CVille Dem's picture

    If The Democrats Cave on the Tax Cuts

    Well, if they do, I just can't see any reason to support them any more.  2 years?  Who do they think they're kidding?  

    The Bush cuts were designed to expire this year because they were unsupportable beyond this year (actually they were always unsupportable).

    Two years?  Three years?  If that goes down we are "governed" by Democratic cowards and Republican thieves.  

    Let them all expire, and let the Republicans take the responsibility!  If Democrats don't let that happen then they are passively accepting the Republicans' goals.

    NO!  NO!  NO!

    Let them all expire, and let the Repubs deal with the fallout.


    How exactly do you see the Repugs dealing with the 'fallout?'  Here's what I see: the Right wing machine will ratchet up the "Obama raised your taxes" meme 24/7 and no one will remember anything else, except the people who know it's a lie but can only stand there in frustration and awe of the Right wing's perfect execution of another disinformation campaign. The masses won't care that the millionaires get their taxes raised too, because they figure they deserve it and can afford it, they'll only know that their taxes got raised after Obama promised they'd get a middle class tax cut and they can't afford to have their taxes raised, so who will they blame? The Repugs? (sigh) If only.  Nope, if the middle class' taxes go up, the Dems and the President will get the blame. No matter how it happens.  Maddening? Of course.  But what scenario do you envision where the Dems come out looking good if the middle class tax cuts expire? 

    Let them all expire, and introduce bill after bil after bill to lower middle class taxes. If the repubs vote them down every time, they would have a hard time 'splainin' that in the long term. Such an outrageous strategy of doing what I suggested might even get mentioned on "news" programs.

    I believe those bills would have to originate in the House,  so it is unlikely a bill for just the middle class tax cuts would even get a hearing.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong.  It's been more than half a century since I had "civics" classes.

    Even so, Representatives can introduce bills.

    Republicans want to lock in tax cuts for income over 250K. Return of Clinton tax rates for incomes at that level are the only route to keep the country solvent.

    The GOP is aiming to block that possibility, therefore making it inevitable that the middle class, and below, will be screwed out of their Social Security benefits in the future. Obama, unfortunately, seems perfectly willing to back down on his campaign pledge to let the tax cuts above 250K expire, while he talks happy talk about how the 10 year old Afghanistan War is 'worth the huge sacrifice'. Our only hope is to seek Democratic Party leadership from other quarters than the White House.

    For the sake of argument.

    I think there are three parties, not two. Despite McConnell's rhetoric about Obama I think the argument can be made that it is more in the interest of the Tea Party to see Obama fail than it is for establishment GOP. So far the Tea Party has thrived under poor unemployment, a poor recovery and an expanding deficit. They do not want to see a recovery. And since there is almost no chance in two years to make big deficit reductions the Tea Party can blame the continuing deficit on establishment Republicans just as much as on Democrats. To prevent giving ground to the Tea Party in the 2012 primary it could be that the current Republicants are more motivated to deal than we think.  

    Who has the leverage and who is "caving". For one thing we havn't seen the package. Certainly it will include an extension of the tax cuts in the upper brackets for two more years--the thought of which turns my stomach. But I want to see what else is in the deal.

    I'm not as angry with Obama, yet, as many here are. If there is a balanced deal which is stimulative and gives Dems a better chance in 2012, I'm in. I agree with Mr. Smith that letting the cuts expire gives leverage to the other side--particularly the Tea Party who will make good use of it.

    Two more years of tax cuts for the rich is not forever. And I put the tax cuts into a different category than reform of the financial industry. If Obama were to cut this deal and then not come out swinging on the CFPB and financial regulations, then I'll jump off his wagon. But not at the moment.

    For the sake of argument, I would say that we have only one political party instead of two. Everyone seems to be carrying water (in one fashion or another) for the oligarchs. Dick Armey is the owner of the tea party. Geithner is still in as Treasury Sec'y. Obama never met a free trade deal he didn't like, regardless of his campaign rhetoric to the contrary. The list goes on and on.

    But ask yourself this? When is the last time you saw the Dems or anyone else in Washington really go to the mat in an organized effort to tell the oligarchs "No! You aren't getting it served YOUR way this time!"? Not the Repubs. Not the Tea Party. And, alas, not the Dems.

    Ain't happening, cuz we've gots only one party in Washington - and they could give a rat's ass what you or I think about it.

    Sleepin, I agree with the one party in the sense that all pols eventually serve the oligarchy and care little about you and me. So, maybe our faction is a little better, I dunno. But, believe me, it gives me more than a little pain to see the Dems act so timidly. Again, I have some hope Obama will ramp it up against the financial industry. And as we were discussing yesterday a Teddy Roosevelt would be a shoe-in.

    But the real distressing part of this, oxy, is that Obama and the Dems are inherently incapable of ramping it up against the financial industry or any of the other oligarchs. They are obliged to pull their punches and NEVER really fully pursue anything that meets with the disapproval of their owners. It is as though they are allowed to PRETEND to be hot in pursuit of liberal causes and issues. But when the fight is truly engaged, they receive their instructions from the corner men as to when to take the dive so nothing of real import gets accomplished that might threaten the interests of the owners.

    We've seen this play out in single-payer and then the public option.

    We've seen it in fin-reg effort with a failure to limit "too big to fail," reinstate Glass-Steagal, or even manage to regulate derivative trading.

    And now, we see it in their inability to reform the tax structure to introduce a little equity here. My gawd, they'd love to do what's right. It's just that it's so impossible, you know? They are helpless! Honest, they are!

    The act grows wearisome.

    Palooka-Dems, they are, and they will forever be in the tank for the owners until we put a stop to it.

    Palooka-Dems, they are, and they will forever be in the tank for the owners until we put a stop to it.

    And just how, prey tell, do you expect to do that when it is obvious that these self same Owners, as you say, control the media and the police and the military and the businesses that people work for. And marginalize all descent. And the De facto candidates you get to vote for.

    I'm listening.....


    Thought as much.

    Amazingly, c, I actually thought the answer to this dliemma you so aptly outline was found in the Obama Presidential campaign. Organizing for America was developed as an extremely effective grassroots tool. There was a real sense that the campaign had provided an "end around" to the usual empowerment of the oligarchs to drive a successful campaign.

    It must be pointed out that Obama abandoned his initial attempts to fund it all with small-donor and independent money, and I think the resultant sell-out to Wall Street banker/campaign contributors is more than obvious. But I remain unconvinced that such a sell-out was necessary. Howard Dean and Obama have both shown recently that a creative use of the internets and social media can have a profound impact. In my estimation, it offers the only real alternative available to pull these candidates away from the teat of the monied interests who now own them.

    Lot's of work to be done, and it's a tall order to be sure. But it's our only alternative, and the Dems would do well to call upon all the resources they can manage to at last make of themselves an independent political party beholden only to their natural constituency instead of relying upon the "other side" to fund their efforts at the cost of selling their soul.

    About the only thing I can think of is Obama pocket vetoing that notary bill.

    That's the nail, SJ, and you hit it on its head.

    Just on the whole pro-Obama vs anti-Obama debate: I've always been a bit surprised by how many progressives conceive of their relationship to the president. He ran as a centrist, has governed from day one as a centrist, and so I find it natural for centrists to largely to support him and his policies. Especially in the economic policy sphere, his team is hardly to the left of that of Bush (Geithner, Bernanke and Summers vs Geithner, Bernanke and Paulson... ? meh). There were many times where he could have proposed more progressive moves (a more borrower-centric HAMP, fast-track MBS putback arbitration, etc), or NOT proposed more centrist moves (think the Deficit commission, federal pay freeze, the BofA bailout, the sabotaging of Basel III banking regs, delaying EPA CC regs)

    But for people more to the left, more sensitive to the regressive tax system, the untrammelled financial sector, weak social safety net, working class unemployment, more sensitive - that is to say - than Obama and centrists are constitutionally going to be, I don't know where this strong loyalty issue comes from - and hence the strong sense of outraged betrayal that is slowly coming to the surface.

    He's governing like he always governed. Nothing has changed. He sold himself as someone who would be a national 'editor-in-chief', who wouldn't seek to shape the Will of the People - i.e. what is otherwise known as leading - but as someone who would execute the Will of the People - i.e. take the world as he found it. When you're dealing with a President with that kind of conception of his job description, it is suicidal of leftists to think of loyalty to our leader as some kind of virtue. To follow him, rather than pull from the left, is - and was - tantamount to letting the whole political terrain drift rightward. 

    All of which has led to this depressing point, where a Dem president is set to effect SocSec cuts while passing a special tax cut for the super-rich. So, sure, blame the president. But the passive progressive left has a lot to answer for, imo.

    This should be required reading, obey. You've touched upon some very important points. Your characterization of Obama as a President who never promised to "lead" but rather take the world as he found it is really quite a profound observation - one I hadn't really considered. And your follow-up comments about the "virtue" of swearing allegiance to such a "leader" is absolutely spot-on.

    This becomes even more evident when you consider how Obama and the Dems have allowed the Repubs to define the political landscape. Indeed, the "world as Obama finds it" is now tilting way rightward, and he continues running hard to catch up with it. And the liberals who lace up their shoes real tight so they can keep pace with their "leader" out of some sense of loyalty are destined to lose this race, if for no other reason than they have completely lost any sense of direction that might be offered from their moral compass. 

    Thanks for this, obey. You've really offered some uniquely inspiring perspective here, scary though it may be.

    Thanks Sleepin. The little picture you draw reminds me of the Life of Brian, where everyone loses a sandal as they chase Brian across the sand dunes. Same farce here, eh?

    I hadn't thought about the scene from Life of Brian, but it's perfect!

    In thinking about all this, obey, I find there are a few places where your premise doesn't hold. Interestingly, they are the very points where I grew most angry with Obama and the Dems.

    First was the fight (or lack thereof) over the public option. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of the people. It certainly fired up the base of the Dem Party. It was an absolute no-brainer of an issue with which to make a stand against the Repubs. Yet, we were told we simply don't have the votes and it's not important anyway, so give the Repubs (and the Insurance Industry) what it wants on this one and move on.

    Same thing with finReg, only even more egregiously at odds with the public sentiment to favor Wall Street's interests instead.

    And now with the tax cuts, too.

    If Obama were truly simply managing his office to accomplish the will of the people as it presently exists, we would have seen much more "liberal" outcomes in the above instances. The fact that he - and the Dems - had to virtually tie themselves into knots to arrive at a pretense that these things were somehow "un-doable" indicates something far more sinister going on than simply a President who has adopted a more passive role than is called for.

    The analogy I've used is that he governs as though he is the Senate Majority Leader. 

    The Senate Majority Leader knows he does not actually "persuade" colleagues (or rarely so) on the merits of specific issues, because senators, even more than House members, already know everything and even those who might suspect they don't sure as hell don't elect their Senate Majority Leader to influence a usually already well-developed political philosophy or set of voting tendencies.  The Senate Majority Leader can sometimes offer inducements/bribes/threats.  But the MO of the Senate Majority leader consists, initially, of whipping their caucus to identify where the votes lie at the outset.  Even Senate majority leaders sometimes operate as though they might be able to move a few votes at the margins here and there through inducements or threats, though.

    Some Presidents, on the other hand, have been known to use their unique dominance of the bully pulpit to actually try to persuade members of the public to their position and use this as leverage with Congress on specific votes.  This, however, requires a sense that public persuasion by a President is actually a viable possibility.

    Two of the major tools in a President's box to try to get his way with a balky Congress are:

    *get his approval ratings up high, which members of Congress pay a lot of attention to.  They don't think nearly as hard about bucking a President with 40 percent approval rating as a President with 55 or 60 percent public approval, especially if they perceive the President as...

    *effective in enlisting the public on his side and willing to use that tool aggressively to put specific heat on a Congressional vote.  Reagan sometimes did this against congressional Dems, for instance.  In 2002 some Dems thinking about voting no on the Iraq war use of force resolution prior to the mid-terms were afraid that Bush, then with very high approval, was going to beat the bejeezus out of them in the court of public opinion if they did vote no on that just weeks before the elections. 

    With the exception of Clinton after Dems had already lost the Congress and were largely playing defense, Republicans seem to have a surer sense of when they are going to prevail in the court of public opinion through presidential use of the bully pulpit, and use that to their advantage.  Dems in Congress have been much more willing to buck Republican Presidents, such as Bush I, who were not very effective at getting the public on their side through persuasion, inspiration, or hellraising, and, not unrelatedly, were seen as much more willing to compromise than Reagan and Bush II were. I think it is obvious that Republicans in Congress do not fear Obama even a little bit.  He simply has not yet confronted them.  Unless and until he does and shows he can win, like Clinton did on the budget showdown with Gingrich, they will continue to obstruct, block and accuse Dems of being partisan when there are 0 Repub votes.

    The GOP MO in recent years is presumptively to attack, block, and tear down a Dem president to drive his numbers down as far as possible and avoid taking as many unpopular votes as possible.  Some Congressional Dems will try to do this with GOP Presidents.  Except that the GOP is pretty much united in that philosophy and they are governed by no internal restraints I have been able to observe that might create limits to what they are willing to do to try to destroy a Dem President.

    I think the "leader" you want is closer to a monarch than the president of a republic.  If we learn our constituional history from President Bush, the president is "the decider" but that is not so.  We tend to write a shorthand of history that makes us think that----the New Deal was the product of many people, not just President Roosevelt or even members of his administration---but it is not so.

    Yes, I think the President's rosy view of politics has not helped a bad situation but I am not sure how much he has made it worse.

    I would be okay with letting the tax cuts expire.  Look at your paycheck from before and after an dyou will see it made very little difference to most of us.

    I do not think the public will see it that way, though.

    We live among very stupid people.  They are in the majority or close to it.

    You misunderstand me. I'm not saying anything about the leader I want. Fwiw, I would be just fine with a post-partisan President, but just as long as the left was CLEAR about the fact that this was a post-partisan President, and not a (secret) advocate for leftist policy.

    My point here is that the left misunderstands what Obama sees as his job. He isn't there to implement the most progressive policy that political reality admits. He sees his job as accepting the political forces as they are and implementing the policies that they lead him to implement. That's a very different thing. When the dominant political narrative moves towards (the somewhat incoherent) Austerity and Tax Cuts, he proposes austerity and tax cuts. There is and never was any sign of HIS preferences on the matter. And that is because he sees HIS preferences as irrelevant. Hence the reference to him as 'editor' or 'co-ordinator'.

    And since the left misunderstands him, we've been led to a situation where the narrative moves inexorably right-wards. That, imo, isn't Obama's fault, it's the fault of the misguidedly loyal lefties.

    Again, I'm NOT BLAMING OBAMA. And I'm not pining for an absolute monarch. I don't know how to say this any more clearly.

    Now of course we can disagree about the accuracy of this view of Obama. But what kind of 'leader' I want has nothing to do with it.

    Logic isn't my strong suit, but I'm stuck on your premise that 'Obama ran as a Centrist'.  I'm wondering how you came that conclusion, given that he campaigned on many (arg; I hate to lable them...) more liberal/progressive ideas: fin-reg, public option (backing away from single-payer early), importing pharmeceuticals, re-negotiating NAFTA to fair-trade rules, etc.  So...

    I don't get why "...the left was CLEAR about the fact that this was a post-partisan President, and not a (secret) advocate for leftist policy' would allow you to feel more fine with a post-partisan-President?

    I guess if I thought he or his team were bending to the 'political forces' or winds or whatever, they wouldn't be so all over the map about what that means in terms of policy or direction.  Even if he thought his course were charted for him, I'd like to think he wouldn't say one thing and do another.  

    But then a whole lot of this is baffling. 


    On the first point - in my memory he ran to the right of Clinton and Edwards. My rough litmus test for that would be his health care plan. And since 2004 he was known as Mr. Postpartisan, Mr. UNITED States of America. Beyond that postpartisanship stuff, he never seemed remotely serious or sincere in his policy proposals. And that whole package is what imo attracted all those moderate republicans, the Andrew Sullivan crowd. To me it seemed like his progressive supporters thought they - and he - were too clever by half. They thought, wink wink, he's really on our side, sssh. And now they feel betrayed. But that's just my take on the kabuki that was going on. 

    On the last point, it seems to me that if they're just blowing with the prevailing winds, they will precisely be unable to articulate any grand vision about where they were going. The winds could change tomorrow, so who knows...

    Thanks for responding.  I guess I had stands  on policies in mind; it doesn't matter much.  I think he's a flop in many ways because he was supposed to be so intelligent, but he doesn't seem to act like he is on so many issues, though it's hard to tell how much he lets his 'team' call the shots. 

    Just hit delete: getting into Afghanistan and Banking.  Stupid to yak about it, and I have something I'm working on that might be a more interesting use of my time than sussing out the vagaries of Barack Hussein Obama and his contributions to ruining our futures.  Fun fact though: the weather in Afghanistan was lovely; NOT why he didn't meet with Karzai when he cowardly left the country the other day whe the votes were scheduled for tax cuts and the jobs report came out.


    I somewhat disagree. I certainly saw him to the left of Clinton. Of course my litmus test was more on executive authority, civil liberties and torture (all of which done a full 180 on from the campaign trail).

    That said, I was VERY attuned to HCR as my secondary concern. In regards to that, what attracted me to Obama's plan were three big aspects: national exchanges, a publicly administered risk pool, and (most important) the promise that we'd make sure the new system worked before we discussed mandating that people participate. I don't know how to characterize that in terms of "left" vs. "right" ... I really don't, it doesn't seem the sort of issue that lends itself to that kind of compartmentalizing. What it is, however, is rather precise.

    I'd be more likely to agree with your characterization if what had happened is that his progressive supporters had made the point of struggle over Single Payer - which Obama never promised and they STRONGLY support. But they didn't. There was no "wink-wink". He said "Let's meet half way at the public option". They said "OK, we'll compromise". Then he said "HaHA! Fuck you - you damn retards." I was always in the camp of being an independent who actually liked Obama's plan best. I wanted to see it enacted, so I was pretty damn angry when the people who gave up their preference in good faith and joined what I see as the genuine centrist position - the "progressives" - were the ones getting pissed on and we all ended up being screwed. Everyone. Not some "professional left". Everyone.

    Maybe from the perspective of a Democratic insider since before 2004 it may look different - but come late 2007, 2008 Obama was talking about how the GOP couldn't be trusted to do shit and that he had THE plans to get us out of the ditch. Mr. Post-partisan didn't really have a whole hell of a lot to do with his spiel. He had that little rant based on the "We may not agree on [x-social-wedge] but we can certainly agree [lesser sub-issue-of-X-that-is-obvious]" riff. But it was never a part of his platform that the specific policies he wanted to advance were less important than making republicans feel good.

    Just my recollections. As far as this independent is concerned, your clock starts ticking when you say "I'm running for president and this is what I plan to do if I win." I don't give a damn what he was stroking himself with in 2004.  If you really always thought the guy was a liar, well, I wouldn't have listened to you anyhow .... honestly. But I sure thought he was sincere.


    In other words,Obey, he just drifts with the prevailing wind, which means he has no core values, nothing to anchor him,  no compass with which to navigate, and no home port.  That is doubly depressing.  I had resigned myself to the fact that he was simply another right of center politician and, like SleepinJ, felt we had just one political party.  But your view of him is even worse.

    Hi my blue friend. Well I don't see it as a bad thing. If he's just a center-right pol, there's not much one can do to make him change course. If he's just political flotsam floating aimlessly, well, you just have to figure out how to ... make some waves.

    Anyhow, I think this is now officially my least popular comment ever. And I'm including the one where I rip the head off a pigeon. I would delete it, but then this whole subthread would no longer make much sense... and, well, you've all been very polite about it. G'night.


    Oh, but it was enlightening, Obey.  I believe you have the mettle, or lack thereof, of this president.  I keep thinking back to the 08 campaign and all the signs were there.  He truly never misrepresented himself.  He repeated time and again that it was we the people who were in charge.  We had his FISA vote to judge him by and finally Hope and Change are thin threads to tether a value system. 

    For what it's worth, I think it was a great comment, and pretty much the best description of how Obama approaches the presidency. 

    The one dynamic that doesn't seem to get discussed to much is that Will of the People gets itself expressed a lot of times through the Senators and Representatives.  Much of the time, their concern is not about where the nation as a whole is, but how will it play with their constituents.  To the extent that they look beyond their own constituents is when as a party they are looking at the battleground states.  So for someone like Senator Nelson, you can show him all the polls about how the country as a whole wants a public option, but since the Will of Nebraska wasn't aligned with that, he could care less what your national polls say. 

    If Obama has a vision, a core value, beyond those that underpin his Centrist leanings, it is to seek some kind of consensus as a country that is just left of Reagan.  In other words, he is seeking to shift the mantra from "the lesser the government the better the government" to "it is not about big government or small government, but the right size of government."  The economic mess and the efforts to deal with it has muddled his hopes to be  a "tranformational" president in this regard.  The Republicans ability to stand firm in opposition (with no blow back from their constituents) and the continued economic misery has only polarized the country all the more, further moving into the bigger government and smaller government camps.   

    So one can fault Obama for not going out there and trying to more agressively change the minds of people in Nebraska.  Or one can see that in the here and now it was about finding some consensus between Nebraska's will and Vermont's will, so to say.  And that given the current media, the ability of any president to successfully alter the will of the people is very minor.  Which is different than campaign speaking, which is more about making people their will and wishes will be reflected in the future.  As successful as Obama was during his 2008 campaign, I don't think there was very many people who changed how they viewed any issue, whether it economic policies, abortion, immigration, or whatnot.

    As long as there are the Nebraskas out there in the numbers that are through the various states in the Senate, and all those legislative districts in the House, who have bought into the memes of the conservative for so long, getting a Centrist who does use on a number of occassions liberal frames on the issue to be successful is a step in the right direction of being able to get a liberal president who will be able to be successful.  It was this liberal framing, I believe, that truly scared those on the establishment right.  If the country became better in the first two years of Obama's administration, even though he approached it from center-right methodology, it would have been seen as a victory for a more liberal approach to governing.  It would have made more liberal policies, or policies that were actually liberal, more likely to succeed.  It may have begun to actually undo the narrative set in place during the Reagan era that holds so much sway today.

    The hope now is that the liberal/progressives can start to turn the battle on the narrative.  Obama was never going to be the leader on that front.  What the liberals/progressives can do is make it appear on the ground, in states and legislative districts across the country, that the safe place to go is the center.  After the 2010 elections, that is even a more tall order than it was back in 2008.

    Thanks for the response Trope. One note - I'm a bit puzzled by Obama's admiration for Reagan. I get that it isn't the CONTENT of his policies that he admires, nor the specific trajectory he put the country on. It was Reagan's ability to radically alter the trajectory. But if that is his model for a successful presidency, then 'nudge it slightly to the left of Reagan' hardly counts as emulating what he admires in Reagan. Nor is the very passive attitude towards shaping the national narrative, which is diametrically opposed to Reagan's view. If, when I hear the word 'Welfare' even now, I think of an black woman in a fancy Cadillac, that response is something that didn't fall out of the sky. It was a disciplined national brainwashing exercise that he put into effect. Of course a brainwashing exercise that didn't involve all the eye-drops and electrodes as the sci-fi movies tell us to worry about, but nonetheless as effective.

    That said, moving the narrative, and effecting transformation - whatever it is one wants to transform it into - involves much much more than using the bully-pulpit. But it requires a kind of visionary temperament and intellect that Obama doesn't have or crave. And I don't mean that as a necessarily negative judgment on Obama. That would depend on what expectations one has or had of him.

    I don't think it was such an unpopular comment or thought, really.  You said you didn't want to intellectualize about the passive/active stuff, but your thinking here, IMO, was an intellectualization superimposed on observations in some mental framework that seems new and different for you; sort of a departure from your past comments.  I just think that some who leapt aboard early started thinking of their observations on issues they watched closely, and measured your take against their previous understandings and conclusions about the guy. 

    And for a lot of us, I think, it was an emotiuonal reaction that kept us looking and noticing and digging into the process AND the policies, and how ethically bereft he seemed compared to the good that the money he and his team endorsed spending and, in fact, did spend (OUR money, actually) to almost force-feed Wall Street and Big Corps instead of taking an honest look at what suffering people needed.  Not handouts, but some fucking economic justice that would save lives, foreclosures, keep kids fed, seniors affording their medicines, intead of being punished by Wall Street excesses caused by the their insane quest for money.

    He dithered on plenty of things, this Prez, and often came to the least practical, least healthy, long-term sustainable conclusions possible, for the economy and people's lives and jobs.  The man knew it ws a fool's errand, for instance, to partner with Karzai in order to establish a central gummint there; he made the decision to 'surge', not after studying and consulting, but weighing the political optics of withdrawl, to which would have been, and continues to be, the only sane next step. 

    Ah, well; what I mean is that we think it through AND feel it through, and that may be part of why we question your take.  That's all.  You can;t expect to score a home run every time, Pug.  And you'll likely find some extra applause; I think I may have seen a coule comin' in as I hit the Reply button.  ;o)

    Interesting. From my pov, I was just rephrasing what I've been saying for going on 2 years now. The only conscious 'departure' was trying to finish a whole comment without calling anyone a fuckwit or asshole. It's all very new to me...

    LOL!  Seeing all my typos above makes me think you coulda/shoulda called me a fuquetard at a bare minimum. 

    So maybe just reframing it made it sound different to my ears.  I do remember that in a discussion attempting to suss out what motivated the Prez  (I asked in particular about cowardice, watching him back down from many stated goals at the time), you said it essentially doesn't matter, he does what he does, and is who he is.  So maybe you are still on the same page.  

    I feel the fuckwit/asshole barb, and don't know what to do with it; wish I did. 

    No. The people I'm *not* calling fuckwits are the Obamabots on the left. And the guy I'm *not* calling an asshole is Obama. And I emphasize: "not".

    Is that any clearer...?

    Guess not really.  Maybe the terms are tripping me up.  By my lights, Obamabots, Obamacrats, aren't on the Left.  They're in the Center.  And many care about process over policy, Party over policy.  And engage in some selective blindness.

    I don't see what everyone's giving you such grief for.

    I thought it was extremely clear that he was running as a centrist. That despite his Senate voting record being as identical as could possibly be to Hillary's, he staked out his position in the primary campaign to her right from the getgo. Very clearly, very blatanty, very often trying very hard to be to her right.

    And anyone who read his books also knew he was a centrist. He made it a point to dis traditional liberal thinking in many ways.

    Unless they were deluding themselves.

    And I saw many many many in the blogosphere deluding themselves about him. That part was quite maddening. And also a bit scary, because if supposedly "highly informed" participants on political blogs could delude themselves like that, well then what hope is there for an informed electorate?

    Also, the thing you are referring to here, with this example:

    When the dominant political narrative moves towards (the somewhat incoherent) Austerity and Tax Cuts, he proposes austerity and tax cuts.

    That's his famous community organizer thingie! Work from the bottom up, whatever the majority wants, help them do it. Oh yeah, all the blogosphere liberals thought it was so cool, without thinking throught what that meant--i.e., majority rules, a poll-driven presidency--his job to help the majority get what it wants. No leading, that's a no no, you can't have successful community organizing that way. You have to let the people say what they want. When he used the Roosevelt line "make me do it," he meant if the majority wants it, he'll try to help them get it. Not going to lead people somewhere they haven't thought of going, that doesn't work for community organizing.

    The DKos 2005 post, that was like a manifesto to net activisit liberals in advance of running--y'all better stop dissing the majority or you will get nowhere, understand the center and work from there, don't call Bushies evil or you're toast, quit aggrandizing the right of center people in the heartland, etc. (And far from running from that the closer he got to a successful run, he later reinforced that message in an interview, implying that he didn't think highly of left netroots or "Kossacks.")

    I don't know how many times I referred people to Ryan Lizza's article about Obama's Chicago years. It was frustrating to see people skimming it and looking for the parts that justified their vision of him as a liberal; when read objectively and as a whole it did anything but.

    In a politcal world where John Boehner and Lincoln Chafee are both considered conservatives, so will Barack Obama and Alan Grayson be considered liberal.  Such is the nature of a discourse that seeks either/or, black and white.

    What does it mean to be a "centrist" on economic policy now, where the current major dispute is between those who want to further stimulate the economy, versus those who (say they) want to attack the deficit?  What is the "centrist" position on this issue?  

    It means you leave it all up to The Ben Ber-nank, who then begs you for stimulus for jobs and blames the Chinese; then you get jiggy about a new NAFTA-ish free trade agreement with Korea.  You signal you're willing to deal on tax cuts for the welathy, then invite your political opponents to meet for dinner; when they postpone dinner for two weeks, when they show up you signal your increased willingness to cut a deal.  You probably make the deal, and hope they'll honor it, and you.  But no.  (And you know the rest of that one...)

    Then you fight the House on Middle Class tax cuts, and give cover to any Senators, especially Dems, who then don't vote to extend cuts for under-a-millionaires.   You don't threaten a veto over tax cuts for the wealthy, instead you stand tall for A Deal: tie the millionaire extensions to some enemployment bennies, and maybe even a vote on the START II treaty.  Meanwhile, you whinge, "After all, I had to make a deal.  Republicans are people, too."

    Sorry; I just listend to The Ben Bernank on 60 Minutes.  The interviewer said that some people think tax cuts for the wealthy might add to the deficit.  Brilliant!  But Poor Ben is freaking out.  Thinks it might take four or five years at 2% growth to reach 5% unemployment.  Wonder who he's listening to?

    (Dude shoulda asked for a glass of water...)

    I agree with all that. And thanks for those links, which I'd seen but lost. I think partly the others here are objecting to how I say it more than what I say. Or rather, if you concede that he campaigned as a centrist, then pushing the line that he is failing to fulfill his (progressive) mandate falls kinda flat. Things like the public option which he promised and then chucked out. Which is a fair enough view as well. He did promise that and other things that he has failed to implement. And one can duly hold his feet to the fire for that.

    My criticism is more on the emotional level. I don't get how people on the left can still be losing their illusions at this point about Obama's governing philosophy and value set. You have to be a violently delusional hope-and-change addict to believe that Obama has any desire or intention to push the country in a more progressive direction. And the fact that so many on the left still in this pre-breakup stage of understanding or perhaps anger and confusion - as those polls you keep flapping in front of us show - is something that is self-destructive for the left.

    It feels like that Carrie Fisher character in When Harry Meets Sally, who keeps being disappointed when she finds some evidence that her (married) lover won't leave his wife to commit to her, and her friends sit around telling Carrie 'He's never going to leave her' for the hundredth time, and Carrie nods, 'I know, I know'. And then the same scene is replayed a few weeks later. Same thing with the ever-so-loyal left - he doesn't love you! Get over it.

    I always appreciate "When Harry Met Sally" references, as that is one of my very favorite movies.  And not just for the precious and perhaps immortal "I'll have what she's having" deli scene, which I think really has to make it into the time capsule.  Referencing that movie may be the best way to get me into a thread these days (although leading a comment with the words "Obama's first fireside chat scheduled..." might also work.  :<)).  Like if you want to make sure Bruce is alive and well, bashing Israel is probably the best bet to find out quickly, or if you want to make sure artappraiser is ok, just write that the liberal blogosphere represents the pinnacle of human accomplishment and genius, or that self-identified or art-identified or GOP-identified "liberals" are actually sometimes right, even though David Dinkins was a(n) (inept) liberal.  :<)

    Now should be about the time for We Are Stardust to chime in and say he found nothing funny whatsoever about that movie.  :<)  Come on, star... 

    Got me kinda skeert there fer a minute; I know about as much about movies as I do about tennis!  (Hell; I don't even know if it has two S's!)  But I know the ORGASM SCENE!!!!!!  ROTFLAMAO!! 

    So: Stardust has no tennis chops, but LOVES HARRY MET SALLY on accounta that, plus: "I'll have what she's having."  The woman's face!!!!  Priceless!!!!

    Interesting trivia about the actress who delivers that line: she's the director's mother.


    Good to know, Dreamer.


    As for me, just call me stupid, like with Otto from a Fish Called Wanda, and I'll come running and flailing my racket!

    (hm, what's with me and the movie references these days...?)

    'He's governing like he always governed.'

    When you run for the Presidency voters assume you are going to use the powers of the office with some tact and steadfastness to accomplish things you said or say you support, and to stand for something. It is becoming all too apparent the guy has the backbone of a wet noodle. He calmly succumbs to GOP lame duck legislative extortion on taxes/START/all other bills, he let the spectacle of health care reform and FOX/GOP lies and bluster diddle on way too long trying to get one GOP vote, he ramps up Bush policies on privacy, he fails to rein in Wall Street, he is afraid or unwilling to appoint Warren to actually lead her commission, his Mideast peace negotiations fail almost immediately, even with billions in bribes for a 3-month freeze and 20 F-22's for Israel, he has a hundred or more appointments unfilled mostly due to GOP intransigence, he folds on single payer supported by 70% of voters, he ignores the written pleas of over 20 Democratic Senators and Pelosi to let the recent court ruling stand ending DADT, he doesn't lead a pre-election push to end tax cuts for the rich and now will approve anything the GOP wants,  he increasingly seems to stand for nothing and has only two years to go. Like Soros said in a reference to this administration, he is used to losing, he is not used to losing without a fight. A lot of people wonder, what kind of a man do you get when you connect the dots on Obama?

    From NYT:

    "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how'd you enjoy the play?"

    I know Mr. Lincoln fully supported the rights of legal gun owners to the end, and, maybe, John McCain has been right all along, we need to finish that damn wall!

    "he increasingly seems to stand for nothing and has only two years to go."

    Increasingly...? From my point of view he never stood for - i.e. expressed any passionate view about - much other than bipartisan comity. Which would be fine if there weren't other more urgent things to worry about.

    BTW, Great post, cville Dem. I definitely share your belief that at some point it becomes necessary to draw a line in the sand. Equivocating on issues as plainly "right versus wrong" as are these tax cuts and extending UC is not a sign of leadership that invites confidence in our leadership - from ANYBODY!

    We were writing at the same time; see my comment below. I sadly agree with your observation that ( nationally anyway) the parties are melding together in actions, if not rhetoric. I do think that locally, Dems stick to their guns better, but in blue dog states that is probably not true.

    My thoughts on this were not simply a criticism of the President, With the exception of Nancy Pelosi and a few other notables, (Wiener, Franken, Grayson, etc) I don't see any courage, thoughtfulness, or honor coming through. I am impressed, as I often am by the comments above that show those very qualities.

    I agree that letting these tax rates expire and then offering new, more middle friendly class tax rates over and over again is the way to go.  Public opinion would back it but beyond that it's an honest way of governing.  It would also remove the very dangerous assumption that you can put phony sunset provisions into bills with the knowledge that congress will always act to stop them.  In the long run we need to break our leaders of the phony sunset habit.

    As far as supporting Obama and the Democrats go, for me that can got kicked down the road a bit.  If he offers a Simpson/Bowles budget then we need to find a primary challenger for him.

    An amazing Mitch McConnell moment on Meet the Press.  He flat out told David Gregory that "this debate is over.  We can continue to have it but the Senate, including all Republicans and (whatever number -- I think 5) Democrats have decided that taxes should be raised for no one."

    He talks as if he's the majority leader (certainly with more confidence then Reid ever did) because he is, in essence the leader of a majority made up entirely of his party plus 5-6 turncoat Democrats.

    Oh and it seems once again that David Gregory and his producers either don't understand how marginal tax rates work or don't care.  It's so simple.  The rates will be preserved for all income under $250,000.  If you make more than that, you still benefit from the lower rates on the first quarter million.  By definition, if you make more than $250K, you make at least $250K.

    For additional complexity, consider this: How much more than $250K do you think most of these people actually make?  The answer is... not much!  If you make $260K this is not going to effect you in a noticeable way.  And just as you're far more likely to make $50K thank $250K, once you get to that upper level, you're far more likely to make $260K or $280K than you are $400K or above.  So chances are that first $25OK makes such a large proportion of your total income that you will not really feel the effects of the increase!

    Russ Feingold was one of the five Dems.  Any idea what that's about?  There's probably more beneath the surface, but I haven't read about it.  I can't think he's trying to build his resume for The Revolving Door.  Am I just a naive idiot?  He seems to be a great and principled man. (If I remove some of his votes on votes on Israel).

    No clue and no one seems to have asked him.  Nothing on his site, either.

    Ta, Destor.

    more beneath the surface

    One thing I believe a lot of people don't realize about him is that he has long been a deficit hawk, including supporting pay as you go:

    But I don't understand how that would sync with the tax thing.

    Thanks, AA; I'd think he's smarter about economics, and this is a stoopid move.

    Feingold wanted all the tax cuts to expire according to this post at Political Animal.

    Thanks, Blue; figured it must be something like that.  ;o)  Too bad Axelrod said so early on that the Prez was 'open to deals' on the tax cut/extension issue.  ;o(

    He's been a great president . Because of Obamacare. It's going to save lives, guys. People, mostly poor, who would have died miserably will now have more years to bring up their children and have their own pleasures.  He brought the country into the 20th (sic) century. That outweighs any and all  of the other compromises he's had to make.

    I ain't voting for some challenger.

    If Obama signs a bill that extends tax cuts for the wealthy, he will have forfeited any legitimate claim for support from rational evidence-based voters.  Nevertheless, we will have no choice but to hold our nose and vote for him because of the Supreme Court.  Respecting the claim by Flavius that Obama has been a great president, I respectfully disagree.  Flavius cites one Obama success; the Affordable Healthcare Act.  This would be a great accomplishment if it were indeed a great accomplishment.  I am not convinced, e.g., right now, we are seeing real death panels in Arizona notwithstanding AHA.  And, while AHA may well prove to be the panacea Flavius apparently believes it will be, it alone does not thrust Obama into the great category when you consider the balance of his record.

    The Democrats deserve credit for pushing the envelope on ending lots of insurance abuses in the new law however. There is the problem of our high costs for health care and federal and state deficits, and I frankly doubt without single payer the current plan will save money.

    If Big Finance can ruin the economy with zero repercussions, I don't think Big Health Insurance will be much different in cashing in to the maximum the country be damned. I don't think Wash. DC regulation will be any more effective reining in greed with Big Wall Street Health Care than they have been with Big Wall Street 'Investment' Banking. What gov't supervised single payer doesn't do, and what the new health care law does do, is put more money in private corporate hands to bribe politicians. The GOP, of course, hates government administered programs and workers as there is no possibility of graft and kickbacks to politicians, and they love private contractors who can be encouraged to make donations to the GOP.

    HCR without single payer - or at least a public option - is probably destined to do little to arrest the rising costs of health care. It therefore runs the risk of being tagged a failure for its inability to accomplish one of its prime objectives, which will leave it suffering for lack of support in the future.

    And THAT is the consideration that makes me so angry with Obama and the Dems. They had the opportunity to get it right - especially in establishing a single=payer provision - yet they took a fall on it on behalf of the Insurance Industry who ordered it to happen.

    In other words, the opportunity cost of their failure to pull away from the corporate teat is staggering. It threatens our ability to ever know REAL health care reform that is effective and comprehensive, simply because such a course of action might require sticking it in the neck of the health insurance industry. If we can't get past that hurdle, we will probably never get a handle on it. We had our chance. We blew it. And all because we must not EVER do anything that doesn't first meet with the approval of the owners.

    All true. But now that it's law , it can be fixed.  Better an imperfect law that can be amended than a perfect one that can't be passed.

    WOW. Just WOW!

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