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David Sirota
David Sirota
25 Sep 2015
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A Team of Zombies


Only weeks ago, the political world was buzzing about a "team of rivals." America was told that finally, after years of yes-men running the government, we were getting a president who would follow Abraham Lincoln's lead, fill his administration with varying viewpoints, and glean empirically sound policy from the clash of ideas. Little did we know that "team of rivals" was what George Orwell calls "newspeak": an empty slogan "claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts."

Obama's national security team, for instance, includes not a single Iraq War opponent. The president has not only retained George W. Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, but also 150 other Bush Pentagon appointees. The only "rivalry" is between those who back increasing the already bloated defense budget by an absurd amount and those who aim to boost it by a ludicrous amount.

Of course, that lockstep uniformity pales in comparison to the White House's economic team — a squad of corporate lackeys disguised as public servants.

At the top is Lawrence Summers, the director of Obama's National Economic Council. As Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary in the late 1990s, Summers worked with his deputy, Tim Geithner (now Obama's Treasury secretary), and Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel (now Obama's chief of staff) to champion job-killing trade deals and deregulation that Obama Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg helped shepherd through Congress as a Republican senator. Now, this pinstriped band of brothers is proposing a “cash for trash” scheme that would force the public to guarantee the financial industry's bad loans. It's another ploy “to hand taxpayer dollars to the banks through a variety of complex mechanisms,” says economist Dean Baker — and noticeably absent is anything even resembling a "rival" voice inside the White House.

That's not an oversight. From former federal officials like Robert Reich and Brooksley Born, to Nobel prize-winning economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, to business leaders like Leo Hindery, there's no shortage of qualified experts who have challenged market fundamentalism.

But they have been barred from an administration focused on ideological purity.

In Hindery's case, the blacklisting was explicit. Despite this venture capitalist establishing a well-respected think tank and serving as a top economic adviser to Obama's campaign, the Politico reports that "Obama's aides appear never to have taken his bid (for an administration post) seriously." Why? Because he "set himself up in opposition" to Wall Street's agenda.

The anecdote highlights how, regardless of election hoopla, Washington is the same one-party town it always has been — controlled not by Democrats or Republicans, but by Kleptocrats (i.e., thieves). Their ties to money make them the undead zombies in the slash-and-burn horror flick that is American politics: No matter how many times their discredited theologies are stabbed, torched and shot down by verifiable failure, their careers cannot be killed. Somehow, these political immortals are allowed to mindlessly lunge forward, never answering to rivals — even if that rival is the president himself.

Remember, while Obama said he wants to slash "billions of dollars in wasteful spending" at the Pentagon, his national security team is demanding a $40 billion increase in defense spending (evidently, the "ludicrous" faction got its way). Obama also said he wants to crack down on the financial industry, strengthen laws encouraging the government to purchase American goods, and transform trade policy. Yet, his economic team is not just promising to support more bank bailouts, but also to weaken "Buy America" statutes and make sure new legislation "doesn't signal a change in our overall stance on trade," according to the president's spokesman.

Indeed, if an authentic “rivalry” was going to erupt, it would have been between Obama's promises and his team of zombies. Unfortunately, the latter seems to have won before the competition even started.

David Sirota is the bestselling author of the books “Hostile Takeover” (2006) and “The Uprising” (2008). He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future. Find his blog at or e-mail him at



1 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;....I want to explain things to you... I am afraid you think the economy is supposed to work in such and such a fashion... Where they are, right now, is in trying to get it to work at all... This is the last gasp of capitalism...It has systemic problems, and has been on life support, off and on, for years... It has always taken infusions of public wealth to keep it going, and now it will bind the people into debt for the forseeable future, and beyond...The thing does not work, and it does not pay; but here is what it does:.... Parties and politicians need money... If the politicians give the rich money it is a conduit that will give a fraction back to the politicians...People have used Israel as such a conduit for cash for years.... Ten millions dollars a day to Israel, and some finds its way into the pockets of those who support Israel...But now that the whole mess is falling apart in their hands, Mr. Obama is doing all he can to bring peace to each side, to buy cooperation from the right at a dear price indeed; considering that no amount may be enough to undo the damage their boundless greed has done to this society.... I don't think they can do it; and I do not even want them to try...Clearly Mr. Obama for all his talk of change is a creature of the forms and formulas of the past.... If he were as smart as they think, he would cut himself off from the past, and chart a new future for America...Rather than prolonging our misery, he would begin with a new statement of rights to draw up a new constitution since the last has failed us so miserably....This would be better if begun within the government....It is possible that such a course would ensure his assassination; that he would no more bring up the subject than a deciding vote would be cast.... But that is what we really need; a new and reformed government that is willing to let reason guide us in preference to ideology... Certainly the ideology of capitalism has failed us, even with the full support of the government.... The religious ideologues have played a part in this, but in this land, Capital is our true faith, and it demands sacrifice... Mr. Obama will serve this God with laudible faith... He is the high priest of our time blessed formula... All we wait upon is the human sacrifice to turn the gears one more time, as ever before...So don't expect better from Mr. Obama...We did not vote for better...We only voted for no worse; and we got it...Don't waste much brain on those fools... They are like so many Hitlers moving paper divisions all over the map... They are using all their breath to inflate a false sense of confidence... The ones who are smart at least... The rest still think they have some gain to make playing soundbites... It is a dreamscape of illusion to which we are witness....A last ball at the Winter Palace...And you are univited . .. Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Mon Feb 9, 2009 5:08 PM
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