Obama makes especially good use of the insidious tactic of not making anything up.
Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing. – Oscar Wilde
Obama makes especially good use of the insidious tactic of not making anything up.
And mine. I started fighting in 1996, so obviously this is long past due, but justice doesn’t often come quickly in this country and there is still so far to go after the disgrace of North Carolina.
Click here for the celebrations…
A reminder that our drone strikes, generally good at nailing people we think are terrorists, also rack up huge numbers of dead people we know next to nothing about. My position is that a few thousand dead by drone is at least an improvement on a hundred thousand dead by botched invasion ala Iraq, but that both are tragic, and we must soon use the numbers of al Queda we’ve killed as an opportunity to clear out of the Middle East as much as is physically possible.
Glenn Greenwald will say so, I’ll say so, but who else? Obama’s drone strike policies have completely enamored the Beltway and have even managed to wrest praise from Michele “Batshit” Bachman, who surprisingly couldn’t come up with an argument that drone strikes prove how pro-terrorist Obama is. Democrats are understandably proud that President Obama has notched some huge victories against Islamic terrorists and Middle East dictators, notably bin Laden and Gaddhafi, agreed to remove troops from Iraq (hey, Glenn, let’s just remember that Bush signed that deal after Obama won the election promising to end the war…Bush was only reading the writing on the wall, and it’s ridiculous to pretend it would have happened had McCain won or that McCain would have felt bound by any such agreement), and gently handled the Arab Spring revolutions. But it’s important to remember there is no such thing as a clean war that spares the lives of innocents, and that power unchecked will naturally grow deeper and wider in its reach. It seems we’re subject to President Obama’s conscience to choose a better path, but there’s little cause to expect the Nobel Peace Prize winner to do anything significant before his second term. But perhaps he will hear the discontent out there with these drone strikes, note their growing counter-productiveness, and lessen their frequency.
It’s kind of amazing to type that, really. 2003’s bitter wounds, as that war began over our fierce objections, had seemed now to be closed, if somewhat licked from time to time. A war that just kept kicking along forever until we turned it away from our focus, letting it drone on beneath our consciousness. A quagmire that seemed to offer no way out except for a leader to have the courage to walk away from it. To see it truly ending demands a post-mortem, and to give one we must remember.
Sullivan applies this to assessing Obama’s role:
We sometimes forget that he began as an anti-war candidate when the Great Recession was a twinkle in a credit default swap trader’s eye. And when I hear people whining about his betrayals or their disappointments, I just hope they note that against great odds, the Iraq war is over without our running for cover. Given the core contradiction of the conflict and the bungling of the occupation: not so shabby. Given his core reason for running for president, mission accomplished.
Some forgot that Obama had the edge over Hillary Clinton in 2008 because he had had the courage to stand up against the Iraq War before it was politically advantageous to do so. So this really is a full circle, one that vindicates and redeems, regardless of whatever Clinton or even McCain would have theoretically done. We chose him to end the war, and he ended the war. Sure, the Iraqis had to say no to offers of more troops, but at least Obama listened and will stick by the terms of the contract with the Iraqi people.
Let’s see the same in Afghanistan, sooner rather than later, although realistically I don’t expect it until Obama’s second term.
When you have the right ideas and the public has your back, the last thing you need to be afraid of is the crazy Teapublicans throwing a tantrum and yipping CLASS WARFARE CLASS WARFARE over and over again.
…Obama’s new jobs plan, and the provisions within it, have clear public support:
* A slim plurality is very or somewhat confident that the American Jobs Act will improve the economy and create jobs, 48-47.
* A solid majority, 56-30, favors significantly cutting payroll taxes for working Americans.
* A majority, 52-40, favors Federal aid to state governments to avert public employee layoffs.
* A huge majority, 80-16, favors spending money on the nation’s infrastructure in order to try to create jobs.
* A big majority, 71, favors reducing the deficit through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts; a meager 21 percent favors only spending cuts.
* A solid majority, 56-37, favors reducing the deficit with tax hikes on households earning $250,000 a year or more.
* A solid majority, 56-29, thinks creating jobs should be prioritized over cutting spending.
Now, we’re talking about Democrats here, so naturally we have the horrible idiot who bungled Hillary’s campaign, Mark Penn, actually lecturing Obama for choosing class warfare and not going for the “center.” Well, besides the fact that Obama’s policies are actually aimed at benefiting the real center of America, the middle class, they have majority support, but one would be a fool to think this is what guides the chickenshits in the Democrat Party who most love to claim the “centrist” label.
No, “centrist” Democrats are just chickenshits who jump whenever Republicans throw a tantrum. Their overriding commandments are 1. Accept all Republican premises in any argument and 2. Run from any fight with Republicans, no matter how extremist or fringe they are. And yet it’s guided entirely by electoral fear of a group that obeys neither in respect to Democrats.
This next year and the election capping it off really are all about what’s best for America. As president, Obama will take a hit if America isn’t doing better no matter how much people love his policies, no matter how much they would oppose Republican policies, no matter if those policies do actual good. Republicans have realized this calculus and embraced it, engaging in blatant sabotage of the economy to keep things bad as long as Obama is in office (not that this would guarantee things improving under a Republican, but they’ll take their chances…after eight years of defending Bush they’re used to brushing off failure). The incentives are in place…what helps America helps Obama, what hurts America helps Republicans (although Democrats putting up a real fight would alleviate that somewhat). Are Republicans going to take the high road and potentially sacrifice 2012 in order to help get America back on its feet? Don’t hold your breath.
Really, they’re left arguing that President Obama and the Democrats may have these plans to help the country, but they’re only doing so to keep their jobs. In other words, they’re doing the right thing but for the wrong reasons. Now, it’s pretty hard to overstate just how reprehensible and insulting that is to Democrats, but whatever. Republican insults are as cheap and plentiful as oil used to be. And they’re usually based on projection. What would you expect to hear from people who deliberately held the American economy hostage in order to prevent the rich paying a penny more in taxes? Again, do you smell any sense that Republicans are feeling electorally selfless lately? Projection.
But who cares? Politicians who help the country to keep their jobs are what one expects in a democracy. Democrats have only fear of Republicans saying mean things on FOX news as their inhibition, and if that rules their judgment, then they deserve to lose (note: That still doesn’t make voting for a Republican a smart thing to do, they also don’t deserve to win!). If Obama decided he’s going to fight for everyone in America who isn’t uber-wealthy because it’s the right thing to do, great. If he decided that because he knew he’d be a one-termer if he didn’t, great! Any Democrat supports most of these policy prescriptions, and it used to be that Republicans supported them too. Whatever it takes to kick them in the ass is good, and the public being on their side needs to matter this time. If you see a chickenshit Blue Dog kvetching and moaning about the “center,” kick that dog in the ass extra hard.
Sep 08, 2011 in Barack Obama
This is why Republicans think obstruction can work for them. Even though the public likes Obama’s policy prescriptions for helping the economy, they will continue giving Obama low grades on the economy as long as things don’t get better.
If Obama’s policies aren’t implemented, and unemployment doesn’t show even marginal improvement, and Obama’s overall economic approval numbers remain in the toilet, Republicans could end up politically benefitting from successfully styming individual policies the American people say they want.
Voila! Keep the economy from getting better, Republicans figure, and Obama suffers, even if they’re responsible. Unless Obama spends this next year fighting and making the case for his policies and drawing a clear line in the sand. Voters will tend to blame the president without a clear picture, and Republicans are happy to keep it muddy. But if Obama doesn’t take the fight to Republicans and put them on the defensive, then he’s forgetting a major part of his job and the power of the bully pulpit. He must take the narrative out of their hands.
Btw maybe some goddamn Democrats should try to get on Meet the Press and back him up? The past three years offers a signature lesson for Democrats that pinning all their hopes on one person to do all the work for them doesn’t fly. Republicans were out there on the front lines every day of Bush’s presidency doing whatever they could to define the narrative…and nothing’s changed since Obama took office.
On knowing that whatever jobs program Obama proposes is DOA in the Republican-controlled House (and that Republicans will gladly turn around and blame Obama for not doing anything about jobs):
The Republicans are going to deride whatever he does as Son of Stimulus, the right-wing propaganda apparatus will put a fatwa on the head of any wavering House member or senator, and no plan with “Obama” in its name is going to clear the Senate, let alone the House, and that will be that. We know this.
This is why it’s so chillingly disheartening to read quotes like Carney’s and Earnest’s. The plan can be bold. The plan can be modest. The point is that he has to fight like hell for it. But he won’t. He is the anti-Broder on this front. Remember how the late David Broder wrote all those columns lamenting partisan gridlock, carefully blaming both sides, pointedly ignoring the mountains of evidence that it was chiefly Republicans driving the divide? Well, Obama, rather than blaming both sides, blames neither. He speaks of ending partisan gridlock in a disembodied and remote way, and he talks about it as if it’s an act of God that has descended on the capital, like Irene did—and one that can be overcome if we all just put our shoulders to the wheel.
But the truth is that our gridlock is an act of man—or men. Particular men. They even have names. They are McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor. God forbid the president criticize them. It’s two more syllables than “Martin, Barton, and Fish,” the trio of Republican obstructionists FDR famously called out (read this for a little background on how Obama could be behaving differently), but the president’s an articulate fellow; he could handle it.
President Obama seems to be dipping into the crazy juice when he still talks about how Washington is going to come together and work to solve our problems. Yes, that’s what’s necessary, but it isn’t going to happen, and he needs to acknowledge that and choose how he’s going to spend the final year of his first term. There’s a terrific case to be made against Republicans for what they’ve tried to do to sabotage the economy and prevent any successful legislation that even appears to have come from President Obama, but Obama simply cannot move forward acting like anything’s going to change in the next year. Why should it? As stupid and destructive as it is, the GOP cockblock strategy is hurting Obama’s ratings and that’s all Republicans care about, even if it means cratering their own. Maybe it won’t work for them next year, but there’s no reason for Obama to let them have the chance. He needs to be the guy we elected the next year, the guy who ran on change we could believe in, who ran on standing up for progressive principles, for working families, for all the people the Bush/GOP years left behind.
The most important thing people need to see is that Obama cares and he’s fighting for them. If he fights for them and the Republicans oppose everything he does, then the Republicans are opposing the people. This is already the case, but it needs to be made crystal clear. Republicans are bullies. They will talk shit, they will insult, they will lie, they will make up anything they want about Democrats because they can usually expect Democrats to not fight back, and slowly the taint creeps. But when you fight back, Republicans scatter, whine, cry, complain, and moan about how hurt their feelings are. So Democrats veer between being wimps and, the second they fight back, mean ole’ meanies who are so very cruel and shrill. That’s falling right into the GOP playbook.
No, what you do is keep pressing forward, keep pointing your finger, and keep touting your values, the positive values that lead you to fight for all Americans, not just the wealthy and white. President Obama has actually done some pretty significant things for the poor, most importantly health care reform, but he can’t rest on his laurels and wait for progressives to kiss his ass, as his admin has sometimes signaled they’d like to do. The political capital is burned up. It’s time to earn some more.
Somedays you just have to go check the comments section on Michele Malkin’s blog to get a load of the runaway insanity. WTF is up with this?
I PRAY for the day I see (Obama) GO DOWN hard!! I want him in cuffs. I want him in an orange jump suit and living in Sheriff Joe’s tents. I want him to ADMIT he hates this country and has been a traitor all his life. I want to hear that from his lying blue lips. That is my dream. SOME of that will happen. I truly believe that.
I’m looking for a science journal where I can publish my theory that anybody who calls Barack Obama “Barry Soetero” is an asshole. It’s pretty scientific.
Lordy I hope this is true.
“Talk about arbitrary,” he said of Cantor’s figure, according to a Democratic attendee. “I am totally willing to do the hard stuff to get well above what you need and you won’t do it because you can’t put one penny of revenue on the table.”
“At least Mitch McConnell, to his credit, was willing to work for a solution,” the president added, acknowledging the proposal by the Senate Minority Leader to, essentially, give him the authority to lift the debt ceiling without passing commensurate cuts.
“I have reached the point where I say enough,” Obama concluded, according to Reuters. “Would Ronald Reagan be sitting here? I’ve reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this.”
Please, please, please let it be true. The truth is so simple. Obama has put forth a real compromise, Republicans are demanding complete surrender. There has to be a point where sanity meets spine, and I hope so dearly that I cannot express it Obama has reached that point.
It sounds cheesy as hell to say the country needs Obama right now, but the country needs Obama right now. Hell, don’t ask me, ask the business community, freaking out as Judgment Day approaches. Democrats, Independents, and sane Republicans need to band together on this one and send a clear, explicit message to Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor, that the bullshit has to stop.
I usually get on here, to post some perspectives on my homeland Pakistan and what’s going on in that region and Afghanistan. I have been away for a while, so many readers probably don’t remember me or know who I am.
There has been too much going on for me to catch up with what I wanted to write about. Then I stumbled upon this post in Salon.com
Not only does this writer hit on every topic I was going to write about, but h/she tackles every point I was going to make.
Just some bullet points:
1) I thought I was the only one thinking, why the fuck are we invading Libya? Didn’t we just elect Obama to get us the fuck out of Iraq and Afghanistan? Aren’t we trillions of dollars in debt because of those wars, why repeat Iraq pt Deux?
2) The whole African crisis, which is in part due to our meddling and misguided interventions or lack thereof (see Rwanda and Somalia)
3) Finally someone who understands a topic close to my heart. The Afghan crisis….the Durand line, and the fact that like the Africans, people are fighting on tribal lines to protect the lands of their tribes from foreign invaders. They have done that since Alexander the Great, through to the Victorian British Empire, to the Soviet war machine. O-fucking-Bama, do you think you are greater than Alexander, or the Imperial warriors of the past? Get the fuck out.
Please read the Salon article, it hits the nail on the head, gingerly and then caresses it.
White House already caving on the Fourteenth Amendment?
When there’s nothing Republicans won’t risk, and nothing Democrats will risk, where the hell do you dipshits think things will end up?
I’m done with it. We’ll see what the deal struck is, but I don’t expect to see any surprises. The Republicans have already gotten almost everything they’ve wanted, and even if they crack a bit and give in on some revenue increases (somebody better tell Mitch McConnell), it’ll still be a pittance. If Obama’s going to get a birdie out of this shit trap, then he has certainly outsmarted me at this point. While he generally tends to come out with a net positive, he has this miserable, shitty habit of giving up too much too damn soon and getting less, while sitting around wishing remorsefully that Republicans would stop being so belligerent and uncooperative.
News flash, Mr. President: They’ve hated you from the beginning, have done everything they can to stop you from having any success, and they don’t give a damn if the country goes to hell because they’re just going to point the finger at you anyway. Flashing a bit of leadership and then hiding isn’t an option right now. You’ve got to be a leader every day now, because now every day matters, more than ever.
Rachel Maddow had to go take a dump on tonight’s festivities by pretending Obama isn’t just reticient about admitting his support for gay marriage openly, but that he is actually actively against New York legalizing gay marriage.
Y’know, the whole circular firing squad on the left thing sometimes needs to happen, but for someone usually so good about the facts, Rachel, you kind of blew it on this one.
The President has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples. That’s why he has called for repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and determined that his Administration would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA in the courts. The states should determine for themselves how best to uphold the rights of their own citizens. The process in New York worked just as it should.
Say what you want about Obama playing it safe, he has never said anything whatsoever to suggest he was against New York legalizing gay marriage, and that is merely reaffirmed tonight. I understand gays who might still feel some frustration over the president’s language, but President Obama has been, without any doubt whatsoever, the most pro-gay president in the history of the United States, and he’s racked up quite a record for gays to be whoopin’ proud of. Slamming him like this is just unfair, and I hope tomorrow Rachel apologizes for her slander. It just ain’t right.
Obama’s waving away of Congress on Libya is unfortunate, poorly reasoned, and unnecessary, perhaps illegal to boot. To those in the HE IS THE SAME AS BUSH camp, this is ironclad proof. To anybody with a scrap of sense, it’s true that this is more rebel support than a full blown war, but hearing that it doesn’t qualify as “hostilities” will force instant guffaws, groans, or other various incredulous noises. And to Congress, it must seem strange to see such little faith that they would support the Libya effort. Most would be happy to provide assent. Ultimately, this choice to not ask Congress for an extension is an affront even to those who agree with the Libya intervention.
That said, Obama has done what he’s done and guess where the ball is? In Congress’ hands. They should hold a vote on an extension, and if it passes, fine. If it fails, then Congress should assert its power, but we all remember how that went during Bush II, so I wouldn’t expect much. If Congress forfeits its check on the executive branch, that doesn’t excuse the executive branch, but it sure as hell doesn’t excuse Congress either, and that’s precisely what I expect people to do while moaning about Obama. If Congress doesn’t protest, then Obama already has its assent.
Both imagine the SEALS getting in a disastrous firefight with no bin Laden to show for it and lots of dead troops. And oh, how the usual suspects would have sang:
UPDATE: Roundup of the latest Republican responses to Operation Geronimo.
Sarah Palin on Fox and Friends: “What is truly upsetting to me is that while our brave men in uniform were being sent on this errand, the president was laughing it up at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner with his pals from the mainstream media and Hollywood. Maybe if he was actually at his desk instead of golfing and rubbing elbows with elites — and spending so much time resurrecting the birth-certificate issue — this would have turned out differently.” [FOX]
Mitt Romney: “I’ve said before that we can’t afford to have a president who is learning on the job. Before I was referring to the damage he has done to the American economy, but now it’s clear that that extends to national defense as well. Never before has there been more glaring evidence that this president is unequal to the task of leading the free world. We need a president who can handle the economy and the war. Right now, that’s something we do not have.” [WSJ]
John Huntsman: “This single ill-conceived operation has done more damage to our delicate diplomatic relationship with Pakistan — a needed ally — than anything we have seen thus far. I hate to say it, but it’s a rookie mistake by a man afraid to reach outside of his closed circle of advisers, and a costly one.” [NYT]
Michele Bachmann: “You know what, running the military is not the same as reading a TelePrompTer, not the same as giving a pretty speech. What we had last night was a president sacrificing the lives of fighting men and women in a political ploy to distract us from real problems. It’s Jimmy Carter in Somalia all over again.” [CNN]
Donald Trump: “If he was willing to be as tough with bin Laden as he was with his buddy Matt Damon at the Correspondents’ Dinner, we would have all been better off. [The timing of the mission] is pretty transparent. His approval rating is lousy. His radical agenda has failed miserably at home, so he needed a distraction. Simple. Sadly, many of our brave soldiers paid for this with their lives.” [FOX]
Newt Gingrich: “Anyone who knows anything about the War on Terror knows that bin Laden had been marginalized, that he no longer posed any real threat. He was done, isolated, living in a concrete bunker with no phone or Internet, for God’s sake. What was he going to do? We already beat him. Well, if bin Laden can’t kill American soldiers, our president sure can. [FOX]
The more I think about what could be on the news and internets, the more unbelievable Obama’s dice roll was. I know he almost had no choice but to do it, but the risk could have been seen as prohibitive in the hands of someone less courageous. Obama put his presidency on the table, and deserves the payoff.
As time passes and the GOP’s best idea for the deficit is throw red meat at their base and hope it’ll keep them satisfied while trillions continue to accumulate. And people are starting to notice that after the Republicans get done with Planned Parenthood, NPR, teachers, and big infrastructure projects that would bring money to states and create actual long-term growth are turned down…I mean, I just want to keep going on, but the point is that after all is said and done, the GOP isn’t any closer to serious budget reform.
In the poll, 21% of Americans said they believed Congressional Republicans had a better approach to the deficit than did President Obama, while 20% felt the reverse. In addition, 52% said there wasn’t much difference between Obama and the GOP House.
That’s a sharp reversal from last November, when 35% said the GOP had better plan, compared to 24% who said Obama knew best how to deal with the deficit. And while Democrats haven’t soured much more on the GOP’s capability — not very many were so hot on Republicans to begin with — the poll shows Republicans and independents turning away from the GOP in huge numbers.
So is Obama that confident he can call their bluff? Is he actually ready to come in with a plan that will outdo them next year in time to win the election? I’m not confident. But handing the baton to the GOP to demonstrate to the public what a pile of shit they’ve been talking since 2008 is smart and necessary. He signs whatever they come up with anyway, so if they slash the deficit, they did it with Obama!
By doing little and putting the onus on the Republicans who trash-talked their way into office, Obama also illustrates to the public how truly complicated and unpleasant reducing the deficit can be if you immediately rule out denting the military or taxing the rich at historically normal levels.
Worst case scenario, however: Obama has actually bought into GOP rhetoric and is truly just as bad as them, content to try waiting out deficit troubles after making some big promises to capture his second term. Some liberals would say, “Duh!” but I rate it at about 20% probability.
Then again we’re letting ourselves get sucked into another Middle East conflict, so let me bump that up to 35% probability. Naturally, the cost implications ne’er appeared on the lips of any Republican I’ve heard clamoring for war, but feel free to correct me. Please.
New regulations regarding hospital visitation rights went into effect Tuesday, paving the way for members of the LGBT community to have further control over their own medical decisions.
Under the new protocol, initiated last April and developed over the following months, hospitals partaking in Medicare and Medicaid must now allow all patients to decide visitation rights, as well as who to entrust with making medical decisions on their behalf, regardless of sexual or gender identity.
“This policy impacts millions of LGBT Americans and their families. The President saw an injustice and felt very strongly about correcting this and has spoken about it often over the years,” White House deputy director of public engagement Brian Bond wrote on the White House blog.
Actual family values. Isn’t that something?
Obama takes the high road for all us sinners:
I wish he was standing where the country needed him to be more often, but today, without a doubt, he had it all under control.
It’s building. While people have had their fun looking at the trainwreck Tea Party candidates, the thought that they could actually get into office and tear down or freeze in its tracks all the progress Democrats hoped for in 2008 and earned since is getting people out of their chairs. As one billboard said, “I want my country back from Glenn Beck!” Of course, the media never finds liberals as sexy as crazy hopped-up rightwingers, so this event is getting minimal coverage. How many magazine covers has Glenn Greenwald appeared on this year vs. Sarah Palin?
Also, if you missed it, this speech from Obama is pretty goddamn spectacular.
Yeah, it’s not perfect, but you can only critique the man from the left. All Republican complaints about Obama are contrived shite they don’t even believe, and he kicks their asses so swiftly and surely it’s no wonder they hate him so.
I pretty much agree with everything in this piece from Peter Daou.
Virtually all the liberal bloggers who have taken a critical stance toward the administration have one thing in common: they place principle above party. Their complaints are exactly the same complaints they lodged against the Bush administration. Contrary to the straw man posed by Obama supporters, they aren’t complaining about pie in the sky wishes but about tangible acts and omissions, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power.
The Greenwalds of the world are right, and I personally admire their principled stands a great deal. And the truth is, Obama never truly addresses their concerns; his rebuttals often focus on domestic issues, where Obama’s ground is much, much stronger (although when he says, “We could have fought for a public option and not had a bill,” this is clearly a false choice…we kind of fought for the public option, he didn’t, it didn’t get the votes and we got the bill anyway). And, rightfully, anybody who thinks of themselves as being liberal can brag about a great number of real achievements on the home front.
But if there’s a reason to be a bit depressed about being a liberal, well, Daou delivers a couple dozen. One or more may ring true for you:
# Sarah Palin can move the public discourse with a single tweet, promoting a worldview consisting of unreflective, nationalistic soundbites.
# Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox are dominating the national conversation, feeding a steady stream of propaganda packaged as moral platitudes to tens of millions of true believers.
# In the face of overwhelming evidence, climate deniers are choking the life out of the environmental movement and willfully condemning humanity to a calamitous future.
# From ACORN to Van Jones, liberal scalps are being taken with impunity.
# Feminism is being redefined and repossessed by anti-feminists.
# Women are facing an all-out assault on choice.
# Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is being co-opted by a radio jock.
# Schoolbooks are being rewritten to reflect the radical right’s anti-science views.
# The rich-poor divide grows by the minute and teachers and nurses struggle to get by while bankers get massive bonuses.
# We mark the end of a war based on lies with congratulations to all, and we escalate another war with scarce resources that could save countless lives.
# An oil spill that should have been a historic inflection point gets excised from public awareness by our own government and disappears down the memory hole (until the next disaster).
# Guns abound and the far right’s interpretation of the second amendment (the only one that seems to matter) is now inviolate.
# Bigotry and discrimination against immigrants, against Muslims, against gays and lesbians is mainstream and rampant.
# The frightening unconstitutional excesses of the Bush administration have been enshrined and reinforced by a Democratic White House, ensuring that they will become precedent and practice.
There’s quite a bit there to ponder when considering one’s vote this November. I’m down with all the principled muthas out there who are swinging it strong and clean, but make no mistake: November is when you dust off your pants and get out there and vote to save the country from the absurdly blind fools determined to crash in and fuck up as many things as possible. Liberalism can flourish as long as liberals don’t forget who the hell to vote for. Sorry, but you want to plant flowers in D.C. you’ve got to dig in that dirt of messy humanity. Sustainability is green.
It wasn’t necessary to have to wait this long to get a real voice for the people into a high-ranking position, but I do love that rope-a-dope game Obama plays. I suspected he would get strategic in September and October, and this seems to be yet another indication that he’s getting it. Progressives, you have Elizabeth Warren to set your hearts afire for November.
Along with the recent aid bill for small businesses…astoundingly voted against by 37 of 41 Republican Senators (or not so astoundingly, if you remember that all they care about is trying to stop Obama from getting popular victories), and the previous jobs bill saving teachers, firefighters and cops, Obama is on a roll. If he plans on keeping this up through October, then I’m frankly frickin’ ecstatic with anticipation.
p.s. And how disgraceful an end to Chris Dodd’s Senate career that he exits having tried to oppose Warren at every step.
He’s an idiot, by the way:
“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asked. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”
“This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president,” Gingrich added.
“I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true,” Gingrich continues. “In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve. … He was authentically dishonest.”
Gingrich knows a lot about cons. His entire career has been one, and he only projects himself onto Obama. Gingrich has his finger in the wind and says the batshit crazy stuff required to pass Tea Party muster nowadays. Unfortunately, Newt does these stunts and it only makes people like him less. Rush Limbaugh is really popular for a radio host, but has 20% public favorability ratings. Newt wants to be thought of as an intellectual, but in the end he can’t hide the mean-spirited lunkhead inside and logic flies out the window. And like Limbaugh, he just can’t resist a racist dog whistle.
p.s. Special credit goes to that special idiot, Dinesh D’Souza, for cooking up this steaming pot of horseshit. Brutally smart takedown of D’Souza’s original piece here.
I think Obama’s poll numbers are mostly news because they’re not where we expect them to be. Obama was, literally, supposed to walk into office and everybody would calm down a little bit and work towards solving the nation’s problems. Some of us did think he could ride the sixties and seventies all the way.
Of course, it’s a rather familiar tale we’ve been telling: a good chunk of America is going clean off its rocker, denying the Bush years ever existed and deciding that Obama is literally some new Stalin/Hitler/Bin Laden master cocktail of the world’s evils, a possible Anti-Christ. Then add in the actual aggrieved people, liberals who were often shoved aside and told to be quiet while Obama endlessly compromised for diminishing gains. Indeed, Obama did divide America a bit, often behaving as if its own base were out in far-off territory asking for simple effective ideas like the public option, when we were firmly in the center. Too often they still seem to be grabbing for the mushy middle, with Obama actually saying he isn’t for gay marriage (although his actions are to help bring it about, thus all the more senseless the claim).
And so it’s 47%, during a time of immense economic crisis. Pretty amazing numbers, and honestly the last ones we should be worried about. Working Americans need more direct stimulus, the recent jobs bill being a sterling example. Obama needs to do nothing more than get a good bill put together, and then ride that sucker right through November. Republicans have consistently been the enemy of anything that would help normal Americans, so let’s be clear this election about what the choice is. Take all the money from an arcane military project and watch them try to spin it away.
For two years, the Republicans have been bleeding. Will Democrats smell it and go in for the attack? George W. Bush was extolled as the complete embodiment of the Republican President in his time, and the GOP has little more than warmed-over Bush policies. Why? Because Bush got to do almost everything he wanted during GOP control of Congress. It was Christmas every day for Republicans as regulations were shredded and Pat Robertson graduates were getting hustled into high-ranking government positions. Of course they don’t have any new ideas…those were their ideas.
And how well did those poll? The GOP is trying to take us out for a Weekend At Bernie’s, except instead of Bernie it’s Bush.
Bush said I could be locked up and tortured as an enemy combatant if he felt like it. Obama says I will get taxed if I don’t have health care. Which one tyranny?
I can understand the argument, for instance, that if taxes are too high then personal freedom is to some degree eroded, but that seems very metaphorical compared to government’s power to physically lock you up. For all their talk about freedom and liberty, the enthusiastic embrace of the military and security culture by many conservatives pretty makes that seem like a lot of empty rhetoric to me.
I don’t mean it as a critique so much as a question – why does the military-security culture get such a huge pass? I honestly don’t understand how you can cast yourself as a defender of liberty on one hand, while be fully in support of expanding the government’s ability to physically remove your liberty on the other.
You know, what I would love is if liberals who took liberty extremely seriously, like Glenn Greenwald, had some actual support from the right. Greenwald is a lion against the government’s assumption of powers in the past ten years to toxic levels, and he’s coolly prosecuted Obama for leaving too many Bush era policies and practices intact. This piece on our increasingly cramped surveillance state should have an army of allies among any who say they treasure liberty. It gets published at CATO, in a nice gesture from them, but the GOP is expert at deftly ignoring CATO as a gang of nerds when Republicans disagree with them. Adding Greenwald’s name to the mix only freaks out wingers more.
Even worse, they’d have to actually describe Bush/Cheney accurately, so that will leave most Republicans out of the deal. They approved of Bush and still do, and the more Obama does things like Bush, the more Republicans are willing to just take a pass on the issue, pretend it doesn’t exist, and then scream about the Socialist Blitzkrieg.
Of course, we’re talking about the same people who got really concerned about spending the second Obama was sworn in, the same people who shrugged for eight years while Bush systematically dismantled our prosperity.
This is just why it’s so hard for me to have faith in the honest intentions of the right. Most are fairly nice people in person, but they treat politics like a game, one where intellectual honesty is simply a commie liberal plot to confuse “real” Americans. Rightwingers make up these weird fantasy wars in their heads like this:
…conservatism, the right, (is) people who want government to have less power over individuals, is the natural home of people who want to live and let live, while “progressivism”, the left, is the natural home of statists — fascists, nazis, socialists, communists, and the modern Democrat party — who want endlessly more centralized power over the individual.
Gee, so hard to pick sides there. Which way do I go? Freedom or Auschwitz?
Or, third option, blog commenter “American Elephant” is an idiot and neither description is accurate. As Greenwald notes, what power the Republicans seized, the Democrats held onto. Such is human nature, I imagine, but that’s why we’re supposed to have checks and balances. One of those is a populace that speaks up when the government goes too far, but the idiots on the right are choosing to spend their time chasing liberal bogeymen while a unified coalition of the powerful march right over all of us.
With fellow citizens like that, who needs terror babies?
John Boehner says, “Fire Summers and Geithner!”
Well, who can argue with that? It would be a good sign, actually, presuming the voice that replaced them was an actual liberal (no, you haven’t been living in some Commie nightmare, it’s okay to breathe a sigh of relief now) or at least somebody willing to really get serious about the best solutions to our problems, even if they are somehow bankrupt simply for being ideas that come from liberals.
I’d just like somebody who sticks to the merits. And the merits of our case are that capitalism has been broken by the rich and twisted into channels of infinite accountability-free revenue that can be used to muster political power and keep gaming the system in their favor. At every juncture, Geithner and Summers made sure above all else that the masters of money stayed happy and that the billions continued to flow upwards. What did we get? A robust Wall Street and a 9.5% unemployment rate. Fuck that noise, ladies and gentlemen. Fuck it in its ass.
Still, one has to giggle whenever a Republican says who ought to be fired, because it’s usually that Republican who needs to be fired. John Boehner has been a dolt, a barfly, a golfer, a stubbornly ignorant hack, and an unrepentent baseless obstructionist who has violated the principles of every “conservative” involved. Summers and Geithner would be useful in a room when decisions are being made, but they shouldn’t be making those decisions. Obama has shied away from having real oppositional thinking in his Cabinet, and people like Paul Volcker are simply not given much heft to work with. They propose something, then Geithner and Summers go over it and take out everything that would make a real difference. Symbolic measures, more tax cuts, less public benefit.
In their defense, Obama seems to be more reluctant to hang anything on Geithner’s word, and things like the $26 billion dollar jobs bill, half-measure as it is anyway, suggest somebody in there is listening.
Yes, you can spend a dollar on an ordinary American, not just a CEO. No, we won’t turn into the Soviet Union because of it. Nor Nazi Germany. That’s reality. And if Obama can get his team focused on reality, not just appeasing Wall St. (and getting called anti-business for it), then I’ll be a much happier camper.
Or, as HuffPo puts it, “Warren vs. Geithner.”
The key weakness of Obama’s presidency so far has been that he chose Geithner and sided with his philosophy throughout. Whenever there was a chance to do something that would seriously reform Wall St., Geithner stood opposed, while Elizabeth Warren spoke out for those who had nobody to speak out for them.
And what did Obama get for it? “Anti-business!” After eight years of, “Hey, why don’t you guys write your own regulations?”-style Bush oversight, who could expect business to be satisfied? It should have been axiomatic that Wall St. would be against change, because Wall St. started out on top and finished on top.
When Volcker and Warren are louder voices in the administration than Geithner and Summers, Obama will have a more effective administration and a whole hell of a lot more trust from the people.
In other news, some stuff called “financial reform” passed today, the product of whatever it took to override yet another Republican filibuster. There are a few positives, but I’ll believe it changes something when I see it.
When the chairman of the RNC slips up and admits Afghanistan is a foolish mission, don’t sound like a Republican peddling old excuses for Bush. Support him, say he’s got the right idea. Observe who he pissed off most: neocons.
Obama has set things up so that he won’t be held to a course until he makes a choice. Yes, it’s supposed to be July 2011, but if he wants to stay, he will. If he wants to roll into the election owning the Afghanistan war, that shit won’t fly. The “I’m against dumb wars” guy will be coming back to us with a dumb war on our hands.
Meanwhile, “sober” expectations of Pentagon cuts range around 30 billion in a few years. 30 billion? It’s better than nothing, but it’s hardly a dent in the spending problem. We need to scale down the war and military spending, and every voice helps, because it needs to be a bipartisan consensus to ever happen.
And so it all comes to an end. Elena Kagan is not gay.
But what a sad hell-wrought spectacle it was getting there. Christianist rightwingers ready to denounce her for nothing other than this perceived homosexuality. Andrew Sullivan going nuclear over not being able to get a straight (no pun intended) answer when he had already received one from the WH (although it was a bit of a homophobic response itself, describing an insinuation of homosexuality as a “charge” when right-thinking people know it is no crime). In Andrew’s defense, he was merely being a pit bull for the sake of getting a satisfying answer, much like he has been with Sarah Palin and her multitude of neverending fibs, but for a man with such a supposedly “conservative” temperament he might consider displaying one once in awhile. Liberals ready to champion her as a stealth candidate for gay rights. Glenn Greenwald not giving a damn about any of it and ready to slam her as another Obama-ite who be truly Bush-lite…
Chroniclers of human folly that we are, I found the best approach to be hanging back awhile and absorbing a bit more information before spouting off with an intemperate mouth. Thus, Iowa Liberal is a blog not updated frequently, but rather when the time is right. Via this path do we claim elegance…
In all that I have seen, the best critique I’ve seen of Kagan actually belongs to David Brooks, who makes the best use of his ability to be right twice a day. In her steely resolve to never say or do anything to peeve anybody, throughout a career somehow designed to make her an ideal candidate for the Supreme Court, she has disappointed everybody.
But the time to bitch about it is over. The noise that needed to be made about her was already made, and Obama went for her anyway. The only thing left to do is cross our fingers and watch the decisions pass, and wonder why conservatives get to nominate any goddamn nutter they please while liberals have to constantly backpedal and apologize and tread water within the accepted rightwinger buoys.
For we have a court that is no longer for the people, but for the powerful, stacked by authoritarian “conservatives” who seem to be motivated by political grudges and the bleatings of Rush Limbaugh more than anything contained within the Constitution. Elena Kagan can have no higher aspiration than to stem the tide and hold ground against the attacks on our civil liberties that are certain to come from the cabal of activist judges named Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito, along with their oft-willing dupe Kennedy. If Obama could not nominate a real liberal progressive for an essentially placeholder position, when can we ever expect it?
Hey, look at the shiny health care reform…!
Okay, no public option, but…what’s the upside to a few more barrels of oil? Was anybody really calling for this right now? Must we tolerate this as more of “the long game,” eventually settling for some halfway version of a carbon tax?
Should we always come out of the gate with a compromise Republicans will try to compromise?
Thought, phlegm welcome in comments.
Holy smokes. He’s allowed the Republicans to get behind the summit idea and got them in front of the camera again. Niiice judo flip.
If it was Obama’s intention to make clear to the public that the Republicans simply were not going to play ball at all, no matter what, then it qualifies as a cast-iron success.
Which suggest that Obama has learned the central method to handling rightwing talking points: Stick Republicans in a room and watch them sweat. Make them look for a retort. Exhaust their lines. Undermine their paradigms.
Look, folks, the only real critique of Obama is from the left. The GOP’s new star fiscal conservative is Paul Ryan, who voted for Medicare Part D. It’s rhetorical posturing that will translate into a party-line vote for the next Republican President.
The critique from the right is simply too staggered with money and propaganda to take seriously. America has to move forward.
As the Bush advisor said, “We’ll make history and you’ll be trying to analyze it, and just when you figured it out, we’ll make history again!”
And how can one do worse than Bush?
This article suggests Democrats may finally be convinced they’ve earned the political cover. Will that be true? There’s a bizarre reverse effect where the longer this goes on, the worse it becomes for Democrats to turn on the bill. Though they keep trying…
They let themselves get locked in a room with Obama and the camera rolling.
Yet a good day for them and all Americans. This was an intervention. As I said before the election, people love to say all sorts of crazy things about Obama but that he has realized a brilliant counter-tactic: Make everybody sit down and hash it out with him. Let them ask questions until they’re blue in the face. When asked if he’d stay longer, Obama said, “I’m having fun!” He could have gone all day, and the prospect of doing this once every month or so as some like Mark Ambinder have suggested is something you can rest assured Republicans will resist. GOP aides have already said letting cameras in the room “was a mistake.”
This is exactly what it takes to deflate the rhetoric coming from the Earl Grey aficionados since Obama was sworn in, the accumulated nonsense they believe will grant them huge victories in November.
But the “optics,” as they say, are stupendous. (TEH!) One versus a roomful, relaxed, confident, informed, mature and collected. A gaggle of politicians suddenly unwilling to repeat the vilest slanders they’ve freely engaged in and encouraged with their base. Suddenly, a government that teases the public: We might be able to work together afterall.
How do the Republicans pivot from this into a string of 41 vote filibusters until November? Is there an opening now, as the Tea Party shenanigans unravel and Sarah Palin is off hunting big paychecks for her celebrity appearances, for Republicans to actually behave like a party of grown-ups and accept that most of what gets thrown their way is already heavily compromised and that most liberals are sitting around glum-faced and dissatisfied because Obama has been stubbornly centrist?
p.s. Fox News couldn’t take it and cut the talk short, while the other cable networks let it play. Letting you decide!
When people actually find out what’s in the Senate bill, most of it tests positively. Nate Silver breaks it down, bit by bit. People don’t like the mandate or the overall price tag, but they like almost everything else about it, giving it an overall +22 net favorable rating. Unfortunately, Silver also reveals that rarely did over 50-60% of people even know about the provisions they liked so much.
Of course, the Democratic politician doesn’t think, “Wow, this bill has some great stuff people will like that I can sell without breaking a sweat!” They think, “Run away!!!” Obama’s State of the Union is well-positioned to course-correct here, but there ain’t a soul gettin’ their hopes too high. My forecast: 65% chance of reclaiming the baton, 35% chance of boilerplate that doesn’t change anything.
Keep this up, and follow up on it, so we can see the teabaggers stutter while Republican politicians run to the defense of Wall St.
After all, you lost $20K at the casino because you were being negative, a potential cooler.
In three years, minimal differences will be made, and Afghanistan will remain Afghanistan, and Iraq will condense into three segregated nation-states that will guarantee antagonism for decades to come. Note to Iraqis: the fact that I know you’re going to fuck up doesn’t excuse you fucking up.
Obama had a simple option before him: scale back the troops in Afghanistan to skeleton forces and hit Al Queda leadership with predator drones. He had already started this pattern, which still killed too many innocents but had hit some extremely high value targets.
Figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities show that a total of 701 people, including 14 al-Qaeda leaders, have been killed since January 2006 in 60 American predator attacks targeting the tribal areas of Pakistan. Two strikes carried out in 2006 had killed 98 civilians while three attacks conducted in 2007 had slain 66 Pakistanis, yet none of the wanted al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders could be hit by the Americans right on target. However, of the 50 drone attacks carried out between January 29, 2008 and April 8, 2009, 10 hit their targets and killed 14 wanted al-Qaeda operatives. Most of these attacks were carried out on the basis of intelligence believed to have been provided by the Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen who had been spying for the US-led allied forces stationed in Afghanistan.
The remaining 50 drone attacks went wrong due to faulty intelligence information, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children. The number of the Pakistani civilians killed in those 50 attacks stood at 537, in which 385 people lost their lives in 2008 and 152 people were slain in the first 99 days of 2009 (between January 1 and April 8).
Of the 50 drone attacks, targeting the Pakistani tribal areas since January 2008, 36 were carried out in 2008 and 14 were conducted in the first 99 days of 2009. Of the 14 attacks targeting Pakistan in 2009, three were carried out in January, killing 30 people, two in February killing 55 people, five in March killing 36 people and four were conducted in the first nine days of April, killing 31 people.
Of the 14 strikes carried out in the first 99 days of April 2009, only one proved successful, killing two most wanted senior al-Qaeda leaders – Osama al Kini and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan. Both had lost their lives in a New Year’s Day drone strike carried out in the South Waziristan region on January 1, 2009.
Really, we get news on a high value target and we can’t throw a small light force of a thousand troops at them? We have to drop bombs?
It’s a course of action that is hardly swayed by the political events in Afghanistan. Our aim is rather amazing: Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, and we attacked Iraq. Now bin Laden is in Pakistan, and we’re surging in Afghanistan. Where’s the gritty realistic foreign policy vision here again?
This surge is ultimately about the views of the Beltway press, who are taking baby steps towards weaning themselves off that intoxicating Cheney-fear. If Obama left now, they’d go straight for the neocon view and the Republicans would be granted free press everywhere to run the “Weak on Terror!” election run of 2002.
Cynical thinking is at play here. No questioning the military industrial complex axioms that end and begin our dialogues on foreign policy. No citation of Dwight Eisenhower. No attempt at the plethora of alternative approaches to a foreign policy vision. Oh, I’m sure Obama’s Socratic dialogues in the Oval Office were filled with stimulating back and forth arguments over policy. In the end, the ruling elites that dominate Obama’s inner circle agreed on realpolitik.
The casino lures one through its doors with the evergreen promise of instant wealth. Bin Laden’s head calls to us from the mountains of Pakistan, and if Obama secured it, it would be the ultimate jackpot (or completely meaningless in the long run). But as in the desert the longer we stay the more sure we are to lose. Sometimes the casino proves that instant wealth is possible, and we see the occasional, temporary winner showered with attention. It’s possible that the weather in Afghanistan could be milder in three years. It’s possible that Obama draws down troops to international applause.
If he’s running in 2012 as the man who ended both of Bush’s wars, politically it doesn’t matter one damn bit that Obama spends most of his first term at war. It’s three freebie years. He’s not fighting the war, he’s ending it slowly! The way elections move today, he can remove most troops from the Middle East in March 2012 and be enshrined as the world’s greatest peacemaker and finally worthy of the Nobel Prize he received.
Will that be true? I think subtler accounts of history will observe that there’s no such thing as a freebie war.
WEAK WEAK WEAK! “They’ll wait us out!”
This is why we have to let our empire crumble for another three years? Sending blood and money overseas because it’s just so darn scary that Dick “Deficits don’t matter” Cheney might smirk at us and utter some new catchphrase?
Really, is it a big controversy that Obama left the pom poms behind in his speech? Increasingly few people are understanding the logic behind endless war in the Middle East. But the Cheney neocon way is that you must always promise more war. When does the war end? Don’t ask, that’s weakness!
No, it’s intelligence. No matter how militarist the Republican Party becomes, somebody has to represent a wider spectrum of opinion. We are not obligated to obey our generals, who may not even be uniform in their opinion. The interests of all Americans have to be taken into consideration of war.
Yet, despite it all, we still have our Democratic President, the guy who said that even if you disagreed with him, he’d be acting on principle, repeating a Bush speech. ZOMG he said the war would end! Okay. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. He’s described an out for himself either way, except that even if he does it on schedule, we’re still out hundreds of billions and a certain number of deaths, with poor odds that it will significantly change Afghanistan, a Darwinian wasteland, at all.
Paying Afghan farmers to grow wheat is the only good idea I’ve heard about the country in a long time. Waging war on farmers in other countries who grow products we don’t like is flatly immoral. The cost of subsidizing crops and strengthening the rural culture by expanding legal trade is a pittance in comparison.
Otherwise, we’re trying to get a series of isolated goat farmers to agree to never sympathize with hitting us back. Don’t they know we lost 3000 people that day eight years ago? Their dead have to be understood in that context. We must fight until they do understand.
It sure would be nice if all the Afghans were real friendly and just said, “OK, USA!” and made us feel better about ourselves while we left. I mean, I like being waved goodbye. Don’t you?
Wouldn’t it be most clever of them to simply smile, wave, and assure us everything is peachy neat-o, and usher us out the door? “Quick, America’s here, everybody knock it off!”
“Everything okay here, kids?”
“Sure thing, Dad.”
“Okay. You two be good now!”
(bedroom door closes)
Endless war only works at justifying itself. It’s a viral infection, designed to survive and reinforce itself. As the afflicted Obama ventures forward in Afghanistan, we enter Zombieland. I guess we’ll see what’s in Columbus when we get there. But it’s gonna be zombies all the way.
Nov 27, 2009 in Barack Obama
Oh, also, forty-one Republican Senators are dead set against his health care bill that insures 36 million people because they were gonna do it under Bush II but they forgot and they really will do it next time there’s a Republican president.
For those of us who remember the daily announcements of new things Bush was screwing up, only to be told his presidency would rest on how some country on the other side of the globe turned out (not that that criteria worked out so well for him)…details matter.
While President Barack Obama still faces stiff headwinds on a range of major legislation on his agenda, he has been signing into law a slew of smaller initiatives that had gathered dust on the Democratic wish list for years.
Many of the bills had been blocked by Republicans who considered the measures unnecessary expansions of government or too costly. But facing Democratic majorities in Congress, conservatives are picking their battles and in many cases letting the legislation roll through.
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Agence France-Press/Getty Images
Gay activists demonstrate in North Hollywood in October 1998 shortly after the killing of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was beaten, lashed to a fence post and left to die. A hate-crimes bill named after Mr. Shepard was signed into law this year.
Last week, Mr. Obama signed defense-policy legislation that included an unrelated measure widening federal hate-crimes laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identification — 12 years after it was first introduced. The same legislation also tightened the rules of admissible evidence for military commissions, an issue that consumed Congress in debate in 2007 but received almost no attention this go-round.
Other new measures signed into law since the administration took office, all of which kicked up controversy in past congresses, make it easier for women to sue for equal pay, set aside land in the West from development, give the government the power to regulate tobacco and raise tobacco taxes to expand health insurance for children. Congress and the White House, in the new defense-policy bill, also killed weapons programs that have survived earlier attempts at termination, among them, the F-22 fighter jet, the VH-71 presidential helicopter and the Army’s Future Combat System.
Rob Nabors, the White House’s deputy budget director, called the series of new laws “a very, very quiet but important victory.”
To conservatives, they are Democratic payback to liberal interests. “The left knows what it wants,” says former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “It’s been trying to get it for some time, and this is its moment.”
Some promises that Mr. Obama made during his campaign, such as repealing much of the post-Sept. 11, 2001, Patriot Act, allowing openly gay service members into the military or making major changes to the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act have gone nowhere.
But other issues that once consumed Congress are now sailing into law, often without much public notice. Senior White House political adviser David Axelrod said his opponents in Congress are absorbed with defeating Mr. Obama’s health-care overhaul, what he calls “the shiny object that they’ve chased.” As a result, he contends, other measures have been left to pass into law.
Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.), a conservative leader in the House, concedes that, in some cases, Republicans are being outflanked. “The administration is pushing so many things so rapidly it’s difficult to concentrate on all of them,” he said.
The big issues obviously matter a lot, and Obama could spend eight years undoing Bush’s fuck-ups (because he sure as hell ain’t done yet), but small victories accumulate.
Wow, something good the Obama administration has done, and I actually found out about it from a conservative.
When Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan came to office, they created a $4.3 billion Race to the Top fund. The idea was to use money to leverage change. The administration would put a pile of federal money on the table and award it to a few states that most aggressively embraced reform.
Their ideas were good, and their speeches were beautiful. But that was never the problem. The real challenge was going to be standing up to the teachers’ unions and the other groups that have undermined nearly every other reform effort.
The real questions were these: Would the administration water down their reform criteria in the face of political pressure? Would the Race to the Top money end up getting doled out like any other federal spending program, and thus end up subsidizing the status quo? Would the administration hold the line and demand real reform in exchange for the money?
There were many reasons to be skeptical. At the behest of the teachers’ unions, the Democrats had just shut down a successful District of Columbia voucher program. Moreover, state legislatures around the country were moving backward. They were passing laws prohibiting schools from using student performance as a criterion in setting teacher pay.
But, so far, those fears are unjustified. The news is good. In fact, it’s very good. Over the past few days I’ve spoken to people ranging from Bill Gates to Jeb Bush and various education reformers. They are all impressed by how gritty and effective the Obama administration has been in holding the line and inciting real education reform.
Over the summer, the Department of Education indicated that most states would not qualify for Race to the Top money. Now states across the country are changing their laws: California, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin and Tennessee, among others.
It’s not only the promise of money that is motivating change. There seems to be some sort of status contest as states compete to prove they, too, can meet the criteria. Governors who have been bragging about how great their schools are don’t want to be left off the list.
I get real old school when it comes to education. Teachers may complain about teaching to a test, but they still have considerable slack to present a comprehensive education to their students. If you don’t like the standards, by all means suggest new ones, but don’t complain about the existence of standards and, gasp, competition. Schools are all about competition and the pursuit of a goal. You study because you want to go to college and get a great job that will pay good money. Merit pay and other incentives get schools juiced up and energized. Recent studies show that people perform tasks better and more enthusiastically for even the vaguest promise of money.
More power to Obama and kudos to David Brooks, who’s generally taken a hesitant approach to Obama instead of automatically trying to slam everything he does.
Obama has been collecting scalps in Pakistan, even avenging the death of Benazir Bhutto.
How can this be? We aren’t torturing anybody!
Fred Armisen may have done his funniest Obama skit Saturday night, in the way one might say, “I just had my best root canal.” It was good medicine, but a little ouchy-ouch. Obviously the mouth-breathing goons out there have taken some delight in the skit, but they forget the opening passage:
There are those on the right who are angry. They think that I’m turning this great country into something that resembles the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, but that’s just not the case,” said actor Fred Armisen, who plays Obama. “When you look at my record it’s very clear what I’ve done so far and that is — nothing. Nada. Almost one year and nothing to show for it.
Here’s another friendly tip, teabaggers: You can’t take glee in a skit that points out Obama hasn’t gotten much done, while you’re simultaneously screeching I AM A JEW IN 1939 LIBRULFASCISTSOCIALISMISM HE IS STALIN AND HITLER COMBINED!!!
The point of the skit is that liberals are the ones who have cause to be disappointed by Obama’s first nine months in office. The promises he made, the ones that got him elected, aren’t yet materializing in great number. Criticisms from the left make sense. Criticisms from the right sound like fruitbatty nutcake gibberish.
Politifact fact checks the skit and notes that a few of the promises are actually kept/in the works. It’s relatively easy to understand that health care reform isn’t going to happen overnight, especially when Obama got handed the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression with about two months warning before being elected. Obviously a lot of promises made before Fall ’08 presumed a somewhat better picture. It was still a wreckage of Bush policies and their results, but before the fiscal crisis loaded the wreckage with dynamite and turned it into shrapnel. And, for those with sharper memories, promises on Gitmo and Iraq came with dates that we haven’t reached yet.
Still, I understand a left-of-center person feeling a bit of diminished hope as Obama keeps stalling things like ending DADT and continuing Bush detention policies. But what the hell are those loonbag rightwingers jabbering about?
Democrats have perpetually failed by being afraid to use their best arguments forcefully, so as to club their enemies about the head, neck and chest area and turn those ideas into real, valuable, pragmatic policies.
President Barack Obama is, so far, the master of political rope-a-dope. Time and time again he has let his opponents unleash their full fury on him. He has stumbled, looked weak, spoken with frustration, and perpetually exasperated his supporters. He keeps this going until people start to throw up their hands and say, “Damn, I think he got licked this time.”
Before tonight’s speech, we were undoubtedly reliving this experience. “Hope-less,” reads the Newsweek cartoon. Joe Klein declared the public option dead. Iowa Liberal seethed at his weakness.
And yet, he has done it again. No, we’re not done yet, but he has in a single masterstroke gained the upper hand.
With tonight’s speech, Obama wrapped the moral argument for health care reform around the pragmatic argument, utterly destroying and erasing every scrap of noise Republicans have made about reform. He sealed the case that he approached the GOP in good faith, leaving it doubtless that such was not returned. He reaffirmed the public option as a compromise, an option already standing in the center between the left and right, yet one that can be incredibly effective. He soothed people’s real fears about health care, revealing the cartoonish buffoonery of the GOP scare campaign. Already out of gas, the “death panel” panic was itself put to death. “Health care for illegals!” was also snuffed out, strangled with the moronic cry of Rep. Joe Wilson, who has already apologized for yelling, “You lie.” Besides being incredibly rude and uncouth, he himself was lying. Obama was right. And so they flail.
Health care reform is now within our reach. There is more work to do, but Obama just filled the left’s tank with rocket fuel. Once again, people can believe he’ll fight on this issue, and rally behind him with less fear of being left out in the open. He has afforded his followers the right to be known as champions of what is right and good.
To those liberals still critical of Obama (*nudging Thomas Tallis*), keep in mind that this post is about health care. It’s not every issue, it’s one issue. Yet it is a momentous issue, one of the most important issues of the past sixty years. President after president has tried to make headway on this, at best winning incremental steps like Medicare and Medicaid. Yet all the time, the system kept warping into something dangerous to Americans, draining their wealth and leaving them for dead. The success of health care reform will signal a monument in our nation’s history, one that will forever have Obama’s name attached to it.
Best of all, its completion in his first year gives us three (well, everybody knows it’s seven) more years to ride his back about the other things we must do in order to truly point the country in a new direction. Ending our Middle East wars, restoring Constitutional rights, returning regulation to Wall Street, charting a path out of deficit, and creating a green economy will fill up the rest of Obama’s time easily, not to mention the inevitable future contingencies.
Make no mistake, however, this time right now must be focused, and nobody who calls themselves Democrat, left, liberal, progressive, or simply a concerned American citizen focused on doing what is right for our country can be idle or distracted with those other issues. Health care owns this time, and it will not be over until it is done. Now is the time to get out of the car and push, ’cause ain’t nobody giving us a free ride.
On Glenn Beck fans running schools who are freaking about Obama’s speech:
Asked if the Collier school district would have made the same ruling about webcast “logistics” if Obama’s Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, had proposed making a similar speech to U.S. students, a spokesman for Thompson told TIME, “exactly.” But Dean calls it “a moot question” because “I don’t think President Bush would have ever done it. He understood that this sort of thing starts in the home.” But when reminded that Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, broadcast a similar speech to the nation’s pupils, Dean says, “That was different. It was, if I remember, largely a say-no-to-drugs speech.”
And this is a “school is good!” speech, ya friggin’ maroon.
The modern GOP: believing that rejecting all intellectual honesty is the key to making American #1.
But just wait until the Birthers/Deathers get a hold of that cause. “Barack Hussein Soetero is a pot-smoking coke-snorting Negro trying to get in your daughter’s pants!” will be the general vibe. And the Drug War will rage on.
If only Obama had proposed a new war instead. The media could salivate over the prospects like they did before Iraq, when Wolf Blitzer excitedly unveiled our new weapons of war.
The good thing about Democratic politicians is their timing. They wait until the perfect moment, where the opposition is in the wrong and public opinion is leaving several wide open advantages, to give up.
Whatever the political calculations of the cowardly Democrats who are trembling BECAUSE THERE ARE DEATH PANELLS AND THEY WILL KILL YOUR GRANDMA, AND THEN YOUR BABY BECAUSE ITS A CONSERVATIVE “BIRTH DEFECT!!!”-
-I’m sorry. Whatever the political math, when it comes to actually solving the problem, public care as an option is essential. It is the only way we will get quality care to every American.
Who on earth truly believes that every American can be insured fully by private companies? Most people who are insured now have monstrous deductibles. They’re only protected from a smattering of catastrophic injuries. They aren’t healthy. They aren’t getting better. Their premium is still rising…
It’s going to take a lot more than nationwide competition (which will lead to a few giants who undercut everybody else) to get every American into a doctor’s office. That’s merely one step. You let the private market compete with the public just like with postal service, or like…our current healthcare system.
Obama is just now starting to get traction with his arguments. People are just now getting to have debates without being shouted down. People are starting to listen. They’re realizing the plan is already extremely compromised to preserve most private interests. That it will help small businesses. That it will help people move between jobs. And that private companies will have to expand their coverage in order to compete. The system will streamline.
Perhaps private insurers will one day again offer the best work for the best price. If that happens, then indeed, a public option would be used less. You’d get health care insurance with Geico that’s cheaper than the public plan.
The downside is?
Republicans calling us Nazis?
Supposedly, Barack Hussein Obama had a grandma.
At a town hall meeting in Colorado yesterday, Obama recalled his grandmother’s death as he struck back at allegations that his proposals would create “death panels” to withdraw life-saving treatments from elderly patients.
“We can have an honest disagreement,” Obama said in Grand Junction, Colorado. “What you can’t do — or you can, but you shouldn’t do — is start saying things like, we want to set up death panels to pull the plug on grandma.”
Obama’s maternal grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him, died last November on the eve of her grandson’s election victory.
“I know what it’s like to watch somebody you love, who is aging, deteriorate and have to struggle with that,” Obama said. “We’ve got enough stuff to deal with without having these kinds of arguments.”
All the “Kill grandma!” talk is that classic blend of ignorant/crazy/dishonest, for which we really need a new word besides “Republican” to describe. There simply is nothing in the bill that can be construed that way. It is convenient paranoia at best, but for Senators to pass it off as a reasonable bone of contention with the health care bill is pure old-fashioned lying.
…it shouldn’t be a reason to hold you to fault.
The rational assumption to make from this article is that President Obama is actually quite eager to deal with serious criticism of his health care plan. This should be seen as a strength for him, and the burden of proof should be on those who can make a coherent point at these town meetings without yelling about Hitler. Huffington Post declaring this a “problem” for Obama seems particularly sensationalistic. Hasn’t the liberal movement simply asked for more grounded, intelligent journalism? Yet this marks the second time recently that HuffPo has tried to craft some Democrat Drama where none exists.
Obama is putting the ball back in the public’s hands. The serious dialogue has begun. Will Republicans and conflicted Democrats please provide the counter-arguments?
Should deflate some of the premature triumphalism that Republicans engaged in over Obama’s numbers daring to hit as low as 50.
I will suggest that Obama’s numbers veer from 50-60% approval for the remainder of his term in office, with some statistical deviations. Republicans hoping for Bush-level polling for Obama would be wise to not bet money on it, no matter how many times they try repeating Jimmy Carter’s name.
Tells Democrats to “stop chasing Republican votes,” says no public option will lose 15 Dem Senators.
Perhaps the magic 60 number is enough to get some Democrats to stop quaking in their boots that Karl Rove will eat their lunch. Max Baucus, who was trying to butter up Charles Grassley, got the hint quickly.
On the executive front, there is still some flak going on over mixed signals (blame Rahm Emanuel, congratulate Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders for fighting back) from the White House on the public option…which is a failure of message control. But, behind the scenes, Obama is using the grassroots machine he built during the election to whip voters towards the finish line.
As we speak, key committees in Congress are weighing options and making final decisions about how to tackle health care reform. This could be one of the last opportunities to shape the legislation before it’s written.
The behind-the-scenes committee negotiations aren’t front-page news, but the lobbyists trying to block reform are following every detail, and they won’t miss a day. If the final plan is to uphold President Obama’s principles of reduced costs, guaranteed choice — including the choice of a robust public insurance option — and quality care for all, your voice must be heard.
Please write a short letter to the editor of your local paper expressing your support for President Obama’s three principles for real health care reform, and asking your Congressional representatives to do the same. You can write and submit your letter in just a few minutes using our simple online tool.
Write a letter to help pass health care
These letters are an easy but powerful way to make a difference. The letters section is one of the most-read parts of the newspaper, and decision-makers in Congress and the media watch it closely to gauge where the public stands.
Good letters are usually just two or three short paragraphs. You can just explain that you’re a local resident who knows we need real health care reform following the President’s three principles, and we need it now. If you have a personal experience with the health care system that motivates you, that will make the letter even more powerful.
The opponents of real reform have deep pockets and insider access, and they’re holding nothing back in their drive to derail progress before the plans go public.
Your letter, submitted at this time, can help remind your representatives that the American people are counting on them to stand up to special interests and deliver the comprehensive reform we so desperately need.
Thanks for all that you do,
Organizing for America
Meanwhile, Moveon.org is flanking, getting their base riled up for public health care and smacking Emanuel around some more. Let’s hope President Obama reinforces the message to Emanuel personally.
As soon as people realize that the public option is already a compromise, the fear and the furor will die down. Republicans obviously won’t back down because that’s how cults behave. Every Democrat and an overwhelming majority of the middle, however, will be able to move the country forward and finally get something real done about health care. It won’t be single-payer, which would be the ideal solution. It’s a compromise. Those who believe in the free market as the solution to all ills cannot subsist on the case that it won’t be “fair” for the government to handle health care more affordably. They have already surrendered, they’re just stalling while we sit around trying to figure out that we won already.
I think it’s more than fair to say he bought himself some time and good-will with this speech. How far have we come from the wasteland of history to have an American president able to speak so highly of the gay community?
Full speech here. Money quote:
And I know that many in this room don’t believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It’s not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.
But I say this: We have made progress and we will make more. And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I’ve made, but by the promises that my administration keeps. And by the time you receive — (applause.) We’ve been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration. (Applause.)
Not an easy thing to say, but he puts some more meat on the bone:
I’ve signed a memorandum requiring all agencies to extend as many federal benefits as possible to LGBT families as current law allows. And these are benefits that will make a real difference for federal employees and Foreign Service Officers, who are so often treated as if their families don’t exist. And I’d like to note that one of the key voices in helping us develop this policy is John Berry, our director of the Office of Personnel Management, who is here today. And I want to thank John Berry.
I’ve called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination — to help end discrimination against same-sex couples in this country. Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I’ve made that clear.
I’m also urging Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, which will guarantee the full range of benefits, including health care, to LGBT couples and their children. My administration is also working hard to pass an employee non-discrimination bill and hate crimes bill, and we’re making progress on both fronts. Judy and Dennis Shepard, as well as their son Logan, are here today. I met with Judy in the Oval Office in May– and I assured her and I assured all of you that we are going to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill into law, a bill named for their son Matthew.
In addition, my administration is committed to rescinding the discriminatory ban on entry to the United States based on HIV status. The Office of Management and Budget just concluded a review of a proposal to repeal this entry ban, which is a first and very big step towards ending this policy. And we all know that HIV/AIDS continues to be a public health threat in many communities, including right here in the District of Columbia. And that’s why this past Saturday, on National HIV Testing Day, I was proud once again to encourage all Americans to know their status and get tested the way Michelle and I know our status and got tested.
And finally, I want to say a word about “don’t ask, don’t tell.” As I said before — I’ll say it again — I believe “don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t contribute to our national security. In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security.
Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we’ll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.
Alright, but on that last point Obama is still being a bit dodgy. He could neuter DADT instantly. Obviously he likes being slow and methodical, but losing one more gay translator is unacceptable.
Then again, if he makes good on this steroid-enhanced promise, spelled out explicitly in the blood of his firstborn, I suspect all will be forgiven.