The Democratic Party, 2019

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The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby MacCruiskeen » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:21 pm

"...an unprecedented influx of intelligence and military operatives into the Democratic Party. More than 50 such military-intelligence candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination in the 102 districts identified by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as its targets for 2018."


The CIA takeover of the Democratic Party

by Patrick Martin

13 March 2018

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/03/13/pers-m13.html

In a three-part series published last week, the World Socialist Web Site documented an unprecedented influx of intelligence and military operatives into the Democratic Party. More than 50 such military-intelligence candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination in the 102 districts identified by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as its targets for 2018. These include both vacant seats and those with Republican incumbents considered vulnerable in the event of a significant swing to the Democrats.

If on November 6 the Democratic Party makes the net gain of 24 seats needed to win control of the House of Representatives, former CIA agents, military commanders, and State Department officials will provide the margin of victory and hold the balance of power in Congress. The presence of so many representatives of the military-intelligence apparatus in the legislature is a situation without precedent in the history of the United States.

Since its establishment in 1947—under the administration of Democratic President Harry Truman—the CIA has been legally barred from carrying out within the United States the activities which were its mission overseas: spying, infiltration, political provocation, assassination. These prohibitions were given official lip service but ignored in practice.

In the wake of the Watergate crisis and the forced resignation of President Richard Nixon, reporter Seymour Hersh published the first devastating exposure of the CIA domestic spying, in an investigative report for the New York Times on December 22, 1974. This report triggered the establishment of the Rockefeller Commission, a White House effort at damage control, and Senate and House select committees, named after their chairmen, Senator Frank Church and Representative Otis Pike, which conducted hearings and made serious attempts to investigate and expose the crimes of the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.

The Church Committee in particular featured the exposure of CIA assassination plots against foreign leaders like Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, General Rene Schneider in Chile, and many others. More horrors were uncovered: MK-Ultra, in which the CIA secretly subjected unwitting victims to experimentation with drugs like LSD; Operation Mockingbird, in which the CIA recruited journalists to plant stories and smear opponents; Operation Chaos, an effort to spy on the antiwar movement and sow disruption; Operation Shamrock, under which the telecommunications companies shared traffic with the NSA for more than a quarter century.

The Church and Pike committee exposures, despite their limitations, had a devastating political effect. The CIA and its allied intelligence organizations in the Pentagon and NSA became political lepers, reviled as the enemies of democratic rights. The CIA in particular was widely viewed as “Murder Incorporated.”

In that period, it would have been unthinkable either for dozens of “former” military-intelligence operatives to participate openly in electoral politics, or for them to be welcomed and even recruited by the two corporate-controlled parties. The Democrats and Republicans sought to distance themselves, at least for public relations purposes, from the spy apparatus, while the CIA publicly declared that it would no longer recruit or pay American journalists to publish material originating in Langley, Virginia. Even in the 1980s, the Iran-Contra scandal involved the exposure of the illegal operations of the Reagan administration’s CIA director, William Casey.

How times have changed. One of the main functions of the “war on terror,” launched in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has been to rehabilitate the US spy apparatus and give it a public relations makeover as the supposed protector of the American people against terrorism.

This meant disregarding the well-known connections between Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders and the CIA, which recruited them for the anti-Soviet guerrilla war in Afghanistan, waged from 1979 to 1989, as well as the still unexplained role of the US intelligence agencies in facilitating the 9/11 attacks themselves.

The last 15 years have seen a massive expansion of the CIA and other intelligence agencies, backed by an avalanche of media propaganda, with endless television programs and movies glorifying American spies and assassins (24, Homeland, Zero Dark Thirty, etc.)

The American media has been directly recruited to this effort. Judith Miller of the New York Times, with her reports on “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, is only the most notorious of the stable of “plugged-in” intelligence-connected journalists at the Times, the Washington Post, and the major television networks. More recently, the Times has installed as its editorial page editor James Bennet, brother of a Democratic senator and son of the former administrator of the Agency for International Development, which has been accused of working as a front for the operations of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The media campaign alleging Russian intervention in the 2016 US elections has been based entirely on handouts from the CIA, NSA and FBI, transmitted by reporters who are either unwitting stooges or conscious agents of the military-intelligence apparatus. This has been accompanied by the recruitment of a cadre of top CIA and military officials to serve as highly paid “experts” and “analysts” for the television networks.

In centering its opposition to Trump on the bogus allegations of Russian interference, while essentially ignoring Trump’s attacks on immigrants and democratic rights, his alignment with ultra-right and white supremacist groups, his attacks on social programs like Medicaid and food stamps, and his militarism and threats of nuclear war, the Democratic Party has embraced the agenda of the military-intelligence apparatus and sought to become its main political voice.

This process was well under way in the administration of Barack Obama, which endorsed and expanded the various operations of the intelligence agencies abroad and within the United States. Obama’s endorsed successor, Hillary Clinton, ran openly as the chosen candidate of the Pentagon and CIA, touting her toughness as a future commander-in-chief and pledging to escalate the confrontation with Russia, both in Syria and Ukraine.

The CIA has spearheaded the anti-Russia campaign against Trump in large part because of resentment over the disruption of its operations in Syria, and it has successfully used the campaign to force a shift in the policy of the Trump administration on that score. A chorus of media backers—Nicholas Kristof and Roger Cohen of the New York Times, the entire editorial board of the Washington Post, most of the television networks—are part of the campaign to pollute public opinion and whip up support on alleged “human rights” grounds for an expansion of the US war in Syria.

The 2018 election campaign marks a new stage: for the first time, military-intelligence operatives are moving in large numbers to take over a political party and seize a major role in Congress. The dozens of CIA and military veterans running in the Democratic Party primaries are “former” agents of the military-intelligence apparatus. This “retired” status is, however, purely nominal. Joining the CIA or the Army Rangers or the Navy SEALs is like joining the Mafia: no one ever actually leaves; they just move on to new assignments.

The CIA operation in 2018 is unlike its overseas activities in one major respect: it is not covert. On the contrary, the military-intelligence operatives running in the Democratic primaries boast of their careers as spies and special ops warriors. Those with combat experience invariably feature photographs of themselves in desert fatigues or other uniforms on their websites. And they are welcomed and given preferred positions, with Democratic Party officials frequently clearing the field for their candidacies.

The working class is confronted with an extraordinary political situation. On the one hand, the Republican Trump administration has more military generals in top posts than any other previous government. On the other hand, the Democratic Party has opened its doors to a "friendly takeover" by the intelligence agencies.

The incredible power of the military-intelligence agencies over the entire government is an expression of the breakdown of American democracy. The central cause of this breakdown is the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny elite, whose interests the state apparatus and its “bodies of armed men” serve. Confronted by an angry and hostile working class, the ruling class is resorting to ever more overt forms of authoritarian rule.

Millions of working people want to fight the Trump administration and its ultra-right policies. But it is impossible to carry out this fight through the “axis of evil” that connects the Democratic Party, the bulk of the corporate media, and the CIA. The influx of military-intelligence candidates puts paid to the longstanding myth, peddled by the trade unions and pseudo-left groups, that the Democrats represent a “lesser evil.” On the contrary, working people must confront the fact that within the framework of the corporate-controlled two-party system, they face two equally reactionary evils.

Patrick Martin


The author also recommends:

Palace coup or class struggle: The political crisis in Washington and the strategy of the working class [13 June 2017]

One year of Democratic sabotage of opposition to Trump [20 January 2018]

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/0 ... s-m13.html
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby Belligerent Savant » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:54 pm

.

F#CK the Democratic Party.

F#CK The Republican Party.

F#CK the System.

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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby DrEvil » Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:36 pm

Well duh! Can't have communist rabble-rousers like Occasional Cortex coming in and ruining everything. Won't somebody think of the money?
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby RocketMan » Sat Feb 16, 2019 7:51 am

American Gothic

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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby RocketMan » Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:40 pm

Quelle surprise...

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday in order to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. If he ultimately gets the wall he wants, it will only be because Democrats who control the House of Representatives let him have it.

Fortunately, the Constitution does not give the president unfettered authority to spend federal funds on his own pet projects. Instead, we have a finely crafted system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, that system of checks and balances doesn’t function when the actors who have the ability to check the president decline to use their power. By voting on Thursday to approve a budget deal without any explicit language barring the president’s end-run maneuver, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of her caucus decided not to exercise their check. Now, they can’t count on the courts to do it for them.
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby Harvey » Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:45 pm

On balance, the check is always in the mail.
And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings
This he said to me
"The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return"


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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby MacCruiskeen » Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:46 pm

One big strategy decision has very obviously already been made by the Dems' party machine: they are positioning themselves as The Women's Party for the 2020 "election".

Somewhere on Twitter I saw a short clip of a recent interview with HClinton, who was enthusing about the sheer wonderfulness of Kamala Harris. Then the interviewer had the temerity to mention that some people were unhappy with Ms Harris's actual voting-record. Hillary immediately went very frosty indeed and said that any such criticism smacked of "misogyny, frankly".

We'll be seeing much more of those sly rhetorical tactics, that crafty (but anti-intelligent) PR/psyop strategy.
Last edited by MacCruiskeen on Sat Feb 16, 2019 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby MacCruiskeen » Sat Feb 16, 2019 6:29 pm

The point & purpose of the Democratic Party in the 21st century is to capture, control and channel dissent. They know how to do it.

Their campaign ads are gonna be awesome.
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby Grizzly » Sun Feb 17, 2019 4:43 am

The point & purpose of the Democratic Party in the 21st century is to capture, control and channel dissent. They know how to do it.


EXACTLY.
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby Grizzly » Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:12 pm

Bump...
The ratchet effect
http://www.stopmebeforeivoteagain.org/stopme/chapter02.html
The ratchet is a simple, ubiquitous, ancient bit of machinery. There's one in your bicycle wheel (it allows you to coast without pedaling), there's one in your watch (if you're the old-fashioned type and have a mechanical watch) and there's one in the jib sheet winches of your boat (if you're a yachtsman; but then in that case you probably aren't reading this book). What the ratchet does is permit rotation in one direction but not in the other. Here's a diagram:

Image

The American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties -- Republicans and Democrats -- play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation.

The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward.

The Democrats' role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don't resist the rightward movement -- they let it happen -- but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.

Here's how it works. In every election year, the Democrats come and tell us that the country has moved to the right, and so the Democratic Party has to move right too in the name of realism and electability. Gotta keep these right-wing madmen out of the White House, no matter what it takes.

(Actually, they don't say they're going to move to the right; they say they're going to move to the center. But of course it amounts to the same thing, if you're supposed to be left of center. It's the same direction of movement.)

So now the Democrats have moved to the "center." But of course this has the effect of shifting the "center" farther to the right.

Now, as a consequence, the Republicans suddenly don't seem so crazy anymore -- they're closer to the center, through no effort of their own, because the center has shifted closer to them. So they can move even further right, and still end up no farther from the "center" than they were four years ago.

In fact, the Democrats' rightward shift not only enables the Republicans to move farther right themselves; it actually compels them to do so, if they want to maintain their identity as the angry-white-guy party par excellence. (A great part of the Republicans' hysterical hatred of Bill Clinton arose from this cause: with Democrats like Clinton, who needs Republicans?)

The ratchet clicks: Nixon. The pawl holds: Carter. Click again: Reagan. And again: Bush Senior (and Iraq War I). The pawl holds: Clinton. Click: Bush Junior and Iraq War II; then another click, and it's Bush Junior triumphant, and God knows what to come.

Has the phrase "conspiracy theory" crept into your mind yet? Let me exorcize it. This is not a vast conspiracy. Nobody planned it out. What I am offering here is a structural explanation, not a conspiracy theory. There is a very important difference. Perhaps an analogy will help.

I assume that most people reading this book believe in the Darwinian theory of evolution. We often speak of the "function" or "purpose" of anatomical structures -- like your liver, or your thumb, or the hammerhead shark's odd cranium. But this way of talking doesn't commit us to believing that somebody planned these structures out. They were not contrived; they evolved.

The same holds true for the rightward ratchet in contemporary American politics. No Machiavelli schemed it into existence; it evolved. And it evolved for the same reason that anything evolves: it was useful. But useful to whom?

Not useful, certainly, to the millions of slightly, or more-than-slightly, left-of-center Americans who troop glumly to the polls every four years, hold their noses, and vote for the "lesser evil," even though they expect nothing from their candidate. Nor is it useful to the forty to fifty percent of Americans who don't bother to vote at all because neither candidate has managed to say anything that seems relevant to their lives,

I have a somewhat unlikely friend, a rich man in Chicago -- let's call him Al. Politics is not Al's profession, or even his first interest in life, but he is a well-connected, intelligent guy who has some pet political causes. I happened to ask him one year, during a Senatorial campaign, which candidate he and his friends were contributing to. Both candidates were quite friendly to his cause, and I thought he might have had a hard time deciding between them. Al looked at me as if I had just revealed unsuspected depths of idiocy. "Both, of course," he replied.

"Both?"

"Well, we're giving a little more to X [the Republican], naturally, 'cause he's got a better chance of winning. But we've given a lot to Y [the Democrat], too. In fact, I think we may be his biggest single bloc of support."

"But... which one do you want to win?"

He laughed. "It doesn't matter. We own 'em both."

The ratchet works really well for people like Al: and that's what keeps it in operation. It's not that he's an especially right-wing guy himself; in fact, he thinks of himself as a liberal. But the ratchet has lowered his taxes, gotten the unions out of his plant, fattened the budget of his wealthy suburban school district (and correspondingly starved the urban districts where his employees live). He thinks Bush is a contemptible idiot, and may even have voted for Kerry himself (though he's very reluctant to talk about it). But what's beyond question is that the ratchet has operated to his benefit.

Absent some countervailing pressure from what we'll call, for short, the Left, it's a foregone conclusion that the political system will evolve in a way that responds to the desires of the wealthy and powerful.

Over time, the Democratic Party has assumed the role of ensuring that the countervailing pressure from the Left doesn't happen. The party contains and neutralizes the Left, or what there is of it. Left voters are supposed to support the Democrat, come what may -- and it's amazing how many of us have internalized this supposed obligation -- but they are not allowed to have any influence on the party's policies, either during the campaign or during the Republicans' infrequent holidays in opposition. Al's employees mostly vote Democratic. They get nothing for their pains, but the Clinton years were as good for Al as the Reagan years.

But that's not the worst of it. The reluctant-Democrat voters -- like my neighbor Annie -- don't realize that their votes are not just wasted: they are positively helping drive the ratchet. The fact that these captive lefties can be counted on not to bolt enables the James Carvilles and the Al Froms and the other DLC "triangulators" to pursue their rightward course without fear of any consequences. Annie and all the other well-meaning dependable Democrats are supplying an essential part of the fuel that keeps the machine going.

Again: Nobody planned this. The Democratic Party fell into its role in the ratchet for historical reasons, which we will explore in the next chapter. But now that the machine is up and running and delivering the goods for the wealthy and powerful, there is certainly no reason for the wealthy and powerful to interfere with it. And there is no means by which the less wealthy, whose power is only in their numbers, can affect it at all -- except by depriving it of their support.

Over the decades since the ratchet started operating, each party has developed a story, a narrative, or less politely, a scam, that depends crucially on predictable behavior by the other party. Those Republicans, say the Democrats, they're crazy extremists; last year it was Iraq, next year it'll be Iran. We have to stop them by any means necessary, even if it means wearing their clothes.

The Republicans reply: Where do you get off calling us crazy? You voted for the Iraq war. And you're defending Iran now?

Oh no, say the Democrats, those Iranians, they're terrible. Somebody really needs to do something about them. Why haven't you guys done it?

At this point Annie gets upset and calls her Democratic congressman. "Ted! Are you advocating war with Iran?"

"Naaah, naah, Annie," Ted coos, "That's just to get our guy elected. Gotta keep those crazies out of the White House."

Annie hangs up the phone, trying to feel reassured, and tomorrow's New York Times will announce that war with Iran is a matter of bipartisan consensus.

The Democrats depend on the Republicans to frighten their constituencies and keep them in the Democratic corral. It's not too strong to say that in effect, they encourage the Republicans to play the bad cop. The Republicans, conversely, need a bogeyman to energize their activist base -- a Godless, urban, liberal bogeyman who will tempt good Christian boys into sodomitical vice and take away people's guns. So far, the relationship between the party narratives is symmetrical: each is Bad Cop to the other's Good Cop. But there are some crucial asymmetries, and it's these asymmetries that drive the ratchet effect.

One of the most important asymmetries is that while the Republicans can be as ferocious as they please on matters relating to culture -- sex, religion, and so on -- the Democrats are not prepared to be ferocious on the only possible counterweight to culture, which is... class. In fact, not only are the Democrats unwilling to be ferocious, they're unwilling to raise the topic at all. It's the Great Unmentionable of American politics.

It was not always thus. Class politics was one of the pillars of the Democratic party of Roosevelt -- the party that Annie is remembering when she pulls the donkey lever. How we got from there to here is the subject of the next chapter.

If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby MacCruiskeen » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:53 pm

Image Bill Clinton Verified Account @BillClinton

The heartbreaking violence in Venezuela must stop. I stand with President @JGuaido, the National Assembly, and the people of #Venezuela as they embrace their right to live in peace, choose their leaders, and decide their future, in harmony with their neighbors.

https://twitter.com/BillClinton/status/ ... 2608018432


Emphasis added.

Sanders is no better, shovelling the bullshit as fast as he can:

Bernie Sanders Verifiied Account @SenSanders

The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis. The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.

10:47 - 23. Feb. 2019

https://twitter.com/SenSanders/status/1 ... 2018912257


Roger Waters demonstrates once again that ageing rock stars need not have brains the size of walnuts, or hearts like shriveled prunes:

Roger Waters Veriified Account @rogerwaters 23. Feb.

Antwort an @SenSanders

Bernie, are you f-ing kidding me! if you buy the Trump, Bolton, Abrams, Rubio line, “humanitarian intervention” and collude in the destruction of Venezuela, you cannot be credible candidate for President of the USA. Or, maybe you can, maybe you’re the perfect stooge for the 1 %.
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby RocketMan » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:33 am

This is indeed verrrry verrry disappointing. WHY am I DISAPPOINTED?! Jesus, I'm hopeless. Well, like Dylan said, "When you think you've lost everything/You find out you can lose a little more".
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby RocketMan » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:31 pm

Yep. Shame on them for not letting Hillary rein in the superpredators.
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby Elvis » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:21 am

https://crooked.com/articles/whats-miss ... -the-left/
What’s Missing From The Most Important Debate On The Left

Brian Beutler / Feb.28.19

An issue that sounds extremely technical, but may determine the fate of the progressive agenda, has revealed important divisions between factions of the professional left—and absent the emergence of some consensus about how to forge ahead, it’s easy to imagine a future Democratic governing majority dissolving into recriminations about whether and how to enact big new health, welfare, and energy programs, and coming up empty.

The issue is called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), and it’s more accurate to say that it has created a pincer movement of mainstream liberals and committed leftists who, for different reasons, seek to discredit a line of strategic thinking that has gained popularity among progressive activists.

MMT posits that policymakers have arranged the public financing system based on conceptual confusion about how a country that prints its own currency pays for public spending. In the U.S. we agonize in our public debates about making sure this or that legislation is “paid for,” through tax increases, spending cuts, or a combination of the two. In this way of thinking, we have budget deficits because we haven’t “paid for” our outlays. We are warned nebulously that this kind of indiscipline will land us in a crisis of spiraling debt and economic stagnation or collapse. MMT counsels that this a foolish way to think about basic economics. In countries like the U.S., we pay for things with money, which we print ourselves. The constraint on that spending is inflation—if we push too much money out into the private sector, demand and prices will rise—and deficits simply reflect political choices about the amount of inflation we’re willing to tolerate. Taxes are a tool to control inflation, but in a low inflation environment, we should think of taxes as a means of instituting good policy—to reduce inequality or to limit greenhouse gas emissions—rather than as the means of “paying for” our national policy priorities.

The theoretical mechanics of MMT are uncontroversial, and the value of its perspective framework is that it frees supportive lawmakers from the orthodox view that deficits are inherently bad and spending legislation should not become law unless it is simultaneously paid for. But through a combination of exuberance and disdain, MMT supporters and detractors alike have come to view the theory as a fantasy ticket to a free lunch.

Matt Bruenig, the socialist founder of People’s Policy Project, writes that MMT discourse is “about using word games to make people believe that the US can have Northern European levels of government spending without Northern European levels of taxation.” Bruenig has an unlikely ally in TPM’s Josh Marshall who speaks for other liberals when he adds that the kind of agenda progressives envision—Medicare for All, a Green New Deal—will entail “not only much higher rates on the uber wealthy but generally higher rates on a much broader range of the population.”

MMT skepticism has ironically unified the moderate and radical wings of the left around what would otherwise be a basic disagreement between them over priorities. Leftists regard MMT as a danger because they understand that the transition to social democracy, to say nothing of a farther-reaching socialism, will require building political support for broadly higher taxes, and MMT entices political leaders to put off the thorny question of higher middle-class taxes for another time. Liberals on the other hand are wary of the political consequences of raising taxes on the middle class, and thus worry that MMT will lure progressives into the trap of creating exorbitant expectations—only to disappoint supporters when either Medicare for All and the Green New Deal fail to materialize, or do materialize, and quickly necessitate broadly higher taxes.

I’m not stepping in here as an MMT advocate or opponent, but as an observer who thinks it’s important to note that this debate—like so many on the left—has unfolded in a conceptual vacuum where Republicans and the conservative movement don’t exist, and where MMT only gained traction on the left because some progressives lack the courage of their convictions.

To the contrary, basic political dynamics in the United States made the emergence of MMT or some other strategic theory inevitable. There is an umbilical connection between the mainstream “bills should be paid for” consensus, and the policy seesaw we’ve been stuck on for over 30 years, which has left progressives at an inherent and unsustainable disadvantage.

It’s more than mere coincidence that all the handwringing about raising taxes and cutting spending to pay for new laws goes out the window when the laws increase defense spending or cut corporate taxes. This happens, by and large, because Republicans reject the fiscal-responsibility premise, in favor of something more like MMT, when it’s convenient for them (i.e. when they are in power) and then pretend to embrace it at as a matter of principle when power changes hands.

For decades now, Republican administrations have created enormous deficits with regressive, inequality-widening tax cuts, then turned around and cited those very deficits as a pretext to demand that their Democratic successors adopt austerity budgets without raising taxes at all.

This is the essence of the “starve the beast” theory. It’s why Grover Norquist browbeats every Republican elected official in the country to pledge never to vote for legislation that would raise net tax revenue. When President George W. Bush and his allies in Congress insisted that his tax cuts wouldn’t balloon the deficit, then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) proposed that the legislation include an enforcement mechanism, that would dial back the tax cuts if deficits did indeed swell. Republicans rejected the idea because, as then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott told Chafee, “We’re going to strangle the spending.”

Sure enough, President Obama inherited trillion dollar deficits from Bush-era Republicans, and Republicans spent most of his presidency trying to force him to erase those deficits with cuts to domestic spending—that’s health care dollars, food stamps, housing assistance, and so on. Movement conservatives set us on this course, and in doing so created a baseless and lazy assumption within the political establishment and the donor class that only Democratic priorities must be paid for. Their ultimate goal is to repeat this process until either the welfare state as we know it withers on the vine, or deficits trigger the very inflation MMT advocates identify as the ultimate political constraint. At that point, they imagine Republicans will link arms, refuse to raise taxes, and confront America with a choice between enduring economic misery and the bipartisan abolition of Medicare, Social Security, and other lasting progressive achievements.

It was against that backdrop that MMT began making headway on the left. Only later, in response to stagnant wages, the Republican assault on the Affordable Care Act, ecological crisis, and Donald Trump, did the progressive agenda shift leftward. And only since then has MMT become an answer to the answer to inevitable, one-sided questions about how progressives intend to pay for it.

The skirmish on the left over this answer is almost entirely about the politics of taxation, rather than the underlying merits of progressive goals. Both MMT adherents and leftists generally support a Green New Deal, but they find themselves mired in endless disagreement over emphasis in what are otherwise identical positions. A leftist might say, “Of course we must offset the costs of a Green New Deal, whether or not we do it in the Green New Deal legislation itself,” only for an MMT proponent to counter, “We do NOT have to offset the costs of a Green New Deal in the legislation itself, but eventually we will.”

When we draw back the lens, though, the debate over the merits of MMT starts to look like a distraction from the more pressing question of how to beat conservatives at their own rancid game before they chase us into another real or manufactured crisis and, once again say, “gut the safety net or the economy gets it.” Building support for higher taxes is a part of that, but the more pressing one is to address existing crises in ways that improve people’s lives, so that when inflation strikes and Republicans demand them as ransom, people revolt and force them to bend. Only under those circumstances will Republicans accept that starve the beast is a dead end for them, and only then will the guardrails of politics make the kind of debate underway on the left about MMT productive.

Everyone on the left who supports the emerging Democratic presidential primary policy consensus should stop and remind themselves that any effort Democrats put into making sure their priorities are “paid for” in the orthodox sense will be wasted the moment Republicans take back over and pass their next tax cut.

I don’t know whether MMT per se is the most effective possible strategic approach to creating and cementing Nordic-style social democracy in the U.S. But I do know that Democrats need to break the political cycle that took hold in the Reagan era where Republicans govern under expansionary fiscal policies that transfer tons of money up the income scale, and Democrats govern under pay-as-you-go constraints. MMT is useful because it’s a specific, articulable way of describing national finance that provides Democrats an answer to starve the beast.

And one way or another Democrats need an answer to it.

Republicans exist, like it or not, and they are committed to an unprincipled political strategy that, under current operating assumptions, forces Democrats to trim their sails when they’re in power, and may ultimately force Democrats to gore their own oxen under duress. Perhaps that will change on its own and we can have a wide-ranging debate over what the national priorities are, which institution should finance them, and when. Until then, Democrats must either come to grips with the nature of their opposition, and prepare themselves—whether it’s through embracing MMT or just pure political grit—to use power on a level playing field with Republicans, or leave us stuck on the seesaw until, eventually, Republicans win. The left is either going to beat conservatives at the game of chicken they have forced us into, or it is not. In either case, squabbling over the merits of MMT is just more whistling past the graveyard.



Also see the MMT thread
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Re: The Democratic Party, 2019

Postby RocketMan » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:21 pm

House Dems to vote on resolution in response to Omar's latest Israel remarks

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/4325 ... el-remarks

The House will vote Wednesday on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in response to freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D-Minn.) latest controversial comments about the U.S.-Israel relationship, a senior Democratic aide said Monday.

Omar has come under fire for saying at a Washington bookstore forum last week that pro-Israel advocates are pushing "allegiance to a foreign country."

Staffs from the offices of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) worked on the resolution over the weekend.


Well, matters have been brought to a head. Unconscionable. These fucking gerontocrats.

Well, if AOC fails to condemn this, that's it for her.
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