Obama a one-trick pony?

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 10:30


The election is far from over, Krugman reminds us, presenting a comparison of the generic ballot polling without Rasmussen:

Compared to with:

Saying:

Democrats could yet hold both houses of Congress, if they give voters reasons to believe that they stand for something. If they lose, the fault lies not in their stars, but in themselves.

But that's just the point, I'm afraid.  The highlight of his CNBC Townhall, was the question raised by a black middle-class woman, Ms. Velma Hart:

Paul Rosenberg :: Obama a one-trick pony?
Q I am a chief financial officer for a veterans service organization, AmVets here in Washington. I'm also a mother, I'm a wife, I'm an American veteran, and I'm one of your middle-class Americans. And quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for --

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

Q -- and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.

I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I'm one of those people, and I'm waiting, sir. I'm waiting. I don't feel it yet. And I thought, while it wouldn't be in great measure, I would feel it in some small measure.

I have two children in private school. And the financial recession has taken an enormous toll on my family. My husband and I joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives.

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

Q But quite frankly, it's starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we're headed again. And quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly, is this my new reality?

Obama's response was not good, as was clearly underscored by brooklynbadboy in a frontpage DKos post rightly called "The wrong way to answer Ms. Velma Hart."  Here's where the critique kicks in:

At the end, she said:
    Quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly: Is this my new reality?
If I may paraphrase, "is this as good as we're gonna get from you?"

Obama responded:

    "As I said before, times are tough for everybody. So, I understand your frustration."

The President then went on note a "whole host of things that do make your life better."

Wrong answer, sir.

Don't go telling Ms. Hart all what you've done for her when she is telling you "I can't feel it." Instead, you need to assert strongly where all these things you are doing are going to take the country. Ms. Hart wants strong action that makes a real, and immediate difference. And by action, she means action that is going to restore her faith in the American Dream: that you can work hard (direct federal hiring), play by the rules (regulate Wall Street), do right by your family (fix the housing market), be proud of your work and America (fair trade), and retire with dignity and respect (no catfood commission).

Now this is not a particularly left-wing criticism of Obama.  In fact, it's not really asking him to be much more than a decent carbon copy of Bill Clinton, our first neo-liberal President. But that appears to be too high a hurdle for Obama to clear.  Nor were the bottom-line conclusions drawn anything more than plain old pragmatic political common sense:

Ms. Hart, I think, personifies the enthusiasm gap. Base Democratic voters like her, and I'm sure many Democratic leaning independents, aren't teabaggers. They are people who simply expect this President to tackle the short term as well as the long term problems. If it isn't going to happen, or if they don't believe in the hope of it happening, they're going to stay home this November.

....  What would really fire up the base is coming out swinging with an aggressive agenda for next year that includes direct, immediate action on the housing crisis, unemployment, and retirement. Bread and butter Democratic stuff. Tell America where this country is headed and how we are going to get there. That is how you put the GOP on the spot. Tell the story of what they are for (as this front page has advocated all year), and contrast it with where Democratic government will take us. Paint a picture of two American futures, and make sure ours is better. That how to get people like Ms. Hart fired up to win this damn election.

Ms. Hart said it best:

    Quite frankly, I thought that my question would set the platform for a response that would almost be, I don't know, whimsical, magical, very powerful. On the fact that he does believe he's made progress, I know he's made progress. The issue for me is that I'm not certain that the progress is being felt deeply enough. And that is where I'm looking for the bang for the buck.
I couldn't agree more.

But looking at the whole of Obama's Town Hall performance, there is simply no way we are going to get anything like this.  And the clearest proof of that is how Obama responded to a question about the Tea Party, in which he totally ducked anything close to articulating a Democratic point of view.  He spoke pretty much like Chris Matthews or some other politically clueless Versailles pundit might--albeit on one of their better days when they've got some of their basic arithmetic skills online:

Q Good afternoon, Mr. President. Thank you for coming to speak with us today. I am a full-time MBA student at Georgetown University right here in the District. And my question is with regards to those individuals that feel like federal government is getting too large, specifically the Tea Party's movement. My dad and I were talking about the midterm elections just last night, and he was asking who we should vote for. And the question was what will the administration do if these activists are elected?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say this about the Tea Party movement -- which your friend, Rick, helped to name. I think that America has a noble tradition of being healthily skeptical about government. That's in our DNA, right? (Applause.)

I mean, we came in because the folks over on the other side of the Atlantic had been oppressing folks without giving them representation. And so we've always had a healthy skepticism about government. And I think that's a good thing.

Obama really needs to read Michael Lind's column this week, "The right picked the wrong historical analogy: The real parallel to today's conservative backlash isn't the Boston Tea Party. It's the Whiskey Rebellion".  Although, to be fair, Obama's a lot more off-base than the Tea-Partier's here, since he's confusing the reason many folks left England--religious persecution--a question of civil liberties with reasons that drove the Revolution--taxation without representation--a question of political rights.  For a former lecturer in constitutional law, that's really a stupid mistake, as well as being utterly boneheaded politics.

To continue:

[Obama]: I think there's also a noble tradition in the Republican and Democratic parties of saying that government should pay its way, that it shouldn't get so big that we're leaving debt to the next generation. All those things, I think, are healthy.

The problem that I've seen in the debate that's been taking place and in some of these Tea Party events is I think they're misidentifying sort of who the culprits are here. As I said before, we had to take some emergency steps last year. But the majority of economists will tell you that the emergency steps we take are not the problem long term. The problem long term are the problems that I talked about earlier. We've got -- we had two tax cuts that weren't paid for, two wars that weren't paid for. We've got a population that's getting older. We're all demanding services, but our taxes have actually substantially gone down.

And so the challenge, I think, for the Tea Party movement is to identify specifically what would you do. It's not enough just to say, get control of spending. I think it's important for you to say, I'm willing to cut veterans' benefits, or I'm willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits, or I'm willing to see these taxes go up.
What you can't do -- which is what I've been hearing a lot from the other side -- is say we're going to control government spending, we're going to propose $4 trillion of additional tax cuts, and that magically somehow things are going to work.

Here we see Obama at his worst.  He not only totally failed to even try to articulate a specifically Democratic message--much less a set of values--he once again showed that he simply cannot get it through his head that the Tea Party is not about rational discourse, and that all his efforts to pretend that they are will only spell further political losses, as he dispirits his base, encourages the Tea Baggers to keep pushing hard against him, and reinforces the entirely mindless Versailles mindset.

To get back to the title of diary, what I think this shows is that Obama is not a brilliant politicians, any more than he is visionary leader or whatever other illusions people may still harbor about him.  Rather, he has a fairly limited range of talents--they are prodigious in some respects, but clearly limited in scope, and especially in adaptability.

Obama rose quickly to the US Senate and then the presidency because he had the right combination of message and manner to present a convincing alternative to terrible dysfunction the nation had devolved into.  He offered a solution: Let's all back off and try to figure our way out of the mess we've gotten into.  This was a plausible way to put an end to the Bush Era, but it didn't actually address any of the underlying problems that made everything so bad.  There never was any plan about how to actually do that.  Just "sit down together and work things out in a bipartisan manner". It really does not appear that Obama had anything in mind more specific than that.  Once the Rodney King schtick ran out of steam, he had nothing else to fall back on.

A one-trick pony.

The Democrats made a very severe mistake with Obama.  Republicans had perfected the use of public records in government as a campaign weapon.  Every vote on every issue could potentially be used against a candidate.  Rather than going after the Republicans head on for systematically degrading the processes of governing, legislating and campaigning, the Democrats decided to play by the GOP's rules and run a relatively unknown, but charismatic candidate who would be relatively immune to the GOP's distortions of public life.

But there's a reason that public life should be considered one of the most important indicators of who should advance to higher office.  Public life involves different sorts of issues, skills and values than private life does.  Not entirely, of course.  There are plenty of commonalities.  But it's the distinctive features of public life that are the most crucial and telling--although the GOP has done everything it possibly can to dishonor, deny, degrade and destroy those distinctive features.

The Democrats thought they could find a cheap way to fight back against the GOP's cheapening of the public sphere, and they got badly burned in the process.  They got a one-trick pony who would have never gotten very far with the old togher standards in place, or else who would been forced to learn more tricks before he got so high up.

And now we are all of us paying the price for that fatal error.

The Democrats' current electoral woes--which Krugman quite correctly notes are not inherently fatal--are but a foretaste of avoidable catastrophes to come, all because we're saddled with a one-trick pony, whose trick is no longer the answer to anything.


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So, should the one trick pony get a second term? (4.00 / 3)
All you write here only reinforces the view that this would be a mistake! So, shouldn't we at least have a discussion about how to replace this clueless pseudo-leader with someone fitter for the job, instead of dismissing this out of hand as lunacy? Should progressives simply be defeatnicks who capitulate to four more years of misery starting 2012, or shouldn't they act in their best traditions and push for progress, for change?

Imho the possible routes towards a better presidency should be discussed here! After the elections, of course, because they should have the top priority now. And also, the situation, and especially the standing of the president will become much clearer once the smoke from the campaign battles has cleared up and when pundits inevitably start to point fingers. That's when we should take a long hard look at the chances of replacing Obama with someone with real left wing values and the desire to change the course!


The odds of replacing Obama, (4.00 / 11)
are not zero, but statistically close enough to zero as to be indistinguishable.  IMO, the value of Paul's work is in identify-discriminate-associate and synthesize.  The greatest benefit will be realized in the future; that's not to say there is no benefit now.  Talking about what Obama is, and isn't, and how we should know, tells us something about those whom we'd advocate be in Congress - because that's where his replacement will most likely come.  Today's value of Paul's diary is in who gets elected to the House and the Senate.  Tomorrow's value is who gets elevated (most probably from the Senate) to run in 2016. For me, there is a pattern recognition value to what Paul is doing.  And, being able to recognize that pattern and its gestalt in the future.  Fool me once...

[ Parent ]
Precisely (4.00 / 5)
Shared pattern recognition is the foundation for effective action.

In fact, I ought to write a diary with that title.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
The future should start in 2012. (4.00 / 1)
Why wait until 2016?  Please don't say "because it's never been done before".

It needs to be done this time.  The future does depend on it.


[ Parent ]
it's never been done before (0.00 / 0)
There are other far better reasons not to be stupid but I like this one.  

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I don't think that avoiding issues (4.00 / 1)
simply because "its never been done before" is any way to not be "stupid".

Progress has two elements - 1) rational thought and planning based on past experiences, and 2) innovation and the courage to try things that have never been tried.

Too much emphasis on either will result in poorer outcomes. Its about balance.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
The Problem Is (4.00 / 2)
People here, and in other recent diaries are advocating for failed ideas.  Proven failed ideas.

I'm all for innovation. But the better prepared you are, the better you understand the past as well as the present obstacle you face, the better your chances for successful innovation.

Which is the point, after all.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Like I said (and you echo) (4.00 / 1)
Its about balancing history and innovation.

I'm all for innovation. But the better prepared you are, the better you understand the past as well as the present obstacle you face, the better your chances for successful innovation.

My comment was specifically directed at HoP, who seems to lack any sense of innovation at all.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Two precedents are NOT an empirical evidence! (0.00 / 0)
Pls don't distort this, Paul.

[ Parent ]
Are Too! (4.00 / 3)
Exactly two more pieces of empirical evidence than you have, to be exact.

"When the facts are against, you argue the law. When the law is against you, argue the facts.  When the law and the facts are against you, pound the table."

Looks like table pounding time for you, Gray.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
That's completely unscientific, Paul. (0.00 / 0)
And you know it. Lame.

[ Parent ]
Not At All (4.00 / 1)
You can't use the empirical practices and standards from one scientific discipline to judge another.  You have to use them in context.

Besides, you claimed "Two precedents are NOT an empirical evidence".  That's simply false. They aren't evidence of very much if you've got hundreds of other data points.  But even then they'd be some empirical evidence.

Adopting the posture of would-be empiricism with the swagger of a pirate is not exactly convincing to me.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
That's nonsense. (0.00 / 0)
You can't base any scientifical conclusion on the observation of merely two incidents. That both results were negative (same party challenger couldn't successfully replace incumbent president) CAN be pure coincidence. And you won't find any renowned  scientist who says otherwise.

[ Parent ]
Evidence != Conclusion (0.00 / 0)
Evidence == Evidence



[ Parent ]
Evidence for what? (0.00 / 0)
Let's say, my hypotheses is that a same party challenger to an incumbent president has a 1/3 chance to succeed him. And now look at the only two observed incidents, and calculate the chances. Can you say my hypothesis is false? No, you can't. The evidence is insufficient to draw such conclusions.

[ Parent ]
Evidence (4.00 / 1)
Faith No More is evidence of good taste.

Only one data point needed.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
You're The One Talking Nonsense! (4.00 / 1)
You said:

Two precedents are NOT an empirical evidence!

Now you're trying to backtrack and hope no one notices:

You can't base any scientifical conclusion on the observation of merely two incidents

But even this revised claim is bogus.  For example, in our (Random Lengths') circulation area, there was a butterfly that was presumed extinct for over a decade, the Palos Verdes Blue.

Then a single such butterfly was observed.  It's now considered one of the best candidates for "rarest butterfly in the world." The scientific conclusion that it was not extinct was initially based on a single observation.

Empirical claims need to be carefully calibrated, as do claims about empirical methodology as well.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Totally incomparable and you know it (0.00 / 0)
You act like an angry ten year old here, Paul.  

[ Parent ]
I thought there were more than two precedents (0.00 / 0)
if we're talking about primarying the incumbent.


Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!


[ Parent ]
There's A LOT More Historical Precedent I'm Relying On (4.00 / 1)
But just for the sake of argument, I'm taking on the most simple-minded accusation to show how ill-founded it is.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Well, there are a LOT one term presidents. (0.00 / 0)
If your hypothesis is true that a challenger unseating an incumbent president has never any chance to win the election, nothing can't be done about this. Even if it's obvious that the president is a total lamer and polls show he can't win. According to you, it isn't worth the effort to try to replace him. And you base that on very few (so far, two) incidents of questionable precendent value where that has been the case.

Sry, but if you had any sense of objectivity left you had to agree that it doesn't make much sense to base such a counbterintuitive theory on so weak evidence. My example above shows that an alternative theory, that a successful primary challenger has a 1/3 chance in the election, can't be debunked. And, btw, the same is true for an infinite number of other chances, your 0% case being only one of them. The sparse evidence simply doesn't allow any conclusions about the real life chances. And it's telling you don't answer to this.


[ Parent ]
We're talking about SUCCESFULLY primarying the incumbent. (0.00 / 0)
And then running in the election.

[ Parent ]
Shainzona, I'm not advocating that we wait until 2016. (4.00 / 1)
I'm saying the earliest we could see the fruition of a concerted effort to do better than Obama is 2016.  And, that's only if we start right now.  And, yet, we still do not have a solid method for our madness.  Part of the method will evolve out of how we decide to organize ourselves knowing we will not have the support of the Democratic Party apparatus for the effort.

With a life outside of politics, I plead guilty to being slow grasping the implications of some things.  I'm just coming to understand why races in other states are so important, why organizations like ActBlue are essential tools for us, and why it is - to me - such a horror to imagine losing Russ Feingold.  As an array of others have written, losing Feingold is a significant loss for progressives.  Feingold is precisely the kind of person I think of when I try to imagine that first approximation of someone I think could be a damned sight better than Obama.  But, were not even demonstrating an ability to hold on to him!


[ Parent ]
Well, the odds are continuosly improving... (0.00 / 0)
...with no hint that this trend will reverse in the foreseeable future. So, sry, I remain unconvinced. But at least I have my points on record here, so I can pick on you in 2012 with "I told you so"!

In case it comes as you predict, well, I always can rely on my bad memory...


[ Parent ]
"Who gets elevated to run in 2016" (0.00 / 0)
We also need to realize that all the Clintonistas and Obamabots will be joined together in 2016 for Hillary.  

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!


[ Parent ]
so it's all about Obama? (again) (4.00 / 1)
and again and again -
Do you you really have this illusion that you find in this bunch of 'clueless' Dem politicians a lesser 'clueless' one the American people would be willing to vote for?
What's about the revolutionary idea that it's less and less the more or less clueless President who is in control of this chaos.

Somehow I always suspected it's more than one person!

So why don't we take the words of this wonderful Mrs. Hart to "the people", who are the only hope to finally change the situation! - And if a miniscule bunch of idiodic teabaggers could make a real President mumble such insecure nonsense - what could intelligent progressves do?

Start a march with Mrs. Hart and all 'the people' who think and feel like her to give the march to sanity on the 30th some social substance?    


No, It's NOT All About Obama (4.00 / 2)
This is one diary.  It focuses on one facet. I can't write about everything at once, and I certainly think that grassroots action is called for.

But if you think the Tea Party was the product of the bottom-up organizing of "a miniscule bunch of idiodic teabaggers", then I really don't think you've been paying attention.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I might have misrepresented the amount of teabaggers - (0.00 / 0)
a bit - but my post really was about your idea of 'effective action' and I still think somebody like Mrs. Hart or Paul Krugman would be a excellent choice -
So why don't you get in touch with them and we meet on the 30th - for our march ''fighting unemployment and poverty'?  (or we pick a title you choose) - And then we would be the first members of a truly 'bottom-up non idiodic organisation'!



[ Parent ]
The tea baggers are a well funded astroturf movement, based hugely in racism (0.00 / 0)
There is a good deal of "tub thumping for Jesus" as the right is always trying to do.

But mostly except for the anger part, the zealot part, the part where the main stream media and the republicans given credence and respectability to the grifters and crazies, its no different than any demagoguery from the right, except the right's gamble that it would attract "more" support isn't actually happening.

Even members of the right are distancing themselves from the crazy crazy.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
There were many of us that knew this.... (4.00 / 4)
...in 2008 but we were ridiculed and called racists.  Now you know what we knew then.  Sad that the country has to pay the price for so much inattention to the details of this man before he got to where he is today.

"...he has a fairly limited range of talents--they are prodigious in some respects, but clearly limited in scope, and especially in adaptability."

All he does well - and not that well anymore - is read a teleprompter.


Excuse Me! (4.00 / 3)
I was ridiculed and called a racist for expressing my doubts about Obama, too.

But, to be honest, there was no way to know then how badly he'd turn out.  We could know how limited our options were, however, which was a point that I made repeatedly, as I never endorsed any candidate.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
There were millions of us.... (4.00 / 1)
who did know how bad he would turn out.  I thank you for questioning the man in 2008 but he was so clearly and empty suit to many of us that we were/are not surprised with how bad he has actually been.

And the fact that we are being ridiculed to even suggest he be challenged in 2012 shows that some "folks" (God, I hate it when Obama calls us "folks") are still swilling that orange Kool aid.

I'm glad you're not, Paul.

But we need to do something about it in 2012....and not wait until 2016.


[ Parent ]
I know..... (0.00 / 0)

*[new] There were millions of us.... (0.00 / 0)
who did know how bad he would turn out

and now they are all in the tea party

Aren't you the one a few days ago who said that if you were responsible for even one Democrat loosing a seat, you'd be proud, or something?

Tell us about that again.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Well, depends on the seat, doesn't it? (0.00 / 0)
We shouldn't blame anyone for wishing Blanche Lincoln fails, or should we?

Uh, "and now they are all in the tea party"? That's sarcasm again? I hope so.


[ Parent ]
I won't (4.00 / 1)
For me this is not a case of Feingold vs. Johnson it is shit vs. shit. And if she gets blown out, loses by like 28%, because of an unprecedented drop-off in support from progressive voters and primary voters and union voters who went for Halter, all the better in terms of sending the right kind of message.

Maybe, maybe, if she had any kind of chance I might, might, feel differently. But since she will lose, she should lose big, huge, enormous, and because the left abandons her wholesale. The best single outcome in these circumstances would be a steady Dem/Prog turnout with other Dems receiving the core vote, but with a truly epic undervote for Lincoln.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
Please provide evidence (0.00 / 0)
that all of the people that suspected Obama might be a disappointment as President have now joined the Tea Party.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
They are not all in the Tea Party (4.00 / 1)
I knew what Obama was early on, and online "friends" I had dating back more than ten years, having seemingly (to me) lost their minds or been taken in by some cult of personality turned on me in droves and labeled me "racist" not because I said or did anything racist, but because they could imagine no other reason that I did not love and believe in Obama just as they did.

Even though Obama was not my choice for the nomination, once he had it, I wished for him to win. And once he won, I told all those "friends" that I hoped he lived up to what they expected, and that I hoped I was wrong about him, because if I was wrong, it would mean good things for the nation.

Shortly after the administration took office, I began to see signs that I in fact had not been wrong. I tried to point them out. I tried to encourage those who most believed in Obama to push him, to make him be the president that they believe he could be. And for that I was told I hated Obama, and that I just wanted him to fail. It was like talking to the Bushbots of the previous eight years.

What finally became apparent to me was that it was tribalism. Where these folks really didn't care that much about principle or policy (as long as their preferred tribal chief was in charge), I did. I realized that where I was a liberal, they were Democrats. And where I had lines that I could not cross, they had an excuse for every line that was crossed.  And then I realized that I really wasn't part of the tribe at all, and that if being part of the tribe meant giving up my principles, I didn't want to be part of the tribe.

I no longer self identify as a Democrat. But a tea partier? No, that ain't me either. I tell folks that I'm a principled independent liberal, but that they can just call me a PIL, because both major parties find me hard to swallow.

Since abandoning my Democratic self identification, the way I see things has changed. It's become clearer, like a new eyeglass prescription when the old one no longer worked. And that has allowed me to see many things I previously missed. Like the sham that was and is the proposal to extend the "middle class" tax cuts. On that tax cut thing, check the charts and then check the notes to see what was left out. And then read Part II of Charles Hugh Smith's Con of the Decade. (Read Part 1 while you're at it.)

I'm not a tea partier, I'm a liberal. And Obama and the Democratic Party have gone a step too far. I will support and vote for Democrats who actually believe in things I believe in. But I will no longer vote for and support Democrats who are intent on taking us down a Republican road, only more slowly. If we're gonna be driven down the road to hell, I'd rather get to our destination all at once rather than become habituated to it over time. I don't want to be habituated. I want people to see the destination for what it is, all at once, so that they can recover some sanity and reject it.

Obama was a terrible pick for president. We'd have been better off with strong Democratic majorities in both houses and McCain in the White House. In that instance, McCain would be taking the blame for the slow recovery, and Democrats in congress might still be acting like Democrats. Whatever. We are where we are. And that's too bad, because the choices that were made which got us here are blowing up in our faces.


[ Parent ]
Perfect! (0.00 / 0)
Thank you for your comment - it is absolutely perfect!

[ Parent ]
Can you imagine - (0.00 / 0)
if you would have warned how bad McCain would turn out - and we now would have McCain because some idiots would have taken the 'warnings' about Obama seriously - You would be the Uebervisionary!  

[ Parent ]
Of Course I DID Warn Folks How Bad McCain Would Turn Out (4.00 / 2)
I'm starting to get dizzy with all these non-counterfactual hypotheticals posed as if they were counterfactual hypotheticals (not just here but in my latest Underpants Gnome diary and other place as well).  I'm starting to feel like a beleaguered protagaonist in a Philip K. Dick novel.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
And it's not just here, it's all over the blogs. (4.00 / 1)
Forget about Hyper-Reality and Virtual Reality. We're already into Hypothetical Reality.

So you're referencing PK Dick is rather poignant, if stomach churning.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
"We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (0.00 / 0)
Probably.

[ Parent ]
Gawd, I know... (0.00 / 0)
I'm starting to get dizzy with all these non-counterfactual hypotheticals

Makes me wish you'd just throw up a Deep Space Nine diary so we can all take a breather and re-group.


[ Parent ]
Oh Gosh! (0.00 / 0)
My that would be nice, now wouldn't it?  But truth be told, I haven't seen a DS9 episode in probably 6 or 7 years, and I wouldn't be nearly as sharp and immediate as I would like.  Why isn't it on SyFy, anyway?

And what about Buffy???

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Teleprompter (4.00 / 2)
It is hard to make your case when you jump straight into the "read a teleprompter" and "empty suit" bits.

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The truth hurts, doesn't it? (0.00 / 0)
Sadly millions of Americans are also being hurt, too.

And empty suit who used to be able to read a teleprompter.  Such a guy!!!


[ Parent ]
the Boston Tea Party (4.00 / 5)
There's another misreading of history regarding the Boston Tea Party. It was as much against one of the first transnational corporations, the East India Company, as it was against the British government. According to Thom Hartmann's "Unequal Protection", the British applied the tea tax to the Colonial importers but suspended it for the East India Company with the Tea Act of 1773. This effectively handed monopoly powers to the East India Company.  Quoting Hartmann: Thus, "taxation without representation" also meant hitting the average person and small business with taxes while letting the richest and most powerful corporation in the world off the hook with its taxes.

A healthy skepticism about corporations remained a part of the American psyche and the law until the middle of the 19th century.  Until then state issued corporate charters were extremely restrictive.  Those restrictions where whittled away by state legislatures, largely thanks to the efforts of the lobbyists for the railroads.  And in 1886, in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, a recorder for the Supreme Court added a note effectively granting corporations personhood under the 14th amendment.

It's ironic, but typical, that an event that was essentially anti corporations has been appropriated by a group that knowingly or not is working feverishly to advance the interests of corporations.

One more point. I believe it's important to always take the discussion of corporations to the next level of analysis.  The top 1% of families own something like %40 of the total financial wealth.  So every time the interests of corporations are being advanced, it's fundamentally the interests of the top 1% that are being advanced.  That's what "maximizing shareholder value" boils down to, giving the oligarchy even more of our national wealth.

In feudal times, when the Lord's henchmen came to collect his share of the harvest, the peasants could see the castle on the hill.  Our overlords are still collecting their cut, but they're hidden behind corporations and the trusts that hold the shares.


For Sure! (4.00 / 1)
Rand Paul defending BP & calling Obama "anti-American" was probably the funniest thing to happen all year.

All the more funny because he had not the faintest idea how funny he was being.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
A minor amendment and an addition (0.00 / 0)
In the last sentence, I meant "trust funds" not "trusts".

The follow-the-money and do-the-math approach I recommend has obvious connections to Paul's critiques of neoliberalism and the Third Way. "Business friendly" is just a code phrase for looking out for the interests of the top 1%.  When you come down to it, that's who Blair and Clinton were working for and that's who Obama is working for.


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Disappointment with Obama (4.00 / 8)
I drank the Obama Kool-Aid and am as bitterly disappointed as anyone,  but it's worth noting that he's only part of the problem.  The whole damn Democratic Party needs an overhaul.  Look at what is going on with the tax cut issue-- the spineless Dems can't even manage to allow the termination of the Bush tax cuts,
which the REPUBLICANS designed to expire, for chrissake....

Absolutely (4.00 / 1)
The problem wasn't Obama so much as it was the party.  Sure he was a one-trick pony.  But the party had put itself into the spot of wanting someone like him.  

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Average Democrat (as judged by congress) (0.00 / 0)
Legislation passed these past two years has actually been to the right of Obama, due to the blue dogs, Snowe, etc.  Near as I can tell, Obama is acting like an average Democrat in comparison to congress.  Anyone on this list would be hard pressed to come up with more than 50% of Democrats in congress more liberal than how Obama has governed.

That's pretty solid evidence the problem runs much deeper than just one person.

I was hoping Obama would be the solution.  Obviously, that is not correct.  But he is only a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.


[ Parent ]
NOTA in November! (0.00 / 0)
Send 'em all packing!

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+100 Paul, great stuff. (4.00 / 6)
Bystander already said everything that I felt impelled to say and more. And better, really.

I think the esteemed Ms. Hart stole the show. When I finally saw that viddy, I was really impressed with her and seriously not impressed with Obama's response. It amounted to filibustering with misdirection.

If Mike Lux is out there, I'd love to see how the Dem focus groups reacted to that exchange. It started with Obama essentially chuckling while listening to her and it went downhill from there. I don't imagine that scored too well, even accounting for the fact there's a thousand ways to interpret his laughing at what amounts to an erudite expression of the current zeitgeist.

One other thought that does occur and I think is nicely illustrated in this example, is this notion that WH messaging is somehow out of whack. It's not. Obama stuck to his message discipline with fierce, if not outright disdainful, attention. The problem, then, is they're presenting the wrong message.

Don't tell us, Mr. Preznit, how good everything is when that's clearly not the case. That's just dumb.

It's a shame the technology doesn't yet exist to superimpose Pinocchio's growing nose on politicians when they speak. Every lie, misdirection or filibuster should result in a longer schnoz, just as a visual aid for those less informed.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


That chuckle and smile... (0.00 / 0)
...as Ms. Hart told her very poignant story struck me as so odd, so out of place, so inappropriate to the moment that I simply could not decipher what it was that the President was chuckling about. And then it hit me...

Velma Hart was exactly the kind of Democrat that the President was making jokes about at fund raisers. She was one of those "congenital unable to get it" people who was just born (which is what congenital means) without an ability to understand all the wonderful things that Democrats like Obama were doing to..uh...for them. To him, it was funny. She was his joke made real. And his answer to her, as clueless as it was, was to his mind completely on point and responsive.


[ Parent ]
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