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Sirota: ‘Liberal Washing’ -- the Enabling of Plutocratic Exploitation


I read an exciting article by David Sirota recently entitled “How the 1 Percent Always Gets Its Way”.

Sirota’s answer for that is simple. BOTH legacy parties are “up for sale.”

I figure MSNBC and others of Team Dem are doing a more than adequate job inventorying and calling out the lack of empathy and the greed of the rabid leadership of the Republican party.

That’s why I feel free and am drawn to focus on the hypocrisy and betrayal of the leadership of the not really very left, hypocritical, cowardly and selling-out Dem Party.

Sirota cites the campaign finance system as a catalyst for the betrayal of Democratic representatives whereby they are effectively and consistently bribed to abandon the interests of average and poor Americans for corporate agendas.

Their repeated betraying of the labor movement is one profound example. The Dem leadership along with a colluding corporate-owned and -run media brainwashes self-identified progressives, including a vulnerable and dependent labor rank and file, to frame every issue into what Sirota sees as “partisan blue vs. red terms.” From there, “lesser evilism” thrives.

Average wannabe progressives are induced to bobble their heads and not challenge Democratic leadership’s obscene degree of passivity and FAILURE UPON FAILURE in achieving even modest pro-citizen reforms since the fear gets enflamed that even worse evils will descend on their heads from the likes of the rabid Republicans.

Sirota has come up with an interesting coinage for Democratic Party collusion with the craven, plutocrats presently fleecing the citizenry so very successfully. “Liberal washing.”

He writes:

Similar to green washing or so-called “gay washing”/“rainbow washing,” liberal washing is all about wrapping corporate America’s agenda in the veneer of fight-for-the-little-guy progressivism, thus portraying plutocrats’ radical rip-off schemes as ideologically moderate efforts to rescue the proles.

“Moderate efforts to rescue the proles”.

Kinda like Obamacare. So much less than Expanded Medicare for All, but a supposed step in the right direction so maybe in some generation hereafter 31,000+ Americans and, well, we won’t count those in America who are of foreign descent since this is retro- or is it post-morality America 2013, so they all have to twist in the winds of suffering and even imminent death due to critical or serious accidents and diseases with no coverage from a non-caring US government and citizen majority.

Dem leaders count on average Americans opting for the sensibility, “it could be worse. It could be happening directly to me or my family.”

Sirota declares:

Indeed, one of the most reliable political axioms of the last 30 years is this: If corporate America cooks up a scheme to rip off the middle class, Republicans will provide the bulk of the congressional votes for the scheme — but enough establishment-credentialed liberals inevitably will endorse the scheme to make it at least appear to be mainstream and bipartisan. Yes, it seems no matter how venal, underhanded or outright corrupt a heist may be, there always ends up being a group of icons with liberal billing ready to drive the getaway car.

Sirota shares that the most “reliable” way to “liberal wash” is to get a famous liberal to support a non-liberal policy and to count on a media that paints EVERY Dem in a leadership role as stereoypically LIBERAL and induces its viewing or reading audiences to bobbleheadedly concur.

Sirota explains the most successful “liberal washers” are from the White House. Bill Clinton “liberal washed” NAFTA. He “liberal washed” deregulation. Look at what that has wrought.

Obama is “liberal washing” insurance company health care profit-motive agendas.

Obama has “liberal washed” droning, extrajudicial killing, torture.

Obama is “liberal washing” the heretofore right wing “crusade to slash Social Security.”

Again, let’s all bobble our heads in assent. Dismantling Social Security and Medicare must be good for us if that nice and powerful liberal, as anointed by corporate media and even the crazed far right, Obama is behind it.

In the Congress, Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein is busily “liberal washing” NSA surveillance programs. How bad could it be? Dianne Feinstein is championing it and she is a leading Democrat -- liberal -- right? Nope. No liberal, she!!! Of course, we don’t hear about how the surveillance contracting industry pours donations into Feinstein’s campaign coffers as well as into the coffers of members of her family.

Sirota worked years ago for the supposedly most liberal think tank there is, Center for American Progress. I mean the very name of it underscores that, right? They have been busy lately “liberal washing” Goldman Sachs (how low can you go?) and its CEO Lloyd Blankfein and other GS CEOs. You remember Goldman Sachs? The “vampire squid” that helped bring down the US and much of the world economy. The C.A.P. along with the Nation magazine has been promoting Goldman Sachs as a corporate donor for noble, social goals.

Cough, cough, .... choke.

Another “liberal washer” and well paid for it is former Mayor of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker, contends Sirota. Booker earnestly promoted the predatory private equity industry, especially its assault on the public school system. Wall Street apparently has showered Booker with cash to such a degree that Booker easily bought his way into the U.S. Senate. He will become an even bigger and more insidious "lliberal washer" for corporate America..

Sirota mourns the “liberal washing” done by labor leaders, as well, to sell out their union membership. In Chicago they effectively “liberal washed” Rahm Emanuel right into the mayor’s office. Emanuel had been an investment banker before entering politics. Emanuel helped design NAFTA. He publicly once called out liberals as being “fucking retarded”. No surprise he has launched a ferocious war on labor in Chicago since becoming mayor. He has closed schools, privatized municipal services and rabidly gone after unions in the public sector.

In Rhode Island, financial exec turned Dem State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Sirota declares, is “liberal washing” a program of “slashing retiree benefits” and diverting public pension funds into “risky hedge funds” as payoff to her Wall Street backers. Retirees are now forced to pay excessive fees to Raimondo’s cronies.

Raimondo hides under the “progressive Democrat” label.

Slashing retiree funds is thus equated with progressivism because a media-labeled “progressive Dem” is doing it. Enron billionaire John Arnold is a big Raimondo backer. Sirota discloses that Arnold tried to “liberal wash” himself with a big donation to Head Start.

Even Andy Stern, leader of SEIU, Service Employees International Union, is backing the betrayer of retirees, Raimondo. He sees her as some kind of populist champion. Hello?

Sirota writes:

Genuine liberals and progressives may behold all this and wonder: With friends like these, who needs Gordon Gekko? It’s a justifiable harrumph. But as depressing as the situation is, the rise of liberal washing should be anything but surprising.

Sure, it may seem counterintuitive that liberalwashing has come to prominence at the very moment American politics has become more partisan. But it is entirely predictable.

With politics more than ever becoming a mind-deadening video game between two principle-free teams, the oligarchy is no longer betting on one of those teams. Instead, it is employing liberal washing to hack the whole red-versus-blue operating system.

... corporate America knows that it has a better chance of getting its way if it can portray its goals as an apolitical agenda with support from both sides of the ideological spectrum. Liberal washing is the key to that formula; it helps depict the radical as mainstream, the ideological as pragmatic and the old-fashioned heist as an act of bleeding-heart altruism.

Until liberal washing becomes anathema to more of the genuine left, there is little chance of combating today’s plutocratic politics. It is a politics that manufactures the parameters of economic debates so that only corporate-friendly outcomes are possible.

It is a politics that relies as much on money and votes as on permissive semiotics — the kind that permits labels like “liberal,” “progressive” and “left” to include those who shill for the right.

Sirota calls on awakening and awakened progressives to help DE-FANG “liberal washing”. That demands a serious capacity for critical thinking against the razzle dazzle of faux-progressives like Obama and Dem Congressional leaders along with that insidious 24/7 corporate-owned and -run media willing to disinform, to keep uninformed or to railroad corporate agenda friendly talking points into the heads of us harried and exploited Americans.

By this time we all must be at least haunted by the sirens of cognitive dissonance every time we hear the corporate, pimped out ones from the WH or Congress or the media open their mouths. Time to stop lying to ourselves. No one in the present corrupt political culture is going to help average and poor Americans. Time to stop waiting for bribed betrayers to grow a conscience and become decent. We only have ourselves and we need to get pro-active and organized.

[cross-posted on open salon]

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CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

As to:

Emanuel had been an investment banker before entering politics.

According to Wikipedia:

He graduated from Sarah Lawrence in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, and went on to receive an Master of Arts in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985....

Emanuel began his political career with the public interest and consumer rights organization Illinois Public Action. He went on to serve in a number of capacities in local and national politics, initially specializing in fundraising for Illinois campaigns, and then nationally.

Emanuel worked for Democrat Paul Simon's 1984 election to the U.S. Senate. He also worked as the national campaign director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1988, and was senior advisor and chief fundraiser for Richard M. Daley's victorious campaign for Mayor of Chicago in 1989.

At the start of then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton's presidential primary campaign, Emanuel was appointed to direct the campaign's finance committee.

And then, as night follows the day:

After serving as an advisor to Bill Clinton, in 1998 Emanuel resigned from his position in the Clinton administration and joined the investment banking firm Wasserstein Perella, where he worked until 2002. Although he did not have an MBA degree or prior banking experience, he became a managing director at the firm’s Chicago office in 1999, and according to Congressional disclosures, made $16.2 million in his two-and-a-half-years as a banker. At Wasserstein Perella, he worked on eight deals, including the acquisition by Commonwealth Edison of Peco Energy and the purchase by GTCR Golder Rauner of the SecurityLink home security unit from SBC Communications.

Emanuel was named to the Board of Directors of Freddie Mac by President Clinton in 2000. He earned at least $320,000 during his time there, including later stock sales.

During Emmanuel's time on the board, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandals involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities. The Obama Administration rejected a request under the Freedom of Information Act to review Freddie Mac board minutes and correspondence during Emanuel's time as a director. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight later accused the board of having "failed in its duty to follow up on matters brought to its attention." Emanuel resigned from the board in 2001 when he ran for Congress.