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Saying ‘No Deal’ to This New Deal

Posted on Oct 2, 2008

By David Sirota

The marriage of American capitalism and democracy has always been a Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee affair—stormy and erratic since its hasty wedding. But during the debate over a Wall Street bailout this week, we watched that matrimonial knot unwind into a tangled tale of terror.

As a financial crisis became a political panic, capitalism murdered democracy (ironically, while pursuing a vaguely socialist bailout). Only, unlike a typical horror story, the dead body wasn’t hidden, it was dumped in the nation’s public square.

The fiasco started, like most, with unreasonable demands. Under threat of financial meltdown, capitalism’s corporate lobbyists asked our democracy to forsake its usual deliberations and hand over $700 billion of taxpayer money in less than a week.

Many were surprised when democracy responded with such valiant defiance. As television screens split between the floors of the stock exchange and the House of Representatives, lawmakers initially voted with their constituents and against the bailout.

That’s when this husband-and-wife argument escalated into a grisly crime of passion.

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CNN’s Ali Velshi frothed that “the banks and the companies don’t care about the intricacies” of democratic deliberations. A CEO angrily told CNN that “the money is being held hostage to the political process”—as if government resources are rightfully Wall Street’s. And as the Dow tanked, the Chamber of Commerce threatened retribution against recalcitrant lawmakers.

The final deathblow came from TINA, shorthand for “There Is No Alternative”—the motto that Margaret Thatcher used to peddle her corporatism, and that Washington and Wall Street used to promote theirs.

Whether it was a Barclays Capital executive telling reporters “there is no choice” or Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., insisting that “this needs to be done and it needs to be done right away,” responsibly democratic prescriptions were pulverized by capitalism’s deranged mantra of inevitability and urgency. To even mention, as economist Dean Baker did, that the taxpayer giveaway could exacerbate the crisis was to risk flogging by columnists like Tom Friedman. The sycophantic flat-earther vilified bailout opponents (i.e., most Americans) as mentally incapacitated deadbeats who “can’t balance their own checkbooks.”

By the time the fight hit Congress’ upper chamber, senatorial morticians were embalming democracy’s corpse. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., permitted consideration of just one alternative, and he rigged parliamentary procedure to guarantee its defeat.

Yet, if capitalism took democracy’s life through a perverse legislative process, then it robbed its grave with the bailout bill’s substance.

American democracy is defined by vesting government power in systems and rules, not in individuals and whims. We have been, as John Adams wrote, “an empire of laws, and not of men”—until now.

Instead of responding to this meltdown by updating regulatory institutions or investing in job-creating infrastructure, the bailout proposes giving one unelected appointee—the treasury secretary—complete authority to dole out $700 billion to bank executives, with little oversight. And here’s the scary part: That lurch toward dictatorship was motivated not just by crony corruption, but also by a deeper ideological shift.

We now face market forces uninhibited by democratic governance—Chinese dictators and Saudi princes can move trillions of dollars without so much as a press release. This bailout, marketed as a speed enhancer, is an aggressive attempt to discard democracy’s checks and balances and pantomime that kind of autocracy.

While our political culture still required a public sales job (thus, the fear-mongering), the bill’s czarism aims to permanently euthanize democracy in the name of improving our capitalism’s global agility. In that sense, this week’s spousal killing wasn’t random. It was the beginning of a systematic assault on our Constitution and a radical departure from Franklin Roosevelt’s original covenant—a dangerous “new deal” we must say “no deal” to.

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose newest book, “The Uprising,” was released in June. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network, both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at www.credoaction.com/sirota.

© 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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By diamond, October 5, 2008 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

The American right spent ten years constructing and planning the impeachment of Bill Clinton - they didn’t really care what they impeached him for. They just thought he was white trash and had no right to be President. American voters didn’t agree and elected him twice. Richard Nixon, on the other hand, who was quite simply criminal and anarchic in his view of American power and responsibility and behaved like a crook for his entire presidency was not impeached. Rumsfeld and Cheney were part of Nixon’s ‘team’ and Cheney in particular was incensed that Nixon paid any price at all for what he did. And now you can see where anarchy and criminal behaviour leads. These attitudes are rife in the Republican party where doing your civic duty is seen as pandering to the unwashed masses and having an ethical business culture is seen as a contradiction in terms. The Republicans constructed this house of cards and Republicans brought it down. Not impeaching Bush and Cheney and exposing their criminal activity to public scrutiny will leave the Republicans free to do it all again at some future point in time. That’s the lesson of not impeaching Nixon and it needs to be learned to prevent future disaster. Even out of office Bush and Cheney can be impeached and they must be. There needs to be a genuine investigation of 9/11 and the anthrax letters and the whole construct that is the war on terror so that lessons can be learned about how to prevent the political and military elites from acting this way again. I heard a commentator saying the other day on the radio that the only thing that could save John McCain was a terrorist attack and he didn’t trust Dick Cheney not to give us one. Keep your eye out for the October surprise, it could be nastier than the Wall St collapse.

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By Leefeller, October 5, 2008 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

Is it possible Bush does not have a clue? Seemingly the village idiot has destroyed our nation with the help of key figures. Rule of law has been a joke since his Vietnam evading days, he actually seems smarter then those of us who went to Canada or Viet Nam, makes me wonder?

Bush’s background shows a plodding consitant destruction of everything he has done or worked with, otherwise stated,  he can turn gold into into crap, so why not America?

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By leilah, October 5, 2008 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

Jim Yell,

Check out the Business Plot.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot

One member of the plot was Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush.  (Scalia’s father founded the American Fascist Party in NYC in 1934.)
George W. Bush is just carrying to completion the overthrow of the Government that his grandfather, the Senator from Connecticut, originally took part in.
Chalmers Johnson warned of this path in an interview with Brian Lamb on C-SPAN.  Johnson said the only thing that would spell the end of America is bankruptcy, and here we are.

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By Jim Yell, October 4, 2008 at 7:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our government has been subverted decades ago. Both the right and the left have worked tirelessly to destroy the cohesion of the country.

A good government keeps in mind the welfare of the whole nation and to do this regulates and enforces the laws to keep the strong or at lest the scondrels from bullying everyone else. The system has worked well and the captialists have done well, but instead of using their wealth to strengthen the country they have used it to subvert the government and increase their profits and power with complete disregard to the long term results, creating a profit ratio too high to be sustained.

The investment community and the stock market and corporations have outsourced everthing until no real anything is produced. No real production. The profits are generated by slight of hand, by double dealing, by ignoring the need of wages for work. If wages don’t reflect the cost of living (which is not the cost of fur coats) it is the cost of housing, food and a little something for comfort, then workers become angry, disappointed and suspicious, not to mention disorderly.

The problem with letting this all out attack on our effective government by Bush/Cheney, the effect of not impeaching them are the rules have been broken and may never be enforced again. Government is only the problem when it becomes the instrument of a small minority of selfish, narcisstic and unprincipled people. Some day the country will realize that the beginning of the fall was the unwillingness to start impeachment of Bush/Cheney among others. NO ONE SHOULD BE EXEMPT FROM THE LAWS and the Bill of Rights is not something that leaders should ignore.

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By G.Anderson, October 3, 2008 at 10:59 pm Link to this comment

America as we know it now, is done for.

Remember, how things are now, the unreality of it all, because soon we will have fond memories of what our lives used to be.

Quite simply the comercial paper market has failed. And so what you will see, is that American coprorations can no longer pay the salaries of their workers as their lines of credit dry up.

Next it will be the government who will be unable to pay the salaries of government workers so, the aparatus of government will go under, Police, Fire, medical, public health… it will all soon be gone..

This was one of the reasons that the Roman Empire failed - the civil workers of the Roman Empire could not be paid. It plunged Europe into a thousand years of barbarism.

Then, just as now there were those who cheered, because at first their taxes were lowered, eventually they starved along with everyone else.

Maybe that’s what the elite wants, so they can declare Marital Law. But socializm in one form or another is on it’s way.

American’s won’t even understand why when it hits, many don’t even understand what Libor is, but in one day last week it rose to the sky. That was the day, when the economy of the western world died.

No bailout can do much of anything, because world wide there are 500 trillion dollars worth of derviatives outsanding, nothing can be done about it.
 
This is not going to be another great depression, but a monumental collapse far worse, the kind that they build monuments to, with green bronze statues depicting the suffering that people endured.

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By David Klassen, October 3, 2008 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is nothing whatsoever socialist about this plan.  This is just the final proof that all we now have is a Government of the Corporations, by the Corporations, and for the Corporations.

I’m half expecting all the Home Depots to sell out of pitchforks.

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By yellowbird2525, October 3, 2008 at 6:16 pm Link to this comment

American citizens have been so disparaged by our Gov; civil war is raging in Mexico cuz Clinton went there & bribed THEIR Pres to letting the huge Corps from America in: who of course flooding their land with far cheaper corn that the people could grow & sell: losing their land which was gobbled right up right along with THEIR water rights! (all courtesy of THE GOV of the USA); which was done in Canada as well; & on to Iraq; & on to Iran, & waiting for the Taliban to get armed & ready so they can now take over Pakistan: have to REMOVE or cause civil unrest in ANY nation NOT doing what THIS Gov wants: see unrest in S Africa: cuz of THEIR corrupt Gov; (see who did THAT one gentlemen!); on to http://www.nonais.com even in Austrailia they are trying to force farmers of cattle etc out of business; by forcing them to put “microchips” into animals: then “forgetting” to repay them for their expenses; might do well to google genetic seed: remember the makers of Agent Orange? and how the people objected to having wheat fields cleared by it? well, hello what is on YOUR table this AM! every other nation has banned it or forced it to be labeled but NOT of course the USA; who loves to put chemicals in everything to harm the people to get more $ for sister Pharma: who gets 600,000 xs the cost of meds; whoever pays the prostitutes the most: sorry, politicians the most; is what gets done. NOT what is good for people or environment: for THEIR pocketbooks. THIS is how “democracy” became the most despised name on Earth.

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By yellowbird2525, October 3, 2008 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment

they have all kinds of $ at Fed, St, county & city levels; (not what they let YOU know at all); there “new” plan is to “rebuild and renew” America; YOU have been told “you are free” you have everything: look to Russia; etc etc etc. What YOU should have been doing is looking at ICELAND: why do the people THERE live longer & better? and Denmark, Sweden, etc etc etc; but they did not WANT you to do that; cuz THEN you would know you have been deceived: THIS is THERE plan: THEY own the water, & the land. They want huge mega farms where THEY grow the food, & animals; you will have to have a “lower” wage, of course, (not a living one at all: look at Colombia); there is no $ they cry: yet all this gold in amero) you will have to have a different mindset; THEY own all the water: if you do not pay; you will die; you have no RIGHT to water: no rights at all; only Corps have one, and THEY are recognized; (been this way for a very long time folks); they plan on cutting down all the trees, forests, & doing away with National Parks; claiming here in Oregon that “due to forest management” & the “japanese beetle” they have to commercialize it to build, build, build; oh, and of course, they will pay for all college tuition (for illegals) not for citizens; at least, in Calif they are refusing any Christian school grad from getting into college (aclj); coming from the Fed, to the St (Gov’s) to county to city: illegals get to keep the illegally obtained drivers licenses & those will be given out freely by the USA Gov to any incoming: but a new LAW passing 7/08 indicates legal citizens must produce certified birth certs; and then, of course to IDENTIFY citizens: we MUST be numbered! (fed id’s); getting the big picture yet guys?

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By yellowbird2525, October 3, 2008 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

this is actually the long term goal & plan of the political system of this nation: it is NOT “new”; it did NOT come by “surprize”; what folks have to be aware of is this: Our nations political parties (congress) were bought & paid for by the SAME wealthy folks who owned the large plantations; THEY went to political parties & said hey hey hey make our day: tax the PEOPLE for everything instead of having everything paid for by profits from big business; THUS came the taxing of the people; & the Corps who had LAWS protecting the people, etc etc etc: began to fall; do NOT trust what is on the internet: they have been busying getting the original archives & CHANGING them: talk about liars, cheats & deceivers: what YOU have been propagandad & brain washed to hear: & SEE: are mostly LIES. This has intensified greatly: SAME as in Hitler’s day; NOTE: the “housing” crisis had to be: for the “removal” of many Americans who have gone missing.

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By Xntrk, October 3, 2008 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I made my telephone calls and sent my emails, as did many of my family. Most of my friends bought the fear mongering. Maybe they can recover a bit for a little while. So, I think many citizens are still asleep dreaming of past glories.

The problem of course is ‘what do you do when it all comes up shit’? Cubans, after the hurricanes, must have felt like this. But, their leaders hadn’t been cheering the storms on, and rapidly took charge, rebuilding what they can and shoring up shaky morale.

Here, of course, the vultures are lining up for their share. California, which being biggest went tits up first, has its had out for 7 Billion. The printing presses are going to be busy!

In Hawaii, the construction boom is over, unemployment is climbing, groceries have doubled in cost since June, gasoline is over $4 a gallon, and our power bills go ever higher. Hilo Hattie’s just announced bankruptcy.

At least most of us wont have a heating bill, and the smart people, unlike the malahinis [newbies] in their McMansions, don’t use AC.

The truth is, it is bad and going to get worse!

As for Democracy, IMO it died about the time we got rid of Nixon. We were told the cancer was cured, but the damn thing had metastasized into little clumps of neo-cons growing throughout the government. Since Reagan, it has infected one organ after another.

Rebellion is the answer, but we are too wasted for that. At best, I see us dissolving into a Balkanized system of mini-countries. A Democracy here, a Racist Plutocracy there.

Who says we are “Too Big To Fail”?

Think about it…

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By Clark, October 3, 2008 at 7:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In response to “Kiss”.

You are being unfair to the whores of the world. Can’t you see the flashy jewelry being flagrantly touted by these Pimps. The supporters of this money grab have a handed the keys to our escape to the whoremongering Bastards who are determined to imprison us all for their sadistic desires.

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By Anarcissie, October 3, 2008 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

If we can’t balance our checkbooks or dispense with our credit cards, how are we going to run the economy?

If we give up our power to experts and great leaders and then say “no deal”, what difference will it make?

When the powerless insist, who listens?

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By Leisure Suit Larry, October 3, 2008 at 6:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We are NOT “dommed as slaves” as the poster below states… We are doomed as morans and ass-kissers for paying the “voluntary” income tax which makes this type os graft possible.

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By RdV, October 3, 2008 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

And despite all the pork-laden earmarks, not a squeak from McCain. No surprise there, what little he knows, he knows where his bread is buttered and that ultimately he is not a maverick, but a coward. But what of Obama, admonishing those dissenters to “step up to the plate”? Where is the hope of change? Robinson’s words above sound reasonable enough—and offer a soothing reassurance considering the mindboggling scope of the betrayal, but is it all simply whistling in the dark? Maybe if we do nothing, nothing will happen,Obama said, but maybe if we give away billions after the fed has already pumped in billions with no change, maybe even then nothing will happen. It is as if there is no difference between nothing and billions…..upon billions. Could it be a stop gap measure to get the political campaign past the election, or since they couldn’t get their hooks on our Social Security, is it the last breathtakingly blatant swindle of the Bush era crime spree?
  Why does it feel Obama will be another disappointment—where the erosion is slowed down, but the uncomfortable stains are covered with a new rug—but like in some cheap horror movie, it only quietly bleeds through the new fabric.

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By angiee79, October 3, 2008 at 6:22 am Link to this comment

Forget about getting out of debt, I think it’s too late for that now - and most of us never will anyway with compounding interest rates credit card companies jacking up rates when their computers tell them you might be in trouble. The credit system needs a massive overhaul.

This is what it’s like to go to the banks in Zimbabwe since their economic collapse:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/world/africa/02zimbabwe.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Of course, thing could never get that bad here…

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By KISS, October 3, 2008 at 4:34 am Link to this comment

How sad that we, the citizens, have elected whores to run our country.I once more warn those of you who can think, get out of debt and prepare for a long winter of discontent and misery.The winter I speak of is not the one of 2008-2009, but one of many years. The great depression is thought to have been a 10 year period, I predict this may run much much longer.A bail-out to bail-out will come again and again.Like third world countries be prepared to have three generations living under one family roof…if so lucky.

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By Leefeller, October 3, 2008 at 2:49 am Link to this comment

Very sobering article, as one who cannot balance my check book, I know the feeling very well, and it is not because I do not know how.

House will shove this through for we are doomed like slaves, sold down the river, this Bush’s last nail in the coffin, bet he does not even know it yet, he still has nails and hammer in his hand.

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