Tuesday, November 06, 2012

"I have been a harsh critic of Barack Obama . . . but on [every] matter of serious contention in this election, Mitt Romney is decidedly worse" (Robert Scheer)


Tom Toles in the Washington Post [click to enlarge]

"I have been a harsh critic of Barack Obama for continuing that bipartisan capitulation to Wall Street, but on this and every other matter of serious contention in this election, Mitt Romney is decidedly worse."
-- Robert Scheer, in his Truthdig column "Vote for the B-"

by Ken

As I wrote last Thursday, after work today I head straight the Samuel Friedman Theatre on West 47th Street for Doug Hughes's Manhattan Theatre Club-on-Broadway staging of Rebecca Lenkiewicz's adaptation of Ibsen's Enemy of the People, carefully scheduled to keep me out of the line of fire of tonight's electoral media circus, which I don't think my nerves are up to.

(The stress is certainly not made easier by the fact that, at the presidential level, today's contest has no good outcome. But as Robert Scheer sets out so eloquently in the column, "Vote for the B-," that we'll get to eventually, there is one outcome that is measurably more horrible, significantly more horrible, than the other.)

Since the show is at 7, and I gather is a heavily chopped-down "adaptation" of what Ibsen wrote, I'm afraid it will put me back on the streets a good couple of hours earlier than I would wish. One thing I hope I won't be doing as a delay tactic is any significant eating. Since we've been back in our long-blacked-out Downtown Manhattan office (most of us were here Sunday, the day the lights came back on, to do whatever had to be done to have several of our magazines ready for the printer Monday morning) the office has been overflowing with food. Our version of "crisis mentality," I guess.

Even as I write I'm thinking about the remnants of the lasagna and the meatless ziti baked by one of my coworkers, who explained that she figured those of our coworkers still without power might be happy to have something hot to eat. Well, I never lost power at home, while I've still been delighted by her thoughtfulness. It's amazing how much mass transit has been restored given the devastation we suffered last week, but the commute has remained, shall we say, a challenge, and with the frigid turn the weather has taken, either the lasagna or the ziti fresh out of the microwave has been a treat.

Yes, we have power, and our computers and Internet connections are humming. One thing we don't have, and apparently won't for a while, is phones that connect to the outside world. But then, doesn't everyone have a cell phone? (Not me, actually. It's buried somewhere at home.) Another thing we don't have is heat. (Our office manager thoughtfully ordered in a wagonload of little space heaters, but when a bunch of them were turned on, one of the circuts blew, and the heaters were promptly reboxed and collected.)

My original thought was that if I get home around, say, 11, I could just flip the TV on and get the lay of the land, then either unplug myself or resign myself to riding out the storm. Now I'm thinking maybe I can leave all of that to the morning. if I'm home early, I've still got some of my Sunday-night TV pile-up stored on the DVR. I've already watched the Good Wife, Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, and Upstairs Downstairs, but that still leaves the Dexter and Tremé, where it's safe to venture that neither President-in-Waiting Willard nor his Boy Companion Paul will be mentioned -- not to mention the hundreds of other people running for assorted offices today.

I hope the rest of the country is doing better than we here in NYC are. At my little two-election-district polling place in Washington Heights, by shortly after 8am both ballot scanning machines were kaput. I had already realized, though, nothing on my ballot was really being seriously contested; we had several bruising contests, but they were all decided in the primaries. (I see that we weren't alone in Northern Manhattan: "Uptown Voters Face Broken Scanning Machines and Confusion While Voting.")


. . . makes us unwitting stooges of the oligarchy -- made to feel so by people I suddenly realize may not be as smart as I once thought, not to mention nowhere near as smart as they think -- I'm hard put to imagine the stakes in today's election being explained better than Robert Sheer does it in his Truthdig column today (which I read via Nation of Change). Of course this pass-along comes too late to be of any pradtical value, but I like to think that sagacity has some value that goes beyond the time-bound practical.

Vote for the B-

By Robert Scheer
Published: Tuesday 6 November 2012

It’s crunch time, and I want to be on record, just in case some still undecided independent voter cares what I think. And one might, since I did write a decidedly nonpartisan book on the origins of the economic crisis entitled “The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.” I have been a harsh critic of Barack Obama for continuing that bipartisan capitulation to Wall Street, but on this and every other matter of serious contention in this election, Mitt Romney is decidedly worse.

A vote for Obama in a swing state is a no-brainer, because, on a host of issues, including immigration, women’s rights, gay rights, health care, campaign finance, income inequality, tax breaks for the rich and the legitimacy of trade unions, there is a vast partisan difference that should not be ignored. It matters greatly who appoints an anticipated two justices to the Supreme Court, which is already dominated by right-wing ideologues.

In a state where a protest vote will not elect Romney, a vote for the Green Party’s admirable Jill Stein, the consistent Libertarian Gary Johnson, or the populist Rocky Anderson sends an appropriate but measured signal of contempt for the sorry state of our two-party system.

That disgust is warranted by the fact that this president has followed the broad ideological outlines of his predecessor on national security. Witness the continuing assault on due process that is the island prison of Guantanamo and the killing of innocent civilians through drone attacks, as well as the unwarranted Nixonian persecution of alleged whistle-blowers Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.

But on all of that, Obama is the lesser evil compared to Romney, who has promised to increase military spending to fight a new Cold War that might, under his stewardship, turn hot against China, Russia, the forlorn Palestinians and anyone else with whom he can pick a fight. Romney is as dangerous as he is inexperienced in such matters. To compensate for his ignorance, he has turned to the same pack of neoconservative ideologues that lied us into Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

On economic policy, Romney has attempted to smear Obama as some kind of big government socialist, although the former vulture capitalist would surely have wasted just as much money as Obama rescuing his friends on Wall Street. Neither candidate would stop the Federal Reserve from continuing to purchase toxic assets to save the banks from their own folly. The candidates split on a bailout of the auto industry, with Obama helping save some decent American jobs, and they disagree about how much the obscenely wealthy should pay in taxes, although sometimes Romney disagrees with himself on that score.

Obama sold out to Wall Street when he appointed Lawrence Summers, who had pocketed more than $8 million in bank and hedge fund fees while serving as a top Obama campaign adviser, to be his key White House expert on the economy. This was an egregious error vastly compounded when he appointed as his Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, former head of the New York Fed and faithful ally of the Bush administration in filling the lifeboats to capacity with bankers. However, Romney blasts Obama for not being solicitous enough in catering to Wall Street greed and defines the extremely minor reforms of Dodd-Frank as an attack on capitalism, when it is anything but.

As Gretchen Morgenson, the sharpest business journalist of our day, noted in a recent column in The New York Times: “Many Americans probably think the Dodd-Frank financial reform law will protect taxpayers from future bailouts. Wrong. In fact, Dodd-Frank actually widened the federal safety net for big institutions. Under that law, eight more giants were granted the right to tap the Federal Reserve for funding when the crisis hits.”

But Romney finds objectionable even the slightest improvement in transparency and accountability in Dodd-Frank, including a much-needed consumer protection agency championed by Elizabeth Warren. He absolves Wall Street and the Bush administration that let greed run wild of any responsibility for the economic mess and, indeed, seeks to cut funding for programs that aid its victims.

Romney’s talk of the deficit is specious. He would spend multiples of Obama’s stimulus on the military, alone, while relegating the unemployed, disabled and impoverished to the hope of charity and warm weather. Consider the millions of Americans kept fed by Obama’s hard-won extensions of unemployment benefits and food stamps during the worst lows of the recession. How would President Romney have handled such a crisis?

To employ the vernacular used in my day job teaching college students, I give Obama a generous B- grade for initiating a national health care plan that, while flawed, is a start, ending discrimination against gays in the military, easing the student loan crisis, signing equal pay legislation and appointing reasonable Supreme Court justices, among other achievements. Meanwhile, the rapacious capitalist turned candidate Romney—poster boy of the 1 percent—denigrates the less economically fortunate among us while growing filthy rich by slicing and dicing good American jobs out of existence and exploiting every tax loophole to aggrandize his own fortune. He earns a solid F and makes Obama look quite good in comparison.

Labels: , , , , ,


At 7:14 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

A huge win for progressives with Elizabeth Warren very thrilled about that & not to sound like a downer but just watched C-Span's live event w Pelosi Hoyer & Israel & no surprise they danced around the House issue all i'll say is we lost & you 3 cost it for us.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Well said, ap215. Lots of surprisingly happy results, and a smattering of nice House outcomes (e.g., Alan Grayson, the NH women), but the DCCC's performance was, well, what we might expect from Howie's extensive coverage of its corruption and heavy-handed conservative bias.

Let me say it again: If voters want to vote for Republicans, they don't have to settle for the kind that comes in Dem disguise -- there's a real Republican running in pretty much every race across the land.



Post a Comment

<< Home