15 December 2014

The Dismal Truth of America--Robert Kutter

In principle, Saturday's vote to keep the government open should be the perfect curtain-raiser for the political debates between now and the 2016 election. As their price for averting a government shutdown, Republicans demanded and got a gutting of one of the most important provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, preventing banks from speculating with government insured money.
Agencies hated by Republicans such as the Environmental Protection Agency took big cuts, and a rider was inserted permitting "mountaintop removal" coal mining once again. Another extraneous provision demanded by conservatives permits massive increase in individual campaign contributions.
The IRS enforcement budget lost $345.6 million. This will only increase public deficits, since most IRS enforcement is directed at upper-bracket tax cheats. The IRS collects about seven dollars for every dollar it spends on audits.
The bill also cuts Pell grants for lower income college students, diverting money to the for-profit companies that function as collection agencies for student loans. And it allows companies to cut pensions for current retirees, even those that are contractually guaranteed.
This deal was cut by the outgoing Congress, in which Democrats still controlled the Senate. Far worse will be directed at ordinary working families when the new Congress meets in January.
So a terrific debate is set in motion for the next two years, smoking out which side the Republicans are really on. Right?
Well, no.
If only. For in the great budget sellout of December 2014, fully 57 House Democrats voted with the Republicans to narrowly pass this deal. Key Senate Democrats close to Wall Street, such as Chuck Schumer of New York, were its enablers.
In the end game, President Obama, continuing his signature fighting style, blinked first. He evidently feared that another government shutdown would be blamed more on him than on the Republicans; or that even worse would be in store after January. The Republicans, once again, played chicken and prevailed.
So we were treated to a spectacle of the Democrats being split several ways, both on ideology and on tactics. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a progressive, after sending mixed signals earlier in the week, decided that the bill had to be opposed. But President Obama, his chief of staff Denis McDonough, along with Pelosi's more conservative second-in-command, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, actively lobbied Democrats to back the deal. So in the end the 57 House Democrats, about one-third of the Caucus, joined 162 Republicans to narrowly pass the budget.
Meanwhile, over on the Senate side, the Democrats split as well. Only six Democratic progressives led by Elizabeth Warren voted against cloture. Then, once the bill was assured of passing, several Wall Street-friendly Democrats from relatively liberal states cast a crocodile-tears record vote against, such as Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
So, while the Democratic Party should be carrying the banner of working families, making it clear that the rules are rigged against regular people and that Republicans are the riggers-in-chief, the reality is far more blurred. The Democrats not only lost this vote on issues they allegedly care about; they lost their role as a credible opposition.
As George Orwell wrote in the famous ending of Animal Farm,"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
Well, there is this comfort: At least the Democrats' likely nominee in 2016 stands four square with ordinary Americans against Wall Street... Uh, whoops. The greater likelihood, of course, is that the Clinton-Obama-Rubin dynasty will continue with another Clinton, and the blur will continue.
Meanwhile, the drumbeat urging Elizabeth Warren to run for president only grows louder.
I am often asked if I'd support a third party. I always respond that I'd be thrilled with a second party.


  1. Ed, I have been watching this closely. I am not seeing the outrage that should be occurring from this. It is the low point of our democracy yet I hear almost nothing other than concern over a hack of hollywood. Young people who will inherit this world should be outraged by the corporate takeover of government. I worked with EPA for 33 years and I know that now they are hamstrung and their hands are tied. They cannot do the work for the environment because of little support from the executive branch. Corporate interests have virtually stopped them. Corporate interests now write the regulations that protect the environment just like they write the regs for banking.

    Unless young people rise in outrage to this the world they will inherit will be controlled by corporate interests and all truth will be filtered to control the masses. It is happening already. The environment will be destroyed including all the wonderful wild animals that are the expression of the planet. Our children and their children will have a bleak future without the plants, animals, space and wildness that make us human. The Mother who created the wonderful world we live in is being injured by our need for power and profit. Who will protect future generations from the onslaught?

    Wall street has ensured that another crisis will come that will hurt young people trying to get started in this country and place them in longer periods of servitude to pay their debts and just to survive. Very sad.

    I hate to get political on a spiritual blog but on an optimistic note, I think the world is a whole system that has its effects spiritually and psychologically as well. The power motives of the politicians and corporations will be checked by negative events. For exmaple, young people will reject the consumer system as empty and the corporations will loose power. The power brokers in corporations and in government will be afflicted by spiritual and mental diseases because of their onesided pursuit of power and control and they will never find happiness or peace. Hopefully we will have to evolve beyond this ego based world view. In the meantime, lets complain to our politicians about this, advance spiritually ourselves ( the greatest counter culture action!), reject the emptiness of our consumer culture and protect as many of our fellow creatures as possible (who are without ego and too pure to protect themselves from ego driven power). This action in the world is spiritual and all young people need to consider it.

    Sorry about the rant!


  2. I think up to the age of 21 I believed in Democracy and Government on the surface. But my beliefs totally changed doing a 180 after leaving Vietnam but I don't think anything has changed on a National level. Normal teens from all over the United States behaving like the lowest animals. From my short time in S.E. Asia I could write a book on man's inhumanity to man that would give most people nightmares.
    In total disregard for his fellow humans the Supply Sargent selling truckloads of food and military equipment in Saigon to the black market...thus endangering his own men because of the shortage of needed equipment....but increasing his own bank account. Our mail truck driver blasting his 2.5 ton truck into a group of Vietnamese civilians killing a small girl and injuring many others, C4 bombs set to blow up our officers, soldiers sending expensive Cobra gunship parts back home to be sold, torturing a 14 year old Vietnamese girl because she was a suspect.
    No , I have no faith in humanity, we have been slaughtering each other since the beginning of humanity, selling our souls to the corporations and anything to enrich the pocketbook. We have always had 'criminals' in politics.
    I read a newspaper from the 1940's and if the date wasn't there it read like today's gazette.
    The fine line as I see it ...it always boils down to the individual.
    I love the blog after this by A....where A says, 'It's like everytime I grab something I feel like I got it and then it dissolves'
    So my escape/understanding was always seeking 'spirituality' whatever that was. But when I came into the path of Sri Edji I knew in my Heart that I found Home....the true home that Jesus taught. If you can be crucified and be at peace with that...what else is there?
    My peace and sanity comes directly from Edji's mouth, his guidance is always with me and I owe my life and sanity to him otherwise I wouldn't be here today.
    Bless you Father for calling me.