)
3. Detention:
During the campaign Obama promised to close Gitmo. Coming into office he set a one year deadline for that goal and ordered the secret CIA prisons closed.
Since then he has flouted his own deadline, pretending that trumped up Congressional resistance is stopping him. (Before I became convinced that Obama is secretly a Republican in his mind, this was another of my examples of what I thought was his basic political incompetence and how he can’t get the spoils system right. I asked, There’s no federal prison in a safely Republican district where he can dump these prisoners?)
He has consistently resisted judicial review of the status of prisoners, achieving a hideous “supreme” court ruling against habeas corpus, one of the most basic indivisible elements of the Constitution. (The juxtaposition of this anti-constitutional and anti-human ruling with the Citizens United decision a few weeks later is perhaps the most stark proof that America no longer has a constitutional judiciary, but a rogue, hijacked structure which has abdicated all sovereignty. This is definitely true at least of the SCOTUS.)
The basic position is hostile to the rule of law; the administration will review or not and keep or release prisoners at its pleasure, but they deny any law or constitution compels them to. In May 2009 Obama went farther than Bush ever did, proclaiming in principle that the government has the right to detain anyone it defines as a terrorist indefinitely, without trial, no matter where and under what circumstances the suspect was grabbed. The government of course has no such right, no such authority, no such prerogative. This is a stark declaration of lawlessness, of anti-constitutional contempt, of autocratic tyranny.
And what if Obama ever did decide to close Gitmo after all? He’s already covered himself, simply setting up Bagram as the same thing Gitmo used to be. So Gitmo has already been cloned, and closing the one would no longer make any substantive difference. It would be a political fraud. “What I give with one hand I take away with the other.”

Finally, the Obama administration has advocated for the transfer of some Guantánamo prisoners to a prison in Thomson, Illinois, where they would be detained by the military without charge or trial. The ACLU will continue to oppose this effort to transfer the Guantánamo detention regime to the heartland of America; we fear that if a precedent is established that terrorism suspects can be held without trial within the United States, this administration and future administrations will be tempted to bypass routinely the constitutional restraints of the criminal justice system in favor of indefinite military detention. This is a danger that far exceeds the disappointment of seeing the Guantánamo prison stay open past the one-year deadline. To be sure, Guantánamo should be closed, but not at the cost of enshrining the principle of indefinite detention in a global war without end.
(p. 12)

This is perhaps the most ominous part of it. We already see all the worst depredations of neoliberal economic and paramilitary assaults coming home to us. The totalitarians would love to bring this kind of prison regime to the home soil. That would be quite a precedent. We must oppose all new terror war prisons everywhere, but especially on home soil. If shutting down Gitmo would mean simply moving the spirit of Gitmo stateside, then it’s much better to physically leave Gitmo where it is.
Closing Gitmo is not primarily a physical concept, it’s a legal, political, and moral concept. Bagram already means Gitmo won’t close, and a domestic Gitmo will be even worse.
4. Assassination:
This is a radical extension of Bush policy. Here there’s no doubt at all that Obama’s actions are illegal by international law and unconstitutional at least as applied to US citizens. We know of at least one citizen targeted for death, and the administration has hinted that there are more.
5. Military Commissions:
Candidate Obama rejected the Military Commissions Act and proclaimed his “faith in America’s courts”.
Here there was no initial promising action as a way station between the promise and its betrayal – president Obama moved without transition to actively seeking to enshrine the commissions. While Obama hacks and cultists mysteriously claim he can’t influence Congress where it comes to public interest legislation, he had no problem at all aggressively pushing for legislation clarifying and entrenching military commission power.
These kangaroo courts flout every American principle of justice, from allowing “evidence” extracted under torture* to refusing the defendant’s right to confront witnesses against him. I don’t know if they display the Ten Commandments in these dank little anti-judicial pits, but they sure must not display the Bill of Rights.
(*Maimonides thought even voluntary confessions shouldn’t be admissible in criminal trials, as even that ran too much of a risk of violating of the defendant’s soul. Oh well…)
6. Speech and Surveillance:

With limited exceptions, the Obama administration’s positions on national security issues relating
to speech and surveillance have mirrored those taken by the Bush administration in its second term.
(p. 16)

Early in the campaign Obama spoke out against Bush’s wiretapping crimes. Here he didn’t wait until after the election to betray what he said, voting for telecom immunity and other pernicious features of the FISA Amendments Act.
Since taking office the administration has argued that the FISA act, like everything else related to alleged “national security”, should be beyond judicial review. As many of us predicted from very early in the Bush years, a Democrat in office has embraced all the Bush surveillance and search arrogations and sought to extend and normalize them. Obama has pushed for the intensification of the Patriot Act’s assaults on freedom.
Obama also collaborated with the SCOTUS to shred the 1st Amendment with their “material support” doctrine, which declares in principle that anything the government declares is communication which “supports terrorism” is beyond the bounds of free speech. Needless to say, anything you want can be so defined. I’ve always said and believed SUV commercials support terrorism. That’s just one example. Is conspiracy to attack the currency a terrorist act? If Al-Qaida did it, it would be. So that means when Wall Street does it, it is. So according to Obama and the supreme court themselves, defending the big banks is providing material support to terrorism and is not legitimate free speech. I guess I’ll take their word for it on that one….
7. Watch Lists:
Letting dubious characters slip through while wrongly flagging hundreds, perhaps thousands of innocent people, the no-fly list has been an ongoing embarrassment for the government and a major problem for those wrongly listed. The administration is unrepentant. It refuses accountability, refuses to divulge its methods for listing, refuses to institute a procedure for the redress of wrongs and delisting of the innocent.
Obama has sought to expand the list regime while rejecting even the slightest semblance of due process. A low level police state hack chirped, “the entire federal government is leaning very far forward on putting people on lists.” (p.18)
While the ACLU doesn’t go so far in this publication, it sounds to me like the watch list is more of an exercise in police statism for its own sake than anything meant to actually have utility or to function rationalistically. From that point of view, a chronic process of “erroneously” victimizing the innocent is a feature of state terror, not a bug.
The government has also extended privateering and constitution-shredding tactics from the “drug war” to the “war on terror”, arrogating the power to seize the assets of charities on alleged suspicion of terrorist connections. Needless to say, here too there’s no transparency regarding the procedure of suspicion or the evidence in any particular case, and the administration claims that these as well must lie beyond the reach of the courts.
So just as with the watch list, here’s strong evidence that, as many of us have argued for years, the point of the drug war was to pioneer totalitarian tactics to be more broadly applied as soon as the pretext was available. 9/11 provided that pretext.
So here’s my basic summary.
This report demonstrates Obama’s contempt for the rule of law and democracy (p.10). Rather, at every turn he has the attitude of a despot. He and his hacks (and the media) want the cult of personality over the rule of law (p.9). Taking off where Bush left off he has developed a veritable ideology of detention, which is bot ha pseudo-principle and a weapon to assail all true American principles (p.11).
He has systematically sought to set up Kafkaesque catch-22s: Gutting the FOIA as he nominally expands it (p.5); winding down Gitmo while revving up Bagram (11), using the typical antidemocratic “standing” ploy against accountability in the courts, e.g. where it comes to FISA (16); keeping the watch list in the darkest closet of culpable secrecy (18).
He has perverted federalism with his attacks on judicial oversight (pages 9, 11, 16, and other examples). He has denied that there was ever a system problem under Bush, but rather continued to propagate the Bush Big Lie that incidents like Abu Ghraib were the “abuses” of “abd apples”, when all torture and atrocities were in fact the result of systematic top down policy.
This paper also enumerates several major Obama campaign lies: The promise of transparency as a value and a practice (p. 4); encouragement of whistleblowers (6); that he’s close Gitmo (in spirit as well as physically) and end detention without trial (10); that he opposed military commissions.
The result is a devastating condemnation of Obama as an enemy of American values and a traitor to the mandate of his election. It establishes that he briefly may have intended to roll back some aspects of the Bush assault on civil liberties, but quickly changed his mind. Since then he has continued the Bush assault on a broad front. So we cannot endorse this from the ACLU’s conclusion:

There can be no doubt that the Obama administration inherited a legal and moral morass, and that in important respects it has endeavored to restore the nation’s historic commitment to the rule of law. But if the Obama administration does not effect a fundamental break with the Bush administration’s policies on detention, accountability, and other issues, but instead creates a lasting legal architecture in support of those policies, then it will have ratified, rather than rejected, the dangerous notion that America is in a permanent state of emergency and that core liberties must be surrendered forever.(p.20)

Obama has clearly endeavored to do the opposite. The most he did was fake in one direction for a few weeks and then reverse course. And the “inheritance” meme, so beloved of Obama’s desperate hacks and cultists, is beneath contempt. (Something doesn’t count as a bad inheritance if you have the power to disavow and reject it but instead seize full ownership of it with great gusto. In that case it’s not your “inheritance”, but something you morally own going back to its inception. That applies to Obama/Bush’s Second Great Depression, Obama/Bush’s Bailout, Obama/Bush’s war, Obama/Bush’s offshore drilling, and it applies to Obama/Bush’s assault on civil liberties.)
So what is to be done? I’m not sure. Along with net neutrality, civil liberties is an issue where we do seem to need “reform within the system”. (Although the problem’s not quite as bad. The Internet democracy is far more vulnerable and requires positive reform action by the government for its preservation, while however degraded the civil liberties regime becomes in principle, the government would still have to actively assault us to make good on its threats, and we have many other routes of resistance besides system reform. Nevertheless, the problem is critical.)
I suppose at this point my prescription would be that, to whatever extent we do still try to seek reform within the system (which I normally think is pointless and argue against), we should focus on these two issues.

April 12, 2010

Hail to Blogging


Today it’s more important than ever that we have independent, decentralized flows of information and commentary, and new ways to organize. The existing media and political organizations are corrupt and malicious, and seek only to stifle all public interest discourse and activism.
The one great promise of the internet which has so far been kept is how it would provide a new democratic space. It’s true that today this is the most capacious public space left in an otherwise increasingly enclosed world, and the only real bastion of participatory democracy left. Those of us who still value positive freedom, true political freedom, must cherish and exploit this great space while it exists, and fight to ensure that it continues to exist.
When we look back at the American Revolution today it’s striking how similar the atmosphere and modes of political communication were. Back then they had printing presses while today we have blogs and alt media sites. But the basic parallel of a decentralized dissemination of political ideas and calls to action, avidly devoured and debated, sparking a brush fire which riled itself up into a conflagration, is one we can look to with hope.
The basic literary form is the same – the pamphlet. Political blogging is simply old-style pamphleteering. The versatility and robustness of the form have proven themselves since Roman antiquity, and the pamphlets played a major role in preparing the Revolution in America. Common Sense, the Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, the Four Letters on Interesting Subjects, and many others take their place as actions of history and weapons of freedom.
Meanwhile the MSM is corrupt and dishonest, and financially moribund. Ad revenues, already in a free fall for years, continue to plummet. Some are even asking if blogging is “winning” a fight against the corporate media. I don’t think bloggers in themselves can assault the establishment media. But the MSM is caught in a vise of its own design. It exalted the predatory corporate model and shilled for it, hoping to be a well-paid prostitute. But by its very nature corporatism has no gratitude or forbearance for sluggish performers. As it perceives its stranglehold to be secure, it won’t feel as much of a need for a pseudo-independent media to serve as a propaganda wing, if this is more expensive than using the government as a direct extortionist. Plus, it’s in the very nature of corporatism to liquidate every weak link by bleeding it even more vampirically. So it was predictable that as soon as advertiser-driven media found itself in any kind of financial difficulty, that advertisers would rush to lowball them. If I’m the ad buyer I figure, if you as a newspaper are charging too high an ad rate, I bet your competitor will offer me a lower one. You guys need me more than I need you.
So the MSM’s race to the streetwalking bottom hasn’t availed them. It’s only made their position worse and worse. (One of the few good pieces of Schadenfreude in this whole mess has been the poetic justice being visited upon the MSM. The way they’re an ongoing object lesson in how appeasement and prostitution don’t work.) Meanwhile the other grip of the vise is how, as the corporate media’s coverage is so obviously rank propaganda, the people no longer believe or value it, and become ever less willing to pay for it. (I sure never would.) Here’s where bloggers and the alternative media can come into the picture.
The blogs become more popular as, at their best, they offer the only outsider, non-corporatized point of view on the idiocies and crimes which afflict us. Here’s where the people can find the real discussion and the real truth-telling they will never get from the corrupted government, media, or academia. Here’s the first space where the power structure is completely collapsing, where power is falling back into the people’s hands as an unrefined glop, and where we have the chance in refine it anew for the sake of freedom and the public interest. That’s the essence of a revolutionary situation.
And there’s the sense in which, if blogs and alternative websites can maintain their integrity, refine this new people’s power and and cohere to a movement, that this could be a force fighting the powers that be, even something that could battle and “win”. So in that dialectical sense we may someday be able to talk about independent media winning against the corporate media.
But this is no freedom idyll. There are great threats on the horizon, and if our freedom isn’t vigilant today it may have no tomorrow. The most obvious threat to the integrity of the blogs is astroturfing. Today we survey the wreckage of the great dream of the “progressive” blogosphere, which arose as a veritable anti-Bush resistance movement. It claimed to oppose Republican ideas and policies, and many believed it. Today we know most of these bloggers were liars, that they were really partisan Democratic hacks who never opposed any Bush policy (corporatism, war, assault on civil liberties, secrecy, imperial presidency, just to name a few examples) but only that it was Republicans doing it.
We must take to heart the lesson of this disaster. The blogosphere cannot achieve its own emancipation so long as it remains ideologically beholden to any aspect of the existing system. By definition a blog that supports, for example, the Democratic party is not part of the blogosphere but an appendage of the corporate system trying to extend its hedges of enclosure into the blog space. This isn’t a picayune matter of “opinion”, but a structural feature of the age. One can be on the side of corporatism or of freedom, but never both, nor is any mediation possible.
Another threat is that the net sector may follow the usual processes of media consolidation and feudal calcification. Although what’s been called the “gated community” model of the online experience as envisioned by AOL, Compuserve and others was temporarily defeated in favor of a more freewheeling, decentralized setup, that’s no guarantee that it won’t still be the eventual victor. Every other sector ends up that way. Closely related to this is the critical net neutrality issue, where America just suffered a setback in a court decision which sided with the tollbooth tenders. According to what I read this was actually based on a technicality which can easily receive a technical fix (assuming this administration is willing to make such a fix, which I don’t assume; net neutrality’s yet another place where Obama has said all the right things, but we’ll see about the actions). But we should take it as a shot across the bow. Even if this decision was on a technicality, there are plenty of rogue corporatist courts which won’t need technicalities to serve as goons for the telecoms. (The scary thing with this issue is that, so far as I can see, we’re still in the hands of federal regulation and the noblesse oblige of companies like Google. I’m not sure how relocalization works where it comes to the activism of internet freedom.)
Then there’s the specter of censorship. Google’s recent (if belated) stance against Chinese censorship looks like a rare bright path in an otherwise blackening sky. If Yahoo and Microsooft went all in on collaboration with the Chinese government, there’s little reason to believe they wouldn’t do the same at home, as fascism becomes more overt. Thoroughgoing online censorship is already the order of the day in Australia. Meanwhile here in America we have Obama cadre and “supreme” court hopeful Cass Sunstein’s battle plan for the full castration of the unruly net. (Sunstein, a totalitarian by nature, has hated the internet since its inception. He instinctively hates anything that’s not dictated from the top down. He speaks in classical totalitarian code, claiming to want to use his “nudges” for the sake of democracy, when in practice they would always serve the corporate interest. It’s the same thing as with the “logic” of alleged speech activists who supported Citizens United.) The MSM are already enlisting in this war on the blogosphere.
That’s direct censorship. But there’s also the soft censorship of the economics of online access. Just as free speech in general is corrupted wherever monetized, so as the Depression sets in and fewer people can afford online access, the democratic promise of the internet will dissipate in the wind as it becomes a de facto gated community, rationed according to ability to pay. This makes it all the more critical that we maintain our libraries, which for many among the ever-expanding ranks of the poor provide the only opportunity to go online. By definition you can’t have a democracy where access in itself requires purchasing a ticket. (But libraries are being gutted as well.)
And then there’s the robustness of the internet itself. The system requires tremendous energy inputs, for its normal operations and infrastructure maintenance. As Peak Oil sets in and energy becomes ever more expensive, we’ll have yet another economic barrier to access, as well as instability in the physical system itself. Would fortresses of the rich, using their self-contained solar and wind systems, be able to maintain their own feudalized version of the web (I assume they wouldn’t be able to string wires from compound to compound)? Where would the spare parts come from? I suppose if things ever reach that extremity than the idea of democracy we’re talking about will be a moot point. But we can envision less complete manifestations of the problem. Just as we’ve already seen spot shortages of gasoline like in the Southeast in 2008, so we can expect to see increasing brownouts and blackouts as the system experiences problems with upkeep and delivery. Such blackouts will, of course, be manipulated for the benefit of the rich. (For example, the Giuliani administration in NYC was accused of browning out poor neighborhoods during the hottest times of summer to make sure there would be enough juice to run the air conditioners in rich neighborhoods.)
So there’s a rundown of the blogosphere’s democratic possibilities and the threats it faces. I know we don’t need more stuff to have to think about, but for the time being we’re unlikely to make progress on any point if we can’t discuss it online freely and in great numbers. So in that sense an issue like net neutrality is a preconditional issue.
In spite of the stumbles, in spite of the betrayals, we have a blogosphere growing in vibrancy and strength. If we want this growth to stay robust, this health to overflow, we’ll have to fight for that as well.
Here again we must achieve the vigilance of freedom. 

March 16, 2010

Social Fascists Part 2

Filed under: Corporatism — Tags: , , , , , — Russ @ 7:10 am


In an earlier post I discussed Obama and the liberals’ self-imposed mission to rehabilitate all Bush/Cheney policies and enshrine them as the business as usual baseline for this government and economy going forward.
This provokes the question of why they’d want to do such a thing. By that I don’t mean questioning the obvious fact that today’s Democrats and liberal leaders are just as much corporatists and warmongers as Cheney and his Republicans. I don’t mean questioning the fact of the infinite chasm between their public interest rhetoric and their gangster actions. These facts are incontrovertible. They are laws of nature, insofar as the currently existing polity is the existing state of nature.
But I do want to ask, who, really, are these people? Why are they history’s worst traitors? The term “social fascist” originated with the Comintern in the latter 1920s and received wide currency in the 30s. The premise was that social democracy, because it refused to support the full revolution as the only effective anti-fascist course of action, was therefore a tacit variant of fascism itself. This was exemplified in the recurrent pattern of nominally “leftist” governments making deals with the far right against the real left, most poignantly in the case of the new “socialist” Weimar Republic in 1919. To this day liberals whose preference is to lean right have the blood of Rosa Luxemburg on their hands.
Today things are, in a sense, worse. Today’s sellouts can’t make even a quasi-serious argument about the strength of the Right or the alleged destructiveness of the “hard” Left. Today any “right” with a capital R can accomplish nothing the Democrats don’t let them accomplish, while no revolutionary Left exists at all. Today when Obama and his liberal teabaggers behave as overt, aggressive Bailouters, neoliberals, corporatists, strikebreakers, warmongers, and police statists, there can be no doubt whatsoever that they’re following their bliss. This is their true vile nature.
(A recent proposed “deal” was Cass Sunstein’s proposal that the government and media should aggressively seek to counteract and even directly censor “conspiracy theories”. Although cloaked in politically ecumenical language, the system’s actions prove clearly enough that we can read, “dissent from the left”. We can be sure the target is blogs like this one, rather than right-wing talk radio. This is borne out in the disproportionate treatment, from governments, police, and the media, doled out to real protestors, as opposed to the teabaggers. The latter consistently get away with much more aggressive behavior while receiving far more respectful treatment. The MSM also consistently overcover teabagger events, and overstate their numbers, while ignoring or downplaying the events and turnouts for progressive protest. Can you imagine what would happen if a “socialist” brought a gun to an Obama event?)
Today we know that privatization, looting, and trickle-down is their characteristic economic policy, their truly cherished ideal. Obama truly is their Leader, as he represents the epitome of liberal Reaganism.
So why do they identify as Democrats and “liberals”? Why aren’t they Republicans? (To begin with, why do we still have the one-party dictatorship split up into two factions? Most of it must be leftover inertia from the old days when there were some actual differences in the parties’ socioeconomic visions. By now they must also figure that the pattern of inverted totalitarianism better fits a sham two-party pseudo-democracy than an overt one-party state like the old USSR.) There has to be lots of cynical calculating going on (for example, Wall Street’s streetwalker in the House Melissa Bean seems to have chosen being a Democrat over being a Republican out of sheer calculation). I bet a lot of it is also the result of temperament.
I’ve always figured that man for man Reps are more likely to be conscious criminals than Dems are. If Dems on the whole are both psychologically weaker and have more book smarts, both of these would lead to their wanting to find ways to square things with their flimsy conscience.
Their weakness also manifests in their incapacity for real anger where it comes to what should be questions of principle. If a prominent liberal claims to hold a principle, and then finds that principle under vicious assault, he’s more likely to compromise on the principle than fight hard on its behalf if the fight would require his real hatred for the enemy. (As I’ve personally experienced, liberals don’t even like calling an enemy “the enemy”.)
For example, in a recent piece Paul Krugman repeated his frequent sigh for “reasonable conservatives”. That’s for his psychological well-being. He needs to believe in them because to a social fascist like him the real Left is usually the real problem. So whenever things get tough, like for his beloved health racketeering plan, his preferred course of action is to make an alliance with the Right. His stance on health “reform” is a textbook example. He applauds the corrupt secret deals the administration made with all the rackets involved in order to produce this monstrosity. But I guess by nature he’s not cynical enough to do this easily. He really wants to feel like he’s a good guy, on the side of good public policy. So he’s personally just as much as politically invested in thinking there’s such a thing as “reasonable conservatives.” That would give him cover for his own corporate advocacy, that he’s not so obviously in the company of only the most vicious gangsters.  
Most liberal nabobs are also cowards. They’re scared of anything, like corporations, which has real power, or even of things which are powerless but can still make noise, like the Republicans in 2009. This cowardice manifests generally in a willingness to live under the thumb of gangsters. Very rarely does a “progressive” actually acknowledge that the beleaguered way of life, the imperiled value, is freedom in itself, prosperity in itself, and the problem is the rackets themselves, and that the great war must be fought out on this line, or lost.
One particular symptom of this kind of cowardice is the constant refrain that Obama “inherited” the Bailout and the Permanent War. A free human being would never accept such an “inheritance”. He’d disavow it. He’d fight as hard as he must to redeem the situation and place the full blame and cost on the heads of the criminals responsible. He’d make them pay, politically, financially, in the dock, and on the gallows, for everything they stole and all the pain they forced upon the innocent.
We know that Obama and his hacks are in fact consciously among the criminals. But this can’t be the case for the rank and file cultists. Only sheer cowardice and spiritual weakness in general can explain the abyss between the ideals they proclaim and the crimes they support. That’s what makes them liberal teabaggers.
(The definition of a teabagger is someone who, regardless of political affiliation, being non-rich lets himself be Astroturfed into fighting for the rich against his own people. So who’s worse?
Is it those who claim to want freedom and the Constitution but who support the fascist Sarah Palin, with her fascist wars and “Patriot” Act? Who call the neoliberal Obama a “socialist”?
Or is it the Obama hacks and cultists? Those who are either too dumb to understand that Obama has done nothing but continue every Bush/Cheney assault, or who openly demonstrate how they’re just Democrat party hacks who never had a problem with Bush policy but only with the fact that it was Bush doing it.
Either way, they’re empowering Wall Street and increasingly overt fascism.
So it’s two kinds of Astroturf hacks, while those on both sides who think Obama’s a “progressive” or a socialist, differing only in whether they applaud or attack this lie, are just the same idiot.)
And with the hacks we get to the worst of the lot, the sheer cynical traitors. These are Democratic politicians and operatives, as well as many, perhaps most, among the “activist” leadership and in the media. These are the neoliberal cadres who willfully support corporatism, who truly believe America should be a dictatorship of big business and big money, with sham elections for window dressing. Reagan, as channeled through Obama, is their perfect Leader. His sociopathy and perfidy, his supercilious elitism and technocratic wonkery, reflect perfectly those who call themselves the “creative class”. This is the real social fascism.
These are the purveyors of the Big Lie of “pragmatism”, which is their Orwellian term for the bloodless tyranny of clinical process. (I’ll have more on “the process” in the next post.) These are the whitewash brigade for all of Obama’s lies: That he never promised “change”, transparency, to purge corruption, to restore the rule of law, to redeem civil liberties, to demand a public option as part of health reform, to withdraw from Iraq (and they lie about the scope of the Afghanistan focus he spoke of, which didn’t remotely foreshadow the massive escalation upon which he’s embarked). They also propagate the pro-Bailout lie that bailing out the insolvent big banks was necessary to “save the economy”. Where this lie doesn’t spring from sheer ignorance, it really means, “without the big banks, there’s no predatory globalization” or “there’s no corporatist economy” or “the elites can’t effectively refeudalize and reduce the people to serfdom.” That’s always what Obama, Geithner, and their lackeys all the way down really mean by, “we had to save the banks.”  These are the Astroturfers who round up the liberal teabaggers for the Democratic party.
They epitomize the classic fascist mentality in another way. The most vile type of subhuman filth is the kiss up-kick down type, the type of the cowardly bully. In our corporatist system, this is the most common type, in politics, in big business, in the MSM, in academia. This is the default type among Republicans, and it has become the most common type among establishment Democrats as well. Thus it’s not surprising that the one “fight” Obama and his slimy little thug Emanuel are willing to engage, the one they downright enjoy, is where they get to beat up on the “retarded” progressives, knowing that these as well are cowardly, self-defined weaklings, just on an even lower level, and will cave in under assault even where in theory they have the strength to fight back.
That’s why under the slightest, most idiotic pressure from Glenn Beck, Obama threw a real activist like Van Jones overboard, and why Jones meekly slunk away. It’s the same Dem-side cowardice at different levels. And it’s why, on the contrary, no level of pressure from the public interest side could ever get Obama to willingly part with capital criminals like Geithner or Bernanke. Because to side against them would mean to side against entrenched power.
The hacks often propagate the lie that this is a “center-right country”. What this really means is that the Democrats, the liberal organizations, and the MSM are to the right of the people, but try to convince the people that each individual one of them is atomized and wrong. It’s demoralization propaganda.
Meanwhile, the system is so rigged by now against the people, against any attempt to really engage in democracy, that for now the hard-right status of government policy is a given, but these scum hacks represent that outcome as a natural, democratic one. They try to render the results of their crimes against democracy a self-fulfilling prophecy. They strip you of any meaningful vote, and then if you vote for a stooge candidate or skip voting altogether, they claim your action either validates the system, or in the case of non-voting that you voluntarily removed yourself from it.
So what are they really? In the end are they progressives or corporatists? If a corporate environmentalist had to choose between Bush or EarthFirst!, which would he choose? These health “reform” hacks, who apparently want a fully corporatized system but with a human face or some such notion: If they had to choose between Bush and fully socialized medicine, which would they choose? If the Civil War were to start today, with clearly demarcated battle lines, and 50-50 odds, and they had to choose the side for which they had to fight, and the armies were infused with the respective spirits of Cheney and Proudhon, who would they choose?
So it was this combination of personal weakness, cowardice, and cynicism, operating over decades of an increasingly corrupt system, which debased whatever public interest spirit that may once have existed among this leadership into social fascism. By now the liberal fascists are almost indistinguishable from the rightist variety.
Real citizens, real freedom fighters, those who truly want to save America, must reject the Democratic party and the liberal establishment, including those who masquerade as independent activists but whose actions prove them to be party hacks, corporate shills, Astroturfers.
As for them, it’s funny how truly angry these hack apparatchiks are becoming, now that the real people are refusing to listen to their criminal lies anymore. That real progressives will no longer accept being treated as the personal property of the vote-buyers, to vote as the purchase decrees. That freedom-loving Americans see through their corrupt, corporatist agenda. That, whatever comes with the future, one thing which has no future whatsoever is the Democratic hack sellout, as represented by Obama, Emanuel, Krugman, and the sellouts and liars all the way down.
Tell the hacks to have fun in 2010. Have fun in 2012.
After that history will never see the likes of them again, and good riddance.

March 9, 2010

American Spirit?

Filed under: Corporatism, Freedom, Neo-feudalism — Tags: , — Russ @ 6:26 am


Everywhere we look today we see the spirit of America under assault. The Obama administration continues the Bush/Cheney assault on civil liberties. Those who present the finest exercise of our constitutional protections are demonized in the MSM. The MSM itself is already carrying out Cass Sunstein’s directive on how alternative media should be first assaulted and then muzzled completely. The “supreme court” recently declared that the administration can declare anyone – anyone – an enemy combatant who would then no longer exist in the eyes of the law or the constitution.
Does this sound familiar?

The decisive factor was that the conservatives made no effort to preserve the rights of habeas corpus. This fearful gap meant that henceforth there was no limit to outrages by the state. The police could arbitrarily arrest and extend the period of detention indefinitely. They could leave relatives without any news concerning the reasons for the arrest and the fate of the person arrested. They could prevent a lawyer or other persons from visiting him or examining the files on the case….They could torture the prisoner….No court would ever find the case in its files. No court had the right to interfere, even if a judge unofficially obtained knowledge of the circumstances.

Is that German policy under the Emergency Decree imposed following the Reichstag Fire in 1933, or is it today’s War-on-Terror America? In principle, that’s what we now have. It’s administration policy and enshrined by the so-called supreme court.
Meanwhile we have the permanent imperial war, the militarization of the police, and the systematic suppression of protest. The purpose of all of these is (1) profit (as always), and (2) repression toward enslavement.
All of these are details of the corporate tyranny now enclosing America in its death shroud, to choke off all light and air. This is truly Bailout America, since the core premise of all government policy is the succor and power of the big banks. No one who’s not a flack or a slave disputes that nothing whatsoever can happen in federal policy except with the consent of Wall Street. It has at least a veto over literally everything, and actively writes and drives much policy, including all sham “regulatory” policy.
So Wall Street is the universal spider which has spun out the web of rackets, and every other racket – real estate, insurance, pharmaceuticals, big box retail, weapons, “security”, industrial agriculture, fossil fuels, automobiles, “education”, the MSM, big entertainment, as well as all “green” scams which pretend to mitigate the environmental problems of these while leaving the rackets intact – all these radiate out from the big banks. The federal government by now is nothing but the material for the web. It has no “policy” of its own.
They’re closing in all right.
This is the world of the great war of freedom vs. tyranny. It’s hard to see where to make a stand and fight. Was Iceland’s resounding rejection of its planned debt enslavement a real call to action? Or was it just a tantrum before caving in? I hate to have doubts, but when we look at how the polls show majorities among Greeks wanting to submit to servitude, and how they’re willing to sell out their own protests (true protestors are always the real voice of the people), we have to remain calm and wait to see what develops. It’s still a much better show than anything being put on in America. The reaction of the Icelandic people to their government’s treachery, short a short while after they ousted a previous rogue government, offers hope. But they have a lot of work to do yet. The first thing is to get rid of this government, and not screw around this time in establishing a new one. They need to get straight on rejecting not just a particular plan to enslave them, but the whole debt system. (They’re already trying to brainstorm ways to generate income outside the European stranglehold. That’s a good start in principle, now they need to keep going.)
Meanwhile there’s the question of the British themselves, as their own debt collapse impends. They too have been complacent, not only in the face of bank tyranny but a general surveillance regime which is literally totalitarian. It’s hard to hope that when their turn comes, they won’t cave in and be rounded up.
The goal is to turn each country into one big debtors’ prison. Latvia’s already there. Greece is being rounded up as we speak, while the Americans and British also are being herded, though here the real roundup is yet to come.
For the moment Iceland is dodging the net. So let’s cheer them on, and look to ourselves to find the same spirit.
What’s the real spirit of America?

January 16, 2010

Krugman: Hack Number One


In the fight of the people against corporate tyranny and a corrupt government it’s important to identify and condemn to worst liars on the side of the enemy. Since Paul Krugman is a highly influential commentator, and since he evidently now aspires to the role of “progressive” corporate Obama Hack Number One, it’s important that we train our fire on him.
We should range him alongside Rush Limbaugh as being one of the most obnoxious corporate shills with, unfortunately, the biggest audience. 
Glenn Greenwald wrote a chilling piece on totalitarianism within the Obama administration. Obama cadre Cass Sunstein continues to express his hatred for all forms of decentralization of power and information and to advocate ever more evil means in the struggle against freedom.
(Read Greenwald’s piece and look at the quotes. Sunstein wants to tear up the Constitution in order to silence all non-conformist voices.)
Well, Paul Krugman has no problem with Sunstein. But he does object to Greenwald calling him out on his own hypocrisy and corruption.

Today Glenn Greenwald accused me of being a hypocrite for defending Jonathan Gruber, the health care economist who has become a target of some progressive opponents of the health care plan. He writes:

Paul Krugman, for instance, in 2005 angrily lambasted right-wing pundits and policy analysts who received secret, undisclosed payments, and said they lack “intellectual integrity”; he specifically cited the Armstrong Williams case. Yet the very same Paul Krugman last week attacked Marcy Wheeler for helping to uncover the Gruber payments by accusing her of being “just like the right-wingers with their endless supply of fake scandals.” What is one key difference? Unlike Williams and Gallagher, Jonathan Gruber is a Good, Well-Intentioned Person with Good Views — he favors health care — and so massive, undisclosed payments from the same administration he’s defending are dismissed as a “fake scandal.”

What’s wrong with this accusation? Everything. Armstrong Williams received a contract specifically to promote Bush administration policies; his duties under the contract were to “regularly comment” on these policies on his program, and to interview Bush administration officials. In short, he was being paid to serve as a propagandist.

Yes. That’s what Greenwald said. Gruber was paid to serve as a propagandist.

What was Gruber contracted to do? He emails:

I was contracted with HHS for technical modeling assistance. When designing a policy like this, policy makers want to consider a million different permutations: different AVs, tax credit amounts, employer assessments, etc. Basically, in a perfect world, we would all just rely on CBO for all these permutations. But CBO has limited resources and can’t work directly with the administration. So I provided the administration & congress (mostly senate finance) with the kind of modeling that CBO does to help them narrow options to a more manageable list that they could send to CBO.

So he was a hired shill for the Democratic Party Plan. Just like Greenwald said.
(I like the touch that Gruber e-mailed Krugman. So K knows him personally – that means he’s gotta be a great guy!)

That is, he was hired as an economist, paid to provide technical analysis — not as a pundit, paid to promote policies to the public. Maybe Glenn Greenwald can’t see any difference between the two — and the more of this I read, the more sense I have that the attackers are deliberately obfuscating the difference — but they really aren’t the same.

Now that’s cute. Suddenly Krugman wants us to believe again in the wisdom of “economists”! After all that’s happened! Is there any group of alleged experts in all of history whose claim to be credible has been more utterly trounced than that of “economists”? Has any passel of pseudo-scientific pretension ever been more completely unmasked as mercenary political flackery? Krugman would have a better shot at rehabilitating alchemists.
“Deliberately obfuscating the difference”. Yup – always claim your opponent is doing exactly what you’re trying to do. Oldest trick in the book.
In this case what Thugman’s deliberately obfuscating is the fact that there’s NO difference between Gruber and Armstrong Williams. He’s propagating the lie that they aren’t equally paid propagandists.
(We still don’t know what Krugman’s own secret financial interests are. But the fact that he’s so solicitous about this secret payoff is grounds for suspicion. He seems quite emotionally invested in the Gruber affair. And in retrospect could his anger at Williams maybe have had some element of professional jealousy? There’s sure a lot of health insurance racket money floating around. Lots for a hack shill for this bill.)
Krugman goes on to propagate Gruber’s “credentials”. K whines that Gruber is actually some magisterial, Olympian authority beyond any taint of political corruption; how dare you peasants question his heavenly integrity; he’s like a kind of god.
Again, it’s quaint how, after all that’s happened, Thugman still wants us peasants to repose faith in “expertise” among system hacks.
I don’t doubt Krugman is trying to figure out how to rehabilitate Geithner and Goldman Sachs as we speak. It’s the logical extension of the argument we’re seeing from him.

Given that Gruber was providing this kind of technical consulting, should he have recused himself entirely from the public debate? Should he have stopped writing op-eds and, more important, technical papers read by the likes of Ezra Klein and myself? If he had, the public debate would have been much poorer; again, there aren’t many people in a position to do the kind of quantitative assessments Gruber does.

And one more thing: what Gruber has had to say about health reform in the current debate is entirely consistent with his previous academic work. There’s not a hint that he has changed views, or altered his model, to accommodate the Obama administration.

We just got done hearing how Gruber is an objective “expert”. Now suddenly he’s the opposite – a spirited participant in the public debate. A minute ago it was wrong to call Gruber corrupt because he’s an “expert” technocrat, not a political cadre. Now suddenly it’s wrong to call him corrupt because of the opposite – he’s not a paid “expert”, but on the contrary a political fighter of such integrity and principle that no level of payment could ever corrupt him; he only took the Obama job because his principles matched up so felicitously with Obama’s.
Or, as Greenwald already said,

What is one key difference? Unlike Williams and Gallagher, Jonathan Gruber is a Good, Well-Intentioned Person with Good Views — he favors health care — and so massive, undisclosed payments from the same administration he’s defending are dismissed as a “fake scandal.”

Of course, Krugman himself is a “Good, Well-Intentioned Person With Good Views”. And if the views themselves happen to change suspiciously with the change of the party in power, pay no mind. The “Intention” is always “Good”.

Can we fix health care?
Health policy experts know a lot more about the economics of health care now than they did when Bill Clinton tried to remake the US health care system. And there’s overwhelming evidence that the United States could get better health care at lower cost if we were willing to put that knowledge into practice. But the political obstacles remain daunting.

A mere shift of power from Republicans to Democrats would not, in itself, be enough to give us sensible health care reform. While Democrats would have written a less perverse drug bill, it’s not clear that they are ready to embrace a single-payer system. Even liberal economists and scholars at progressive think tanks tend to shy away from proposing a straightforward system of national health insurance. Instead, they propose fairly complex compromise plans. Typically, such plans try to achieve universal coverage by requiring everyone to buy health insurance, the way everyone is forced to buy car insurance, and deal with those who can’t afford to purchase insurance through a system of subsidies. Proponents of such plans make a few arguments for their superiority to a single-payer system, mainly the (dubious) claim that single-payer would reduce medical innovation. But the main reason for not proposing single-payer is political fear: reformers believe that private insurers are too powerful to cut out of the loop, and that a single-payer plan would be too easily demonized by business and political propagandists as “big government.”

These are the same political calculations that led Bill Clinton to reject a single-payer system in 1993, even though his advisers believed that a single-payer system would be the least expensive way to provide universal coverage. Instead, he proposed a complex plan designed to preserve a role for private health insurers. But the plan backfired. The insurers opposed it anyway, most famously with their “Harry and Louise” ads. And the plan’s complexity left the public baffled.

We believe that the compromise plans being proposed by the cautious reformers would run into the same political problems, and that it would be politically smarter as well as economically superior to go for broke: to propose a straightforward single-payer system, and try to sell voters on the huge advantages such a system would bring. But this would mean taking on the drug and insurance companies rather than trying to co-opt them, and even progressive policy wonks, let alone Democratic politicians, still seem too timid to do that.

So what will really happen to American health care? Many people in this field believe that in the end America will end up with national health insurance, and perhaps with a lot of direct government provision of health care, simply because nothing else works. But things may have to get much worse before reality can break through the combination of powerful interest groups and free-market ideology.

Who wrote that? It sounds a lot like what happened this past year. But no, that couldn’t be the case, because that was none other than Paul Krugman expressing his Good Intentions back in 2006 when the Republicans were still in power. As he would lecture any peasant stupid enough not to understand, things are different today.
(I guess it’s an example of Sorel’s “social myths”. What you say you want to do when you’re out of power doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what you really want to do once you’re in power.)
Anyone who wants some nauseating reading should go back and read K’s blog entries for December. Look over how the aspiring Hack Number One contorted and squirmed and dodged to somehow justify the racket bill and even claim it as a world-historical “progressive” victory.
And now let’s return to the end of Hackman’s latest:

Yes, Gruber has been commenting on health care while doing technical consulting for the administration. But there is nothing wrong with that. More disclosure would have been a good idea — but there is no scandal whatsoever.

And here’s the thing: by claiming that there’s a huge scandal when nothing worse happened than insufficient care about disclosure, Greenwald and the people at FDL are actually reducing our ability to call foul on real corruption. After all, if everything is a scandal, nothing is a scandal. One of these days, perhaps soon, we’ll have a genuinely corrupt administration again — but when whistleblowers try to call attention to the misdeeds, you can be sure that there will be claims that “even liberals said that Obama did things just as bad or worse.” The crusade against Gruber is getting really destructive.

So there it is. Republican corruption is “real corruption”, while in Krugman’s deliberate obfuscation Democratic corruption isn’t corruption at all.
What was the maneuver here? It’s very clear that when Bush was doing stuff like this Krugman objected on principle and rightly refused to entertain any lying explanations and mitigations. But now that Obama’s doing the same thing he suddenly scoffs at principle and deliberately obfuscates via every lie and excuse he can come up with, and with no greater credibility than the Bush hacks ever had.
It’s ironic that Krugman started out as an Obama skeptic (that is, when he was a Hillary hack) but now wants to be Hack Number One for this administration.
That’s why every lie is meant to bolster the bottom line lie that the Democrats are somehow better than the Republicans. We now know for a fact that Krugman never objected to any Bush action on grounds of principle or policy. he objected, always and only, out of Democrat partisanship.
(Needless to say, I and others who actually care about America object to Obama precisely on account of how he has done nothing but continue and intensify Bush corporatism. We object always and only on grounds of principle and policy. And that’s why we condemn Obama for the same sleazy political practices as Bush engaged in. But since hacks like Krugman opposed Bush only as partisans, never as the principled, therefore they always lied when they objected to the practices, and they now don’t object to the same practices once it’s their guy doing it.)
We have to sweep the scene clean of Krugman. Even his complaints about the stimulus are now revealed to be a crock. It wasn’t big enough? But what good would, say, $2 trillion worth of reactionary ratholes like Cash for Clunkers or the homebuyer credit have been? And in spite of his whining Thugman always supported the Bailout. 
Either resources are going to be used for decentralization and relocalization, or they’re going to be wasted and stolen. Obama policies, identical to those of Bush, have been 100% stupid and larcenous.
But as we know, Sunstein and Krugman are die-hard enemies of decentralization of any sort.
Krugman claims he’s worried about an “if everything’s a scandal, nothing’s a scandal” effect? Then why isn’t he blaming the scandalous Obama administration for engaging in such scandalous behavior? Why is he incompetently trying to shoot the messenger? Why, if he ever had a shred of principle, isn’t he joining the fight to hold government accountable? Why is it not a problem to him that Obama and the Democrats came in promising “Change”, came in with a tremendous mandate for Change, came in with one of the rare opportunities in history to actually fight back and reverse the hideous trend of a monstrous crime, and instead chose to join the crime? Chose to take their place among the worst criminals in history?
In the end it’s going to be his fault. Krugman’s fault, among others, when things continue to get worse. They had their chance, and they threw it away with great malice.
In the end, Paul Krugman is just as wretched and snivelling a partisan hack as Armstrong Williams. And in the end, when we the people finally take back our country, all the hacks going to end up rotting on the same trash heap of history, where they belong. ALL of them.