Sunday, September 21, 2008

Groundhog day

Through their tears, they see opportunity.

In this case, the opportunity is a $700-billion grab, with unfettered authority, from the taxpayers to the administration's best friends on Wall Street.

Six years ago to the day, the regime was demanding unfettered authority for another such project from Congress. Common sense warned that the tidy, antiseptic slogan of "regime change" was a facade for vast devastation and killing, and a long, open-ended commitment of resources for unstated goals. But complicit, ambitious, and fearful Democrats were only willing to tinker with the language, not confront the basic policy, and agreed to a vote before the election. So here we are, a trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives later.

The clique of lawless plunderers in the executive (and fourth) branches has used the technique again and again, and it always works: They back Congress up against a deadline and "brief" them with visions of the catastrophic consequences of not granting yet more unchecked power and retroactive absolution for crimes already committed.

The Military Commissions Act was introduced at this time two years ago as an electoral club: fearful of "soft on terrorism" smears, the Democrats acceded to authorizing show trials, legalizing torture, and actively cooperated in stripping habeas protections from prisoners. The Protect America Act, to authorize previously illegal massive domestic spying, was pushed through with tales of terrorist threats against Congress itself and with an August recess looming.

In this latest crisis, the Democrats are as complicit as they are fearful; Wall Street runs both parties. I look for nothing but the tiniest concessions, nibbling around the edges rather than addressing the causes, much less sticking the people who caused the problem with the tab or holding them accountable in any way.

And the timing, when so many activists are in full-out election mode, means that it's unlikely that a cohesive alternative can be put together in time to provide even a missed opportunity for the craven congressional Dems. Still, I'll keep alert to signs of organized resistance.

Update: 2:30 pm, Sept 21 - This, purportedly from a member of Congress (vouched for and via Matt Stoller) is a spirits-lifter, but I'd be more encouraged if s/he'd go on the record:

Nancy [Pelosi] said she wanted to include the second "stimulus" package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don't want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few fucking bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible.
I also find myself drawn to provisions that would serve no useful purpose except to insult the industry, like requiring the CEOs, CFOs and the chair of the board of any entity that sells mortgage related securities to the Treasury Department to certify that they have completed an approved course in credit counseling. That is now required of consumers filing bankruptcy to make sure they feel properly humiliated for being head over heels in debt, although most lost control of their finances because of a serious illness in the family. That would just be petty and childish, and completely in character for me.
David Obey? Barney Frank?

Update 2: 4:00 pm, Sept. 21 - By far the best summary of how Congress should respond to this outrageous ploy by the regime is a guest post by Rebecca Gordon at Happening Here? Her most important point, one which the Democrats fail to grasp again and again, is that there is no reason to grant the regime's terms of debate, that unlimited authority must be ceded right this minute or the sky will fall.

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