stillidealistic's picture

    Sometimes The Voice of Truth Makes Me Want To Vomit

    I hadn't planned to turn this into a post, but it fell off the front "news" section quickly, and I think it is worth more discussion. My apologies to those who commented in the news section. Please feel free to move your comments over here, should you choose to.

    The original article "The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Balistic" was written by Chris Hedges, detailing the feelings of betrayal felt by Cornel West towards the President, and can be read here.

    The article threw me for a loop, because, as I read it, I had the sick-to-my-stomach-feeling that I was reading a truth I didn't want to know.

    I don't know much about Cornel West. Many here distrust him. I don't know how much of what he said is true, but I know in my gut SOME of it is. Enough to make me very, very uncomfortable.

    Most of you know I have a great deal of respect for the President. I'm not saying that this article is the gospel truth and will alter my perceptions dramatically. I am saying it feels like the truth. And it makes me want to vomit.


    Ack; I still haven't read the Hedges.  But: I was writing a response to you on the In the News piece you put up, so I hope it's okay if I bring it here:

    Stilli, you made me laugh with your JEM conversation.  You may have missed this blog I did forever ago (Nov. 2009) at the Cafe; wondering the same thing when I was witnessing such about-faces from Campaign Obama rhetoric.  I did tons of research of FOIA documents that did show some of the ugly tricks played on Presidents in the past.  At least a couple folks on the thread said even if he is held hostage somehow, tough nay-nays.  He should stand up.

    By now I think he is a willful participant in what's going down, more's the pity.  I've never read a book of his, but I have seen interviews and watched him on panels trying to empower the poor and disenfranchised, and problem-solving at colleges and other venues.  Dunno what research you'll do, but good luck with your search.  Anymore, I measure politicians more on an Insider/Outsider, Elite/Not scale than looking through a Red/Blue prism.

    This interview he did in March in the middle of the Arab Spring events with Riz Kahn's replacement is how I know West best.  26 minutes...

    And this piece on global fascism you may not altogether agree with, but is worth reading, IMO.


    I am going to repost my comment in your news item. But since West is talking about the President abandoning the poor I think it would be a good idea if people did a little critical thinking about what has actually taken place, and who really abandoned the poor.

    It seems to me that Congress abandoned the poor long ago and Americans themselves abandoned the poor. Remember the 90's when the Welfare system was dismantled, you know those welfare queens and their Cadillac.. remember that? Hmm, who abandoned the poor again? Oh and Americans by and large, you remember them, the middle class, they were 100% behind this action. But now that the middle class needs more services suddenly it's the President who has abandoned the poor, in fact they believe they are now poor and they need some services themselves. Well they should be pissed at themselves for targeting the poor for so long as the root of all evils. I certainly remember the 1990's very well and Ronald Reagan who helped to demonize the poor.

    When will the American people hold congress accountable? When will they hold themselves accountable for some horrible decisions made in the past, and when will they force congress to rectify those terrible decisions. When will the American people quit bitching that they pay too much in taxes, but expect services at the same levels they've always received services, when are they going to take some responsibility for what has happened to the nation?

    Who wouldn't pass a more robust stimulus? Yes the Senate, and who is responsible for no public option? Right the Senate, because the President did advocate for a public option, but the Senate said... nooooooo. Literally every issue has been impacted by the inaction or intransigence of the Senate.

    So when are people going to demand reform in the Senate? Do they realize that the Senate holds a veto power over all legislation? How can it be that Americans and so many left leaning bloggers don't push the notion that the Senate reforms that took place in the early 70's have completely disabled the government and fostered the idea that we should legislate ideologically rather than legislate for the nation as a whole.

    If there is no rules reform in the Senate, there will be no changes.



    /rant over... for now

    Who wouldn't pass a more robust stimulus? Yes the Senate, and who is responsible for no public option? Right the Senate,

    Are people still trying to rewrite this history? A refresher here:

    Several hospital lobbyists involved in the White House deals said it was understood as a condition of their support that the final legislation would not include a government-run health plan paying Medicare rates — generally 80 percent of private sector rates — or controlled by the secretary of health and human services.

    “We have an agreement with the White House that I’m very confident will be seen all the way through conference,” one of the industry lobbyists, Chip Kahn, director of the Federation of American Hospitals, told a Capitol Hill newsletter.

    And that deal was confirmed by Messina

    Not to worry, Jim Messina, the deputy White House chief of staff, told the hospital lobbyists, according to White House officials and lobbyists briefed on the call. The White House was standing behind the deal, Mr. Messina told them, capping the industry’s costs at a maximum of $155 billion over 10 years in exchange for its political support.

    So that was way before the final vote, and before other versions of a public option cropped up, like the one involving Medicare buy-ins for the over 55 opposed only by Lieberman in the Dem caucus, one which hence could have passed the final reconciliation vote, where Obama inexplicably instead let it twist in the wind (see here and here for non-firebagger perspectives on what went on there).

    As for the stimulus, the opposition from the moderates Collins and Snowe was not on the SIZE of the stimulus, but on what should be in the stimulus bill and what should be in a separate budget bill, and on stuff she didn't think was stimulative. it was not about size. In short Obama got the size he wanted. Look how deferential those GOPers sounded at the time:

    “The house passed bill is much more like an omnibus bill than a stimulus bill," Collins said.  "I believe we need to have a more targeted and affective bill for it to pass in the senate with bipartisan support.”

    Snowe said that Obama was very receptive to her list and suggested that each provision within the bill should have a job creation number associated with it so its effectiveness can be scrutinized on an individual basis.

    Snowe also indicated that Obama would not budge much on the overall size of the package in order to reach the proper goal.

    “He thinks that it is important to have the right size stimulus plan to affect the economy,” Snowe said adding, “He understands there have been concerns…he was much aware of the discretionary expenditures that were in question.”

    Again, see those 'concerns'? They're about specific discretionary expenditures. On size, they pretty much let Obama have his cake. If he had asked for what Roemer thought adequate he would have gotten a bill double the size of the one he ultimately opted for. I.e. if it failed, he owns that failure.

    I can't believe we're still having this argument. This is pretty straightforward stuff. The senate rules do create all kinds of limitations, but the failures of the PPACA and ARRA are entirely the administrations.

    West, I hate to say is spot on. I have thought this from the get go. You want to picture Washington and every one in it ? Then think the Loch Ness Monster from The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao but with each head being the president and a member of congress and the body being Wall Street.


    All just heads of the same corrupt body. Bush was only different in that he was meant to be a puppet. That is why he was chosen. Unfortunately you cannot shrink it tat easy, even though the Tea Party crowd would like to.

    Obey, you always remember the percentages, too: tax breaks to spending ratios for the alleged 'shovel ready' projects that weren't...and other categories.

    Yeah, there's the mix of measures with different levels of efficiency as well.

    It's not about rewriting history; it's about seeing the complexity in history.

    I was addressing a particular claim TMcCarthy made - that the PO and more extensive stimulus failed because of a lack of votes in the Senate. I argue that Obama chose to kill the PO and halve the amount in stimulus advised by Roemer despite having the votes in the senate for both. I'm sure there are complex reasons for that, and I can imagine a few, but TMcCarthy is the one simplifying history down to "everything is the fault of senate rules". Which is one of those claims that are ... simply false.

    Do you think  poor adults are better off, worse off or that there has been no real change because single payer did not pass? Are poor children in a worse situation than before HCR passed?

    The number of uninsured is up, and the number of children uninsured is flat since the passage of PPACA. And premiums are way up. Dunno, you tell me...

    In California, two-thirds of the uninsured are projected to be covered under the new health care law. Already young adults, who were heaviliy impacted by the recesssion can remain on their parent's health plan up to age 26. Health plans can no longer deny covering children with pre-existing illnesses.

    Did you think that single-payer, even if enacted would have gone into effect immediately?

    I hope those projections hold up.

    Did you think that single-payer, even if enacted would have gone into effect immediately?

    If by "single-payer" you mean a medicaid expansion of 15 million people and a medicare buy-in option for the over 55, amounting to another 5 million, ... yes.

    If by "single-payer" you meant universal coverage under a government plan, no.

    I saw the road to single-payer, as did most people up until Obama, as a gradual expansion of public programs as people found private insurance unaffordable. I don't see the current proposal -- taxing unionized workers to pay for the insurance of non-unionized workers -- as progress. But that's just my opinion.

    Forgot to provide the link

    I was thinking of Universal Health coverage in my question. The second question is if you belive that the Senate would have passed the reforms to Medicare that you sought?

    On the Medicare buy-in - here's a link to the google search. Dunno which version of the story is the best. Roughly, there was a Medicare buy-in for the over-55 on the table, and only Lieberman opposed it, and only after originally supporting it. Which makes it likely that it had over 50 votes. But they didn't include it in the final reconciliation vote in february-march. (Some of my other links above attest to the ambient confusion why it wasn't included or at least pushed for). That was of course just one public option option. But pretty much anything that put some competitive pressure on private insurers and held costs down would have made the whole structure of the bill viable.

    Now it looks to me like the whole thing is going to be unmanageable cost-wise, and we're going to see the GOP destroy the actuarial value of the basic insurance plan, we're going to see subsidies get hollowed out, and people will be left with worthless, unaffordable insurance, paid for by unionized workers thereby ruining the quality of their hard-earned insurance plans. And by-the-by also it will also destroy what is left of unions since they will no longer be entrusted with negotiating health-plans. It seems to me that the PPACA has tilted the political field against further improvements to the current bill by creating momentum towards cost-savings, and weakening unions' political strength.

    That is/was always my problem, I'm not being a 'single-payer' fundamentalist on this...

    Thanks for the link.

    So Democrats in the Senate failed to show a backbone? How would you have gotten a more viable bill through the Republicans and Blue dogs in the Senate? Remember, Harry Reid is the person elected to lead the Democrats. Reid was voted on by his fellow Democrats.

    Remember the final vote was by a reconciliation bill. Only 50 votes needed. No republicans, no blue dogs. So it would have run thusly - Pelosi would have passed the Senate bill of Dec '09, added a Medicare buy-in, and the Senate then would have passed the necessary adjustments with the Medicare buy-in through reconciliation. Of course all sorts of more modest variants of the medicare buy-in were possible: narrower elegibility, medicare-plus-10% fee rates, etc. But the principle of a public option would have a foot in the door.

    As for speculating WHY they didn't include it - recall that the White House was running the legislative strategy at that point.

    The White House was controlling the Senate's legislative strategy?  The Senate was a rubber stamp for the White House and Harry Reid was a nonfunctioning piece of equptment?

    Yes. I'm sure Reid could have defied the President, but there is a political cost to that. Just as the Senate leader and the House speaker choose when to whip votes and when to loosen the reins, the same thing goes for the President. He punctually intercedes in legislative matters. I didn't think that was controversial.

    "...the failures of the PPACA and ARRA are entirely the administrations..."

    Bullshit.  Bullshit, and did I mention, bullshit?

    You are repeatedly pimping this information as dispositive that Obama is the sole reason we didn't have a better health care bill and a  bigger stimulus.  I would just like to point out that you have failed to show whether these intitiatives you find so damning were done as a result of Obama's personal policy preferences, or as necessary field-clearing to make sure that bills got passed.

    If it's the former, then, yes, Obama deserves blames for his insufficient progressivism; but I feel fairly certain that he was surveying the major players (which didn't include "progressive" bloggers, by the way) and pre-determining how to get the best bill passed given the obstacles to passage he faced in Washington.  Your claim that a bigger stimulus would have won the support of Republican moderates if only differently constituted, as well as that a Public Option would have passed the Senate if only Obama had fought for it, is nothing but pure magical thinking.  And all your cherry-picking of quotes suggesting otherwise doesn't change the fact that there were never 60 Senate votes for either a bigger stimulus of a public option in the health care bill.

    Finally, your assertions about the administration being the sole cause of these perceived (from a progressive perspective) failures ignores the dynamics in Washington for the last thirty years, at least.  You act like the the failure of the Clinton health care bill, which was caused almost exclusively by the Blue Dogs and Conservadems of the time, never happened.  You also seem to be unaware that the worst aspects of the Bush presidency, from the tax cut bill to the Patriot Act to the War in Iraq, got passed with a substantial number of Democratic votes.

    Two questions you should address if you are certain that Obama, and not institutional Washington, was the obstacle to better legislation in 2009: first, if Obama was the reason better bills weren't passed, why has no "progressive" legislator come out and said that directly; not Kucinich (who voted for both bills, BTW) not Sanders (ditto) or Sherrod Brown(yep, him too).  The people in Washington, who unlike you were actually present at many of these negotiations, seem resigned to voting for these bills as the best option available.  

    Second, if better bills could have been passed, why didn't the Senate pass then and dare the president to veto them?

    I would hope that someone who has chided other for their failure to appreciate the nuance in our discussions of history and politics would acknowledge that there a lot of aspects to this story that contradict categorical assertions like that of yours I quoted above.  Perhaps you will return to your pro-nuance position in our next discussion of the Civil War.

    I'm always in favor of nuance, Brew. But here the question is whether there were the votes for something more progressive or not. It's a yes or no question. Can't say there were and there weren't... So I say: yes there were. Beyond that:

    1, I don't think he deserves BLAME for being insufficiently progressive. He just ISN'T progressive. He is a moderate. Moderates around here seem to agree with me. Flavius, for instance. Trope and ArtAppraiser enthusiastically endorsed that claim when I made it some time ago. Don't remember your reaction, if any.

    That said, I DO believe that if he is not himself progressive, that maybe alters how progressives should go about dealing with him. And NO, that does not mean revolting en masse on all issues and at all times. It's just about not having blind faith that whatever he opts for is the most progressive option available.

    2. So when I'm talking about 'blame' for the failures of the ARRA and PPACA, I'm talking not necessarily in a moral sense, but just in causal terms. What were the factors that made these bills less than optimally progressive. TMcCarthy suggested Senate rules - the 60 vote supermajority clooture vote, in particular I imagine. I showed - or felt I showed - that that wasn't the case on the PO and on the size of the stimulus: there were the votes - since PPACA was passed through reconciliation, and the GOP moderates were explicitly deferential to the President's judgment on the size of the necessary stimulus.

    That was my evidence. It was not cherry-picking, it was picking out the RELEVANT evidence. What happened under Bush and Clinton is irrelevant to the VOTE COUNT ON THOSE TWO ISSUES. If you have evidence that there weren't 50 votes for the Medicare buy-in, or that Snowe and Collins elsewhere deny what they are quoted as saying in the NYT, then stop screaming bullshit and...


    I'm trying to see your evidence. All I got is this:

    if Obama was the reason better bills weren't passed, why has no "progressive" legislator come out and said that directly; not Kucinich (who voted for both bills, BTW) not Sanders (ditto) or Sherrod Brown(yep, him too).  The people in Washington, who unlike you were actually present at many of these negotiations, seem resigned to voting for these bills as the best option available. 

    So you don't have evidence, it's an absence of evidence. You have progressives not declaring war on the President and in two cases, on the leader of their own party. Seems pretty weak tea to me. I wouldn't go around shitting on the Party leader who could sink my chances in the primaries or screw me with fundraisers. Just saying. If you have evidence of these people EXPLICITLY SAYING that this was the best bill that could pass, then that might sway me. However, even if they voted for this because it was better than nothing, that would be neither here nor there. I'd maybe have voted for it in the circumstances. Moreover, I remember Kucinich himself saying the reason he voted for it was that voting against it would be a catastrophe for the President and the country, not because it was an on the whole good bill, but because handing the President a loss that big would be devastating and would threaten his very legitimacy. Or something. Anyway, as I recall it, he didn't view the bill positively. The others, I don't remember.

    As for the other hypothetical - why didn't the Senate then defy the president? He was the party leader, and there is a prima facie case for defering some decisions to him. Sometimes he lets the Legislative branch do its thing, sometimes he intercedes. And he expects compliance. I remember most presidents operating that way. Defiance was the exception, not the rule.

    But, sure, they deserve some measure of blame perhaps for not defying him.

    oooh, nuance there! Happy now?

    Your "evidence" is more BS; it proves nothing other than your bias.

    "I showed - or felt I showed - that that wasn't the case on the PO and on the size of the stimulus: there were the votes - since PPACA was passed through reconciliation"

    Wrong, the Senate bill passed 60-39 in December 2009; amendments were passed via reconciliation in March 2010.  I'm sure it was only due to Obama's evilness that the Senate determined that the underlying bill could not be passed through reconciliation, though.  

    "and the GOP moderates were explicitly deferential to the President's judgment on the size of the necessary stimulus."

    Well, since they never voted on a bigger stimulus, and went back on every pro-administration peep they made throughout 2009, you apparently give these Republicans far more credit than some others, including myself, would.  But keep on trusting the consequence-free rhetoric of those "GOP moderates," if it helps make a case against the president.

    "As for the other hypothetical - why didn't the Senate then defy the president? He was the party leader, and there is a prima facie case for defering some decisions to him. Sometimes he lets the Legislative branch do its thing, sometimes he intercedes. And he expects compliance. I remember most presidents operating that way. Defiance was the exception, not the rule."

    This observation strikes me as, well, weak tea.  This is a phenomen that seems to be true of Republicans, not so much of Democrats.  The closing of Guantanamo Bay, which has somehow been made the administration's failure by the firebagging left in spite of a 90-6 Senate vote in opposition, is an example that immediately comes to mind.  Lack of congressional deference to Democratic president's policies was my point in bringing up the Clinton health care fiasco.  You can argue that Obama overlearned the lessons of that failure.  But your claim that it proves Obama was personally opposed to a public option simply doesn't follow.

    You made an intelligent observation in a comment earlier, that this type of analysis is needed to determine where to apply political pressure.  I just think you're drawing a conclusion 180 degrees from where that analysis leads.  

    Holder holds to it again; must know or suspect something, or else it's a feint.  Couldn't possibly say.

    the Senate bill passed 60-39 in December 2009; amendments were passed via reconciliation in March 2010.  I'm sure it was only due to Obama's evilness that the Senate determined that the underlying bill could not be passed through reconciliation, though.

    If you go back to my links, I'm refering to why Obama didn't insert a PO amendment in the reconciliation bill of March 2010, and the links attest to the confusion surrounding that decision to drop it. So, again, NOT THE BILL OF DECEMBER '09, THE RECONCILIATION BILL OF MARCH '10.

    Clearer this time?

    Well, since they never voted on a bigger stimulus, and went back on every pro-administration peep they made throughout 2009, you apparently give these Republicans far more credit than some others, including myself, would.

    You're just being stupid here. Obama came in with enormous political capital in a shitstorm of a financial crisis. I'm not naively claiming Snowe's and Collins' remarks are manifestations of good faith. I'm saying they wouldn't dare stand in his way, and are openly admitting it. Obama himself kept repeating that he didn't WANT a bigger stimulus, claiming he couldn't find efficient uses for further funds.

    As for the rest, are Senate Democrats craven? Sure. This wasn't intended as a defense of them. It was an argument about whether on the one hand Obama or on the other hand Senate RULES regarding supermajority votes were to blame. Of course you can slice causal stories in all kinds of ways - hey, it's ultimately the GOP's fault, or it's the electorate's fault, or the media's fault. But here the frame was the following:  given the existing setup - lunatic GOP, dysfunctional media, electorate divided down the middle - what could Obama have done? What was within the realm of the politically possible? And I'm arguing that in these instances, like in most other choices of rhetoric or policy, he patently opted for a more moderate plan ... out of preference not necessity.

    As for progressives and their optimal strategy vis a vis the administration, I pointed to the DADT repeal effort that was put on hold, and then when progressives revolted after the tax-cut deal it was quickly rammed through in an effort to appease them. That is my case for a less meek wait-for-some-crumbs-to-drop approach.

    "Obama came in with enormous political capital in a shitstorm of a financial crisis."

    I think this is the crux of the disagreement between the Bots and the Nots.  I don't think Obama's decisive victory changed the fundamental perspective of the Washington establishment a bit.  It was Harry Reid, after all who said "I do not work for Barack Obama" - before the man was even sworn in as president:

    Again, it may have been possible to get more and better legislation passed, and that Obama's caution and desire to "put points on the board" rather than engage in high-profile battles in the media was the main obstacle to its passage.  I think a reasonable case for an alternative explanation, that official Washington (to use a classic phrase from my adopted hometown's history) simply "ain't ready for reform" is offered by the same facts that you look at.  It would be nice if you could acknowledge that your argument is based exclusively on your speculation as to how eventsd would have played out if Obama had went all in for either a bigger stimulus or a public option in the health care bill, and give up the "it's all Obama's fault" crap.  I wish we had more and better Democrats after the solid victory in 2008; but, at least as far as the composition of the Senate is concerned, that simply wasn't the case.   


    So you just don't believe Snowe and Collins - they must have been lying. And you just refuse to consider the evidence there were the votes for a version of the PO (which only Lieberman opposed) in March '10.

    Let me know what possible kind of evidence would sway you, and we can continue this conversation. Otherwise I think we're done. 

    You refuse to understand that President Barack Obama controls the House, the Senate and the Judiciary. The failure of Congress to pass stronger bills is solely the fault of Obama.

    It is pretty clear that "Progressives" have set up a meme that cannot be altered by any facts. Since they have decided that they will not support Obama for re-election, Obama is free to turn his attention to people on the Left who they label "centrists" as well as independent voters. "Progressives" see the country as a lot less schizophrenic than it is. The country voted for the GOP with open eyes. The public is now upset that the Tea Party wingnuts are bevinglike the corporatists the wingnuts actually are.

    So we now have Barack Obama who is a corporatist according to "Progressives" being opposed by winguts who are corporatists. Strangely the true corporatists, business people, seem to hate Obama and love the wingnuts. It's hard to keep the "Progressive" delusions straight.

    Cornel West boots Brack Obama out of the Black race because of his contact with Jews, and West gets the "Progressive" love. West says that Barack Obama fears free Black men and is a lawn jockey for corporate interests and "Progressives" giggle. It is truly disgusting.

    So we now have Barack Obama who is a corporatist according to "Progressives" being opposed by winguts who are corporatists. Strangely the true corporatists, business people, seem to hate Obama and love the wingnuts.

    See here. See the jump in dependence on corporate cash since Obama became leader (h/t MJ)


    And notice how the Dems are BEATING the GOP in terms of corporate funding.

    Who's your sugar daddy now, baby?

    We're winnin' the future, baby.

    Dominatin' the newscycle.

    Cripes; I hate to butt in since this ACA business was somthing I stayed pretty much away from, but on another arguably tangential issue, it was hard not to read about a) the deals Obama made with the hospital industry and b) the deals he made to ban importing cheaper pharmeceuticals that c) arguably might have cheapened health care delivery, which so many claim is the actual problem about health care in this country: Ours costs more and delivers less (check our national ratings; they are abysmal per dollar spent, especially).

    You say 'nots' or whatever work backwards from Obama-detraction; I think the same thing about the 'bots'..  It was the FACTS and the BAD DEALS and the BAD ECONOMICS that started many of us thinking, "oh, no!"

    I have to eat a little crow; Obama finally did meet with the House black caucus for the second time...last week.  First seems to have been March 2010 for an hour.

    Don't eat the crows! They're spies, Dusty! SPIES!


    Either side could end the filibuster at will.  No will means theater.  Plenty of lefties write about all of it, IMO.

    Okay, a little awkward but I'm moving my comment over here, too.  What I said was:

    I have always seen Cornel West as a pompous, self-absorbed blowhard and nothing I read in the Hedges article has caused me to change my mind. But there is so much truth in what West has to say. I can't deny that. This one heartbreaking nugget of a partial quote says it all for me:

    “Can you imagine if Barack Obama had taken office and deliberately educated and taught the American people about the nature of the financial catastrophe and what greed was really taking place?” West asks. “If he had told us what kind of mechanisms of accountability needed to be in place, if he had focused on homeowners rather than investment banks for bailouts and engaged in massive job creation he could have nipped in the bud the right-wing populism of the tea party folk."

    But then he goes on to say the government is corrupt, meaning Obama is corrupt, and there he loses me. I don't believe for a minute that Barack Obama is corrupt. I can agree with Cornel West on much of what he says about Obama's neglect of the poor and middle class, on his choice of cabinet members, on the programs he chose to bail out -- and all of it is damning -- but his whining about not being invited to the inauguration, his ridiculous take on Obama as a black man growing up in a white world (the Left version of "the other"), his pathetic talk of thinking about getting arrested in order to draw attention. . .with that he lost me.

    I couldn't help but think about MLK when he couldn't get JFK's attention concerning the plight of the negro in JFK's America. King felt that Kennedy was letting the poor and the blacks down, that promises had not been kept, that he was being snubbed, but King's brilliance came not from publicly dissing Kennedy but by using the power of his speeches to bring millions of people to his side. His message could not be ignored.

    There was a dignity to Martin Luther King that Cornel West attempts but will never achieve. His small-mindedness comes through nearly every time he opens his mouth. It does no good to speak the truth if no one can stand to listen.

    Brother West always spoke highly of you, Ramona.  ;o)

    I thought this would interest you; lots of opinions about what's going on, of course.  Trumka is calling for an 'independent' labor movement.  I have wondered why we haven't heard from that Obama Jobs Commission, but that may be a whole 'nother boring story.

    Funny, I didn't think Cornel spoke highly of anyone but himself.

    As to Trumka and the union movement. I'm with them, no matter what they do or where they go. It saddens me, of course, that my party isn't doing what they should for labor. Still working on changing that. Labor unions deserve their place in the sun again, they deserve to be heard. They are the voices of labor, as always, and they should not and will not be silenced.

    Do you guess it's more about the Dems not doing enough for labor (even though true), or trying to widen union particpation in  Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin (for now)?

    Probably both. If the unions didn't take advantage of the turmoil in those states and put themselves out there as working hard for the people they represent they wouldn't be doing their jobs. And the advantage to being more visible could be twofold. The Dems might finally recognize strength there and see the advantage of not just showing support but providing it as well.

    Of course, the Republicans are also getting nervous about the unions showing some muscle. They're not going to stand by quietly and let it happen without a dirty fight. More reason for the Dems to stand by them. Without union strength labor doesn't have a chance.

    I agree, and I like the independence it shows, which is exactly why I didn't want Trumka going 'inside' the administration.  Labor has historically been one of those 'outside' forces that people remind us are so important to the dynamic 'tension' between working people and corporations.

    (My lame cliche joke about West speaking kindly about you seems to have been a major fail.)  ;o)

    On the manufacturing in America front, my ears perked up when I heard that Jon Huntsman was calling for a modern Industrial Revolution to prevent a Lost Decade similar to Japan's.  I looked around a read and watched interviews.  Clearly he would not include Unions in his vision (would have voted for the Ryan budget, etc.), though he bucks the party on lots of issues.  And as a Utah Mormon.  Go figure.

    And rumor has it that Feingold (have my doubts) and Tammy Baldwin are considering running for the Senate Seat Herb Kohl is leaving; and a host of Republicans.

    “Can you imagine if Barack Obama had taken office and deliberately educated and taught the American people about the nature of the financial catastrophe and what greed was really taking place?” West asks. “If he had told us what kind of mechanisms of accountability needed to be in place, if he had focused on homeowners rather than investment banks for bailouts and engaged in massive job creation he could have nipped in the bud the right-wing populism of the tea party folk."

    Oh I can imagine. Wall Street would have gone immediately into melt down mode and the republicans would have screamed bloody murder. Doing their best Khrushchev at the UN impression.

    And I would have danced a Jig. I understand dancing Jigs is great for one's circulatory system.

    Yeah, it is awkward, Ramona, but thanks for bearing with me, and for shifting your comment here.

    It's sorta like reading "clearthinker" over at TPM for me! I could get through the arrogance to the gem. There's a gem in here. I'm just not sure how much of one.

    I'd like to believe that Obama isn't corrupt. I'd like to believe he is a victim of circumstance...but I don't know, Ramona. My faith is shaken, and this is going to take some exploration.

    I met Jason Miller for lunch a couple of days ago, and we tossed around the idea that once Obama was inaugurated, he was taken to an undisclosed location and given the big picture, by representatives of the people who are REALLY in charge. I know it's whacko sounding conspiracy theory stuff, but I think there is a LOT going on that we don't know about.

    Today I'm feeling less sick to my stomach. I'm going back over in my mind the President's books and speeches, and I'm having a difficult time reconciling the man I thought I knew with the one West presents. There are things he has done (ie his appointments - like Geitner and his refusal to this point to go after anyone responsible for the financial meltdown and his predetermination that a public option wouldn't fly) that make me very uncomfortable, but I still get the sense that he is a decent man who is trying as best he can to shape this country into a place we can all be proud of, despite an unprecedented campaign of hatred being waged against him from all sides.

    There's no doubt that I am confused and a little uncertain what and who to believe. Thanks for helping me think it through.

    The Senate voted to let Big Oil continue to receive $2B from the government despite the ol companies earning $39B in one quarter, a record profit. The GOP is telling big business that they've got big businesses back. When confronted about his hands off Medicre, GOP Rep Allan West told a constituent that he (West) would take his hands off Medicare when there was no longer any Medicare.  Rep West said he would then come after the constituent. This was in a public meeting! The GOP is protecting the interests of 1% of the country and still people who are not in the upper 1% vote for Republicans.

    Obama is said to be in the hands of corporatists, according to Prof. Cornel West, yet the NYT reports that business support that Obama got is drying up because business has not gotten what it wants. When a NYT reporter appeared on Real Time last week, he pointed out that business leaders viewed Obama as anti-business. A similar theme was heard from a female reporter from CNBC several weeks prior on Mahrer's show. In fact, she seemed incrdulous that anyone could find Obama to be pro-business.

    I just don't see the equivalence between Obama and the GOP. Given the makeup of the Senate, I don't see any real Progressive legislation getting through. Obama appointed Elizabeth Warren to oversee some of the financial mess. If Warren gets a permanent appointment, look for the GOP to go to war with her agency just like the GOP is donig with the EPA.

    The only way the Republicans can be derailed is through the actions of the public. In order to do big businesses will, Republicans have to get elected by the public. Putting boots on the ground to counter the Tea Party and GOP message and have fewer Republicans elected is the only way to begin the change Progressives desire. MSM presented the Ryan plan as a rational alternative. After learning more detals, many in the public became opposed to Ryan and the GOP. We have many enemies trying to keep the status quo.


    Stilli, I love your honesty and understand the confusion completely. I'm feeling it, too. I haven't yet come to hate or fear all things government, as so many others have, but my confidence in their ability (or even willingness) to get the country back in working order is eroding fast.

    Distrusting the motives of the people in charge is nothing new. Questioning priorities is nothing new. But what's new for me is watching the Right and Left Wingers join forces to take down the president. I've honestly never seen anything like it and it scares the hell out of me.

    We're in the midst of a crisis and I'm feeling as panicky as anyone else about the need for speed to get us back on track, but all I'm seeing from the left and the right is an all-out effort to destroy Barack Obama. I understand the anger, the frustration, the disappointment. I'm feeling it, too. It's the hatred I don't understand. It's getting more and more vicious, more and more accepted. So once they've done it, once Obama is gone -- what then? Do they know?

    You had mentioned somewhere above "...his pathetic talk of thinking about getting arrested in order to draw attention. . .with that he lost me."

    What West was quoted as saying was:

    “Our last hope is to generate a democratic awakening among our fellow citizens. This means raising our voices, very loud and strong, bearing witness, individually and collectively. Tavis [Smiley] and I have talked about ways of civil disobedience, beginning with ways for both of us to get arrested, to galvanize attention to the plight of those in prisons, in the hoods, in poor white communities. We must never give up. We must never allow hope to be eliminated or suffocated.”

    Now I read it as not so self-serving as you do.  It seems the media pa more attention if a 'notable figure' risks arrest; it sometimes is the ONLY thing that gets press to protests.

    Now I may remember incorrectly, but I'd thought you were full-tilt appreciative of 'notable figures' who demonstrated in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, thus adding to the focus of the push-back against the stealing of collective bargaining rights.

    Now our President was absent, save for a few token words here and there.  The same Campaign Obama who spoke of re-writing NAFTA to make it into a fair trade, not a free trade agreement (though he did send Rahm or someone to Canada to say it was a wink, wink promise.  Some of us got edgy about it, but gave him the benefit of the doubt.

    Now he has a three-nation free trade deal package in the works; many different analyses say it's great for corporations, not for American workers again, or for the environmental impact it will have... But we are supposed to remain uncritical of these moves, or many more, in case the criticism inadvertently destroys his chances in 2012??

    Hatred, anger, criticism are all a package to you.  Yet given that Obama is far and away more likely to win in 2012 in a landslide (barring some freak occurence), what would you have us do to try to secure a future for ourselves and our kids and grandkids, not to mention the goddam planet?  And water?  And food sources?

    We either convince enough people to put Obama on notice that we ain't gonna settle for this, or we start massive non-violent civil disobedience as West, Levine, Bill Moyers and other experienced 'notables' advise us.  One day soon the conditions will be dire enough to provoke the spark that gives us either our Tahrir Square...or something worse, sponsored by the Folks Who Really Do Scare Me.  Hint: they are well-armed; many live in my county.

    p.s. Bill Moyers did a book salon at fdl; in response to some bits I'd said, and pasting in one of Obey's rather brilliant comments about the 'make me do it' meme, Moyers answered:

    Bill Moyers May 21st, 2011 at 3:52 pm
    In response to wendydavis @ 111 (show text)

    Yes, yes, yes, Wendy. Frederick Douglass told us that power concedes nothing without a struggle. And one of my heroes, Robert LaFollette (a Republican, by the way) thought of democracy as a “daily struggle”. When Rahm Emmanuel, the White House chief of staff, dissed the very progressives and liberals who had been crucial to Obama’s election, I hoped every progressive and liberal interest group had walked out en masse from the the next White House meeting where they are routinely fed small scraps from the leftovers of the previous evening’s dinner for bankers and corporate moguls. If they had, I can guarantee you that Obama would have called Emnmanuel on the carpet for threatening his re-election. To my knowledge, Obama was silent, and once again liberals and progressives were escorted humbly out the White House gates. They don’t seem to learn from the conservatives, who don’t know the words “Pretty, please.” That’s why the Republican Party today is a right-wing party and Democrats remain in hock to their bankrollers."

    Oh, for God's sake.  I'm a huge fan of civil disobedience, okay?  After slogging through West's "I-I-I, me-me-me", I read this: " Tavis [Smiley] and I have talked about ways of civil disobedience, beginning with ways for both of us to get arrested. . ." 

     Gag me with a spoon, please.  No, the causes are out there just waiting for some attention and if in the course of their actions they get arrested, all's the better.  But what I'm hearing from West is that he and his pal Tavis are madly trying to come up with something--as if there isn't anything real enough already--that will get them arrested for the sake of getting arrested.  No mention of a particular mission, just an attempt to draw attention to a series of causes. And attention to him, of course.  That's the way I read it.  If you don't, you're entitled.

    And no, a thousand times no, hatred, anger and criticism are NOT all a package to me.  They're very different emotions, as I've outlined in my comment.  In fact, it was the whole point of my comment.  You think you're giving me more reasons to be angry and to criticize -- as if I can't come up with enough on my own -- but you avoid entirely my point about something more, something dangerous, which is the hatred toward Obama coming from both the left and the right.  I'm seeing it everywhere, including here, and my talking about it isn't in any way letting Obama off the hook. 

    I can agree with all that Moyers says and still be disturbed by what I'm seeing as a growing vicious pattern of hatred.  I suspect Bill Moyers wouldn't be condoning it, either.  It's not his style.

    In the end it may be that we read West differently; not about the pissy, personal parts of his comments; but what fuels his activism and conscience.  It's too bad to me that Smiley, whom I see as rather uh...woodenly colon-challenged, though I've only seen him maybe twice...but...  I have really liked him over the years, and for me, it's almost in spite of his being a minister; it always seemed that he really took Christ's teachings to heart, while admitting how imperfect a human he is.  That his uncle was lynched before his eyes probably makes me extend myself further toward him; it may or may not be wise, but,,,there it is.

    Moyers did make some guesses about Obama's changes and personality and political style, but you're right: they were pretty measured as I remember them.  But I don't see the hate of Obama here; I thought everyone went out of their way to express that.  Again, we just see it differently.  And sorry if I got it wrong about you seeing the three as a package, though it seemed what you must have meant, given that you mentioned seeing it here.

    I'm off to bed, but if you haven't read the Nation piece by Melissa Harris-Perry, here it is.  She may have her own biases, I don't know, but usually she's pretty level-headed:

    BTW, West's uncle was not lynched "before his eyes." It's easy enough to look the story up.

    So sorry I got it wrong; not all of us have time to look everything up some biographer says.  It hardly negates the impact, though.  Stories can often have even more of an impact; brains don't get to shut down in shock and isolate the meomories in unreachable areas. 

    On what may be his last trip into space, Kelly tells Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon that it's sometimes hard to understand all the conflict on such an "incredibly beautiful planet."

    Expedition 27 flight engineer Cady Coleman and Endeavor shuttle commander Mark Kelly speak with Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon (not pictured) from aboard the International Space Station.
    Enlarge Geoffrey Bennett/NPR

    Expedition 27 flight engineer Cady Coleman and Endeavor shuttle commander Mark Kelly speak with Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon (not pictured) from aboard the International Space Station.

    "This is a really hard thing to give up," he says of his time in Earth's orbit. "Just looking down, we've got a very fragile and beautiful place to live. We need to take care of it."

    And eachother. I glad we all survived the rapture.

    just sayin'

    There sure were a lot of links in the thread, stilli. The only one I followed was the one in the original post. I don't want to spend the time crawling up Cornel West's colon to discover his inner workings. Apparently, this is a day to enjoy the bliss bestowed upon me by my ignorance.

    I did not have the same reaction as you after reading Hedges' piece. But then, every individual that reads it will have a very individual take-away. Who I read about was a person who sensed he was snubbed by another person and expressed his hurt feelings. Is that too simple of a reaction?

    It did occur to me, too, that it may be that Barack Obama just doesn't care to be around Cornel West...personality differences or what have you. Just because there are two black guys in a room doesn't make them BFF's.

    I suppose I will get pegged as an Obama apologist for that remark. Ah, well.

    Enjoy the remainder of the day, stilli! I'm so glad the rapture was a dud because the very second humans get to heaven, they'll fark it up.

    Sounds about right.

    And that comes from someone who thinks West's philosophy work is pretty damn good and his substantive critique of Obama policies spot on. But here he spends a third of the time blubbering about not getting tickets or calls from the President, and a second third of the time with low-class trash talk. By the time you get around to his policy arguments you can't really be bothered to listen to this jerk.

    Maybe he was having a bad hair day, dunno.

    Seems sad to me that a man's life's work and reputation can be so trashed by an arguably petulant and petty interview.  His mouth, he's accountable for it; but a 'jerk', he's not, IMO. 

    Has he apologized?

    If you agree that he does come off as a jerk "petulant and petty", do you think maybe he should?

    And if he then hasn't, what does that tell you about his character?

    Look, I have no preconceptions about the man. I know his theoretical work, and respect the scholar and the intellectual. But that interview just seems indefensible. 

    Yes, I said on another thread that he should.  Will we know if he does?  Yep; it was not good; the only defense to the pissy petulance may be if it were the only one like it, and if he offers an apology.  Given that he is a Baptist, his religion would dictate that he should, and that it would be good for his soul.

    My point is that acting like a jerk doesn't necessarily make a person 'a jerk'.  I've liked him for years, and this seems to be an anomaly.  But it will carry through life with him if this blog is any indication, and I'd guess it is.  Too bad; he has a lot of decades of mitzvahs behind him.

    Point #1 on being a Baptists is to BE a jerk.

    So all the critics can fuck off. ;-) 

    - Q the Baptist


    Well, Quinn ; you might be able to be a little more inscrutable.

    I love that West talks about Love; dunno if this is the visit I remember on Ferguson, but I'll hope it is: 

    I know it's easy to discount the man if this Hedges piece is the only reference you have for him, but...

    And those links stilli provided via our friend are mostly other takes (mostly disses) of the same interview.

    Quinn, I was reminded in the video of one of your grand essays, that West mirrors so closely: "We are who we are...because of the people who loved us." 

    (Oh.. a beautiful skunk just galloped into the yard...and my favorite bird just flew in from Guatemala to eat an orange I put out for him...)  Life is good when it's more about Love...than not.


    Kinda hope Harry Belafonte tells the man to apologize; this shit ain't worth NOT doing it.  IMHO, of course.                     


    There were a lot of links, flower, and I really didn't expect everyone to read them, just wanted them to be available for those who wanted a broader view. The person who I got the link from is nothing if not thorough in her approach to all issues, and for that I am grateful. But I did (late into the night,) and having done so, feel like I have a better understanding of what is happening, although the issue is certainly not resolved in my mind. It was interesting to go from article to article following additional links and seeing where it lead. However, had I read them all prior to posting, I probably would not have done the post. Although I think that Dr. West has made good points, and I agree with some of them, the emotions that were stirred were calmed by statements made by others in the know, both black and white.

    I continue to be disturbed by the route this President has taken on many issues, but I still feel strongly that he was the best person for the job at the time, and that we are in better shape now than we would have been had the repubs won in 2008. However, he does have to share the blame for the about face the country did in 2010. He is tremendously popular personally, but has chosen not to use that popularity to the benefit of the common man as much as it could hve been used. I still don't understand why.




    A suggestion: try reading his April fiscal policy speech to get back to a sense of reality of the actual political situation in this country, what Obama's basic beliefs and arguments are as regards that, as opposed to those of his GOP opponents.

    Seems to me reading the whole thread you might be getting carried away by how much some academics, bloggers and pundits have created their own lala land realities and delustional conspiracies. Obama is no lefty to be sure, but believing that he's in the pocket of and following the dictates of some wealthy and powerful is as delusional as thinking he's led by Kenyan Marxist beliefs. Decide from reality whether what's going on is making you sick, not from delusional narratives caused by all kinds of agendas, personal and political.

    I will just add that anyone who supported him thinking he was going to continually speak for the Afro-American constituency in this country didn't do a lick of homework about him and was really in a state of self-delusion from the getgo; that's one case where Obama cannot be accused of misleading by any reasonable person. He's not what's called a "brother," and never made the least intimation that he was. He's mixed race, like an increasing number of young people these days. And that he never promised, like John Edwards did, to execute a war on poverty or similar, he mainly talked about the American middle class, from which he came.

    Edit to add: you do know that Cornel West describes himself as a "no-Marxist socialist," right?

    What do you think his neoliberal economics team and policies are about?  The Congressional Black Caucus was upset with him because Obama seemed to be bending over backwards to NOT be seen as 'speaking for his black constituency.  All other Presidents have met with them at a far greater rate over the caucus's 40-some year history, and note how often he has canceled meetings with them.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins:

    "The last meeting President Obama had with the Congressional Black Caucus was March 31, where he congratulated the caucus on its 40th anniversary. As Dr. Wilmer Leon and I noted earlier this week, the Obama Administration’s gatekeepers have inexplicably canceled several meetings with the Congressional Black Caucus over the past two years.  Dr. Leon and I speculate that the meeting cancellations were due to members of the administration, most notably Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, not having an interest in putting the president face-to-face with African American political leaders.  [snip]

    As a Professor of Finance myself, I can tell you that the bottom line is that the nation’s economic recovery has missed the African American community because there has been little to no targeted investment in the places where black people live.  NAACP President Ben Jealous made the accurate point that much of the money that might have been spent on education and economic development has instead been spent on building more prisons and jails so they can be filled with people who look like us.  At the end of the day, the Obama Administration, the CBC and the Justice Department must find a way to work together to alleviate the suffering of African American taxpayers by finding the incentive to utilize political capital for issues that matter to our community.  For example, while Attorney General Eric Holder has taken admirable stances on gay rights and immigration, he has yet to even mention the mass incarceration of African American men, which serves to destroy black families.

    Most importantly, the critical meetings, conversations and commitments must not simply be made during campaign season.  The black community has given unprecedented and extraordinary support to the Obama Administration, supplying nearly 20% of the votes that got the president elected.  It is only fair and reasonable that this same extraordinary support be returned.  Let’s hope that this meeting is the start of something good, for we deserve our piece of the political pie."

    Hope you're not trying to tell Stilli that West self-identifying as a socialist is scary; Bernie Sanders is, too, and is easily one of the bravest fighters for justice and equality out there.

    AA is saying Obama doesn't care about black people, but that this is just fine and Stilli and others shouldn't worry their pretty heads over it.

    Got it.  But I'm still confused by this:

    "Obama is no lefty to be sure, but believing that he's in the pocket of and following the dictates of some wealthy and powerful is as delusional as thinking he's led by Kenyan Marxist beliefs."

    It seems belied by the fact that Obama derailed meaningful financial re-regulation, bailed out Wall Street, embraces 'cut the deficit' talk, encourages austerity for us, doesn't have Holder prosecute Wall Street fraud...and by who is on his call sheets daily.

    I think the idea is: he isn't "in their pocket" - his personal policy preferences just serendipitously dovetail with the interests of corporate political contributors.

    I forgot about 'serendipity'; thank you.  I'm sure he got the Straight Poop Talk from Rubin exactly like Clinton did.  Took it as gospel, too.  So it goes, I guess.  That Rubin must have some freakin' charisma.

    that this is just fine and Stilli and others shouldn't worry their pretty heads over it.

    No I'm not. I'm saying there's no evidence for some of the claims stillidealistic is concerned with in her original post. And that it might help her to look at what the president is arguing in public, to the public, that he is trying to do in his current fight with Republicans, for which he wants public support.

    Rather than pie in the sky that some on the left (who aren't politicians in current office) imagined he would do and are now angry he isn't doing even though they just imagined it.

    I have no agenda to convince anyone not to be upset with Obama, they have every right if they do not agree, I just find it sad to see people doing it from the point of a narrative created that is tied up with personal anger, agenda, vendetta and identity politics.

    What do you and stardust have against reading his speech explaining what he's trying to do? It's like you're saying: don't bother listening to him, listen to Cornel West, he knows what the president really thinks! Do you really believe that?

    She should by all means read Obama's speeches - more recent ones as well as back from the campaign. She should look back at that policy platform and the values he's defending there. She should then look at his subsequent actions and his strategy.

    Of course he isn't a liberal. But he ran as one, and liberals are right to be angry he lied.

    Unlike you I don't think think looking at his record will make him look any better.

    As for now, unlike you I don't think he is in any kind of 'fight' with the republicans if you have in mind the budget issue. He deliberately handed them the debt-ceiling card back in december (remember he wanted them to 'take responsibility'...). He declared 70 bn dollars lopped off the '11 budget a huge victory -- unless you think he is insincere he is a strong advocate for spending cuts, primarily on welfare programs sparing regulatory agencies and corporate subsidies. From my point of view he talks like someone who wants cuts, he acts like someone who wants cuts, and wants bipartisan cover for those cuts. Thanks to his machinations, Simpson-Bowles is now the LEFT extreme of the debate on where to cut, and the sham urgency of imminent default along with the two parties forming a united front will let some pretty unforgiveable cuts pass.

    We could go on and discuss his administration's financial policy - covering for widespread fraud, blaming underwater homeowners, undermining reform, aiding and abetting the foreclosure mess via HAMP...

    But hey, let's just say his detractors are crazy socialists, and leave it there shall we?

    I don't want to get into the debate about Obama's success as president, but I can't help take issue with one statement:

    Of course he isn't a liberal. But he ran as one, and liberals are right to be angry he lied.

    Did he really run as a liberal? I don't recall that at all. I remember Republicans calling him a liberal, but his rhetoric, as I recall, was mostly "post-partisan." There was the usual dance that politicians do where they emphasize their ideological creds during the primary and their moderate creds during the GE, but if anything, Obama seemed less ideological to me than most candidates during the primary.

    If you have evidence of him lying to liberals, I would curious to see it. My sense is Obama was prudently coy about his ideology, which caused some liberals to interpret him as being more liberal than he is.

    Okay. Let me rephrase that - many liberals reasonably thought he was a liberal, and he naturally didn't disabuse them of that notion.

    Getting his picture taken with Volcker got many people thinking he would take a reformist view of Wall Street. He made all kinds of friendly noises about single-payer - oh yeah i'd do that if I were dictator, but given the political landscape... 

    All thos placards with CHANGE on them. Some people saw that as a change in tone, others saw that as substantive policy change - i.e. a leftward change. As many good politicians he was all things to everyone during the campaign. But once in government he was going to disappoint either the left or the moderates. He opted to do the former, and I think the left, the poor, the unemployed, minorities, labor, all strong supporters who are getting ignored, can feel legitimately aggrieved that he did not live up to his campaign promises - explicit or implicit.

    How's that?

    A little better, but getting a picture with Volcker and uh...making not much evidence for a belief. I would say that many liberals made an assumption that turned out to be incorrect. So I guess that you can blame Obama for not being clear, but that's hardly the same as breaking campaign promises.

    On the contrary, I would say that vagueness is wise political strategy. If Obama had turned out to much more liberal than he had let on in the campaign, wouldn't you be applauding him?

    PS And what the heck is an implicit promise? Isn't that a way of saying that he didn't actually break any promises.

    An implicit promise? Leading someone to understand that you will govern a certain way. So take Volcker. He was Obama's economic advisor along with Goolsbee. Contrasted with Hillary going with Gene "deregulation" Sperling, that indicated a certain direction on financial regulation after the crisis, one differing importantly from Hillary's. To then keep Volcker on as a nice WH decoration while handing the whole finance portfolio to Geithner and Summers is a betrayal of that 'implicit' promise. Talking favorably about single-payer, saying in an ideal world it would be his preference, and then excluding the single-payer crowd even from the beginning negotiations to set out the left-most marker, that would be another betrayal of an implicit promise. On the other hand, including the individual mandate, which he campaigned hard against, in the HCR bill would be a betrayal of an explicit promise.

    I don't know if 'implicit promise' is the right expression for it, but it is imho legitimate grounds for feeling aggrieved and betrayed.

    The individual mandate being one of the uglier parts of this bill, probably driving the most resistance, despite the "death panels" PR.

    Eye of the beholder, I guess, but these examples strike me as pretty thin gruel, especially when compared to other presidents. And while I gather that these examples led you personally to expect Obama to be more liberal, I'm skeptical that they explain the anger that most liberals have been expressing.

    To be honest, efforts to present Obama as a betrayer and a promise-breaker tend to come across as rationalizations for the anger associated with disappointment and frustration. I don't mean that in a dismissive way. I respect many of those who are very critical of Obama's leadership, and I appreciate the bitter passion that Dan K, for example, recently expressed, even if I don't share it.

    But at the risk of over-generalization, I feel that Obama has become an easy receptacle for the anger and frustration of the left. By casting him as a traitor or a liar or an elite snob, as opposed to a weak or mistaken leader, it becomes easier to hate him and to unload rage upon his head. It's a weird mirror image of what the right wing has been doing since before the 2008 election.

    Even you, Obey, whose opinion and intelligence I respect very much. It seems like you really want to despise Obama, so you instinctively overstate his promise-breaking and then try to back up the charge in a way that seems uncharacteristically strained. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's worth considering.

    Wow. Gotta clarify some things.

    1. I never thought he was liberal. I thought he was overall the most moderate of the three Dems in the primary. Given my personal focus on finance issues, I did however think Volcker's endorsement gave hope he would do some reform there. The switch to Geithner and Summers was a big disappointment.

    2. I never personally felt any sense of betrayal. If I'm giving that impression its because here I'm trying to render comprehensible and reasonable the sense of betrayal others might feel, others who put alot of effort into getting him elected, who pinned their hopes on him, and have been hit hard by the recession.

    3. As for wanting to despise him, no. If I'm somewhat, let's say "aggressive", in my approach towards the administration at times, it is precisely because I don't believe he is liberal and that liberals need to be much more aggressive - even confrontational - in their dealings with the administration. They need to stop letting Obama call them fucking retards or sanctimonious shits without consequences, throwing out their priorities without a hearing, shutting down their policy campaigns, marginalizing them to the point where HE - and not they - are the outer leftwing edge of respectable debate. There is an assumption among liberals that 100% support for whatever Obama opts to do is the right strategy because Obama is a liberal and so is already trying to get the most liberal variant of legislation passed or policy implemented and that any moderation therein must  be due to political realities of some sort. If he isn't a liberal there is no foundation for that strategy. If they want to get heard, if they want to move Obama left they have to MAKE HIM HEAR THEM. And letting him dictate their talking points, their campaign moves, is just maddening to me ... since he isn't their leader.

    He is their natural ally against the right, but that is a very different kind of relationship than what liberals think they have.

    So I don't despise him - he seems like a really nice guy. I don't want to despise him either. I do however wish more liberals had a less dysfunctional relationship - all in terms of loyalty and hope which then get inevitably transformed into bitter sense of betrayal and despair. I just don't find it healthy.

    Anyway, thanks for your perspective on me. It's always interesting to see how one comes across...

    OK, my apologizes. I hear you on liberals standing up for themselves, though as I've argued elsewhere, I believe that electoral power is the key. Speak softly and carry a big stick, as a famous progressive (in the traditional sense) once said (in a different context).

    Please, Obey, stop saying Obama called liberals effing retards. He didn't, Rahm Emmanuel did.

    I think you're right, and it was Gibbs who said that 'the professional left' needed to be drug-tested.  Cool messaging.

    Speculating that both Gibbs and Rahm were mouthing Obama's words?  I'd call that. . .oh, I don't know. . .speculation?  Nice.


    I think that it's been pretty well-stablished that it was a concerted effort of the administration to distance itself from the Left wing of the Democratic Party.  It may have been a good strategy then, or even now, but it was not accidental.  Gibbs goes out with instructions; Rahm?  He may just pop off, but likely knows what he's doing most of the time.

    Fair enough. But when his spokesman or chief of staff says something when speaking for the President, the latter owns that statement.

    The point is he didn't say it and you keep saying he did.  You're also suggesting he authorized it when he obviously didn't--or wouldn't.

    I don't know. It's a running theme with this administration - of the various insults emanating from the WH, calling leftists 'sanctimonious' - that one from Obama himself - strikes me as much worse than 'fucking retarded' or the other cracks coming from underlings. I see a pattern, a culture of contempt. To each his own...

    Right, "Barry gave a speech" back in 2002 that everyone paraded as hard evidence he'd be different from Hillary the War Monger on the Iraq War, and presumably all war. Well, still have 47,000 troops there (plus more contractors), and we're dug in deeper in Afghanistan, and simply extended operations to Yemen, Libya, wherever else necessary.

    What happened to closing Gitmo? Was "Bradley Manning's being treated good enough" what we expected?

    Hell, what happened to the great campaign social media list that was supposed to turn into Town Hall 2.0? Wasn't that FISA about-face just a symbol of things to come? Like putting in Geithner to handle the economic crisis? When there's obviously widespread illegal mortgage activity hitting the papers, shouldn't Mr. Street Organizer be covering the backs of the little people, not the banks?

    How many times did Obama talk about his Constitutional Law background informing his Presidency - how come we just see an ever growing expansion of government's ability to scan, search, detain, question, torture, with all rights for victims to contest it subject to the secrecy needed for the "War on Terror"? 

    Quite frankly, my objections to Obama in the primaries were he was a puffed-up amateur whose promises were detached from anything he would actually deliver. But while I expected him to be opportunistic, I still expected more moral leadership, more of his mother's hippie generation values to influence his actions. I'm amazed by just how much of a corporatist he is, and just how much against progressive activism he is.

    Here's a list of promises kept and broken from politifact:

    They do rate Gitmo as a broken promise, though the details are a little complicated when you drill down.

    Why did you expect Obama to be anti-corporate? That wasn't part of his campaign.

    The one thing that did strike me as clear in his campaign was his focus on transparency and grassroots democracy. I agree that we haven't seen that since Nov. 2008.

    Not "corporatist" does not equal "anti-corporate". I'm pro-corporate, but I'm not for the President to be captive of only corporate interests.

    If you go through areas like Tax, Economy and Military, you see broken promises in areas like mortgage protection, cutting the tax breaks on the wealthy, closing Gitmo, limiting influence of lobbyists.

    Iraq withdrawal is really Bush's baby - from Wikipedia: "This plan falls almost into perfect alignment with the Strategic Framework Agreement signed by then President George W. Bush and prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki, with the exception of being a month behind, as the majority of troops under that plan were supposed to be withdrawn by June 30, 2010 with all troops being withdrawn by December 31, 2011[And of course with 50,000 troops left and unknown contractors, it ain't quite over.

     The Health Care Bill I'm not happy about (they point out that he broke the promise on cutting families' costs, though says he's "working on it". Good luck with that).

    While he didn't promise not to give away billions to pump up Goldman Sachs, and trillions in other Wall Street prop-up, I'm not thrilled about it, nor how there have been no real prosecutions for illegal activity, nor how the stimulus was diluted with unhelpful tax cuts when it was needed. (Unemployment rate is at 9.0% still, higher for many minorities. Do I have to make the case that we need more job stimulus, 2 years 4 months after the first was diluted?)

    Not where his tone-deaf opening of the Gulf for drilling 1-month before the blowout fits. Not quite a campaign promise, but truly a disappoint as he shielded BP from too much responsibility.

    I think guiding Stilli to a speech is almost a misdirection; what Obama says in a speedh often bears little resemblence to what he then does.  'Lsiten to Cornel West, he knows what the president is really thinks"?  You have seen no evidence of that from me, and certainly not obey, oh boy.  ;o)

    I put up a few facts and opinions about how seldom he's met with the black caucus which has irked black leaders and MCs for a long time.  Not probitive enough for you?  Fine, I guess.  But moost presidents when faced with such horrific unemployment numbers would make it a point to at least meet to talk about it, maybe try to figure out some plan targeting it.  The author in the link I gave spoke of how often he meets with Hispanic leaders, for instance.  He does need to woo them, especially now, as the numbers look bad for him.

    Broken promises; sheesh.  How many times have any of us gone in search of links...too many.  Here's a short list offa the top of my head:  Rewrite NAFTA; it's unfair.  NOW, there more trade deals in the very same non-fair trade style.  NO signing statements: even if he made some arguably good ones, some have directly been aimed at NOT limiting his executive authority.

    Candidate Obama railed against denial of habeas corpus; the Prez codified it.  And codified indefinite detention and assassinate of US citizens abroad.  He vowed to protect whistleblowers, and his DoJ is prosecuting many (see Drake over the wiretapping bullshit) and  other slimey cases I can't name at the moment.They indicate a trend, not anomalies.

    No back-room deals, everything will be done transparently.  Now that one does get under my skin; deals with the hospital industry, big Pharma, Big Banks...too many times, and not to our benefit.

    I wish I could remember more of what he said about the poor and disappearing middle class, but I'd have to say some of his austerity moves have been antithetical to fixing them.  And his last SOTU was the first in four decades not to mention the poor according to some advocates for The Poor.  Charles Blow was one; yes, here it is. He also brought up the fact that Obama told us, and we thrilled, that he would be The Education President.  Yeah.  As Blow says, Duncan has repackaged bromides and mixed in corporate-funded charter schools and more testing...not so good for the schools; many serious educators are simmering.

    Anyhoo, AA, Genghis, I don't hate him, but I am really angry with him, and despise how many times he's undermined the Rule of Law in our names.  Gotta go; I'm working on something, and really didn't need the distraction, but I couldn't help myself.    ;o)

    Oh--and when it comes to moderate, progressive, liberal, all that...the rules have sure changed if anyone takes A-man's definition to heart.  Some policies don't seem to have easily defined slots along that continuum, IMO.  They might just be almost conventionally right and good.

    Hope you're not trying to tell Stilli that West self-identifying as a socialist is scary;

    I would think she was grown up enough to know what socialism is and whether she agrees with it or not and also would have known when she first voted for Obama that he was definitely not a socialist.

    The Congressional Black Caucus was upset with him because Obama seemed to be bending over backwards to NOT be seen as 'speaking for his black constituency.

    Didn't I say it should have been clear to most people he's never been a "brother"? It isn't my problem that Cornel West deluded himself into thinking he was, or knew that he wasn't but thought egotistically that he could change him.

    Beyond the couple of comments I made at the end, I was just trying to get across to Stilli that she might find heartening a little balance in reading beyond believing everything Cornel West says on the topic of the president, and judge for herself from his own recent words what he might be up to.  (Especially since many black political writers and activists are not buying West's narrative.) I really don't know her policy preferences, beyond her being a Republican before Obama's election, perhaps she is 100% socialist now.

    I do understand many of you commenting here have a lot invested in continually trying to prove that Obama is doing a horrific job  and is little different from Rush Limbaugh, and like to jump at the chance whenever someone like West is bashing him, to encourage solidarity in the bashing. I don't. Don't see any practical value in spending my time arguing about that, you all seem very passionate about it and aren't going to change your minds.

    Neither do I see much value in me, an anonymous commenter on the net, spending time supporting or decrying neoliberal economics or even Obama. Few are going to change their mind on either.

    Really sorry I felt sorry for how bummed out stilli sounded as if she had just found out that Obama was an ogre no different than Rush Limbaugh, and was tempted to post that link. Won't make that mistake again. Really dislike being interrogated about my  personal political or policy beliefs and truly don't understand why anyone (especially someone who has their mind made up) wants to know them, consider it an exercise in futility, a waste of time that could be spent reading things that help promote understanding of what's going on. I.E. why do you need my opinion,about what is happening once you know what has happened,  I presume you have your own.

    The rest, can't even say where you're going, AA.  Can't see that I asked about your personal or political opinion, or that Stilli thought Obama was 'an ogre like Rush Limbaugh'.  I thought she was concerned that he wasn't giving enough attention to the lower classes and disapperaing middle classes.

    And Obey's right; it was Emma who first brought racism to the discussion, though I admit we had a bit of fun about it.   ;o)

    Where's the rating button when you need one?  

    >>>> 5 <<<<

    A small addition or maybe just another way of saying what you did:  The most recent cultural heritage that Obama and West share is through Obama's white roots.  Many in the black community including Smiley and West recognized that during the campaign but voted for him anyway.  Far too many white people voted for Obama just because he appears black.  Now some of them are upset because he does not act black.   Where is the thread mocking that cognitive dissonance?

    The new meme that really slays me is Al Sharpton not being black enough.Wink

    And when did Mr. Tavis "to get rich is glorious and by the way buy some insurance" Smiley morph into Mr. Anti-Capitalist-Anti-Corporatist? No one tol me!

    I can quite suss out your meaning in the first part, Emma, but this: "Far too many white people voted for Obama just because he appears black.  Now some of them are upset because he does not act black.   Where is the thread mocking that cognitive dissonance?"

    You imply that they are the same people; I doubt it, and you don't know it.  But it does bring up one of fun things about the man you may not have noticed: he can change his speech patterns and word usage in different venues.  I kinda like it, actually, but he has that gift of a showman, and another is exquisite timing in delivering jokes.  He's aces at it.

    And I can't quite like the bit about 'far too many white people voting for him just because he appears black.'  I do think some were tickled to be able to vote for a half-black man, including myself, as it augured in a new age in American political possibilities, but few would have voted on that basis alone, IMO.  Ergo: no cognitive dissonance.

    Not sure I understand your questions.

    I did not imply they are the same people.  I said they were -- some of many would be the same set, right?

    And to answer a question with a question: How is being tickled to vote for a half-black man not racist albeit inverted?   FWIW, I do think being Obama's being black was the primary reason many, many, many people voted for him.  Maybe as you say, not the only reason.   Still.

    So are people also sexist if they favor more women on the Supreme Court?

    Love how you're our own little Limbaugh, right here at Dag!!

    I'm on the phone w/ my daughter; but I was gonna say:

    "I'm a reverse racist and proud of it !!!!"    Cool

    Why aren't you on the phone with your son, you sexist!!

    Cuz I'm also a racist, and he's black, that's why!  Plus he's on a fire (as irony would have it) near the Chiricahua mountains in SE Arizona, land of the legendary Geronimo.  (I'm also a professional Indian-lover; damn, I wear too many racial hats!  O' Course, if I weren't an Indian-lover, I couldn't love my daughter either...  Oy; life is complicated...thank God it's (Hark!) to vodka...  Innocent


    My family tree has three of the four races in it. Not really sure how the chromsomes played out over the generations. If I had realzed the implications of that back in 1970 I might have been a little more friendly with the Japanese exchange student I dated a couple of times.

    I am proud of many of my ancestors and embarassed by others not because of what race they are but for their principles, characters, accomplishments, and ultimately their perservance.  Those are not aspects of race or sex.


    That sounds very unbiased of you, Emma.  I just got an email with Wattree's new blog, so he'll be posting it at dagblog soon.  It's on the same subject, and given that he loathes both Smiley and West, dagblog can do this all over again.  Cool

    If the primary reason for favoring a woman on the Supreme Court is her sex, then, yes, those people are sexist.

    Very, very rarely listen to talk radio or cable news programs but I doubt I am very much like them.  Too agoraphobic. :D


    Well the primary reason is generally that they are qualified. Then the further question might be why this person rather than some other qualified person? And the answer is - we need more female representation on the SC, given that they come with a different set of sensibilities that needs to be given weight in SC deliberations, etc. That isn't a sexist set of criteria, in the relevant sense of "unfairly discriminatory" that Limbaugh sees it as, and that you seem to see it as.

    Same goes for Obama. I don't think very many people sat there and thought, "hm, I prefer McCain in terms of his policy platform and his wonderful presidential temperament, and he shares my concerns more, .... but hey Obama is black so I'll vote for him."

    Maybe two or three nutballs thought that way. I don't think there was a massive demand out there for ANY RANDOM BLACK CANDIDATE. I think people overwhelmingly voted for Obama because he was the more qualified candidate with the more appealing set of policy proposals, and THEN they were thrilled to finally have a black President after America's long and shameful oppression of blacks. A page was turned.

    I think some black people, and some whites as well perhaps, voted for him because of his blackness ... but only insomuch as his being black meant he might care about the issues facing the black community more than other candidates, issues that have long been ignored and desperately need the attention. That doesn't mean the motivation is some form or racism. You choose candidates for what issues you think they should and will be sensitive to and their life experience is an important indication on that score.

    In sum, I think you're besmirching perfectly laudable motivations for voting for Obama, and you're doing so in an inexcusable manner.

    I am betting you will appreciate this far far better thread on topic @ Ta-Nehisi Coates on how West is doing a type of dog whistle and being a hypocrite to boot.

    Also interesting: how few of Mr. Coates' commenting community are fans of Mr. West's shtick, it's like 99% agin' him (actually couldn't find any support at all, but to be safe...)  And how humorous many of them are in expressing that. And how many of the 172 comments have mass quantities of "like" ratings.

    Meanwhile, here at dagblog, where commenting people of color are a minority, the discussion is  basically still stuck back somewhere in the 80's (mho,) and you're basically being subjected to calls to prove you're not a racist.

    You know what? Most of the discussion on this thread looks just plain ridiculous compared to that one.

    Go a few comments upthread, I think you'll see Emma is the one who started smearing the racism meme all over this wonderful discussion.

    I agree with her on that. M.J. Rosenberg comes to mind as an excellent example of reverse racist support of Obama for president; used to sometimes make me nearly sick to my stomach . For over a year he waxed poetic man love for the young black face running for president even though from his blogging history it was clear he disagreed with nearly every policy statement Obama ever made. I could see no reason for his support except for his excitement over the color of Obama's skin. And he'd call Hillary supporters racist because they didn't support Obama.

    My own father to this day has got some serious racist tendencies from his Depression era upbringing, and bragged to all and sundry about his vote for Obama proving he's not a racist, especially to his half-Afro-American granddaughter who has learned well to roll her eyes behind her grandfather's back.

    Trotting out Rosenberg as representative of a segment of the population? That guy is so many kinds of stupid wrapped up in one that I don't think you can take him as an example of any particular type. The man is unique.

    As for racists proud to vote for a black man, sure. But I don't see there a tendency to have voted for Obama just for the sake of voting for a black man. In any case I haven't met these people.

    I certainly recall a few bloggers - white and black - who seemed to have that as their only reason, but then again you always have people with single focus on 1 issue, whether it's a cure-all disposition or simply think it's the most important issue to confront.

    That said, I think most people were trying to figure out who would fix the melting economy and get us out of Iraq/Afghanistan quickest. The senile cantankerous old vet and his deer-in-the-headlights tape recorder side kick didn't inspire all, but still managed to pull 46% of the vote.

    Thanks much for the link.   This paragraph quoting Adam Serwer is so good:

    Growing up mixed you sometimes face a kind of confusion. Those around you press you to make a choice about how much of yourself you're willing to give up, how much you're are willing to pretend in order to claim membership in one club or another. West demands to know why Obama isn't sitting at the black table in the dining hall, while reminding him that he's only welcome there by his graces. What you eventually learn is that peace is not something the "gatekeepers" have to offer and is the last thing they want you to find. Eventually you learn the rules of the game are silly and destructive, and who you are can't be negotiated either way. 


    As I have learned over the past few days, Dr. West is an interesting character. He supports PETA for crying out loud! He CAN'T be all bad! LOL!

    As for being a Socialist? I used to think that was a bad thing. But anymore, I see unfettered capitalism to be even worse in some respects. I think we need to come up with a uniquely American blend of the two...incentives to produce, and the need for ALL to contribute to society in some way, but a safety net for all, as well.

    There is much wrong with this country. There are inequities all around us, and the voices that point them out need to be heard, not just the ones that are trying to protect the wealthiest amongst us.

    Sometimes those voices are hard to hear because of the WAY they say what they say, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore them. We need to dig through the crap and hear the important stuff.

    Thank you guys all so much for the interest shown in this post. We've covered a lot of ground, and I really appreciate you helping me think my way through it. I really have learned a lot the last couple of days. I've watched and read every link provided, and I'm continuing to mull it all over.

    At the very least, I recognize that the left needs to continue to be vocal about the changes they want to see in the country, while at the same time recognizing that we live in the country the way it is, not the way we want it to be. I continue to believe in baby steps forward over no steps at all or moving backwards. I would love to move left faster, but seriously, with the newly energized move sharply right we are experiencing in this country, it ain't gunna happen. We'll be lucky not to lose the progress we've made.

    Maybe once the economy recovers (if it does) people will open up to the idea of helping each other again. Right now, there seems to be more of a push to protect the rich and hope they take care of the rest of us. Good luck with that.


    Thank you, Stilli, for starting this thread and for staying calm throughout!  It's been fascinating and a true learning experience. 

    You're speaking for me here, too:

    At the very least, I recognize that the left needs to continue to be vocal about the changes they want to see in the country, while at the same time recognizing that we live in the country the way it is, not the way we want it to be. I continue to believe in baby steps forward over no steps at all or moving backwards.

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