The Last Honest Politician Standing
I was just doing some internet strolling in the few minutes I have to spare today and came across this piece on the stunning differences between President Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders. The kind of differences that eliminate any false ideas of what really is the gray area of compromise and what is all show with no substance.
I was in Washington last week and visited Bernie in his office, mainly to talk about the incredible results of the Federal Reserve audit, about which I’ll be writing more in the upcoming weeks and after the New Year. The audit of the Fed was undertaken because Bernie and a few other members of congress fought very hard during the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform debate to force open Ben Bernanke’s books, and as a result we now know the staggering details of the secret bailout era. We know that Citigroup received $1.6 trillion in loans, and Morgan Stanley $2 trillion, and Goldman Sachs – the same Goldman Sachs that bragged about how quickly it paid back its $10 billion TARP bailout – over $600 billion. We know that hedge fund billionaires who moved their corporate addresses to the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes were rewarded by their buddies in government with huge Fed loans; we know that the U.S. government likewise has been extending massive loans to a variety of Japanese car companies at a time when many American auto workers in Detroit have seen their wages cut in half, to $14 an hour. There’s that and there’s more on the outrage front, and we know it all because Sanders kicked and screamed and stamped his feet about Fed secrecy until just enough other members of the Senate decided to go along with him.
I’m bringing this up now to put into context what Bernie did on the floor of the Senate last week, standing up for eight hours and 37 minutes to make a case that the hideous deal that Barack Obama cut with the Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts was an outrage to the very qualities that matter most to this politician, common decency and common sense. While everyone else in Washington was debating the political efficacy of the deal – the Hill actually published a piece talking cheerfully about how CEOs found a “new friend” in Obama, while the New York Times shamelessly ran a front-page “analysis” talking up the deal’s supposed benefits to the middle class and the political benefits from same that Obama would enjoy – Sanders blew all of that off and just looked at the deal’s moral implications. Which are these: this tax deal, frankly and unequivocally, is the result of a relatively small group of already-filthy rich people successfully lobbying an even smaller group of morally spineless politicians to shift an ever-bigger share of society’s burdens to the lower and (what’s left of the) middle classes. This is people who already have lots of shit just demanding more shit, for the sheer rotten sake of it. Here’s how Bernie put it:
"How can I get by on one house? I need five houses, ten houses! I need three jet planes to take me all over the world! Sorry, American people. We've got the money, we've got the power, we've got the lobbyists here and on Wall Street. Tough luck. That's the world, get used to it. Rich get richer. Middle class shrinks."
I contrast this now to the behavior of Barack Obama. I can’t even count how many times I listened to Barack Obama on the campaign trail talk about how, as president, he would rescind the Bush tax cuts as soon as he had the chance. He stood up and he said over and over again – I can still hear him saying “Let me be clear!” with that Great Statesman voice of his, before he went into this routine – that the Bush tax cuts were wrong and immoral. He said more than once that they “offended his conscience." Then, just as he did with drug re-importation and Guantanamo and bulk Medicare negotiations for pharmaceuticals and the issue of whether or not he would bring registered lobbyists into his White House and a host of other promises, he tossed his campaign “convictions” in the toilet and changed his mind once he was more accountable to lobbyists than primary voters. He pulled an Orrin Hatch, in other words, only he did it serially.
The entire piece, written by Matt Taibbi, is well worth the read if only for the breakdown of some of the astronomical amounts of cash that have been shoveled at the likes of Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanly. All totaled to about 4.2 Trillion dollars just to those three corporate welfare deadbeats of society alone. Yeah. You read that number right but I will repeat it in bold so you remember it.
Nevermind all of the other money given to the other deadbeat banksters and investment scammers.
Just as a side note I want to try to put that number in perspective:
Imagine what we could have done if we had not given the banksters all of that welfare for the failure they caused in order to supplement their greedy lifestyles?
We would not have known anything about the trillions and trillions of dollars that have been, cough cough, "loaned" to these multinational corporate behemoths were it not for Senator Sanders refusing to let anything happen in FinReg without this little bit of legislation that he demanded.
In a world where political style points mean nothing tangible to the average American, real substance and the having the will to actually stand up for what is the right thing to do, not looking for best timing to compromise everything you supposedly believe in to score cheap political points, but hanging everything on the line to make sure something good comes of any compromise is the real measure of any good politician.
And Senator Sanders is clearly standing head and shoulders above the rest of the corrupted, groveling and shameless Washington DC scoundrels, sellouts and hypocrites.
Senator Sanders, simply by being a good person and showing some common decency and common sense where every other politician is brokering integrity for a corporate or lobbyist's buck, has managed to achieve some great things as a politician that will never be within reach of the others.
Sadly for the Democratic party, since they have none like Sanders, the key to fixing a lot of the real problems in this nation may lie in electing "more and better Bernies" and not "more and better Democrats".