“It’s scary to think that people this obscenely stupid are running the country”

a flag you can actually buy at adbusters.com

Glenn Greenwald has a pretty much spot-on look at the deepest underlying issue in the health care debacle, the blurring of the lines between the corporate and public sectors. With the exception of party loyalists (both Republican and Democrat), it’s pissing off just about everyone in a major way, both those who identify as conservatives and as progressives. Each group has a different name for the problem:

Whether you call it “a government takeover of the private sector” or a “private sector takeover of government,” it’s the same thing: a merger of government power and corporate interests which benefits both of the merged entities (the party in power and the corporations) at everyone else’s expense. Growing anger over that is rooted far more in an insider/outsider dichotomy over who controls Washington than it is in the standard conservative/liberal ideological splits from the 1990s. It’s true that the people who are angry enough to attend tea parties are being exploited and misled by GOP operatives and right-wing polemicists, but many of their grievances about how Washington is ignoring their interests are valid, and the Democratic Party has no answers for them because it’s dependent upon and supportive of that corporatist model. That’s why they turn to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh; what could a Democratic Party dependent upon corporate funding and subservient to its interests possibly have to say to populist anger?

He’s not the only one to notice. See here and here and here. And just ‘cos it made me spit up my coffee a little bit, this little priceless observation from Jane Hamsher:

Rahm Emanuel has managed to convince enough of the people that any inadequacies in this bill will be forgotten if the Dems can claim a “w” and pass any piece of shit health care bill. And that if Congress just spends 2010 naming post offices, any objections that Americans might have to paying 8% of their incomes to private corporations who will use the IRS as their collection agencies will just disappear.

It’s scary to think that people this obscenely stupid are running the country. All the while, the painfully obvious left/right transpartisan consensus that is coalescing against DC insiders of both parties appears to be taking everyone by surprise.

Populism 101

Matt Taibbi calls this viral video from last week “like the most awesome thing ever.” As much as I like Taibbi, I can’t really go along all the way with him on that one.  I like that this mad batsman has done his homework (and he has a damned nice stroke). The guy apparently has a head for numbers and he sees quite clearly that the numbers for the economy don’t come close to adding up. But he sort of loses me when he says  no one with a name “like” Barrack Hussein Obama is going to solve our problems. Still, I chucked at a lot of this, was frightened by even more of it. 

This is more evidence of a new populism that I can go along with about 90% (which is about as far as I can go with any movement/party). Dylan Ratigan is probably the public face of it, and he will only grow in stature, or get fired. He too is majorly pissed off and quite articulate, and has a bully pulpit. There are real protests in the streets of Chicago, and not by the usual suspects either. It’s not left wing or right wing. It’s kind of outsider vs. insider. And I think its adherents are onto something.

Populism often involves a fair bit of misdirected rage and scapegoating–at Obama personally, at immigrants–but a lot of it is spot on, targeting the bipartisan effort to steer absolutely massive amounts of money to the big banks and the weird organism that Wall Street has become (Taibbi’s notorious “vampire squid” image* comes to mind). The bailouts and the health reform (all but certain to be complicated and low impact, even if passed), trivial pursuits in a time of great crisis, show both parties to be entrenched, dedicated opponents to the common good. Whether a viable alternative presents itself is an interesting question to be watched over the next couple of elections. Or it might be something even worse. That’s in the populist DNA as well.

* “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”

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