Wattree's picture

    Is President Obama a Slave to Wall Street?

    Whenever I hear a person claim that President Obama is a slave to the corporatist Wall Street culture, I know immediately that he’s one of three things - he’s either ignorant, blind to reality, or he’s promoting his own agenda. Of course Obama is a slave to Wall Street - we all are. You can’t live in this society without being a slave to Wall Street. But there are two kinds of slaves. There are slaves who are subservient and content to simply do what they’re told, and then there are slaves who engage in a constant struggle to free themselves and their people. So, while I’m not always happy with some of the day-to-day decisions that President Obama makes to promote our cause, I’m convinced that Obama is one of the latter. If he wasn’t they wouldn’t be trying so hard to get rid of him.
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    The fact is, if you’re a casual observer sitting at home and keeping score based purely on your attitudes, prejudices, and feelings, it’s easy to pass your uninformed judgment on every decision that any politician makes. But the reality is, anyone who decides to go into politics has to be practical, and a huge part of that practicality entails recognizing the fact that you’re going to have to dance to the music that’s being played, and it’s Wall Street that leads the band. So regardless to who we elect, they’re going to have, at the very least, a working relationship with the corporate establishment - and ironically, it’s our own fault.
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    The primary reason that every politician in this country is forced to play footsy with the corporate establishment is because we, the people, are so lazy, undereducated, and disengaged in our own political well being that we allow the corporations to use money to control our minds. So the only way that a politician like Obama can even get through to us is by way of the corporate establishment.
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    The reason that money has such a large influence on our political system is because it’s used to tell us what and how to think. From the time that most of us get up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night, we spend most of our free time with corporate voices whispering in our ear. It could be the radio, television, or even the billboards that we don’t think we’re noticing as we’re driving in to work, but the fact is, they are all having a profound subliminal effect on our thinking and attitudes. They’re conditioning us to think and do what they tell us to. Corporations spend billions of dollars a year to convince wimps with severe cases of acne and horrendous body odors that if they buy a certain kind of car the beautiful model that’s sensuously stroking its hood, or someone just like her, is going to fall in love with them.
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    My personal favorite is the National Rent-A-Car commercial. They have a businessman walking through the air port in slow motion with dramatic music playing in the background. Then when he gets to the counter, they have the lady behind the counter making goo-goo eyes at him like she can barely restrain herself from jumping over the counter and attacking him. Then the clincher is, at the end of the commercial they have a deep, authoritative voice saying, "YOU DESERVE THIS!"
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    That commercial servers two purposes. First, it entices the traveling businessman to believe that using National Rent-A-Car makes him seem more important. But it also sends a message to the public - that big business is powerful, and that’s a good thing, so the concept of big business should be seen in a positive light.
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    Since the public is manipulated like this 24 hours a day, any politician who doesn’t have a working relationship with corporations can’t survive. The reason for that is simple. The very same corporation that runs commercials on Monday that convinces an unthinking electorate that "Obama is a big-government socialist who’s trying to put a bureaucrat between you and your doctor," can turn around on Tuesday and convince that very same unthinking electorate that it’s appropriate to create a government small enough to crawl up a woman’s uterus. That explains why we have people walking around saying things like, "Obama is un-American - he’s engaged in a socialist plot to insure my family’s healthcare send my kids to college." It sounds like hyperbole, but as you know, people are actually that brainwashed.
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    Thus, the problem in this country is not the amount of money flowing through the system, that’s only secondary; the primary problem is the apathy, selfishness, and ignorance of the people. Money is merely a tool used to feed that apathy, selfishness, and ignorance to our severe disadvantage, and to make sure that we remain that way - both ignorant, and disadvantaged.
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    While the corporations can’t use their money to literally buy a political office, they can only use it to convince us to GIVE it to them by repeatedly reelecting those politicians who are willing to promote corporate interests. Their primary method of doing that is by playing on our ignorance and selfishness through the use of conflation. That keeps the poor and middle class so angry and divided that we fail to come together to protect our mutual interest.
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    The corporate manipulators will conflate liberalism with socialism, communism, and un-Americanism, then tell everyone else who doesn’t subscribe to liberal philosophy that the liberals are trying to take away their way of life. Then they’ll target Blacks and initiate a campaign to convince everyone else that Blacks want to rob and steal from them, murder their sons and rape their daughters. Thereafter, they target every segment of the poor and middle class, one by one, and associate them with some threat to everyone else. That keeps the poor and middle class in turmoil. It causes them to be so angry, fearful, and divided among themselves that they fail to recognize that they’re being manipulated, while all their throats are being cut by a common foe - corporate greed.
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    The only remedy for this situation is education, and through education, enlightenment. Because through a true education - as oppose to mere literacy - and its attendant enlightenment, we’re more prone to become independent thinkers. And as a result, we wouldn’t be nearly as susceptible to unsubstantiated claims by others. We would examine what we were being told, and we would consider the motives of those who were going out of their way to spread negative generalizations about others. Then, and only then, will we be able to defend our individual interests, and come together to defend the nation against the widespread and rampant corruption that’s currently dragging this country under the bus.
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    Thus, if we want to save this nation for the benefit of our children, and their children, it is incumbent upon the American people to wake up to reality - and in a hurry. The world is changing faster than it ever has before, so we may not have but one or two elections left before the damage to this country is irreversible.
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    We’ve got to start thinking of this country like it’s a business, we’re the owners, and the politicians are our employees. Only then will we begin to recognize the importance of our full engagement in running that business. Because the fact is, if the United States was a business, and as owners, we simply lounged around at home watching BET, MTV, and ESPN while allowing our employees (the politicians) to run it in the ground by giving themselves unwarranted raises in the middle of the night, and squandering and giving away our profits, it wouldn’t be the employees’ fault. It would be ours.
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    So again, is President Obama a slave to Wall Street? Of course he is. We all are, and it’s way past time to correct that situation.

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    Eric L. Wattree

    Http://wattree.blogspot.com
    Ewattree@Gmail.com
    Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
    .
    Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

    Comments

    Well said, Wattree.  Let he who is without chains point out the first slave.


    Thank you, Destor. 


    I suspect that we tend to overestimate the power of political advertising. The Freakonomics authors argued that historical statistics belie the real influence of money on political campaigns, and they're still making that case.

    But I think that there is also a common sense argument. Think about that National Rent-a-Car ad you mention for a moment. Would it make you more likely to rent from National? Would it make anyone you know more likely? Would many people spend an extra $1 a day on a car because an ad told them that they deserved National? Would they spend an extra $5 a day? Would they abandon their usual preferred rental company? Would they travel to another airport terminal?

    Some advertisements are clearly effective. That's why companies spend so much money on them. They can boost product recognition and help develop a brand. They may sway some ambivalent buyers between two basically equivalent products, e.g. National and Avis.

    But while advertisements can impact sales, they cannot turn lead to gold. Just ask Mitt Romney. That's because while we're all susceptible to persuasion, we're not actually slaves to Wall Street or, more aptly, Madison Avenue. And the more that products truly differ--by price, quality, ideology, or what-have-you--the less susceptible we'll be influence.

    Of course, none of that really matters to the larger point here. Because as long as politicians believe that they can gain an advantage through political ads, they will continue to kiss the asses of the people who pay for the ads. And frankly, I doubt that a more informed and independent electorate would cause that behavior to change. 


    Genghis, this country is filled with mindless morons.

    Otherwise, why do they play the same lame commercials, day in and day out?

    The reason these ads play all day is because the publishers know damn well they work.

    If you put the Afflak goose on the tv every hour and all it said was Romney Romney Romney is good for you and you never put any ads on discussing Obama; Mitt would be president.

    There is no doubt in my mind.

    Why in the world do 1/2 of all Mississippi repubs think Obama is not a citizen, that he is a Muslim, that he is a communist? Because of FOX News and the right wing radio folks; to say nothing of their newspapers.

    1/7 of all Americans (according to MSNBC) think that the Supreme Court has thrown out all the health legislation passed in 2010 (that 'Obamacare' by the way is exactly 2 years old).

    A majority of repubs think that there are death panels established by the same legislation.

    A majority of Americans think that our President has already begun to take all our guns away--there are more guns now available than ever before.

    A majority of repubs think that Obama raised their taxes.

    Hell, a large number of Americans think that Saddam was responsible for the events of 9/11/01.

    Trudeau sells millions and millions of worthless books even while he as been found to be a fraud by administrative courts for over five years.

    And Santorum of course believes that birth control leads to homosexual behavior which leads to beatiality. (which just demonstrates what a fine job the Roman Catholic Church as been doing since 325 AD or so.

    We as a nation are just sheep who tweet and follow the dictates of MASS MEDIA.

     

     


    That the country--indeed the whole world--is full of morons, I do not dispute. That advertising increases sales and influences votes, I do not dispute. That the nation's morons are slaves of political advertising, I highly doubt.

    Here's an experiment. Expose 100 Republican morons to 10 hours of Obama ads and see how many switch their vote. Then expose 100 Democratic morons to 10 hours of Romney or Santorum ads.

    I predict that the ads will hardly sway any morons whatsoever. There have been plenty of psychological studies about confirmation bias that back me up. Indeed, I expect the morons to be more obstinate in their views and resistant to contrary information (factual or not) than the non-morons. That's what makes them morons.

    If anyone is swayed by ads, it would probably be the undecideds who regard Democrat and Republican politicians as interchangeably as National and Avis. But I bet you wouldn't sway as many of those as you think either.


    The morons are the ones you sell books and newsletters to, while yelling about death panels, birth certificates, socialism...you don't change their minds, you reinforce the moronic beliefs while making $$ off of it. You swindle them. If the morons love you enough you may get a huge radio contract or a high paying job with Fox News.


    I see. So corporations are spending millions on campaign ads to persuade morons to believe what they already believe. Plus make money off of them.


    Romney supporting individuals and corporations are spending millions on campaign ads to stop morons from voting for moron candidates like Newt and Santorum. The other moron 'candidates', Bachmann, Palin and Cain are now out of the picture, and with more money in the bank for their efforts at shucking the moronic Base of the GOP.

    Driftglass: The Right has shown that people with little or no talent beyond being pathological liars can accumulate enormous wealth and influence peddling transparently ludicrousness fairy tales to imbeciles.

    The corporations don't 'make money' off the morons, they make money off a GOP government through tax cuts and no regulation, while the morons get their social support safety net programs cut. If you don't understand that, you don't understand much about American politics.

    Your thesis Genghis, that money/advertisements/corporations have little impact on elections, issues, or public attitudes is a laugh. This is a country that the Republican Party and the MSM 'sold' the public on an unnecessary war. The 'empty vessels' of much of the public mind took years to realize they were sold a fiasco. 

    This is also a country with the lowest voting turnout of western democracies, the object of money/ads is often just to rile up the morons enough with hot button issues to get them out to cast a vote, not change their minds, which, as Watree accurately points out, have already been adequately prepared.

    The Romney campaigns 'etch-a-sketch' comment this week reinforces the power of the media and messaging which are inseparable from money.


    In the GOP primaries, what, for me, provides the validation of the 'power of ads' is how else can it be explained or argued that the flooding of ads by Romney hasn't and won't continue to deliver positive results for his candidacy.  

    I'm not aware of any who would/could argue that his ability to secure corporate/PAC funding for these ads is not responsible for tipping the scale in his favor at the ballot boxes.

    That said, those who base their vote on these ads give rise to the concept that perhaps we need to re-examine this whole 'democracy' concept.

     


     

    I'm not aware of any who would/could argue that his ability to secure corporate/PAC funding for these ads is not responsible for tipping the scale in his favor at the ballot boxes.
    Allow me to rectify that:
    But Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner has made a (very) successful career of debunking conventional wisdom and gives a "big fat no" to the idea that money won the Florida election for Romney (or any election, for that matter.)
     
    "It's one of the great truisms in politics - 'money buys elections'," he says. "But it's just really not so."
     
    Citing the research of his co-author and University of Chicago economics professor Steven Levitt has done, Dubner says a candidate who doubles their spending gets an extra 1% of the popular vote. Conversely, candidates who halved their spending lost 1% of the vote. This is true in races where the same candidates run against each other multiple times and when other factors, such as the power of incumbency, are controlled for.
    See, no one actually knows how Romney would have done without the ads. People just assume that he would have done far worse. Levitt used statistical data to compare the effects of spending on elections and found a much smaller impact than you would think.

    But they also write:

    The theoretically unlimited spending by Super PACs is a relatively new phenomenon in politics and Dubner admits there's no way to calculate the impact negative ads have on voters' view of an opponent. "And people who tell you they do are lying."

     


    For me, what's missing in this rationale is that there was/is an unprecedented chasm between the funding that he possesses and that of his opponents. He had it early and it only grew. This gave him an ability to not only extend his 'reach' to more markets/voters, but also to 'drown out' by comparison his opponents efforts.

    Whether it's the ability to pay for staffing, day-to-day campaign operations or media buys/marketing materials, the availability of funding is a huge factor.  None of the others could afford the same level of quantity/quality products and services in their outreach that is afforded to Romney's campaign.


    What that chasm also gave him was some unbound pledged delegates. (AKA "super-delegates") I hate to bet against the house, but, yeah, I think Genghis and Freakonomics are wrong. I can't be confident in that assessment, but it's my opinion nonetheless.

    Also, 1% ain't nothing to sneeze at.


    It's always easy to construct a story around the money: the negative ads, the brilliant highly-paid staffers, the extensive ground operations, the aura of inevitability, etc. The question is how you verify that that your story actually explains why the race went the way it did.

    Levitt & Dunn's approach is to look at the data, and the data doesn't really back up the stories that we tell, at least not the money stories. Now you can always say that some particular race is different and cite the reasons, but that too is a story.

    While 1% ain't nothing to sneeze at, particularly in a tight race, I highly doubt that it reflects what most people think that Romney got for his money.

    Fwiw, I might put it another way. If money is so damn important and Romney has so much more more of it, then why the hell are the other jokers still in the race?


    If money is so damn unimportant, why is Romney spending so much of it now, instead of against Obama?


    Two reasons:

    1. Because Romney is in a tight race, and money does make a difference--just not as much as people think

    2. Because like everyone else, Romney believes that money makes a bigger difference than it does

    But the moral to the story is not that candidates shouldn't spend as much money as they can on their campaigns. It's that we should not assume that voters are mindless drones who do whatever the ads tell them to do--which was the thesis of Wattree's post.


    Okay, Genghis,

    Since according to you, money is no big deal in a campaign, we must assume that you have no problems with the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, or the billions of dollars spent every year by lobbyist. After all, regardless to how much money they give to corrupt politicians, that money's not going to do a thing to help keep them in office.


    Once again, I didn't say that money's not going to a thing. I said that its effect is overstated.

    But regardless, the Citizens United decision effectively legalized corruption. Even if politician wastes every cent he gets on useless ads and fancy haircuts--he still owes a something to the folks who gave him the money.


    They're still barely hangin' on, 'cuz they can with what they have - and whether it's money or whatever else, it wasn't much to begin with, apparently even less of anything now.

    (Sad and scary, that this group is supposedly the 'best' of the GOP lot.  While I still think money paved the way for Mitt, it didn't hurt that he was up against bozos.)


    So...an experienced candidate and former governor with the biggest campaign chest (including PACs) in presidential primary history is barely edging out the worst slate of candidates in presidential primary history, and you still think that money is paving his way?

    What would it take for you not to believe that money makes all the difference?


    What would it take for you to admit it did make a decisive impact?


    data


    I was under the impression that he had successfully fought off a series of upstart challengers by unloading the negative advertising on them one at a time.

    But anyway, Romney's success probably has somewhat less to do with the fact that spends money than with the fact that he defends money.


    That is the story. But is it true? Is there a correlation between Romney's spending and his performance on a per state or per market basis? And more importantly, is there causation? The first could probably be demonstrated, though I haven't seen anyone try to do it. The latter is very difficult to show, as the Freakonomics guys take pains to argue. 


    I was just reading criticisms of Freakonomics on Crooked Timber:

     

    ... I (and others) were more interested in Levitt’s original academic work than the popularization. We sort of said this sotto voce in the seminar, but only sotto voce. Nor has Freakonomics been entirely bad. It’s gotten e.g. Justin Wolfers, who is excellent value for money, out into broader public circulation.

    But even if it seemed a good idea at the time, I should have known better. Yes – Levitt is an interesting and original economist, but the glib contrarianism and breezy confidence that silly econometric results would tell us something valuable about the world were baked into the cake from the beginning of the Freakonomics project, and perhaps before. D-squared’s perhaps never-to-be-published CT summation of his various posts on Freakonomics makes that clear. It’s a bit like one of those high-end fashion marques that begins with haute couture, and ends up over-extending its brand by using it on everything from cheap plastic novelties to toilet paper.


    Fair enough. I do take it with a grain of salt.


    Well if it turns out that there is a correlation but no causation, then it's a remarkable coincidence.  Maybe the taste of impending victory in his mouth causes him to spend more?  Seems implausible.


    Seems quite plausible to me that people who are more successful in getting votes are also more successful in raising money and in having 3rd parties spend money on their account.

    Again, I still dispute the hypothesis that money has a minor effect, but I do want to make sure that statistics are used correctly.


    Genghis,

    I don't care what Dubner said.  That's one of biggest problems that we have in this country - allowing so-called "experts" to convince us not to believe our lying eyes.  But even if Dubner's research is valid, there's one thing we know for a fact - if the money dries up, so does the candidate. I wonder why that's the case.

    People like Dubner caused me to develop a very important rule of thumb that governs all of my assessments of reality:  "Never give anyone else's ability to think priority over my own." And I have another one regarding so-called experts: "Never confuse credentials with intellect."  The public's failure to adhere to those two principles is how Ralph Nader and Cornel West was able to lead the country over a cliff in the 2000 election.


    I think rather than it being "if the money dries up, so does the candidate", that it's "if the candidate dries up, so does the money". I agree with Genghis that facts are more important than suppositions (and I think the Freakonomics people make some interesting points), but I disagree that where we don't have the facts we should only rely on the facts we do have. I.e., that just because something is true in situation A where we can measure it, that just because we can't accurately measure situation B we shouldn't try to form reasonable hypotheses even if those hypotheses are fundamentally untestable.


    Genghis, why on earth would so much money be spent on political advertising if it didn't have some impact on voters?  I thought a little research would be in order, since you seem to be stating all the research supports what you are saying.

    I began with this study because this paper discusses the many conflicting studies on this particular issue and then presents it's own research which uses data from the Bush-Gore election.

    Evaluating Measures of Campaign Advertising Exposure on Political Learning. Travis N. Ridout, Dhavan V. Shah, Kenneth M. Goldstein and Michael M. Franz. Political Behavior , Vol. 26, No. 3 (Sep., 2004), pp. 201-225: Published by: SpringerExternal Link

    The data on this particular subject is quite complex offering a multifaceted answer.

    Certainly there are those people you talk about, the folks that have already made up their minds.  Those would be Fox viewers Vs MSNBC Viewers. The authors make the point that the voter who doesn't really pay much attention to those things, the ones who live their lives, watch a little BRAVO or Lifetime, get much of their information about politicians through political advertisements. You know that voter as the swing voter.

    And as just an aside Genghis, of which you are fully aware, there has never been a time in the history of America without political advertising. So you've set up a very convenient straw man that you knocked down. We fought the Revolutionary War due to some great political advertising, even though back then they called it pamphleteering. 

    There is no doubt that on some segment of the population political advertising has influence. This study states as much. This is why the swing voter has such power. 

    I think in a certain respect voters have become much more savvy to these advertisements due to exposure and the vast amount of information available to them at their finger tips. However, not everyone consumes politics like we do.

    So I both agree and disagree with you, and so do the studies.


    tmac,  Touche!


    I finally got a chance to read this. You realize that it's about advertising exposure as a predictor of political knowledge, not political vote, right? And the influence it reveals is rather narrow:

    ...as exposure to advertising moves from its minimum to its maximum value in the data set, the predicted number of correct answers rises from 1.87 to 2.26, an increase of about .4, or a movement of 10% on the 4-point scale. 

    And the article starts off with this pessimistic summary of the field:

    However, since Patterson and McClure (1976) first lauded the potential of political ads to inform the citizenry, the evidence in support of their assertion has been less than consistent

    Again, my point has not been that political ads have no influence. It's that their influence is widely overstated.


    Genghis,

    The reason that the 100 Republican morons won't be swayed by 10 hours of Obama ads is because they've been subjected to a lifetime of disinformation that's already been internalized. In addition, since their entire life has been built upon a foundation of propaganda - the friendships they've established, the churches they attend, the neighborhoods they've moved into, etc - they have a vested interest in only being responsive to messages that reinforce their preconceived beliefs.

    But people do, at times, reassess their beliefs. One of the publications that I write for is among THE most ultraconservative publications in the country, but I receive e-mail from people all the time telling me that they've changed their views. In a discussion with the publisher last year, he told me that I've "corrupted" his wife. 

    Thus, much of the messaging that we get from the corporate media is designed not so much to convert, but to reinforce previously implanted propaganda.


    Wattree, you have a very archaic understanding of human psychology. A half-century of research demonstrates that our minds are not passive vessels that receive information poured into us with only the faculty of Reason to protect us.

    To the contrary, we seek out information that affirms our preconceived notions and filter out that the ideas that don't fit. No one has to watch Fox News or listen to Limbaugh. They like to. It makes them feel good because it affirms their beliefs--or what they want to believe.

    And in the same way that you use "reason" to filter and challenge what Republicans say--because it contrasts with your own world view--those folks use "reason" to filter and challenge what Democrats say--because it contrasts with their world view.

    The measure of an open mind is the extent to which someone is willing to change their beliefs based on new information. We're all closeminded and protective of our preconceived ideas, but some of us more than others.

    I name the most closeminded ones morons. And just as you cannot change their opinions with evidence, you cannot change it with propaganda either, no matter how big your advertising budget.


    Genghis,

    First of all, my degree is in psychology.  At one point I attended to become a clinical psychologist. 

    The human mind is a sponge that takes in information that we're not even aware of. They passed a law in the 50s making it illegal for movie theaters from inserting one frame of a juicy cheeseburger in a movie, because even though the frame went by so fast that the views didn't even see it, it caused them to think they were hungry. the practice was called subliminal manipulation. And we are subject to that sort of manipulation, though not so blatant, thousands of times a day - everyday. 

    That kind of manipulation circumvents the higher functions of the brain and goes directly to the brain stem.  That's why political demagogues always mount their arguments to appeal to the emotions - because anger, fear, jealousy, etc. are brain stem activity that circumvents the higher reasoning centers of the brain. it also explains why we have so many highly educated people walking around who claim to believe in talking snakes - the FEAR of going to Hell.


    Richard I nominate, deliberate on and award you the Aflac Goose Award given to those dagbloggers who recognize the power of advertising in delivering the good$ by its impact on the weak minded, bigoted, uninformed and/or easily brainwashed consumers of America.

    The truth in a nutshell: "Some advertisements are clearly effective." Genghis, 2012.


    HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA

    DAMN! MAKE MY DAY!


    Hey Richard,

    I should have touched base with you before I wrote the article. I could have just quoted you word for word.


    They don't do rants very often at New York Review of Books blog, but they published one today on topic; he actually sounds "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore":

    Age of Ignorance by Charles Simic;

    a couple excerpts for a taste:

    ....there’s more money to be made from the ignorant than the enlightened, and deceiving Americans is one of the few growing home industries we still have in this country. A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business.

    It took years of indifference and stupidity to make us as ignorant as we are today. Anyone who has taught college over the last forty years, as I have, can tell you how much less students coming out of high school know every year. At first it was shocking, but it no longer surprises.....

    In the past, if someone knew nothing and talked nonsense, no one paid any attention to him. No more. Now such people are courted and flattered by conservative politicians and ideologues as “Real Americans” defending their country against big government and educated liberal elites....


    Oh this is delightful. hahahahahah

    At first it is shocking....hahahahahah


    And that's right on the money, Art.


    '...there’s more money to be made from the ignorant than the enlightened.'

    This is the core issue IMO.  What is the most frustrating and destructive subtext is that most choose to be ignorant.   


    Genghis,

    First, "Wall Street" is meant as a metaphor to represent the entire business community, just as the commercials that I mentioned are meant to represent the impact that the entire corporate media has on our society. 

    Thus, I don't think that it can be credibly argued that the corporate media - which  includes radio, television, and the record industry - not only influences our culture and public opinion but, indeed, IS our culture. In fact, mere attempt to mount such argument, would negate the impact of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Miles Davis and, in fact, Barack Obama himself.

    So I think that I'm on pretty firm ground in arguing the tremendous impact of the media on our thinking, attitudes, prejudices, and overall culture. The fact is, the corporate media has more impact on the thinking of the vast majority of the people than their own parents. The influence of the media on the peoples thinking is what causes them to begin to see their parents as "old fashion." 

    So I firmly stand by my position - the corporate media tells many of us what, and how to think. Period.     


    Well that's a nice little slight of hand: politics = advertisement = media = corporations. Anyone else you'd like to throw into the motley mix before you serve the cake? Does it make a Democratic-Republican marble swirl, or is it more one flavor?


    Genghis,

    I don't engage in slight of hand. I thought I made my meaning clear in the article:

    "The reason that money has such a large influence on our political system is because it’s used to tell us what and how to think. From the time that most of us get up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night, we spend most of our free time with corporate voices whispering in our ear. It could be the radio, television, or even the billboards that we don’t think we’re noticing as we’re driving in to work, but the fact is, they are all having a profound subliminal effect on our thinking and attitudes."

    I thought my meaning was pretty clear.


    sleight


    Right, Peter.  Sorry about that. Spelling was never one of my assets.  Ms. Lee told me it would come back to bite me one day. Well, ouch!


    Just to slide off topic and into those National ads...

    I've always wondered how they make money if someone can reserve a subcompact and then take a regular sized car on the lot.

    How does THAT work?


    Peter,

    I can't answer your question with any certainty, but knowing how business generally functions, I'd say they're probably overcharging for the subcompact.


     

    94% of the winning candidates in 2010 had more money than their opponents.

    Whether it's the ads, the organizing, the canvassing.... can't tell you. But money seems confirmed to be the greatest influence, however much philosophizing the Freakonomic guys want to do.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    2008: In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning, according to a post-election analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The findings are based on candidates' spending through Oct. 15, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. 

    Continuing a trend seen election cycle after election cycle, the biggest spender was victorious in 397 of 426 decided House races and 30 of 32 settled Senate races. On Election Day 2006, top spenders won 94 percent of House races and 73 percent of Senate races. In 2004, 98 percent of House seats went to the biggest spender, as did 88 percent of Senate seats. 

    More details qualifying other years & state offices: ​http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/oct/17/occupy-wall-street/occupy-wall-street-protesters-sign-says-94-percent/

     


    Thank you for that information, Peracles.  I was remiss.  I should have inserted that information in the article to bolster my thesis. I'm slippin'.  Maybe it was the gin.


    As I said elsewhere, I'm not completely buying the Genghis/Freakonomics hypothesis, but that hypothesis is not at all at odds with the facts you provide. More people are willing to donate money to a winning candidate than a losing one. I.e., are they winning because they're getting more money, or are they getting more money because they're winning? (Note, that last category includes candidates who are just more popular, etc., even if a conscious decision isn't being made that they're more likely to win.)


    The real crux of the matter is not whether Obama is a slave.

    It's obvious he's a coward. 

    Even our Lord respected the higher authorities; but when it came time to stand up for the righteous things, Jesus was bold and brave enough, to overturn the moneychangers tables. He stood up to those, who were a corrupting influence in the sacred halls .

    Has Obama' justice department, overturned any tables, bringing an end to the corrupting influence, perpetrated by the moneychangers; or is Obama satisfied with his thirty pieces of silver?  

    What's more important?  Knowing what is right or doing what is right?

    Obama proved time and again  he wont stand up against the money changers, he seeks their favor. 

    You cant get re-elected overturning all the tables it's easy to overturn the tables of the weak. then crow about your prowess. 

    Cock a doodle doo ..........Obama will do  .......WHAT?

    "Change you can believe in" was a sham political ploy intended to corrupt our faith in the system  

    Obama is a part of the corruption.  

    If you cant beat them join them? 

    Don't expect Obama to change the status quo, he knows who butters his bread.    


    Resistance,

    So what are you expecting here, for me to defend Obama, or any politician, for that matter?  If you are you're going to be disappointed. Actually, the thrust of the article is not even about Obama. If you read carefully, you'll notice that the article is about us. So if you're looking for someone to get into an Obama feud with, you're going to have go find a political cheerleader. I'm not on any politician's side. I'm on my side.


    I don't care what happens;

    BUT THIS WAS FUN!

    If I listen or read one more piece of bologna that tells me what Americans think I will kill myself. hahaahahahaha

    What do I know?

    Nothing, same as Socrates and Bachmann!

    ha

     


    Richard,

    The only difference between you and Socrates is that you're still capable of revising you opinions. Half of what we've been told about him is probably a lie anyway.  In a thousand years, they'll even be able to say that Ronald Reagan was a genius. Look at what they've done for him in a mere 30.


    Wattree, corporations are people too, my friend. Corporations have a free speech right to  make anonymous political contributions.. Your post may hurt their corporate feelings.Remember Oprah Winfrey was charged and had to go to court because she was accused of slandering a hamburger. I wouldn't be surprised if some Conservative is going to propose that criticizing a corporation is racist.

    We live in strange times.


    Well I must render unto rmrd the Dayly line of the Day Award for this here Dagblog Site, given to all of him from all of me for this gem:

    Your post may hurt their corporate feelings.

    hahahahahahahhahahah


    Thanks, that made my day :)


    Rm,

    I started to laugh at your comment . . . then I thought about it.


    Corporations have gained the upper hand. I saw a cartoon suggesting that members of Congress should wear uniforms like the advertisement-laden firesuits worn by NASCAR and Indy drivers. At least we would know who was screwing the public.

    Cattlemen trying to silence Oprah because she didn't eat meat was my tipping point. The case should have been laughed out of court. The cattlemen had deep pockets, so they got a judge to take the case seriously. Boards of directors and CEOs can now use the "personhood" of a corporation to make political contributions that would be illegal for private citizens. If a private citizen was receiving funds from a foreigner and used those funds to support a political position that benefittd the foreign national, that would be illegal. A corporation can legally sell overseas and then support a politician who magically supports lowering tariffs or shipping jobs overseas.

    We are second-class citizens.


    For you, RM, just to show you how right you are:

     

    FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION

    The article, “Healthcare: Why Can't We Get the Congressional Option?” posted Saturday, June 20, on The Wattree Chronicle contains information about Halliburton that is completely misleading and incorrect.

    Halliburton is not a military contractor. Halliburton is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry, and serves the upstream oil and gas industry throughout the lifecycle of the reservoir – from locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data, to drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production through the life of the field.

    You will note that all of the government services and engineering and construction businesses have been and remain with KBR. To confirm, KBR and Halliburton are completely separate and independent of each other. Halliburton separated KBR from the company in April 2007 (http://www.halliburton.com/public/news/pubsdata/press_release/2007/corpnws_040507a.html.

    We respectfully request you make this correction immediately.
    Kind regards,

    Diana Gabriel
    Senior Manager, Public Relations
    Halliburton
    diana.gabriel@halliburton.com
    Office: 713.759.2608
    Cell: [Redacted]
    Fax: 281.575.5790

    http://wattree.blogspot.com/2009/06/open-response-to-halliburton_25.html


    Respectfully, this post simply buries a serious debate about the culpability and accountability of politicians for failures of governance under truisms about the general weakness and perfidy of the people.

    We might just as well say there is no politician who is in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry, since we all use prescription drugs; or that there is no politician who is the tool of the defense industry since we all rely on national defense; or that there is no politician who is a tool of the petroleum industry since we all put gas in our cars.   Politicians shouldn't be let off that easy.

    Obama's Justice Department has been almost comically uninterested in prosecuting the largest and most expensive wave of white collar crime in history.  A few wrists have been slapped.

    The financial sector as a whole has grown to a staggeringly large proportion of our economy, similar to its size before the Great Depression.  Obama passed up a historic opportunity both to shrink it and aggressively re-regulate it.  As a result, the system's underlying, bubble-prone fragility and engrained criminality remains, so we'll have another debacle before long.

    His Treasury Secretary is an ultimate financial sector insider, and a devotee of the same school of Rubinite neoliberalism that laid the foundations for the 2007/08 disaster.

    We were entitled to better than this.  Saying, "Let he who is without credits cards cast the first stone," doesn't cut it.


    Does this mean you have those little blue pills that send one into Nirvana with just a bit of water?

    And you will take my debit card?


    Dan,

    You missed the entire point of the article. I didn't say that politicians were not less than aggressive in pursuing the people's interest:

    "While the corporations can’t use their money to literally buy a political office, they can, and do, use it to convince us to GIVE it to them by repeatedly reelecting those politicians who are willing to promote corporate interests. Their primary method of doing that is by playing on our ignorance and selfishness through the use of conflation. That keeps the poor and middle class so angry and divided that we fail to come together to protect our mutual interest."

    I said it was our fault.  And based on your comment, it seems that the method that the corporatist use to accomplish their objective is quite effective:

     

    "That keeps the poor and middle class in turmoil. It causes them to be so angry, fearful, and divided among themselves that they fail to recognize that they’re being manipulated, while all their throats are being cut by a common foe - corporate greed."

     


    All that might be true Wattree but it doesn't support your implicit point that it is wrongheaded to criticize Obama's submissiveness to Wall Street because we are somehow all collectively to blame, and one can't expect any better out of these politicians that we stupidly elect.  Obama dropped the ball, and is personally responsible for his failures.  It's not just some murky cloud of collective guilt that is to blame.


    Kucinich just got defeated, are the voters responsible?


    Again, you miss the point, Dan.

     

    The point is, it's up to us to control our politician. So I'm not talking about "collective guilt," I'm promoting collective control. 

    "I've been roundly criticized by fellow Obama supporters for bringing this issue out. They say that "I'm hurting our candidate", and "I'm not seeing the big picture." But in response I suggest, when truth becomes a hindrance to a candidate's viability, it's not truth that's the problem–it's the candidate. And when the "greater good" involves journalists keeping the people in the dark, it becomes the nation's problem. Thus, it's not up to journalists to keep Obama's candidacy viable--it's up to Obama."
     

    http://wattree.blogspot.com/2008/07/journalists-first-responsibility_04.html


    OK, fine.  But one way of trying to control politicians is to publicly criticize them when they fail, and not to charge the critics with being ignorant or malicious.


    Dan, 

    I've never said that Obama's decisions shouldn't be criticized shouldn't be criticized.  You seem to be reading what you expect to hear into my position.  


    Whenever I hear a person claim that President Obama is a slave to the corporatist Wall Street culture, I know immediately that he’s one of three things - he’s either ignorant, blind to reality, or he’s promoting his own agenda.


    Dan,

    That's right.  The reason I feel that he's either  ignorant, blind to reality, or he’s promoting his own agenda is because he's stating an obvious fact that we're all guilty of, but only singling out Obama.

    In addition, most people who run around saying these things are trying to convince us that we should be so angry at the Bogeyman that we should elect the Devil. That doesn't make sense. 

    It's important to keep our priorities in order, and our number one priority during an election season must be to keep the fascists out of office, and their criticism of Obama at this time endangers that effort. While I'm all for a person brushing his teeth every morning, I'm going to advocate against it if he happens to be driving on the fast lane of the freeway.  Common sense dictates that there's an appropriate time and place for everything.

     

     


    It is completely appropriate to single out Barack Obama.  He's the fucking President of the United States!


    He's just saying we're all guilty, so Obama's no guiltier than the rest.

    Free hall pass for everyone.

    Of course I didn't get $50 mill or whatever from Wall Street running for President, but I'm sure I'm guilty as conceived & birthed, sez the Bible, so I'll take my lumps.

    Just so I'm not ignorant, blind to reality or promoting my own agenda. God forbid.

    Re: " I’m convinced that Obama is one of the latter. If he wasn’t they wouldn’t be trying so hard to get rid of him." Uh, he has a D- by his name. They'd get rid of Reagan or Grover Norquist if they had a D- by their names.


    So, Obama is the President of the United States.  He's still only our employee. And besides, regardless to who we vote into office, he, or she, is going to do the same thing - and the reason for that is because WE are so undereducated, apathetic, and easily manipulated. Thus, the point of the piece.


    So it's all OUR fault. The president's just a lowly civil servant, we call the shots. And whoever we put in will still call the same shots.

    This is extremely lazy argumentation, and bullshit to boot. The "apathetic" public you slam got off its collective ass in 2008 to campaign furiously for "hope and change", including door-to-door, social media and tons of small donations.

    This was both in choosing the Democratic nominee - a record, grueling contest - and the final President.

    Presumably all these people with record turnout cared to not have McCain/Palin doing "the same thing", and as media around the world noted, a great deal of hope that there would be a big sea change from the Bush years.

    Nevertheless, people in the "apathetic" public were worried when Candidate Obama supported FISA and helped Bush push through TARP, and when electee Obama staffed up with Wall Street embedded types, and when newly installed President Obama low-balled the stimulus, played one-sided compromise with stubborn Republicans, pledged more troops for Afghanistan and gave up the public option.

    Did you complain about these actions, or did you parrot the line, "give him more time" at each stage in the process?

    Re: "easily manipulated", our system doesn't make it easy to switch politicians once in office, though it is easier and easier to express our opinion. The DoJ and court system are sometimes a help, but because people aren't manipulated as easily as you think, the crooked politicians and corporations have been stacking the courts with corporate-friendly shills, and defanging the DoJ from all white collar crime investigation.

    But I'm not a "slave" of Wall Street, as your diary contends - I'm a victim in terms of stolen money from government & Wall Street malfeasance, and those with robo-signed houses are victims of mortgage fraud as well. 

    But when Schneiderman - originally our hopeful savior - was co-opted by Obama, even a half-sane mortgage settlement went out the window.

    While Occupy Wall Street hasn't been as successful as hoped, actions by protesters certainly don't reflect "apathy", and a lot of people cheered Wikileaks for providing some oversight and transparency where our elected leaders and "mainstream" media had fallen down. 

    If the system fails, it's because the guys controlling it have so much money and influence - not because the victims are apathetic, uneducated and easily manipulated.

    I guess in that regard we might argue whether Obama was pre-disposed to cuddling up to the puppet masters, or forced to once in office despite good intentions. But I've always seen him as sharp-witted, canny at planning & organizing, and self-serving. Originally I just had low expectations, despite some irrational waves of hope at inauguration 2009, but since then I've been amazed by how many times Obama's done things opposite to what I would like. So call me "fooled" in that regard, but not "manipulated".

     


    Peracles,

    You're obviously very frustrated and angry. That's not good, because it undermines your ability to think. Screaming is never the answer.

    It ‘s very easy to control a president without cutting our own throats. First we must remain engaged enough to make our expectations clear from the very beginning of his administration, between election cycles. We do that by maintaining firm control over our legislators, who come up for re-election every two years. We can send a strong message with the way we handle their fates.

    We can also use our legislators to apply pressure by making sure that our legislators don’t support any effort by the president that deviates from our wishes. That way the president knows that if he doesn’t adhere to our wishes that he’ll be left dangling out in the cold without any support from congress.

    And finally, we should always think in eight-year cycles. So whenever we elect a president, we should also have a young politician warming up in the bullpen to take his place. Another advantage of that, other than the fact that the young politician has eight years to introduce himself to the public, his very presence always gives the president cause to look over his shoulder. In addition, if a president seriously deviates from our agenda, the young "president-in-waiting" can be used to voice the people’s concerns. Since all politicians have huge egos, no president wants to be second-guessed, or even overshadowed, by an eager young upstart, so this method of controlling a president can even be used in a second term.

    God made birds to fly, fish to swim, and man to think. So we should never try to scream our way to a solution to any problem. It never works, and our anger will invariably undermine our effort. We can currently see the effects of unrestrained anger at work in the GOP primaries. The Republicans are currently so angry and unthinking that they’re virtually insuring their own defeat in the next election. On the other hand, an educated, forward-thinking, and engaged electorate can easily control their fate and any politician. We must simply always remember to confront our problems through effective thinking, rather than reckless emotion. Period.

     


    Agreed completely. Although the history of the Civil Rights movement would seem to say argue against your position. Nonetheless...


    A supporter once called out, “Governor Stevenson, all thinking people are for you!” And Adlai Stevenson answered, “That’s not enough. I need a majority.” —Scott Simon, “Music Cues: Adlai Stevenson”

     


    Uh, where did I "scream"?

    And nice to start off your comment that I'm too angry to "think". Of course I said your argumentation was "bullshit", but then proceeded to defend that premise.

    Please explain how I "scream" and "don't "think", similar to your pre-emptive attack on Obama critics, that they are " ignorant, blind to reality, or promoting their own agenda".

    Your contention here is that how we treat the legislature is how we control the President. But the President hung the legislature out to dry in the off-year elections, saddling them with a watered-down health care bill and leading them into tax extensions for the wealthy with no jobs bill during a recession. The Dems got slaughtered.

    Of course the Dems got slaughtered in 2004 when Rahm led them to acquiesce to war in Iraq (except for the Dems who ignored his advice). And the party machinery makes sure to fund Bluedogs and conservatively-tilted Democrats over any hippy types. So it's only the netroots organizing & fundraising that keeps the pressure on - otherwise it'd be Republican vs. Republican Lite rushing to invoke more tax & benefits cuts and deficit cop actions during our long economic pause.

    The President also made sure that pressure on our legislators didn't matter by not meeting with any them perceived to be "liberals", while giving lots of face time to recalcitrant or ornery Republican representatives. Guess he showed us who's boss.

    Note that if the President doesn't care about passing legislation, he doesn't actually need support from Congress. So our fictitious jobs bill goes hunting for a sandwich. 

    On the other hand, it seems that you're against withholding support from the President at the voting booth, so where & how do you expect Dem representatives  to hold his feet to the fire? I think we tried that with health care, with dismal results. Any Democrats who signaled voting against for liberal reasons were designated "purity" trolls perfect-is-enemy-of-the-good types, while any conservative-leaning Democrat or Republican was showered with concessions to lasso his or her vote.

    Regarding having a young politician in the wings, good luck with that. We had a good one in Al Gore, and we threw him to the wolves and let Republicans & media lie him to death. In 2004, we had a halfway inspiring cast (well, Dean was inspiring, including inventing much of the modern grassroots movement, but we cut the rope for rather silly reasons - a scream? - and let the Republicans narrate the story) . In 2008, we had 1 relatively experienced candidate and a political newbie that we pushed over her instead. Oh, and then John Edwards who's self-destructed in numerous ways. If Obama weren't around this year, we'd be back to Hillary redux, and for 2016 we're at Hillary redux or maybe Al Franken or the doubtful Alan Grayson? Okay, perhaps we have a Democrat more conservative than Obama - should we run Geithner or Eric Holder?

    As for Republicans, the least of their problems is their screaming. It's their personal baggage and skeletons and stump speech boredom & incompetence. Ron Paul is too far off the reservation for them, so they're stuck with Romney. (Jeb Bush would be their darling, but it's too early for another Bush redux).

    Anyway, excuse me for going on and on with my non-"thinking".

     


    Peracles, you said:

    "Your contention here is that how we treat the legislature is how we control the President. But the President hung the legislature out to dry in the off-year elections, saddling them with a watered-down health care bill and leading them into tax extensions for the wealthy with no jobs bill during a recession. The Dems got slaughtered."

    How did the president do that, when all bills originate in congress?

    "Of course the Dems got slaughtered in 2004 when Rahm led them to acquiesce to war in Iraq (except for the Dems who ignored his advice). And the party machinery makes sure to fund Bluedogs and conservatively-tilted Democrats over any hippy types. So it's only the netroots organizing & fundraising that keeps the pressure on - otherwise it'd be Republican vs. Republican Lite rushing to invoke more tax & benefits cuts and deficit cop actions during our long economic pause."

    According to Genghis, money matters very little, and tRah shouldn't be able to lead the legislature anywhere. That is exactly the point of my article - WE should control the legislature with our votes, but we're allowing the tail to wag the dog.

    "On the other hand, it seems that you're against withholding support from the President at the voting booth, so where & how do you expect Dem representatives to hold his feet to the fire? I think we tried that with health care, with dismal results. Any Democrats who signaled voting against for liberal reasons were designated "purity" trolls perfect-is-enemy-of-the-good types, while any conservative-leaning Democrat or Republican was showered with concessions to lasso his or her vote."

    I address this issue elsewhere in the thread.  we can control the president by controlling his support in congress. 

    "Regarding having a young politician in the wings, good luck with that. We had a good one in Al Gore, and we threw him to the wolves and let Republicans & media lie him to death. In 2004, we had a halfway inspiring cast (well, Dean was inspiring, including inventing much of the modern grassroots movement, but we cut the rope for rather silly reasons - a scream? - and let the Republicans narrate the story) . In 2008, we had 1 relatively experienced candidate and a political newbie that we pushed over her instead. Oh, and then John Edwards who's self-destructed in numerous ways. If Obama weren't around this year, we'd be back to Hillary redux, and for 2016 we're at Hillary redux or maybe Al Franken or the doubtful Alan Grayson? Okay, perhaps we have a Democrat more conservative than Obama - should we run Geithner or Eric Holder?"

    Peracles, you seem to be committed to the proposition that there's nothing that we can do to repair our political system, so we might as well give up. I don't subscribe to that position. If you had given up the first time you fell when you were learning to walk you would still be sitting in the same spot. 

    We can always come up with a reason why things can't change.  That's why cynicism is never a constructive model for progress. I could have very easily set up in the hood and said, "I can never learn to write because the White man won't let me." But I fundamentally reject any proposition that suggests that ANYONE can prevent me from do ANYTHING.  It's simply not a part of my nature.   


    Briefly, I'm not saying there's nothing we can do.

    I say that creating a backup candidate each 8 years is difficult, and that it's hard to control a president via the legislature. (yes, presidents do initiate bills, even if they go through the Congressional system).

    Primarying Obama still seems the best pressure we could have brought. As he has no problems raising money, and doesn't seem to have an ambitious program at this point, I don't see what else he'll respond to.


    Your back and forth with Dan is a conversation that keeps coming back in different forms. I would put it this way:

    How do we criticize our guy in a way that gets him to take notice and change, but WITHOUT giving aid and comfort to the enemy?

    Part of me wants to say: You criticize loudly and persistently, but you don't threaten to stay home, not give money, not go door to door.

    Then I wonder: How does one do that effectively?

    For example, it does seem to me, though I can't conjure the examples at the moment, that Obama has changed in response to criticism from the left. Question is, was the implied threat of staying home or not giving money the reason Obama moved?

    One thing is clear to me: inadvertently or passively helping Romney is wrong and makes NO sense whatsoever. Covering it with bromides about how there is "no difference" between Democrats and Republicans strikes me as a dodge.

    (I feel reasonably certain, though one can never know, that Gore wouldn't have taken us into Iraq. Then again, LBJ escalated perhaps more than Goldwater would have--who knows?)

    One way to put teeth into your critique is to primary the incumbent. But I don't think even Obama's harshest critics had the stomach for that. So once that option was taken off the table, what was left?

    Another way is to support a third-party candidate like Jill Stein. I've run into a "decent" number of people who are doing that. But this strikes me as tantamount to helping Romney.

    Obviously, I don't have good answers to this.

    Maybe the answer is a loud, persistent chorus of critique that does NOT center around election time when, to win, we all have to pull together. Politics is a team sport. A chorus that makes it clear that it is "friends criticizing a friend" and is NOT intended to give succor to people we really don't want to support.

    Perhaps the best time to mount the loudest criticism is during the second term, when the person is worried about things other than getting re-elected, like the impact of his policies, his place in history, how he's "seen" by the country.


    Why don't people just say what they think about the direction of the country, and about their political aspirations and ideals, without tying themselves up into hyper-political, double-thinking pretzels about election campaigns.

    You can't live your life in terror over the possibility that if your criticisms are too loud, the children in the next room will hear you.


    "You can't live your life in terror over the possibility that if your criticisms are too loud, the children in the next room will hear you."

    yesyes


    This may be the right response and the only way to go.

    However...

    When there was a hue and cry over the health care bill, it seemed to me that what got reported, and therefore had an impact on public opinion, was the aggregate opposition to the bill from both the left and right.

    All of which added up to: "No one" liked it. Why? Because the bill stinks.

    This, I think, fuels the push to repeal it. After all, if the bill IS bad, why not repeal it and "start all over"...with something...or, perhaps more likely, with nothing.

    (General disapproval of the HCR could fuel a movement to reform the program, but do you see anything like that afoot? To create that kind of movement, you might need a critique that went something like: "Great bill! Here are five ways to make it even better." The sort of thing you might say to an actor after she's turned in a lousy performance in order to move her towards a better approach.)

    It seems to me that political statements and positions are blunt tools. They're like battering rams, not like scalpels or philosophical arguments. People don't hear the nuances nor follow all the switchbacks in the arguments. They hear the bottom line: It's lousy; let's get rid of the thing.

    This may be tying myself up into a pretzel and over-thinking things or worse. But I can't help but think about the folks who are being helped, and will be helped, by the bill and will be hurt when Romney repeals it. Just as an example...

    You can't live your life in terror over the possibility that if your criticisms are too loud, the children in the next room will hear you.

    It's not the volume, but the valence, of the criticisms that counts.


    Very well said, Peter.


    Enthusiastically seconded!


    You know what adds valence to Republican political rhetoric?   When large crowds of Democrats elevate Republican gibberish to the realm of intellectual respectability by spending months and months discussing the Republican theater of the absurd as though it were worthy of serious debate.

    But do whatever you want.  I barely even follow the news any more.   Right now it's 85 degrees in New Hampshire on March 22.  I got a tick bite on March 8th.  Cherries are blooming in Michigan.  We're cooking the world, but that's just another thing that won't get fixed as the political establishment devotes their time to the more important task of transferring more wealth to rich people.

    I'm sure most of us will muddle through in our new hot and neo-feudal world no matter what happens with the politicians.


    What I dislike most about whining is that it's less than constructive. We can make our displeasure know to politicians by simply saying that we disapprove of this or that policy. Thereafter, we can also flood them with letters. But then, we should follow up by voting legislators out of office who continue to ignore us. That way we send an unmistakable message to them that no one, or no amount of money, can save them from the people's wrath if they fail to dance to our music. It's as simple as that.

    So I repeat, if government is out of control, it's our fault. There's no, "Yeah, buts . . . " about it. 


    our guy

    Who is "our"?

    Politics is a team sport.

    That should only be the case for card-carrying members of a party. The majority in the US are Independents, and it's also the one "party" that is growing.

    I think political "sport" is the main problem of our system. The whole horse race thing and rooting for the team distracts from issues. In countries where campaigns are publicly funded, there is much less rooting for the team and much more talking to the voter about issues of concern, i.e., they act like they are applying for the job to the boss, the voter, and it's not the role of a voter to be a fanboy, booster, supporter or donor.

    As long as our campaign system is a team sport, like many others, I will be interested in analyzing the games.

    But I won't be one of the players and I really truly wish it wasn't so. That's one of the main reasons I have been a registered Independent since 1983, and the ever growing number of Independent registrations show many feel the same way.

    I'm mainly writing this reply to you because I see you argue this a lot as if you think it will help something or someone, but I just want you to know that I can't tell you how much someone telling me I have to root for a political party team really really turns me off, just sayin' If I see it a lot it gets to the point where it's hard not to react in the negative against the candidate even if I am predisposed to seeing the candidate get the job.

    I can sum up with this question link:

    Was George Washington Right?

    (As an aside, this was as part of the animosity of some at TPMCafe to the huge flood of Obama vs Hillary teams invading from TPM Election Central in early 2008 when Marshall changed the software. Older denizens of the Cafe had been used to it as place to discuss issues. We couldn't find issues discussions amidst the rapidly running scroll of Obama vs Hillary blather and it was doubly ironic that all the fandom fighting  passion was about two candidates as alike on issues as could possibly be.)
     


    Although I sympathize with you, your Obama/Clinton example belies the implicit assertion that party identification is the reason for the "team" attitude, although clearly party identification exacerbates it. I'd also add we sometimes need to create strategic alliances in politics, however distasteful it might seem.

    (That said, I really hate the sport metaphor.)


    This is a good and interesting response, AA. Just a few bits back...

    • Most other countries, I believe, have parliamentary systems where it's the TEAM or party that gets voted in. IOW, politics is even more of a team sport there than here, and it's quite common to have even newspapers on the team. The Guardian is Labor; the Telegraph is Tory. And so on. I'm thinking the UK here.

    • I can't honestly say whether there's more discussion of issues where elections are publicly funded. It makes sense there would be, and I'd be in favor of it for all the reasons you mention. I'm not entirely sure it works out that simply, but don't know.

    • My use of the analogy comes from a simple realization that you need a lot of people moving in one direction to get someone elected or anything else done politically. You may not be a "group person"; I'm not really. But I can't get beyond the idea that politics is about groups (if you like that word better) moving in one direction rather than another. Now, if you truly don't care which candidate gets elected, or which group wields power, or what gets done, then standing on the sidelines is fine.

    • In many places, you can't vote in primaries as an "independent." That gives you even less of a voice than when you vote in the general election. I see no advantage in registering as an independent. What's the point? Independents are not a party, nor are they anything else in particular, nor do they get anything done in particular. So who cares?

    • When you take yourself off the playing field that's all that happens--you're off the field. You have no impact, and no one misses your contribution. That isn't so much an argument as a fact (IMO).

    • I'm sorry if my comments turn you off. I comment here for what I imagine are the same sorts of reasons most other people do. But why let my comments influence your reactions to a candidate? That's giving me--inadvertently--way too much power over you and how you think. Not very independent.

    (If it helps give you balance, back in the day, when I was Tintin haunting MJ's posts, you seemed to like what I had to say. Doesn't a rose by any other name still...)

    • Partisan talking points are tedious, I agree. I'm sure I ladle them out from time to time, but I try to say what I believe and have thought through. Naturally, some of it ends up being bullshit, but that's part of why I come here: To find out how much nonsense is rattling around in my brain.

    ALL this said, it's often very important for the individual to swim against the group. But doing so is mostly important when the individual can convince many more folk to join with him in a DIFFERENT group going in a different direction.


    To be clear, I wasn't saying all your comments turn me off, I was saying the argument that we all have to be a party team player and "support" a candidate, playing booster  and fan, including donating to the candidate, not criticizing, etc., turns me off. And instead of just keeping quiet that the argument turns me off, which I usually do, suggesting to you, who I normally like reading, that it might not be a fruitful line of argument if you are trying to persuade those unhappy with Obama or anything similar, or someone like me. (And to reiterate in another form: if I see too many people becoming fans and rooting for someone in politics rather than rooting for something like a bill to pass, I become suspicious of the candidate, and what he/she is doing to get that adoration.) As far as I am concerned, the candidate woos the voter, and it's not right that the voter's job is to work for the candidate, the candidate is applying for a job with the voter. Now if, on the other hand, you are a card-carrrying party member, then you have signed up for those jobs. That's why I asked what you mean by "our" in "our guy.." Do you think you are talking to registered Democrats alone?  If so, it's appropriate.. But when you go on liberal/left websites, do you think all liberal/left people are still registered Democrats? As for dealing with current reality: a majority is not signing up to be card-carrying members, so there is something they must not like about the whole situation.

    Edit to add: A suggestion to go back to the top of this thread, where there is writing by a Mr Wattree is often wont to say he is not a fan/supporter of anyone and will criticize who he likes.


    I have no business doing this.

    But this WAS fun as I have already stated.

    All I can say is that the piece and the wonderful responses cut me to the heart as they say.

    We need more fun here. We need to stir it up.

    Genghis is right.

    but all the commenters are right too! Excluding me of course.

    Oh well....

    the end


    Richard,

    I fully agree with what you just said. That's why I love posting to Dag, just as I did TPM - they make me a better writer. The people on this site tend to be extremely discerning and very well informed. They constantly remind me of the importance to cross all my Ts and dot all my Is. 

    They remind of Ms Immel who taught me freshman English. After I'd turn in what I thought was a masterpiece, and be sitting smugly in class waiting to be told what a genius I was. She'd not only return my paper looking like a chicken with red feet had been dancing on it, but she make an example of me before the class: "Eric, if you have any intention of making it through this class, you need to get it through your head that every time you make one of your wild assertions, I expect you to start substantiating in the very next sentence, or no later than the following paragraph."

    I framed her words when I was in college, because I desperately wanted to get through freshman English, and even as I write this comment they're hanging on the wall above my computer.

    And by the way, I also learned another lesson from Ms Immel. At the time, I was young, and one of only two Black males in her class, so naturally, I assumed she was always embarrassing me in front of the class because she was a closet racist out to prove that Black males were inept. 

    Then one day I was taking a shortcut through the faculty parking lot and she was talking to a very distinguished-looking gentleman. I was trying to pretend that I didn't see her, but she called me over. She introduced him as her husband, and he told he was very happy to meet me. Thereafter, he brought up a paper that Ms Immel had terrorized a month earlier, and he was able to discuss it in depth. 

    Oh, and he was Black, by the way. That taught me an important lesson regarding the folly of embracing unwarranted assumptions.

     


    The use of the word "slave" is odd in this context. If the President favors maintaining the status quo of the world banking order to the extent he has, he either has done so because he thinks that is the best thing to do for the country as a whole or he has provided that support for some less noble reason. 

    Whether the President is "owned" or not by a person or a group of persons, that condition is neither demonstrated or proven untrue by his support of the banking industry.

    And I don't accept that We are slaves because we work or don't in the present system. The matter of what really is necessary is the big issue dividing everything and everybody. What are the alternatives? What can each of us choose that will make things different?

    I hear those questions in your post but don't see what they have to do with defending or confronting Obama.

     


    FWIW

    We commoners realized long ago, the corruption in our system.

    we longed for the freedom, to shake off the bonds that enslaved us 

    Obama promised us "change we could believe in" 

    Obama capitalized on our dreams, he told us what we wanted to hear so that he could rise up above all other contenders. 

    Once elected, our dreams were dashed, we found out to late, Obama served our enslavers, the money changers.   

    We didn't get the change we sought, we saw a further strengthening of the hand, of the task masters.  

    We the downtrodden were snookered again by a smooth sounding preacher/politician who promised a deliverance from the evil.

    Too late;  the so called deliverer was as phony as the rest that preceded him. 

    We the people were looking for someone to change the system as promised  instead we find the leader was only interested in his self- promotion, elevating his own stature.

    We the commoner peasants, found out to late Obama was no Moses leading us to the "promised land of change" instead he was like Judas, currying favor with those money changers and corrupt pharisee class members.

    There will be no promise land; only the continuation of the snake infested environment, with snake oil salesmen promising relief.

    Till some other wanna be deliverer, lies his way into our homes, making promises they never intend to keep.   

    Obama's as good a snake oil salesmen ever seen, he's fooled many. and will continue as long as the people let him.   

    He'll probably win the coveted "best of the snake oil salemen" award and prize and the people will still be enslaved. 


    Geez, who are 'we commoners' you are referencing?  A club?  Pen pals? Coffee buddies?  Is there more than two?  Are there secret handshakes?  Passwords?  

    Just askin'.  


    If you have to ask;  it's clear you're of a different class.

    Do you have any cake left, for us common (lowly folks )?   


    Ah, back to the snark and hyperbole.  Deflecting the query as usual.  tsk. tsk.


    Your messianic depiction of Obama sharply delineates the limited relevance of focusing upon his personal motivations when discussing his role in the present system of exchange and the means of production that make that system possible.

    There is an inherent contradiction between the sense of collective responsibility evident in all functioning democracies and cults of personality where special people do things for you that otherwise would be impossible.


    where special people do things for you that otherwise would be impossible.

    Justice serves all the people,  

    When leaders like Obama,  fail to protect the concept of Justice, the nation suffers. 

    Where was Obama when it came time to bring to justice those  who defrauded the weak? Or to bring to justice those who violated our laws and used torture? Did the president subvert Justice because he felt it inconvenient?

    Our nations leaders have also concluded Justice for some is inconvenient?

    Justice for ALL has no defender in Obama    

    Where was the Obama JUSTICE DEPARTMENT to prosecute those who fleeced the people? ie the mortgage crisis, and the exporting of jobs.

    the limited relevance of focusing upon his personal motivations when discussing his role in the present system of exchange and the means of production that make that system possible.

    We have a corrupt system because our leaders wont defend Justice 

    discussing his role ; Obama defends the very SYSTEM that enslaves the weak and deprives the people of Justice. 

    There is no JUSTICE.  Only distinction and partiality 

    Under the Obama administration, the system of exchange and the means of production, was allowed to remain corrupted. 

    The lowly had no defender in Obama; someone to prosecute those who wish to pervert the system of exchange and the means of production.

    limited relevance of focusing upon his personal motivations

    A defender of Justice, would have assured the people a System worthy of defending.  

    Justice for All, is the relevance of the office of the President.

    It's obvious this president has failed Justice, and by extension the people he swore an oath to defend; against the injustices that have been allowed to flourish. 

    "You sheeple do as we say, not as we do"?

    Profit ahead of justice, is the corrupt system all these crooks defend. 

    (Just some thoughts)


    A blind obedience to justice is an antiquated idea that someone realized over 2 thousand years ago was a bad idea. Of course, he was nailed to a cross for his ideas…


    Justice alone is insufficient, 

    Reflecting upon Justice, brings the fruitage of mercy and mericfulness. Empathy,  Love of neighbor 

    Because the lawless are not brought to justice, there is no restraint, so the lawless proliferate.

    Why not, when there is no punishment for the well connected lawbreakers. 

    Who said crime doesn't pay?  

    It appears it pays better than honest work, especially when you're one of the members of the lawmaker class. 

    Justice perverted, weakens the Nations bonds. 


    I take your point that if leaders don't prosecute the law, corruption flourishes.

    Making that correlation a matter of personal motivations is certainly important when trying to prove that a crime by a government official has been committed. But making such motivations the last word on why most events occur is absurd. The participation by all other people than the ones "deciding" things becomes a mere result.

    But that participation by all the other people is the only reason "wealth" and "power" exist at all. Recognizing that condition is at the center of why some people think they could govern themselves instead of relying upon a class of special people.

     


    It is theoretically true that the collective "we" could replace politicians whom we don't like with ones we do like, but to say that that is proof that all individuals are therefore responsible for what the collective does is ridiculous. You continue to say "It is our fault", which has an element of truth, but then go further and say that the correction of that fault is "simple". "It is as simple as that". "All we have to do is...".

     
    "The only remedy for this situation is education, and through education, enlightenment. ........Then, and only then, will we be able to defend our individual interests, and come together to defend the nation against the widespread and rampant corruption that’s currently dragging this country under the bus."

    I suggest that educating a significant majority of the citizens of our country to the point that they would recognize and agree on sensible solutions to our many problems and who would then unite in voting for politicians who could be identified as ones who would institute those solutions is anything but "as simple as that". You are suggesting a simplistic answer to a very complicated and convoluted problem.

    Thus, the problem in this country is not the amount of money flowing through the system, that’s only secondary; the primary problem is the apathy, selfishness, and ignorance of the people.

     That state of affairs will not be simple to change. There is no correct way to end a sentence proscribing a solution which begins with "All we have to do is...".


    Exactly.  Thank you.


     

     

     


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