Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Both Parties... Are Fumbling Around In The Dark Looking For An Identity


Fareed Zakaria had GOP establishment NY Times columnist David Brooks on his CNN show Sunday to talk about Señor Trumpanzee’s role within the conservative movement. I don’t know who watches Zakaria’s show-- no one I know-- but I bet there was a lot of teeth gnashing from Republicans when Zakaria opened the segment by setting up a comparison between Saint Ronnie and Trumpanzee. “Where does conservatism go from here? Where does the Republican Party go from here?… Is there a new conservatism developing?”

Brooks said he doesn’t think so-- “not in this administration.” In his universe Democrats want to use government to enhance equality and Republicans want to use government to enhance freedom. Most Republicans who want to use government to enhance freedom are thinking about the freedom of the rich and powerful to lord over the rest of us-- it’s like the freedom for everyone to have access to really expensive healthcare… if they have the money to afford it. But what he doesn’t mention is that the Grifter First Family wants to use government to enhance to enhance its own wealth, pure and simple. Is the Russian brand of kleptocracy the new conservatism? Brooks, I’d bet, hopes not.

Trump, Brooks says, opened a new debate-- populism vs statism-- but hasn’t delivered on the promises of his campaign “because there’s not a lot of Trumpians in the world of policy. So he hasn’t exactly helped the people who got him into office. He staffed his administration-- to the extent it is staffed-- with people who basically believed in the Reagan bargain of 1984… cut tax rates, reducegovernmoent regulation… I think he opened the door too a new kind of conservatism but has not fulfilled it. That’s for somebody in the future.” [This vicious little jerk?]

So what about Republican politicians? Do the party’s elected officials want to swing in a more populist direction? Trump, he says, punctured the worn out Reaganism balloon and now conservatives have nothing; they’re in a period of chaos, Trump’s preferred milieu. He sees various paradigms competing within the Republican Party for dominance-- libertarianism, Buchanan-like paleo-conservatism… But, he said, “if I had to bet, I would like an Alexander Hamilton open trade, lot of immigration, lot of economic dynamism… When I look at the polls, there aren’t a lot of people who want what I want. The Steve Bannons of the world, that’s where a lot of the people are; they’re older, they’re economically disadvantaged; they want a national conservatism that will protect them.”

Really? They want-- or will accept-- a snake oil salesman and kleptocrat like Trump, rather than a sensible populist like Bernie? I bet there were an awful lot of Trump voters at Bernie’s Sunday night rally in Charleston, cheering wildly when he called for Medicare-For-All, not exactly a conservative policy goal-- although it is certainly one that “will protect them.” There were over 2,000 in the Charleston Municipal Auditorium for his Protect Our Health Care Rally. Remember, Bernie pulverized Clinton in the West Virginia primary-- 123,860 (51.4%) to 86,354 (35.8%) but Wassermann Schultz had fixed the system so in the end, Bernie got 19 delegates and Clinton got 18. Bernie won every county in the state-- even the counties considered parti of the DC suburbs-- although Kanawha (Charleston) was close-- 48.0% to 45.0%. Bernie and Trump had virtually the same number of votes in Kanawha too.

If the Democratic Party was united, the ideological battlelines would be much clearer, with the Democrats behind a set of policies wildly popular among the American people while the Republicans argued about the benefits of a society with no rules and regulations versus a fascist state. Instead… the conservatives of “moderate” Republicans is competing for dominance of the Democratic Party under the guise of New Dems and Blue Dogs, “pragmatism” and-- the same kind of kleptocratic tendencies run wild under Trump. Last week, Lee Fang, writing for The Intercept helped focus attention on this unfortunate tendency with the Democratic Party elite-- Prominent Democratic Fundraisers Realign to Lobby For Trump’s Agenda. These are the people who call the shots at the DNC and who tell Pelosi and Schumer what’s to be done and not done. Fang points out that many Hillary backers who expected too be part of her administration are now “cashing in as lobbyists-- by working to advance Trump’s agenda.”

This is the Wassermann Schultz, Steny Hoyer, Joe Crowley, Chuck Schumer and Pelosi crowd:
Lobbying records show that some Democratic fundraisers, who raised record amounts of campaign cash for Clinton, are now retained by top telecom interests to help repeal the strong net neutrality protections established during the Obama administration.

Others are working on behalf of for-profit prisons on detention issues, while others still are paid to help corporate interests pushing alongside Trump to weaken financial regulations. At least one prominent Clinton backer is working for a health insurance company on a provision that was included in the House Republican bill to gut the Affordable Care Act.

While Republican lobbyists are more in demand, liberal lobbyists are doing brisk business that has them reaching out to fellow Democrats to endorse-- or at least tamp down vocal opposition to-- Trump agenda items.

“These cases are clear, disturbing examples of the gulf between the interests of many of the Democratic Party’s big-money donors and those of the party’s progressive base and America’s working families,” said Kai Newkirk, co-founder of Democracy Spring, a progressive coalition.
Remember when Hillary mumbled something about being part of the resistance?
A well-known lobbyist who runs in powerful Democratic circles, Heather Podesta, volunteered for Clinton during the New Hampshire primaries. She collected at least $407,000 for the campaign. In recent months, Podesta has tweeted from the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference, an event billed as a platform for the “Resist movement,” and has continued to give cash to congressional Democrats.

Podesta, however, whose New Years Resolution was to “Make Lobbying Great Again,” has adapted to Republican rule by rebranding her lobbying firm from “Heather Podesta + Partners” to “Invariant,” a name change to reflect “an expanding bipartisan team” with ties to the Trump administration.

Records show Podesta has lobbied this year on behalf of financial management and insurance giants Prudential and New York Life on the fiduciary rule, the regulation fought for by the Obama administration that was designed to require financial planning companies to act in the best interests of their clients. Early in his administration, in a decision cheered by the industry, Trump ordered a delay in the implementation of the rule.

Other Democratic lobbyists have found that their corporate clients’ interests align with the Trump administration. Some, like Podesta, are taking financial planning industry cash to work on the fiduciary rule.

Steve Elmendorf, a former senior advisor to Clinton’s 2008 run, maintained a high-profile role with Clinton’s 2016 run, raising $341,000 for the campaign. He is now one of the most prominent corporate lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Records show that Elmendorf, too, lobbied on the fiduciary rule. His client, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a trade group for firms like Prudential, has made delaying the rule a major goal and celebrated Trump’s move to delay implementation.

UnitedHealth, the health insurance giant, is also an Elmendorf client. Filings made to ethics officials on Capitol Hill reveal that Elmendorf is helping UnitedHealth work on issues related to the Affordable Care Act, including the health insurance industry tax, a provision of the ACA that UnitedHealth has made clear it seeks to repeal or delay. Congressional Republicans have said that, if they are successful with their overhaul of the law, the tax will be gone.

A former Democratic National Committee fundraiser from Bill Clinton’s days as president, Richard Sullivan, served as a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year. He bundled at least $345,218 for the campaign, according to Federal Elections Commission records. Sullivan is also registered lobbyist for the public relations and lobby firm Capitol Counsel, where he works on behalf of private prison giant Geo Group to convince lawmakers of the “benefits of public-private partnerships in the delivery of secure residential care in correctional and detention facilities.”

The Florida-based Geo Group is particularly close to the Trump administration; it was one of the few firms to donate corporate money to a Trump SuperPAC during the election, finance the inauguration, and openly celebrate Trump’s decision to vastly expand the detention and removal of undocumented immigrants. The firm was among the first private companies to win a contract from the Trump administration for a federal immigrant detention center, a deal worth $110 million.

Lobbyists often use their ability to bundle cash for candidates and party organs as a way of win an audience with lawmakers on behalf of their clients. As The Intercept has reported, lobbyists for Goldman Sachs and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the trade group, raised big money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, using their sway to pressure the party to adopt policies favorable to their industries and to abandon economic populist messaging that targeted the financial sector.

Trump’s election has been called a “bonanza” for Washington lobbyists, as K Street seeks to enrich itself by harnessing the administration’s zeal for rewarding corporate allies. For many Democratic insiders, there is fortune to made even in electoral defeat.

The Intercept spoke to several progressive activists who expressed outrage that leading Democratic Party officials are now advancing the Trump agenda, but were reluctant to comment on the record, for fear of angering powerful Democrats. But a few activists, like Democracy Sping’s Newkirk, decided to speak on the record.

Becky Bond, an activist and former Bernie Sanders adviser who also spoke out, said, “When Democratic insiders team up with Comcast and the private prison industry, they make it pretty difficult to see how the party can rebuild relationships with the voters it needs to bring back into the fold.”

“Destroying the internet and maximizing the profitability of mass incarceration,” she added, “is not what I would call a winning strategy for Democrats who want to take back power in 2018.”
A friend of mine is running a congressional campaign for a progressive candidate and he told me this morning that he’s about to get an endorsement from Howard Dean. I told him to think that through carefully before making a big deal of it. Today, Dean is known to many activists as just another Clinton shill who makes a living as a lobbyist for drug manufacturers and the old Howard Dean who inspired so many people is now just an historical monument unrelated in many people’s minds to the guy running around today being paid to push an ugly and despised agenda.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


At 12:46 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

That cartoon is a perfect description of the Democratic Establishment Leadership nailed it.

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

incorrect. both parties have their identities firmly established.

their problem is that their IDs are unpalatable to pretty much everyone that isn't a corporate officer or worth 9 figures.

So what you want to say is both parties are wrestling with what to tell the sub-sentient voters who, though they barely know they are alive, still react viscerally to being ass-raped (figuratively and literally).

the right has an easier time of it. all they need to do is remind their voters that they hate all the same people.

the left has the real problem. they have to convince the slightly more sentient voters that their corruption, fecklessness and betrayals for money aren't all that bad and that they are still the only alternative to the murderous right.

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

for that cartoon to be relevant, Pelosi needs anvils tied around her neck labeled "corruption", "indifference", "oath violations" and "dementia".


Post a Comment

<< Home