Tag Archives: progressives

Rick Perry’s progressive-corporatism

Two years ago, John McHale, an entrepreneur from Austin, Texas, who has given millions of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes, did something very unusual for him: He wrote a $50,000 check to a Republican candidate, Rick Perry, then seeking a third full term as governor of Texas. In September 2010, he did it again, catapulting himself into the top ranks of Perry’s donors.


Over three terms in office, Perry’s administration has doled out grants, tax breaks, contracts, and appointments to hundreds of his most generous supporters and their businesses. And they have helped Perry raise more money than any politician in Texas history – donations that have periodically raised eyebrows in Texas but, thanks to loose campaign finance laws and a business-friendly political culture dominated in recent years by Republicans, have only fueled Perry’s ascent.

“Texas politics does have this amazing pay-to-play culture,’’ said Harold Cook, a Democratic political consultant.

Rick Perry’s cronyism exposes him as just another right-wing progressive Republican who believes in the pretense that any government action can produce valuable private sector jobs. One only needs to look at Perry’s own state of Texas to see that his record is nothing to boast about: 1 in 14 out of job Americans are in Texas, almost 1 million Texans are unemployed, and 9.5 percent of Texans are earning less than minimum wage.

The meme that Texas is a job creator is as valid as the idea of Bank of America is a job creator. Bank of America, a recipient of the massive bailouts from Bush-Obama administration and a huge chunk of the $16 trillion corporate welfare from the Federal Reserve, is cutting 10,000 jobs.

Perry’s prescription for Texas (and America) is in direct contrast to his “small government” rhetoric. Texas’s debt under Perry grew a staggering 281%, a much faster rate than the nation he hopes to lead. He was also a big proponent of TARP, even writing a letter to Nancy Pelosi urging her to support that bailout. Texas also benefited greatly from the Recovery Act, which Perry used to cover 97% of the massive $6.6 billion deficit Texas incurred in 2009. Using New York’s or Nevada’s taxpayer money to plug your state’s deficit shortfall while touting your state’s record is not a “miracle,” but deception.

The real miracle is not Texas’s unremarkable economic record or Perry’s creative accounting; the real miracle is that 54% of likely Republican voters still support big government, right-wing progressives. Jack Hunter was wrong: this is not the end of right-wing progressivism.

I am not even sure why Republicans are enamored of Perry (or Romney for that matter). There is already a progressive-corporatist, warmongering, George W. Bush clone in the race: his name is Barack Obama.

CORRECTION (Aug 21, 2011): Bank of America never received “stimulus” money, but received billions more of bailout money. Also, Perry used the Recovery Act to balance his state’s budget, not TARP as the original piece claimed.

Ron Paul and liberals’ moral dilemma

A self-labeled liberal at Reddit watched last night’s GOP debate (read my recap and thoughts) in Iowa and he found himself convinced that he might vote for Ron Paul over Barack Obama.

Many of the other responders reminded him than Paul is against a lot of things that progressives hold dear. Obama, they reminded him, is a progressive; Paul’s views regarding Social Security, welfare, and abortion are too extreme.

Myself, I asked him a fair question:

Can you look at yourself in the mirror and honestly say that the fat chance that Ron Paul would single-handedly gut Social Security and all of entitlement spending is morally equivalent to Ron Paul unilaterally stopping the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people who are victims of all our wars?

People forget that Social Security and Medicare are laws that Congress (not the president) decides whereas our illegal, unconstitutional wars are unilaterally waged by the president.

Ron Paul cannot end Social Security or Medicare alone, but he can and will end the wars.

I am tired of the argument that the potential of someone’s welfare check being cut is more important than immediately stopping the murders occurring everyday in our name.

We wonder why people in the rest of the world hate us. We are selfish; and we hold welfare checks more important than the lives of those we kill.

The self-deluding meme of a ‘weak Obama’

As soon as the debt ceiling deal was announced, progressives from the Left immediately attacked President Barack Obama’s so-called capitulation to the Tea Party, with liberal columnist Paul Krugman calling it “an abject surrender.” This surrender, progressives argue, has weakened Obama and raises questions about his reelection chances.

But here is the problem with this meme of an unwilling, weak-willed (or to quote a friend of mine, “ball-less”) Obama capitulating to the evil Tea Party: it is simply not true. One only has to look past the current political theater being played out to recognize Obama’s gleeful abuse of the enormous power he wields.

As pointed out by Arthur Silber:

When one considers the destructive powers of the weapons at his command, as well as the bloodily murderous enthusiasm with which he uses them, and when one contemplates the enormous powers he enjoys entirely apart from and in addition to those weapons, it will easily be seen that Obama is the single most powerful individual in the entire history of humankind.

Even ignoring the widespread reports that it was the White House that first suggested cuts to Social Security and the ridiculous back-and-forth in the debt ceiling debate, many of Obama’s policies that progressives disagree with have not been provoked or been the result of Republican political machinations.

Was it Republicans that pressured a weak-willed Obama to ignore the law and bomb Libya? Was it the tea party that pressured Obama to wage the White House’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers? Was Obama being “ball-less” when he went after Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks or when his Justice Department decided not to prosecute Bush’s torture criminals? I guesss it was Boehner and Cantor that forced Obama to increase the drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Was Obama being weak and incompetent when he claimed the right to assassinate Americans extra-judicially?

To summarize, Obama’s decidedly anti-progressive policies have been and always been his own.

The belief that Obama is weak is self-delusional. Obama, with the help of a complicit Congress, has greatly expanded the powers of the executive branch and edged that office closer to an imperial presidency. Small government Republicans, progressive Democrats, and the libertarian-leaning faction of the tea party underestimate Obama at their peril. As I have said before, Obama is not just Bush Lite; he is Bush Squared.

UPDATE: Of course, Glenn Greenwald pointed this myth out two days ago.