Professional blow-hard Thomas L. Friedman has a column on Rahm Emanuel with the title "A Progressive in the Age of Austerity." It displays an encyclopedic lack of knowledge about the world, and about Chicago in particular. I hesitate to even bother saying why this article is nothing but a steaming pile of shit. There are far more important things to do these days. But here goes.
First off, we're not stuck living in an "age of austerity". Look around the world right now! All over the globe, people are fighting back, organizing, and gathering in massive, unprecedented numbers to participate in a historic social movement that stands squarely against austerity. The entire point of the movement is to reject the idea that the vast majority must foot the bill for a crisis caused by a system that services the interests of the 1%. In order not to be excited by what's going on, you'd either have to be frightened by it (as ruling class persons and their ideologists surely are), or you'd have to lack a pulse. Maybe both are true in Friedman's case, I'm not sure.
Second, to call Rahm a "progressive" --precisely because he's for austerity-- is to evacuate the term of any intelligible meaning whatsoever. To be fair, it has been watered down so much already that Friedman didn't have to try very hard. But the absurdity of Friedman's main contention is still hard to ignore. He suggests that Rahm is pushing austerity "with a human face" and thus evinces cunning and a willingness to try "innovative ideas". It's on this basis that he's supposed to be a "new progressive" or something.
This is nonsense. Isn't Rahm's most recent public statement on this issue something to the effect that progressive supporters of the Democrats are "fucking retarded"? Leave it to a hack like Friedman to try to polish a turd.
Rahm's police force showed up to OccupyChi on Saturday night with riot gear, batons, guns, knives, horses, and other instruments of repression. Their message was clear: there's nothing to see here, stop protesting and go home. CPD, of course, was called upon to scatter the protest and draw down the movement. This is one of the major functions of police forces in contemporary capitalist societies --when needed, they will always be used to pacify struggle, repress legitimate protest, break strikes, and, if necessary, murder dissidents. On Saturday, the CPD followed the lead of their counterparts in other cities (and countries) and acted on orders to put a stop the movement by arresting over 200 participants. They didn't succeed, of course. OccupyChi continues to grow. But the CPD showed everyone --as if we needed any more evidence-- whose interests it represents when push comes to shove. Officially, this is Rahm's town- he hand-picks the Chief of Police himself.
So Rahm is no progressive. He's a staunch defender of the status quo and he mans a political Machine of, by, and for the 1%. And to be clear: it's not as if Saturday night is the only bit of evidence we have that Rahm is no lefty. Aside from being consistently identifying with the Right-wing of the lowly pro-business Democrats, Rahm has also been in and out of the private sector. He worked on Wall Street himself as a member of the group that the entire Occupy movement sets itself against --the 1%. Let us not even get into his war on teachers and public education in Chicago, his love affair with privatization, his bid to host a NATO/G8 summit this May, his numerous "progressive" sound bites like "fuck the UAW", etc., etc. The guy is a total menace to ordinary working people and, by extension, the Left.
But am I surprised that Friedman belched this filth onto the pages of the New York Times? Nope. Am I surprised that the paper published such tone-deaf non-sense in times such as these? Hardly.