Joseph Palermo: The political “center” of American politics is a moving target. And for the last thirty years it has moved in only one direction: Rightward.
Joseph Palermo: Our political spectrum, as refracted through the lens of corporate media, runs from center-right to far-right. No wonder the conventional wisdom in Washington holds, without evidence, that the United States is a “center-right” country. Those making that argument might not be real, informed commentators — but they play them on TV.
Joseph Palermo: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs showed poor press management skills in handling the whole Shirley Sherrod saga. He allowed the media frame to shift quickly to the missteps of the administration rather than emphasizing the underhanded, contrived, and racist actions of Andrew Breitbart and his fellow travelers at Fox News.
Joseph Palermo: If Bumiller really believes that her peers in the establishment press in February/March 1968 were expressing “widespread skepticism” about the facts concerning the Gulf of Tonkin Incident then shouldn’t she have been a little more “skeptical” herself when her good friend Condi Rice (along with Rummy and Cheney and the rest of the gang) were launching their own pretext for invading Iraq?
Joseph Palermo: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently submitted a “budget” to the legislature that eliminates CalWORKS, the state’s highly successful welfare-to-work program that is needed now more than ever. This move would make California the only state in the nation to dismantle its safety net.
Joseph Palermo: Nobody in power seems to be listening to what teachers have to say about how best to improve public education. The Administration is telling teachers that all those envelopes they licked, and all those doors they knocked on, and all those phone calls they made to help elect Obama in 2008 were nothing but a goddamned waste of time.
Joseph Palermo: After nine years of war the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan lacks support at home and is widely recognized as a drain on the domestic economy in a time of severe economic contraction. The billions of dollars in U.S. economic assistance to the Hamid Karzai government has created an unsustainable class of Afghans who are dependent upon the American largesse and military presence that would be impossible to sustain by local taxes. It is a puppet government that wouldn’t last a day without American arms and money.
Joseph Palermo: Tuesday night President Obama explained how his administration is going to respond to the most devastating human-made ecological catastrophe in the nation’s history. But he apparently doesn’t recognize how overwhelmingly popular it would be right now with the American people if he came out swinging against the malefactors of great corporate wealth like BP (or Goldman Sachs).
Joseph Palermo: For example, contrary to the mythology that sometimes fogs President Ronald Reagan’s overall fiscal record, the tax burden of working Americans increased during the 1980s, as did the national debt, and the overall size of the government. By 1986, the cumulative federal debt had reached $2 trillion, which was more than the United States had accumulated in its entire previous history.
Joseph Palermo: The wide dissemination of Beck’s views wouldn’t matter much if the United States were in better shape today. But the status quo that is emerging cannot help but create a highly volatile electorate for years to come. Class lines are hardening, mobility is stifled, unemployment will remain near double digits for many years, there is a sea of angry voters who are susceptible to jingoistic appeals and conspiracy theories (like the ones Beck promotes). The ongoing fiscal crisis at the local, state, and federal levels has led to the heartless rollback of public institutions at exactly the time when they are needed the most.
Joseph Palermo: The financial reform legislation currently winding its way through the Congress is a step in the right direction but it retains too much of the status quo that brought down the economy in the first place. The key problem, as many economists have been telling us, is that the top financial institutions remain “too big to fail.” Congress can enact all the regulations it wishes but even the best written rules won’t be enough to prevent another financial meltdown.
Joseph Palermo: The spectacle of British Petroleum literally killing off the Gulf of Mexico before our eyes while the Obama Administration apparently believes that BP is honorable enough to be trusted to dutifully clean it up is depressing beyond belief. Hearing Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal complain about the lagging federal response after he built his political career trashing the federal government is just too pathetic and stupid to even bother to ridicule.
Joseph Palermo: So that’s what our political discourse has sunk to? Discredited figures like Brownie are on TV jockeying for partisan gain, milking a national tragedy that is probably going to change forever the ecosystem of the Gulf Coast? Brownie uses a catastrophe that threatens many of the nation’s most important waterways and will probably be a grave setback to any national economic recovery to score pitiful political points against the Democrats? Who are these people?
Joseph Palermo: The massive trading and swapping of Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) and other abstractions cooked up by the fertile minds of sociopathic Wall Street “traders” not only did nothing to lubricate the real economy through financial intermediation, but they helped bring down the entire system and cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
Joseph Palermo: In 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown , Simon Johnson and James Kwak point out that in September 2008 the high-flying masters of the universe were at their weakest point and had no choice but to do whatever the government demanded of them. Never mind the supreme irony of Wall Street bankers who claimed government had no place interfering in the miracles of the market begging the government to save them, it was at that time when we should have cut them down to size.
Joseph Palermo: Thanks to the resourceful dumpster diving of two CSU, Stanislaus students, Alicia Lewis and Ashli Briggs, the public was finally able to get a glimpse behind the curtain of Sarah Palin Land. Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown has promised a thorough investigation. These two young people should be commended for their civic mindedness and citizenship.
Joseph Palermo: He still wants to blame a “few bad apples,” instead of looking at his own role fanning the flames and pouring gasoline on the fire while the $8 trillion housing bubble was being pumped up. Greenspan said AIG’s problems were with insurance, but Born countered that if CDSs had been insurance they would have been regulated. Greenspan is bullshitting us again.
Joseph Palermo: And what did those who formulate United States foreign policy learn from the carnage in El Salvador? The same thing they should have learned from Vietnam: Whenever the United States sticks its nose into another country’s civil war it only raises the level of death and destruction making the politics all the more intractable. And in the end it achieves very little other than what could have been worked out peacefully in the first place.
Joseph Palermo: President Barack Obama Tuesday morning gave Democrats a blueprint for what to do in November: back in your districts surround yourself with ordinary Americans who would be denied care if the federal government did not step in to bend the corporate imperatives of profits and share prices to fit the human needs of people who pay their taxes, play by the rules, and whose only “crime” is to have gotten sick.
Joseph Palermo: Peter Baker’s profile of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the New York Times Magazine raises some interesting questions about President Barack Obama’s top aide. For Emanuel, it seems that all politics are electoral politics. He wouldn’t know a social movement if he saw one.