Strange to watch the American financial system teeter on the abyss, to listen to serious analysts use the word "depression," to witness the failure of massive financial institutions - and to see it all reduced as just another factor in the endless Presidential horse race. How will it play to voters - as if the Obama candidacy itself is more important than the U.S. economy, or the latest McCain gambit a bigger factor than crashing exchanges and frozen credit markets.
Loans are being called against capital that's not there. Companies are scouring their balance sheets and sharpening the axes down in HR. Credit is dry. The party is over. Yet, it's all about as important as Sarah Palin's lip liner tattos (I kid you not). The looming changes in our society don't matter. The big question is this: how does it play? Bored with it all and with the rising dread we all seem to feel, Dennis Perrin discards his scalpel for an ax handle:
Another month of this endless, dreadful election. Like dragging dead cows through wet shit and mud. Maybe I should be amazed by how excited and energized many observers remain, reacting to the tiniest items, looking for any angle to celebrate and promote their tribal leaders. But that would be wasted energy. Still, how sad and sick it is that these jabbering proles have convinced themselves that their opinions and concerns matter to the main players, especially in the current financial maelstrom. The more contemptuously they are treated, the more servile they become.
Still, I'm glad that Obama showed who he really is, an energetic, sometimes eloquent servant of empire, agreeing with McCain about NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, calling Venezuela a "rogue" nation, pumping Iran up to monstrous proportions, etc. There was also the requisite Kill Bin Laden moment, as if icing that figurehead would have any real effect on the Terror Wars, apart from a short-lived propaganda spike. Bin Laden serves as a boogeyman piñata that Obama keeps whacking, hoping to see votes pour out once it breaks. He needn't swing so hard. Obama could announce later today that he supports public beheadings for "terrorists," and his liberal choir would sing their approval, however edgy it may make them personally. Once you embrace Joe Biden, anything's possible. Remember, this ticket is the "humane" option. What better cover for ongoing brutality?
While browsing in a local bookstore recently, I noticed that a number of anti-Bush items, playing cards, coasters, 1/20/09 gear, were on sale, many slashed down to practically nothing. We're nearing the end of the Hate Bush industry, and it's been a profitable one for liberals, despite their distaste for the man himself. Indeed, it was their distaste that sold. Say what you will about Bush -- he moved liberal product, much more than Ronald Reagan ever did, whose final days in office swiftly evaporated to little fanfare. Not so Bush. And as their reactionary cousins do with Bill Clinton, liberals will continue to hate Bush for years to come, perhaps forever. Unless McCain is elected, dies, and Sarah Palin becomes president. I'm certain some liberal hustler is already preparing for that possibility. Can I interest you in a 1/20/13 ball cap?
Over at his place, Jim Wolcott quotes a high financier talking about the gulf between the very rich and the rest of American society. Class warfare's in the air like fall pollen down on Broad Street, and Wolcott forecasts the end of the luxe television style we've all come to tolerate:
In the gray light of an economy slipping into shark waters, the ads for ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money," a whirlwind of louche, deluxe showponying (limos, pet lions, and palatial lairs), seem particularly smirky and loathsome. Television's prostration before the jaded flauntings of the superrich doesn't seem like such fun anymore, if it ever was. Entertainment's glamorizing of predation and luxury spending mirrors the corporate pandering that has led us to this earthquake juncture.
The broadsheets lead with arcane academic graphs explaining the market forces and leveraged derivatives - but the tabloids know where it's really at: they're running big gaudy graphics of fortunes lost by boldface names, a bit of old morning schadenfreude for the working class stiff gripping his takeout coffee in one hand and the Daily News in the other.
As Ian Welsh posits at FireDogLake, the failed Paulson bailout may be the first shot in a real class war - not the one the GOP tarted up over the last two decades, the political strawman it could convince voters to run away from.
The US has been trending towards plutocracy for over three decades. From being the Western nation with the most social mobility, America went to being the country with the least. From having the least inequality in the Western world it went to the most. The amount of money the rich had ballooned to Gilded Age levels and the middle class didn't get a single raise. Families went from being able to support themselves with one wage earner to needing two.
There has never been a better time to be rich in America. In the last decades the truly rich have gone from merely flying first class to owning their own jets. They've gone from earning 20 or 30 times what a normal employee earns to taking home tens of millions of dollars every single year—even when they are running the company, and the country, into bankruptcy.
Getting off the financial path, off the junkies fix of fake profits and loose money is going to hurt. Let no one tell you otherwise. Over the next few weeks and months we are going to hear a lot of screams that everything bad that happens (and bad things are going to happen) wouldn't have happened if only the American Plutocracy Act (aka the bailout bill) had passed. As with withdrawal from a deadly addiction, this is true to an extent. Stop taking heroin and the withdrawal effects may make you wish you were dead, and claw for another hit to make them stop. But going back on the drug isn't the solution to it nearly killing you.
Cue the mob.
UPDATE: The most popular story on CNN.com this morning as we wait for economic Armageddon tells the societal tale all too well: 'Dancing' bids goodbye to another star.
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