Saturday, October 16, 2010

Of Probabilities and Punishment

The Chipsters at the Gazette are aware that politicians and voters around the country have been waiting expectantly and impatiently for our endorsements in the upcoming mid-term elections; and so we have taken the time to consider our endorsements carefully.

In 2008 we Chipsters endorsed Obama, despite the fact that he was not Dennis Kucinich, on the less than sanguine grounds that he had hinted sufficiently at change to be taken at his word. Upon his being elected, however, we cautioned not to expect too much from a candidate who at best represented a more socially conscious aspect of capitalism. We did not expect Obama to fundamentally change the historical trajectory of the United States; however, we did hold out some hope that he would mitigate and mollify the effects of empire by restoring some civil liberties, by enacting universal health care, by undertaking to make education something less than a highway to debt peonage, and by re-regulating the economy so as to make it something other than a brute and cunning exercise in rapacious plunder and despoilation for the benefit of a few. At the end of six months Obama had run up his colors and we called for punitive voting to punish his Administration and the Democrat Party for their betrayal of every item on progressive agenda.

At the end of the day, we cannot but call for a total repudiation of the Democrat Party at the national level. To be sure, this anti-endorsement arises from the dismal record of the party at the federal level but, more fundamentally, the issue concerns democracy itself and the survival of its enfeebled remains.

The theory of democracy is that government policy should be determined by the greater number of society's participants, where each citizen votes his desires and interests as best he sees fit. The idea of a representative democracy is the same, except that the desires (and would-be votes) of a given number of citizens are distilled into an elected official who represents their interests and views.

In a direct democracy, politics is the art of the "doable" -- how many people can any individual voter convince to see things his way. In representative democracy politics is the art of the probable. This involves a double calculation to choose among the candidates whose promises (a) most coincide with the number of things we want to see done and (b) has the greater chance of getting elected.

But this calculation alone is not enough. In addition one has to rank and weight the objects of one's political desires and then assess, with respect ot each item, the likelihood of its getting accomplished. Candidate A may best represent our desires, but have no chance of getting elected; whereas candidate B may only reflect one of our less important desires but have both a good chance of getting elected and of getting our desire enacted -- even if it not the most important one.

To vote intelligently one needs to be a statistician which goes to show that most voting is probably no better than a spit in the dark.

But while politics thus becomes an uncertain and often disappointing thing, the democratic system itself is nullified if candidates lie about their positions. In order for the idea of democracy to work at all and for the attendant probablistic calculations to operate as such, it is essential that the electorate be able to calculate and vote on the basis of representations that represent reliable, factorable values. If not, then democracy is a spit in the dark from a carousel.

If after lying outright, a representative is re-elected -- that is to say, if, after a betrayal of democratic fundamentals, the electorate does not use the power of the vote to recall that representative but rather re-elects him despite his proven lies, then democracy is rendered a complete and total farce. Why not pick a candidate at random? Why bother to vote at all?

The present election represents a choice between a party that is opposed to progressive values (the Republicans) and a party that has not only betrayed progressive values but that has betrayed the concept of democracy itself. The republicans at least do stand for what they say; the democrats don't. A vote for the Obamacrat Party is a vote to betray democracy itself.

Typically, the national Democrtatic Party couples obsequious whining with a threat. Politics is that art of the probable, they will whimper, we can't always get all of what we want at once. And then, ominously: the other side is far far worse than our far far miserable performance.

It is too nauseating for words. Yes, politics is the art of the probable; but the fact is that the Obamacrats never even tried. Their "failure" has been so consistent and uninterrupted that it can only be deemed intentional.

No administration was ever more disgraced at the end of its term than the Bush Cabal. No one could reasonably interpret the election of 2008 as anything but a repudiation of Bush policies across the board. The Republicans tried their usual demagoguery and were soundly rejected. The Democrats were given commanding majorities in the House and Senate. Obama's 52% to 45% popular vote was not quite the Johnson Landslide of 1964 (61% to 38%) nor was his 59 to 41 seats in the Senate anywhere close to Johnson's unassailable 68 to 32; but the results were far more than Bush's 47% to 48% popular loss in 2004 and its 50/50 split in the Senate. Even in Bush's second term, his Senate majority was only 55 to 44.

The Demorats whine incessantly that they were one vote short of cloture and therefore the Republicans could "block anything" thereby necessitating that Obama go hat in hand offering compromise in order to gain some measily consensus. The short answer to this is: ______

The longer answer is that the numerical breakdown of the Senate is only a rough guide to the effectiveness of any one party's majority. Johnson's 68 Senate seats included 22 Dixiecrat seats, giving him less than an impermeable majority (46) on certain issues. What the numerical breakdown in the Senate indicates is a rough probability of the success -- not of compromise -- but of political pressure, which is where the popular presidential vote figures in.

It was precisely here that one can see the truth of Teddy Roosevelt's remark that the real power of the presidency lies in the "Bully Pulpit". The key word here is BULLY....which is what TR and LBJ did so well. A friendly squeeze on the shoulder from LBJ was more than enough to squeal out a needed vote. The more popularity a president has, the greater his bullying power.

But instead of getting into the grease-pit of politics, Obambi took the distanced, academic high road "letting" Congress work out a consensus. It was nauseating to watch from the get-go as this Gazette has said from the get-go. When the ball is passed into your hands, you make a lunge for the goal post for as far as you can with as great a burst of forward motion you can muster. Every president has understood that, especially FDR in whose memory the phrase "First Hundred Days" was coined.

Worse than Obambi's shine-off was the spinelessness of the self-serving Democrat whores to whom he flubbed the ball. How was it, one may ask, that a minority president with a split Senate was able to take the country to war, expunge the Bill of Rights, negate one environmental and social protection after another, and institute an unaccountable "unilateral" presidency working for a corporate dictatorship while at the same time wasting a surplus and running the country into massive debt for the benefit of a few? Where was the cloture rule then? It was nowhere to be seen because the Democrats themselves connived at everything Bush did.

And it is at this point in the pudding that we come to the definitive answer to the Demorat's gambit at blackmail: there is no "worse" alternative because the Demorats are themselves part of the very corporate-military-bankster cabal as the Republicans.

While letting the congressional Demorats and their Republican "colleagues" arrive at a consensus that gave us no health care reform, no global warming initiative, no repeal of the Patriot Act, no end of unwinable wars or diminishment in military spending, Obambi himself has been quietly at work continuing the Bush Agenda on every front. That he may from time to time throw some regulatory chicken feed in the progressive direction does not change his path or his goal. We will illustrate with a few items from an otherwise dismal roll-call of Obama policies and accomplishments.

It was bad enough that Obama did not close down Guantánamo prison within months as promised, instead he asserts the right to unilaterally assassinate American citizens while at the same time his FBI smashes down doors and ransacks the offices and private homes of groups engaged in legitimate political activism and dissent, undeterred by any legal (much less constitutional) restraint. These are the hallmarks of despotism pure and simple.

It was bad enough that Obama did not end the Iraq War as promised but merely extended it into Afghanistan turning yet another part of the globe into a terrorised, brutalized chaos-land -- no, as if that were not bad enough, his administration is champing at the bit to extend these full-spectrum operations into South America and even next door into Mexico.

It was bad enough that Obama had nothing but praise for Blankenfein, Wall Street's biggest billion dollar crook or his idea of financial reform instead of taming the shrew simply required 30-notice before the screw. It was bad enough that Obama did nothing to resolve the problem of "undocumented workers", his administration's immigration reform consists in massive, unprecedented deportations that just somehow manage to target labor unions while doing nothing against scum-bag corporations that exploit what has become all but imported slave labor.

It was bad enough that Obama shovelled billions into the coffers of bankster crooks, but when it turns out that that those very crooks themselves decide to back off from foreclosure because they don't have valid title and/or valid mortgages which will fly in a court of law, the administration decries the let-up of foreclosure actions. In other words, not only did the administration turn a blind eye to financial criminality it is encouraging the banks to continue to profit from their wrongdoing.

It was bad enough that Obama did not make the slightest attempt to bully-hoo Blue Dog Democrats and Yellow Dog Republicans into line during the last sesssion, instead during the run up primaries to this year's election the Administration consistently backed Republocrat candidates against viable progressive challengers -- thereby insuring as best it could that the next Congresss will not have a strong progressive contingent to work for a progressive agenda.

As if all this weren't bad enough, just this month, after promising to end "Don't Ask Don't Tell", the administration chastized a courageous federal judge for nullifying the military's anti-gay policies. It then told insurance companies that although they were required to insure children with pre-existing conditions that surely did not mean they couldn't raise premiums through the roof. And then to top it all off, as if there weren't more important issues for a federal executive to be concerned with, the Attorney General prattles against California's marijuana initiative. Laura Bush would be more progressive than that.

This Administration is not only a betrayal it is a nightmare.

We have heard people warn of the mistake liberals made in walking away from Hubert Humphrey in 1968; and indeed that act of electoral disgust was a truly historic blunder. For it was Humphrey's defeat that rang in the reactionary, neo-con, corporo-imperialist era that currently depoils and oppresses billions around the globe, including us, the ordinary American.

But the analogy does not hold because in 1968, LBJ had already resigned. Early in that year Johnson, held his own private election. As sure a vote-prognisticator as any man who ever lived, Johnson understood, ante-hoc, that he had been defeated for second term. Thus, in 1968, electoral disgust had already achieved its legitimate, democratic, repudiatory objective. Humphrey was not a proper object of electoral punishment because as Vice President he had been an mere by-stander. He should have been judged on the basis of probable calculations; punishing him for the sins of LBJ was pointless.

But in 2010 all the Demorat culprits are still at large. In the wake of their massive betrayal --- at best a rank and incompetent species of cowardice --- none of these slimes have the Johnsonian decency to resign. Instead by hook, crook and snivelling blackmail they hope to slime into back into office still clawing onto the perks to which they are addicted.

There is every reason to repudiate these pukes. Democracy herself demands it.

©WCG, 2010

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