Political Road Trippers Reflect on the Election

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Now that the election is over, Joe Klein, TIME political columnist, Andrea Bernstein, WNYC reporter and director of the Transportation Nation blog, and Farai Chideya, host of Pop + Politics reflect on their political road trips around the country.


Andrea Bernstein, Farai Chideya and Joe Klein

Comments [29]

Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn

Hi, I don't care who gets elected as long as the quality of my life (pretty low now due to foreclosure, mortgage frud, unemployment) improves. If this sounds selfish of me, I am sorry. I have medical and life conditions that I cannot resolve on my own. I have no helth insurance and I need it badly. Eugenia Renskoff

Nov. 04 2010 05:13 PM
jawbone from Parsippany

Cont'd from below:

As for the rest of the country: Listen to this summary in The Economist – no Marxist journal – of a study by Pew Research:

More than half of all workers today have experienced a spell of unemployment, taken a cut in pay or hours or been forced
to go part-time. The typical unemployed worker has been jobless for nearly six months. Collapsing share and house
prices have destroyed a fifth of the wealth of the average household. Nearly six in ten Americans have cancelled or cut back on holidays. About a fifth say their mortgages are underwater. One in four of those between 18 and 29 have moved back in with their parents. Fewer than half of all adults expect their children to have a higher standard of living than theirs, and more than a quarter say it will be lower. For many Americans the great recession has been the sharpest trauma since the Second World War, wiping out jobs, wealth and hope itself.

Let that sink in: For millions of garden-variety Americans, the audacity of hope has been replaced by a paucity of hope.

Cont'd above.

Oh, but I do miss Moyers on PBS! This speech is full of great links for additional reading. He pulls together articles reported in our press; these do report these issues and fact, but usually without a framework for readers. No one else in our MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) pulls these various articles and books together for us. Moyers provides the big picture of our economy. And he still has hope that if the people, the little people, fight the difficult fight they just might restore this nation to a true democracy.

However: "We learned long ago that power and privilege never give up anything without a struggle. Money fights hard, and it fights dirty."

THIS IS WHY the Dems lost big: Obama would not join the fight of the little people against the Plutocrats. Worse, he works to protect and grow their Plutonomy. Please, go read!

(Hey! Maybe Brian could bring Moyers on his show???)

Nov. 04 2010 12:07 PM
jawbone from Parsippany

Link to a Bill Moyers speech about our current economy and how it affects our democarcy. Excerpt (to see actual paragaph layout, follow the link):

....document published in the spring of 2005 by the Wall Street giant Citigroup, setting forth an “Equity Strategy” under the title (I’m not making this up) “Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer.”

[Note: In case you're skimming this, Citigroup wrote these words, as part of their salespitch to potential investors and to investment analysts. This is not some lefty economist's crtique; this is a bank's proud announcement to the world of the wealthy.]

Now, most people know what plutocracy is: the rule of the rich, political power controlled by the wealthy. Plutocracy is not an American word and wasn’t meant to become an American phenomenon – some of our founders deplored what they called “the veneration of wealth.” But plutocracy is here, and a pumped up Citigroup even boasted of coining a variation on the word— “plutonomy”, which describes an economic system where the privileged few make sure the rich get richer and that government helps them do it. Five years ago Citigroup decided the time had come to “bang the drum on plutonomy.”

And bang they did. Here are some excerpts from the document “Revisiting Plutonomy;”

“Asset booms, a rising profit share and favorable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper… [and] take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years.”

“…the top 10%, particularly the top 1% of the United States – the plutonomists in our parlance – have benefitted disproportionately from the recent roductivity surged in the US… [and] from globalization and the productivity boom, at the relative expense of labor.”

“… [and they] are likely to get even wealthier in the coming years. Because the dynamics of plutonomy are still intact.”

I’ll repeat that: “The dynamics of plutonomy are still intact.” That was the case before the Great Collapse of 2008, and it’s the case today, two years after the catastrophe. But the plutonomists are doing just fine. Even better in some cases, thanks to our bailout of the big banks.

As for the rest of the country: Listen to this summary in The Economist – no Marxist journal – of a study by Pew Research:

Continued above with the Pew quote

Nov. 04 2010 12:04 PM
Alex from NYC

Ooops. Thankfully, the cheesy music I kept hearing was playing simultaneously from a website open on my laptop . I thought that either B.L. producers or I had gone insane. Mea culpa. Hope these two posts have at least advanced the political discussion.

Nov. 04 2010 11:39 AM
Alex from NYC

What's with the cheesy music?

Nov. 04 2010 11:32 AM
jawbone from Parsippany

I do love that we've been devaluing the dollar to try to increase exports, all the while badgering the Chinese for "manipulating" their currency. Heh.

Now, here comes QE II. A Hail Mary pass for job growth and improving the economy. But good for banksters no matter what else happens.

But it may allow them to play more speculative games, perhaps in the commodity markets -- and goose prices up even more than the lower value of the dollar will....

Oh, alas, alack. Too bad Obama is such a corporatist lackey.

And way too bad to Repubs get away with labeling him a socialist!! Well, lemon socialist, perhaps fits: Privative profits and socialize losses...for the too big too fail ONLY.

Nov. 04 2010 11:14 AM
jawbone from Parsippany

Cont'd from below:

Again: Indies and Dems both wanted a single-payer plan like Medicare, but with improvements. Both groups polled in the low to mid-60's as positive for that. Repubs not so much, but Obama was not going to get their buy-in until they had such a program. Medicare is a know program, a valued and popular program for which Tea Partiers hold up signs saying "Keep your government hands off my Medicare and Social Security."

By catering to the Big Health Industry Players, Obama told the public they were being sacrificed to the BHIPers' profit levels. By catering to the Big Banksters, Obama told the public they were being sacrificed to the the growth and profits of the financial industry.

And, again, Obama CHOSE to offer a small stimulus, weakened even further by making about 40% of it tax cuts, realized by those with withholding as lower w/holding and slightly, very slightly, higher take-home pay. many people know that?? He also CHOSE for some reason to be pretty quiet about that.

Obama has shot his wad on stimulus, and we've got the Fed trying to do something to stimulate employment by doing the QE II, which is actually a form of trickle down economics: The banksters will have the ability to loan more money, but they also can do anything they want with it -- which may mean some more jobs or may mean more speculative bubbles.

Obama BLEW IT. He blew a historic opportunity to redress some of the growing imbalances of wealth in this nation. He can't even stand firm on dropping the Bush tax cut to the wealthiest. That --and his Cat Food Commission-- will do even worse things to the economic security of most of Americans. He blew the opportunity to cut the Too Big To Fail banks down to manageable size.

So, why vote for Obama and the Dems who can't stand up to him and for the little people? Gone to Corporatism, almost every one.

I take no pleasure in realizing this. Where can someone too liberal for Obama, and now most of the DC Dems, go? Where can the Indies who wanted actual health CARE reform and jobs go? Who wanted to see the beginning of CHANGE in the economic system which now favors the Uberwealthy and the Masters of the Universe (MOTU)?

Nov. 04 2010 11:00 AM
jawbone from Parsippany

With due respect to the argument that any Democrat could have been elected post-Bush (which I believe to be accurate), Obama did not have to face this massive disappointment with his governance.

Obama CHOSE to actively promote the welfare and care of banksters and other big businesses. He CHOSE to make small to negligible gestures toward assisting the little people. In full knowledge of the huge and growing foreclosure wave, he CHOSE to offer a deny and delay program called HAMP -- which reality has shown to make life even more difficult for those who tried to keep their homes using it.

(See series at -- it's painful to read. People who at least still had their credit ratings were told by banksters to stop making monthly payments, were strung along, then were told they were going to be foreclosed on in a very short time. Oh, and those fraudulent affidavits? Is the Obama administration going after those who lie to the courts the way they go after...whistleblowers, for example?)

He CHOSE to make secret back room deals with Big Health Insurers, Big Pharma, and Big Hospital Chains. He did this before he launched his health INSURANCE reform (indeed, did he actually make promises to them prior to running for the Dem nomination??). He CHOSE to string voters along about a barely defined but much hyped "public option" after he'd already made assurances to the Big Health Industry Players there would BE NO PUBLIC OPTION.

If he'd achieved a single payer solution, such as Medicare for All Improved, Obama would be in clover and Dems would have held many of the seats they just los -- even in the bad ecoomy, because he ould have shown he gives a damn about the little people. Independents wanted something like Medicare for All Improved as much as self-identified Democratic voters wanted such a plan. But Obama CHOSE to not only offer a Republican-lite RomneyCare-like plan, created at the Heritage Foundation, but he decided to go against his primary nomination declarations he would not mandate insurance purchases, except for children.

It's one thing to mandate all people pay for Medicare, which is government run and not-for-profit; it's quite another to force people to purchase insurance which goes to the profit bottom lines and huge executive compensation packages of for-profit insurance companies.

Cont'd above.

Nov. 04 2010 10:57 AM

just talk about facts and everything will be OK.

Nov. 04 2010 10:45 AM
The Truth from Becky

There is no such thing as a "sub-party" the tea lamers are republicans....and a house divided cannot stand. I cannot wait for them to implode!

Nov. 04 2010 10:39 AM
CL from New York

The producer of this show should be ashamed. Criticizing the BL show is now apparently forbidden. I referred to the 2 guests as "second-raters" for specific reasons and my comment was removed. In the producer's view I gather this is not "civil," "productive," and/or "relevant." Astonishing and disgusting censorship. Needless to say, my days of contributing to WNYC are over.

Nov. 04 2010 10:38 AM

all while profits are up!

Nov. 04 2010 10:36 AM
Diana from Wanaque, NJ

All the CEO's who hate Obama had to do was NOTHING...don't hire anybody, don't increase staff, and poof, increase in voter anger. Mission accomplished.

Nov. 04 2010 10:33 AM

[[BL Moderator Writes: We've removed a few comments and edited some others. Please remember the WNYC posting policy, which asks you to keep your comments civil, productive, and relevant to the conversation taking place on air. Please refrain from personal attacks.
-BL Show-]]

Nov. 04 2010 10:26 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

Hmmm...pretty poor economic analyses by the first two posters. Oh yes, they are not so subtly deficit hawks emboldened by control of the House of Reps.

The Fed did not simply "devalue the dollar," but is in the process of purchasing Treasury notes to open up credit markets. The dollar will likely, but not necessarily, will lose value in the GLOBAL market exchange.

@ Chuzzlewit - "Meanwhile, notice" that since the beginning of 2009, the inflation rate went from a little over 2% to just about 1% today, so you're wrong on the overall inflation trend.

As for the price of oil and food, their prices are fluctuating up and down, often dependent on OUTSIDE (viz. global market) limiting factors, such as: cut in production/supply of oil (OPEC determined); harder to tap petroleum reserves (deep water drilling); cut in production/supply of grains (highest priced wheat in years because of Russian heat wave); etc.; etc.

Can't wait to see the miracles that the big govt. GOP (along with co-opted big govt. Tea Partiers) will produce (during the worst US economies in 60 years due to the 40 years of structural problems)!!

Nov. 04 2010 10:25 AM
charles Harris from island heights new jersey

Wrong about health care comments.

Health care ctripples budget
Health care cripples young families
Medical product of heatlh care is crippled by failed primary care hat costs the govt 100 -200 buillions dollars a year

Nov. 04 2010 10:25 AM

To Joe, Re:Healthcare Reform
It's not a matter of poor salesmanship to seniors. The wings of Medicare Advantage have been severely clipped with this plan. Med Ad has been an incredibly popular (but expensive) program that will be all but eliminated with this plan.

Nov. 04 2010 10:25 AM
To Mark Graham

Barack Obama won in 2008 because (1) the press decided to canonize him and demonized Hillary; and (2) he was running against the reanimated corpse of Colonel Tigh from "Battlestar Galactica."

Nov. 04 2010 10:24 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

Right on, Joe! The Democrats' failure to frame the health care victory was like amateur hour at some Berkshires resort. When will we liberals realize that if you can't effectively frame what you accomplish, it was essentially not exist for the public at large - or it will exist only in the frame that your opposition gives it?

Nov. 04 2010 10:23 AM
RLewis from the Bowery

Joe is a Bozo. If you go around explaining Health Care, folks will see that it is going to cost some people more. It's either that or we pay at the emergency room. And some people who have never paid for Health Care before are going to have to pay - they'll get subsidies, but they will have to pay some when before they didn't pay at all. You can always pass bills that everyone likes, and Health Care is one that is best for the country, but not something that you can convince everyone it's in their best interests in the long term. Run from it or lose your next election.

Nov. 04 2010 10:22 AM
matt smith from brooklyn

how about some serious analysis:

1. an economy hobbled by GOP obstructionism

2. democratic inability to defend themselves

3. look at the media environment: the right wing rules it!

notice that the blue dogs lost. oh wonder why? well, it's because they have no spine!

Nov. 04 2010 10:21 AM
Robert from NYC

Well, Brian and every other media/news person, none of you makes the actual case that to the elderly that Medicare will be cut and possibly disappear by the very people they voted for.

Nov. 04 2010 10:20 AM
Mark Graham from chestnut ridge, ny


I love your show, you are brilliant. But you guys just aren't getting the main underlying point. The ONLY reason, I repeat, the ONLY reason that Obama, a black man, was elected, was that George Bush was the most terrible and destructive president possibly in the history of this country. Obama's election was a national emotional pendulum swing away from Bush. That is the only way a black man could possibly have been elected in this country.

Now, we have the emotional pendulum swinging again, this time away from Obama.

Nov. 04 2010 10:18 AM
Robert from NYC

Actually the problem is with the "middle" the "center" the "mediodre" who don't really know what they want and like to accuse everyone else of knowing what they want!!

Nov. 04 2010 10:16 AM
elaine from li

You are forgetting the Palin-Factor. Maybe if Palin hadn't been on the McCain ticket he would have won.

Nov. 04 2010 10:14 AM
Schadenfreude from Smithtown

I gotta say I love the Liberal post-election hand-wringing. Dry those tears, kiddies: these things go in cycles. It's the same country it was two days ago. The party in power always loses some seats in the midterms. Obama will probably coast to reelection in 2012 just like Clinton did in 199_.

Nov. 04 2010 10:14 AM


I remember how you downplayed Barack Obama's victory by pointing out that he won by only a 53-46 margin.

So, you're just being consistent.

Nov. 04 2010 10:10 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Oh, gee, I can't wait for the tedious left wing spin [...].
Perseverating, no doubt, upon Sarah Palin and the tea partiers. Meanwhile, notice the price of gas and food items going up? Want to imagine what will happen if the dollar is replaced as the reserve currency?

Where is Juan Williams when we need him?


Nov. 04 2010 09:27 AM
geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

This is great!

"Wrestling" skits for the intellectually Elite.

Sandwiched between 5 minutes of News on the half hour.

Did anyone notice that the Federal Reserve System is announcing its intention to devale the dollar this week?

I'll bet Andrea and Farai would have something pithy to say about that (if they weren't being constrained by the "Juan Williams" Rule)

Nov. 04 2010 03:25 AM

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