Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We Must Be Fully Prepared To Fight and Defeat the Right--Or They WILL Destroy Us (With Our Complicity of Course)



Meanwhile the savage carnivorous Right moves in for the kill--as we watch petrified, seemingly helpless to do anything about it--like something out of a very bad HORROR SHOW or weepy melodrama...

Is the Left ever gonna wake up and DO something? (it's beginning to sound like a rhetorical question, isn't it?)...


For Obama, a nonstop witch hunt
Aug. 30, 2010

The last time a Democrat sat in the White House, he faced a nonstop witch hunt by his political opponents. Prominent figures on the right accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of everything from drug smuggling to murder. And once Republicans took control of Congress, they subjected the Clinton administration to unrelenting harassment — at one point taking 140 hours of sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its Christmas card list.

Now it's happening again - except that this time it's even worse. Let's turn the floor over to Rush Limbaugh: "Imam Hussein Obama," he recently declared, is "probably the best anti-American president we've ever had."

To get a sense of how much it matters when people like Limbaugh talk like this, bear in mind that he's an utterly mainstream figure within the Republican Party; bear in mind, too, that unless something changes the political dynamics, Republicans soon will control at least one house of Congress. This is going to be very, very ugly.

So where is this rage coming from? Why is it flourishing? What will it do to America? Anyone who remembered the 1990s could have predicted something like the current political craziness. What we learned from the Clinton years is that a significant number of Americans just don't consider government by liberals — even very moderate liberals — legitimate. Barack Obama's election would have enraged those people even if he were white. Of course, the fact that he isn't, and has an alien-sounding name, adds to the rage.

By the way, I'm not talking about the rage of the excluded and the dispossessed: Tea Partiers are relatively affluent, and nobody is angrier these days than the very, very rich. Wall Street has turned on Obama with a vengeance: Last month Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman of the Blackstone Group, the private equity giant, compared proposals to end tax loopholes for hedge fund managers with the Nazi invasion of Poland.

And powerful forces are promoting and exploiting this rage. Jane Mayer's new article in The New Yorker about the superrich Koch brothers and their war against Obama has generated much-justified attention, but as Mayer herself points out, only the scale of their effort is new: Billionaires like Richard Mellon Scaife waged a similar war against Bill Clinton.

Meanwhile, the right-wing media are replaying their greatest hits. In the 1990s, Limbaugh used innuendo to feed anti-Clinton mythology, notably the insinuation that Hillary Clinton was complicit in the death of Vince Foster. Now, as we've just seen, he's doing his best to insinuate that Obama is a Muslim. Again, though, there's an extra level of craziness this time around: Limbaugh is the same as he always was, but now seems tame compared with Glenn Beck.

And where, in all of this, are the responsible Republicans, leaders who will stand up and say that some partisans are going too far? Nowhere to be found.

To take a prime example: The hysteria over the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan almost makes one long for the days when former President George W. Bush tried to soothe religious hatred, declaring Islam a religion of peace. There were good reasons for his position: There are a billion Muslims in the world, and America can't afford to make all of them its enemies.

But here's the thing: Bush is still around, as are many of his former officials. Where are the statements, from the former president or those in his inner circle, preaching tolerance and denouncing anti-Islam hysteria? On this issue, as on many others, the GOP establishment is offering a nearly uniform profile in cowardice.

So what will happen if, as expected, Republicans win control of the House? We already know part of the answer: Politico reports that they're gearing up for a repeat performance of the 1990s, with a "wave of committee investigations" — several of them over supposed scandals that we already know are completely phony. We can expect the GOP to play chicken over the federal budget, too; I'd put even odds on a 1995-type government shutdown sometime over the next couple of years.

It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we're still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and we can't afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that's what we're likely to get.

If I were Obama, I'd be doing all I could to head off this prospect, offering some major new initiatives on the economic front in particular, if only to shake up the political dynamic. But my guess is that the president will continue to play it safe, all the way into catastrophe.

Krugman is a columnist for the New York Times.

Why The Left Must Organize and Sustain A New Mass Social Movement-- Or Else



The title to this excellent article contains an excellent question and the answer of course is: THEY BETTER OR WE'RE ALL TOAST...


Can the Democrats' Ground Game Overcome GOP Fervor?
Monday 30 August 2010
by: Art Levine, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

On the same weekend that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin addressed thousands of followers on the mall in Washington, DC, with a religiously cloaked Tea Party message to "restore honor" to America, the Democratic Party set itself the ambitious goal of knocking on 400,000 doors to start rallying disenchanted Obama supporters to vote in November. It's not clear yet whether they came anywhere near that outreach goal, but, ironically, there are early signs that some of the most engaged but disappointed progressive constituencies - from labor unions to the million-strong Democracy for America group founded by Howard Dean - are still willing to work hard to prevent a GOP take over of Congress. That commitment is there despite what they've seen as the Obama administration's centrist sell-outs on everything from health care to jobs creation.

Yet, it's quite an uphill battle: the poor economy, with nearly 20 percent of adults underemployed or unemployed, is no doubt the leading contributor to what's been called the "enthusiasm gap." One sign: Democratic turnout has lagged in several states, with the GOP in the primaries so far having generated a three million voter advantage - the complete reverse of the three million advantage angry Democrats piled up in the 2006 midterm primaries before they took back Congress that November.

Still, in some states, such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Arkansas, where strong progressive candidates rallied the Democratic base, they've generated high turnout and some striking victories against the Democratic Party's establishment candidate. "Our work in the primaries shows that there isn't an enthusiasm gap," notes Levana Layendecker, Democracy For America's (DFA) communications director. DFA is endorsing over 30 Democratic House and Senate candidates, including high-profile progressive favorites like Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) as well as lesser-known liberal stalwarts. She also points to the insurgent victories of Democratic Senate candidates Elaine Marshall in North Carolina and Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, along with the close race Sen. Blanche Lincoln faced in the Arkansas Democratic primary from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. "When our members live in places where they have candidates who inspire them, they turn out," she says.

In contrast, at least half the Blue Dog Democrats in the House face tough races in right-leaning districts, even after fleeing from and thwarting the Obama agenda. Not surprisingly, they haven't generated that much support from loyal Democrats in their races. As Layendecker observes, "Democrats who run away from the progress that Democrats have made are making a huge mistake. Trying to get elected by being more like a Republican isn't a good strategy."

The challenge facing the progressive groups that worked hard to get Obama elected is balancing their disappointments with an acknowledgment of the real, if too limited, progress made by the administration on health care, Wall Street reform and the economic stimulus - and then somehow convincing the Democratic base and independents that things would be much worse if Republicans return to power.

"The main focus is to establish that this is a choice election," says the AFL-CIO's Deputy Political Director Michael Podhorzer. In mobilizing union workers and their allies, he notes, "This is not about whether you're happy with the economy. One candidate [the GOP one] is against unions, is for privatizing social security and vouchers for Medicare, and for outsourcing more jobs. That's a clear distinction." He concedes that not all GOP candidates are such easy targets for their extremist views as Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky, but he contends that the critique of extremism "works in most races." He points out, "One way or another, the GOP candidates are campaigning on Bush economics. Their argument is that we are having economic problems because we haven't cut taxes enough and the government is stifling job creation, so we should let the markets do what they want." That, of course, was the recipe for the huge deficits and the financial crisis Obama inherited.

But by now, the "it could have been worse" argument hasn't yet resonated sufficiently to motivate enough Democratic voters to turn out, but Democratic strategists are banking on fear of a GOP dominated by Tea Party extremists and the handy devil figure of Rep. John Boehner as the future speaker of the House to scare Democrats to show up at the polls.

To already engaged liberal Democrats who follow the news closely, those arguments can be persuasive. For instance, Jesse Lovell, a volunteer organizer with DC for Democracy, a DFA affiliate, says, "I've gotten outraged at Democrats, but we shouldn't blame the Democrats in the House of Representatives: they passed decent legislation and deserve credit." Concerned about the potential loss of the House to Republicans, he'll be traveling to Pennsylvania to work with other DFA members to work for progressive Congressional candidates.

Yet, the sale to most Democrats on the importance of this election still hasn't been closed, in part because during the fight over health care and Wall Street reform the major, powerful liberal organizations and the DNC's 13-million member organizing arm, Organizing For America (OFA), hewed too closely to the bipartisan, compromise-oriented positions of the White House until it was too late. As the Tea Party movement grew with a steady diet of Fox News-led smears and lies about Obama and his agenda, progressives were offered virtually nothing to energize them in the way of full-throated, populist "red meat" attacks against Wall Street greed or the corrupt, deadly insurance companies. On top of all that, White House officials, from Rahm Emanuel to Robert Gibbs, either on the record or privately attacked progressives seeking stronger measures such as the public option as "fucking retards" or Pentagon-destroying socialists of the "professional left."

Along with that White House hostility to the Democratic Party's own base, Rolling Stone headlined earlier this year another major problem facing OFA: "Obama had millions of followers eager to fight for his agenda. But the president muzzled them - and he's paying the price." Of course, after the White House realized that they'd been strung along in their negotiations with Republicans and the insurance industry, Democrats and the White House adopted a tougher tone on behalf of the watered-down, but still groundbreaking, health care legislation. Organizing for America demonstrated what it could do when unleashed: in the final ten days before the bill's passage, it generated 500,000 phone calls and over 300,000 letters.

(Now, facing the November election, OFA spokesman Patrick Rodenbush says, "Our perspective is that the 'enthusiasm gap' is overblown. People are engaged and committed to getting out the vote. We've had volunteers engaged in 435 districts since the June 5th kick-off.")

Yet, it's also worth remembering that even as progressives snipe at Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally for its fundamentalist religiosity or racist hypocrisy or the exact turnout, no progressive groups even attempted a mass mobilization on this scale. Where was the huge March on Washington that historically generates major media coverage for legislative reform goals and spurs grassroots activism, whether for enacting civil rights or ending the war in Vietnam? But there were no comparable rallies for any of the momentous changes for which we wanted to see Obama fight: health care reform, reining in Wall Street abuses or taxing Wall Street banks and closing loopholes to pay for job programs in the recession they created.

Now, Democrats somehow are hoping that minority voters, young people, labor, and other progressives who helped propel Obama to victory will show up to vote in November.

But the tea leaves that can be read at this point aren't encouraging. As The AtlanticWire recapped some of the grim poll numbers cited by Politico and others:

"Two different sets of data show Republicans with a big advantage when it comes to getting the base fired up for this campaign. A new Gallup Poll out this week shows 46 percent of Republicans and just 23 percent of Democrats to be 'very enthusiastic' about voting." They also report that nearly 3 million more Republicans than Democrats have showed up to the polls this primary season, which doesn't bode well for election day this November.

The election counting by independent analysts such as the Cook Political Report are just as troubling. Republicans need to win 39 seats to take over the House. In two recent reports (full text requires a subscription), the Charles Cook-run news service reported:

Today, by our count, there are a whopping 32 Democratic incumbents who have trailed GOP challengers in at least one public or private poll. At this point in 2006, there were only 11 Republican incumbents who trailed in at least one public or private poll, yet 22 went on to lose. It happens every time there is a wave: as challengers get better known and voters start to zero in on their choices, the lion's share of those undecided falls to the surging party ...

The severe headwind facing Democrats today means there are far more Democratic open seats at risk of falling to the other side. Democrats maintain that they have a realistic chance to win eight of their 16 at-risk open seats, and that as a result Republicans will be forced to knock off 35 Democratic incumbents to reach a majority. From today's perspective, the more likely outcome is a Republican pickup of at least 10 Democratic open seats, not counting whatever seats Democrats are able to eke out of the GOP's column.

All told, that means that over 40 House seats are in serious jeopardy, the Cook report indicates. A more optimistic view is held by Hotline on Call, which points to Democratic superiority in money, spending for turnout operations, and opposition research and ads to paint Republicans as dangerous extremists. Yet, even with labor unions expected to add another $200 million in spending to support Democratic candidates, the coffers for corporate America's GOP donations following the Citizens United decision could be even greater: "unlimited," as one knowledgeable progressive advocate says.

But the various polling numbers reflect a real discouragement and lack of excitement on the ground in too many races. As McClatchy News recounted last week:

Two years ago today, the Democratic Party gathered in Denver - energetic and confident of victory - to nominate Barack Obama for president.

What a difference a deep recession, two wars, a yearlong argument over health care, a tea party movement, a massive deficit, a minor scandal or two, a muddled message and partisan gridlock can make.

That 2008 enthusiasm, many Democrats acknowledge, has turned to anger and disillusionment in 2010, threatening midterm chances for scores of their candidates.

"My gosh, it's like night and day," said Anne McGregor, a field organizer for Obama, comparing the attitude of his supporters now and then.

"Young people have no reason to be excited," observed Doug Gray, a political consultant and liberal organizer in the Kansas City area. "They feel like it doesn't matter, it's just more of the same."

The contrasting dynamic between an energized right-wing and this seemingly demoralized Democratic base was anatomized in June by James Vega in the Democratic Strategist:

Large numbers of the voters who comprised the Obama coalition in 2008 simply do not see the 2010 elections as a vast do-or-die battle between two contending political armies struggling for control of the country and the future of America. They see it as a conventional off-year election where a patchwork variety of opposing candidates with different philosophies compete for office. As a result they simply do not have the high morale and fighting spirit of conservatives and Republicans. The broad and unifying "yes we can" spirit that was created during the 2008 campaign dissipated soon after the election. The massive Obama for America online organization sharply narrowed its focus to building support for specific elements of Obama's agenda while other progressives redirected their efforts to promoting specific progressive issues and causes - a focus that frequently brought them into conflict with the administration. Both of these trends substantially diluted and dampened the broad "yes we can" unity and enthusiasm of the 2008 campaign.

The inevitable result was lowered morale ...

A partial solution, he suggests, is sharper messaging that makes clear to unenthusiastic Democrats why they should vote: to prevent a GOP assault on "people like you."

But there is no communications cure-all that will guarantee Democrats victory in November.

At the same time, in the wake of the national collapse of ACORN, the left-leaning voter participation groups that played an important part in the upsurge of 15 million new voters in 2008 for Obama, especially among minority and young voters, have gotten relatively little in Get Out the Vote (GOTV) backing from donors this time around. So, their ability to reach out and energize voters who have the most to lose if the Republicans return to power has been severely compromised. "I am not seeing the financial resources going into voter education and getting out the vote for low income and minority Americans like we've seen in earlier election cycles," says Michael Slater, the executive director of the voting advocacy group Project Vote that contracted with ACORN for voter turnout programs.

Unfortunately, those potential voters are the ones whose voices most need to be heard at the polls. "Low income and minority voters - and a large portion of them are under 30 - have been the people most devastated by this recession," he observes. Going beyond registration to actually knocking on doors before an election can raise turnout by up to five percent, Slater notes, and those voters were an important part of Obama's victory in 2008.

As a briefing paper by Project Vote's election expert, Lorraine Minnite, "What Happened to Hope and Change?," points out: "The 2008 electorate saw a significant - and perhaps decisive - shift among key demographic groups. Young people and minorities - and particularly young Americans of color - voted at record rates in 2008. Two million more African-Americans, and 2.3 million more voters under the age of 30, voted in 2008 and 2004."

If these voters are to be reached this time around, Slater suggests, there is a basic message that could work with them: "Politicians won't listen to you unless you show that you are voters." That's a useful reminder to progressives and other discouraged Democrats who may be thinking about sitting out this upcoming election.

Indeed, as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka reminded union leaders earlier this year, giving in to apathy and discouragement will be the ultimate victory for the right wingers dominating the Republican Party:

"They just want you to sit this election out. They figure that if they can mobilize the rightwing radicals, the corporate conservatives, the Tea Party fanatics and the talk show fans, and if they can anesthetize the rest of us, then they can win this election in a walk," Trumka said. "It's up to us to mobilize the working Americans who have the most to lose from going backwards and the most to gain from moving forwards ..."

Wall Street is "Mad" at Obama, Or: You Go To Bed With Dogs You Wake Up With Fleas



If anything spells out in glaring and reprehensible terms just how thoroughly corrupt, exploitive, and deeply immoral the present political and economic system is this article sums it all up in as clear a fashion as humanly possible. By selling their (and our) collective soul to the most ruthless capitalist institutions on earth to get elected both the Democratic Party and President Obama have ensured that even mildly criticizing the rancid behavior of Wall Street mavens and other economic elites would not be tolerated by these corporate and financial gangsters. The result, like always, is that the entire society is held ransom by not only a monopolistic two-party political system we as voting citizens have passively "invested" in, but even more so we remain the enslaved captives of an oligopolistic cabal of economic vultures who dictate the very content and direction of the nation's major social, economic, and cultural institutions.

As a result the news of Wall Street's current public snit with the President (which would under ideal circumstances be seen as a very positive sign that the White House was finally looking out primarily for the interests of the masses of the poor, working, and middle class citizens of the country over and above that of the corporations and financial sector of the economy), the present conflict unfortunately can only be seen in far more realistic terms as the truly greedy and powerful trying to bully the President into giving them 100% of the economic loaf instead of the 99% that they currently control and devour. So much for "gratitude" from his wealthy economic sponsors. But this is what always happens to people who sign Faustian bargains with truly evil forces as the old admonition about mangy dogs and deadly fleas so vividly reminds us..


Why Wall St. Is Deserting Obama
August 30, 2010
New York Times

Daniel S. Loeb, the hedge fund manager, was one of Barack Obama’s biggest backers in the 2008 presidential campaign.

A registered Democrat, Mr. Loeb has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democrats. Less than a year ago, he was considered to be among the Wall Street elite still close enough to the White House to be invited to a speech in Lower Manhattan, where President Obama outlined the need for a financial regulatory overhaul.

So it came as quite a surprise on Friday, when Mr. Loeb sent a letter to his investors that sounded as if he were preparing to join Glenn Beck in Washington over the weekend.

“As every student of American history knows, this country’s core founding principles included nonpunitive taxation, constitutionally guaranteed protections against persecution of the minority and an inexorable right of self-determination,” he wrote. “Washington has taken actions over the past months, like the Goldman suit that seem designed to fracture the populace by pulling capital and power from the hands of some and putting it in the hands of others.”

Over the weekend, the letter, with quotations from Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and President Obama, was forwarded around the circles of the moneyed elite, from the Hamptons to Silicon Valley. Mr. Loeb’s jeremiad illustrates how some of the president’s former friends on Wall Street and in business now feel about Washington.

Mr. Loeb isn’t the first Wall Streeter to turn on the president. Steven A. Cohen, founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors and a supporter of the Obama campaign, recently held a meeting with Republican candidates in his home in Greenwich, Conn., to strategize about the midterm elections, according to Absolute Return magazine.

Other onetime supporters, like Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, also feel burned by the Obama administration, people close to him say.

That the honeymoon between Washington and Wall Street has turned to bitter recriminations is not news, given that the administration had long pledged to revamp Wall Street regulation in the wake of a crisis that rattled the global financial system.

Less than two years ago, Democrats received 70 percent of the donations from Wall Street; since June, when the financial regulation bill was nearing passage, Republicans were receiving 68 percent of the donations, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.

But what is surprising is that some of the president’s biggest supporters have so publicly derided his policies, even at the risk of hurting their ability to influence the party in the future. Issues like the carry-interest tax on private equity or the Volcker Rule have become personal.

Why so personal? The prevailing view is that bankers, hedge fund mangers and traders supported the Obama candidacy because he appealed to their egos.

Mr. Obama was viewed as a member of the elite, an Ivy League graduate (Columbia, class of ’83, the same as Mr. Loeb), president of The Harvard Law Review — he was supposed to be just like them. President Obama was the “intelligent” choice, the same way they felt about themselves. They say that they knew he would seek higher taxes and tighter regulation; that was O.K. What they say they did not realize was that they were going to be painted as villains.

That Wall Street view of itself as a victim has prompted much of the private murmurings and the unfortunate — or worse — outburst from Stephen A. Schwarzman, who likened the administration’s plan for taxes on private equity to “when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” Mr. Schwarzman later apologized for the “inappropriate analogy.”

Now Mr. Loeb, who manages about $3.4 billion at his firm, Third Point Partners, has articulated in a more thoughtful way what a lot of others in finance and business are saying.

“We have given a great deal of thought about the impact that public policy has on individual companies, industries and the economy generally,” he said. Third Point has sold its investments in big banks as a result of “regulatory headwinds”; got rid of its stake in Wellpoint, which Mr. Loeb described as “a statistically cheap stock owned by several hedge funds, but which we saw as being overly exposed to unpredictable government regulation”; and taken a short position against for-profit education companies as a result of “the government’s increased willingness to use its regulatory muscle.”

Mr. Loeb’s views, irrespective of their validity, point to a bigger problem for the economy: If business leaders have a such a distrust of government, they won’t invest in the country. And perception is becoming reality.

Just last week, Paul S. Otellini, chief executive of Intel, said at a dinner at the Aspen Forum of the Technology Policy Institute that “the next big thing will not be invented here. Jobs will not be created here.”

Mr. Otellini has overseen two big acquisitions in the last two weeks — the $7.7 billion takeover of the security software maker McAfee and the $1.4 billion deal for the wireless chip unit of Infineon Technologies. If he is true to his word, those deals will most likely lead to job cuts in the United States, not job creation.

Mr. Loeb declined to comment.

But it seems clear that he wrote the letter because so much of his fund’s investments were being driven by the impact of politics. It appears he is no longer betting that a chief executive will make his numbers; he’s betting on what legislation Congress will pass next.

Mr. Loeb, whose poison pen is legendary, usually targets obstinate corporate managers or rivals. In one such note to the chief executive of Star Gas Partners, Mr. Loeb wrote: “It is time for you to step down from your role as C.E.O. and director so that you can do what you do best: retreat to your waterfront mansion in the Hamptons where you can play tennis and hobnob with your fellow socialites.”

In his letter to investors, he took issue with a number of Washington initiatives, including the Credit Card Act of 2009 and a proposed “enterprise tax” that would be levied on hedge fund managers who sell their firms.

“So long as our leaders tell us that we must trust them to regulate and redistribute our way back to prosperity, we will not break out of this economic quagmire,” Mr. Loeb wrote.

“Perhaps our leaders will awaken to the fact that free market capitalism is the best system to allocate resources and create innovation, growth and jobs,” he continued. “Perhaps too, a cloven-hoofed, bristly haired mammal will become airborne and the rosette-like marking of a certain breed of ferocious feline will become altered. In other words, we are not holding our breath.”

Critics of Wall Street will rightfully complain that it was the actions of free market capitalists that prompted a push for regulation. On that point, Mr. Loeb does not entirely disagree.

“Many people see the collapse of the subprime markets, along with the failure and subsequent rescue of many banks, as failures of capitalism rather than a result of a vile stew of inept management, unaccountable boards of directors and overmatched regulators not just asleep, but comatose, at the proverbial switch,” he wrote. “It is easy to see why so many people have concluded that the entire system is rigged.”

The Crucial Necessity of Telling the Disturbing Truth About the Economy



As always Mr. Krugman tells us the very disturbing, utterly sober, and clearly unimpeachable truth whether we want to hear it or not--unlike the Obama Administration, the Federal Reserve, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the Tea Party, Congress, the banks, the corporations, the media etc. etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseum...


August 26, 2010

This Is Not a Recovery

New York Times

What will Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, say in his big speech Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyo.? Will he hint at new steps to boost the economy? Stay tuned.

But we can safely predict what he and other officials will say about where we are right now: that the economy is continuing to recover, albeit more slowly than they would like. Unfortunately, that’s not true: this isn’t a recovery, in any sense that matters. And policy makers should be doing everything they can to change that fact.

The small sliver of truth in claims of continuing recovery is the fact that G.D.P. is still rising: we’re not in a classic recession, in which everything goes down. But so what?

The important question is whether growth is fast enough to bring down sky-high unemployment. We need about 2.5 percent growth just to keep unemployment from rising, and much faster growth to bring it significantly down. Yet growth is currently running somewhere between 1 and 2 percent, with a good chance that it will slow even further in the months ahead. Will the economy actually enter a double dip, with G.D.P. shrinking? Who cares? If unemployment rises for the rest of this year, which seems likely, it won’t matter whether the G.D.P. numbers are slightly positive or slightly negative.

All of this is obvious. Yet policy makers are in denial.

After its last monetary policy meeting, the Fed released a statement declaring that it “anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization” — Fedspeak for falling unemployment. Nothing in the data supports that kind of optimism. Meanwhile, Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, says that “we’re on the road to recovery.” No, we aren’t.

Why are people who know better sugar-coating economic reality? The answer, I’m sorry to say, is that it’s all about evading responsibility.

In the case of the Fed, admitting that the economy isn’t recovering would put the institution under pressure to do more. And so far, at least, the Fed seems more afraid of the possible loss of face if it tries to help the economy and fails than it is of the costs to the American people if it does nothing, and settles for a recovery that isn’t.

In the case of the Obama administration, officials seem loath to admit that the original stimulus was too small. True, it was enough to limit the depth of the slump — a recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office says unemployment would probably be well into double digits now without the stimulus — but it wasn’t big enough to bring unemployment down significantly.

Now, it’s arguable that even in early 2009, when President Obama was at the peak of his popularity, he couldn’t have gotten a bigger plan through the Senate. And he certainly couldn’t pass a supplemental stimulus now. So officials could, with considerable justification, place the onus for the non-recovery on Republican obstructionism. But they’ve chosen, instead, to draw smiley faces on a grim picture, convincing nobody. And the likely result in November — big gains for the obstructionists — will paralyze policy for years to come.

So what should officials be doing, aside from telling the truth about the economy?

The Fed has a number of options. It can buy more long-term and private debt; it can push down long-term interest rates by announcing its intention to keep short-term rates low; it can raise its medium-term target for inflation, making it less attractive for businesses to simply sit on their cash. Nobody can be sure how well these measures would work, but it’s better to try something that might not work than to make excuses while workers suffer.

The administration has less freedom of action, since it can’t get legislation past the Republican blockade. But it still has options. It can revamp its deeply unsuccessful attempt to aid troubled homeowners. It can use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored lenders, to engineer mortgage refinancing that puts money in the hands of American families — yes, Republicans will howl, but they’re doing that anyway. It can finally get serious about confronting China over its currency manipulation: how many times do the Chinese have to promise to change their policies, then renege, before the administration decides that it’s time to act?

Which of these options should policy makers pursue? If I had my way, all of them.

I know what some players both at the Fed and in the administration will say: they’ll warn about the risks of doing anything unconventional. But we’ve already seen the consequences of playing it safe, and waiting for recovery to happen all by itself: it’s landed us in what looks increasingly like a permanent state of stagnation and high unemployment. It’s time to admit that what we have now isn’t a recovery, and do whatever we can to change that situation.