Which Communities are Still in High Sizzle Support Mode for Barack Obama?

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rick warren barack obama 2008.jpg
We suspect that Rick Warren probably still is buddies with President Obama and keeps the photos of his big day offering Barack Obama’s Inauguration day prayer prominently in his office, his home, his wallet, maybe on the dashboard of his car.
I know that there are a lot of folks out there who are as grateful today for Barack Obama running the nation as they were in January — but we aren’t hearing much from them of late. According to new Zogby numbers, Obama’s numbers are down in nearly every category of voter.
The “Republicans for Obama” crowd led by folks like former Senator Lincoln Chafee, former House International Relations Committee Chairman Jim Leach, philanthropist and lawyer Rita Hauser, and Ike granddaughter and national security policy expert Susan Eisenhower seem to me less enthused for Obama today as they watch with dismay the Obama team make some of the mistakes in Afghanistan that the Bush administration made in Iraq. Men, women, resources, drones, aid, all pumping into the AfPak region without a clear strategy with benchmarks for achievement.
The progressive left is having a tough time with Obama’s seemingly trigger-finger readiness to drop what progressives most want in a health care, or stimulus package, or other legislative efforts in order to satisfy a Republican right that keeps spitting on the President’s plans.
Thus far, Obama’s economic recovery efforts have kept more Goldman Sachs employees in their third Hamptons homes mortgages than average Americans in their homes and in their jobs.
And the gay community — despite the very best efforts of “out” Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry to assure otherwise — is doubting Barack Obama’s resolve to change the administration’s positions on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and to reverse the toxic impact of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
President Obama had a swell cocktail gathering at the White House for leaders of the gay community — and called out a whole slew of gay leaders’ names no doubt making them feel pretty good. But the bottom line is that moving issues important to the gay community is a low-ish priority for the President and his team. Because it’s clear that Obama just isn’t spending capital moving those issues.
To date, he has not asked the Joint Chiefs for the “policy review” he feels is necessary to move the Pentagon forward on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Colin Powell has publicly stated that it is time for such a policy review. Even the once Salem Witch Trial style anti-gay paranoiac Senator Sam Nunn — who once fired two of his own staff for being gay and worrying about their threat to national security — has said times have changed and believes it is time for a “policy review.” But Obama has not asked for it.
Cocktail parties are not enough. As NPR’s Liz Halloran outlines, the gay community is vexed with the lack of action by the Obama administration. When John Berry powerfully and forcefully said at a recent Gay Pride Festival in Washington that “before the sun sets on the Obama administration, President Obama will reverse the Defense of Marriage Act and will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, it didn’t send a message of commitment.
Instead, these statements by the OPM Director, who is a fantastic guy and good friend, conveyed the political reality that the gay community is in last place when it comes to policy priorities.
When the sun sets is not soon enough.
Which communities are still in high sizzle mode for the Obama administration?
— Steve Clemons

Comments

79 comments on “Which Communities are Still in High Sizzle Support Mode for Barack Obama?

  1. silver slipper says:

    Well, at least I got everyone to stop complaining about President Obama! (LOL) I think my first idea was best. Let’s just split the country into two, and let’s part our ways……

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    People smart enough to get rich, two tales:
    “After the mortgage business imploded last year, Wall Street investment banks began searching for another big idea to make money. They think they may have found one.
    The bankers plan to buy “life settlements,” life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash — $400,000 for a $1 million policy, say, depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to “securitize” these policies, in Wall Street jargon, by packaging hundreds or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell those bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die.
    The earlier the policyholder dies, the bigger the return — though if people live longer than expected, investors could get poor returns or even lose money.
    Either way, Wall Street would profit by pocketing sizable fees for creating the bonds, reselling them and subsequently trading them. But some who have studied life settlements warn that insurers might have to raise premiums in the short term if they end up having to pay out more death claims than they had anticipated.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/business/06insurance.html?_r=1&hp
    Read it and weep. Here we go again….
    And then this:
    “In the small trailer her family rented over the summer, 9-year-old Charity Crowell picked out the green and purple outfit she would wear on the first day of school. She vowed to try harder and bring her grades back up from the C’s she got last spring — a dismal semester when her parents lost their jobs and car and the family was evicted and migrated through friends’ houses and a motel.
    Charity is one child in a national surge of homeless schoolchildren that is driven by relentless unemployment and foreclosures. The rise, to more than one million students without stable housing by last spring, has tested budget-battered school districts as they try to carry out their responsibilities — and the federal mandate — to salvage education for children whose lives are filled with insecurity and turmoil.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/education/06homeless.html?hp
    So let us sing the praises of those smart enough to make a lot of money, those dumb enough to fall through the cracks, those brave conservatives who think each should take care of himself. Sing O sing the song of the moneymakers.
    And as for poor people’s inability to create jobs, every job has two sides, a need and a supplier. All those poor people had damned well better have enough money to pay for their needs or not a single SMART person is going to be able to CREATE any jobs at all.
    There is this funny double bind with money making. Once you’ve “made” all the money there is, there’s nothing left in anyone else’s hands. So what do you do then? As money concentrates too much in the hands of too few (which happens without regulation of the money flow), then no more money can be “made.”
    In fact, there’s no money ever MADE. It needs to flow, to move, to wash through the society like blood in a body, bringing oxygen, food, water, and enjoyment to each individual. Without the flow, we have nothing. The flow only happens when an overarching entity steps in and ensures that we don’t hold the money forever, collect it all, and keep it for ourselves. (Read: taxation, fees, regulations, requirements…. All the stuff those brave old school conservatives hate.) If we do like the right wing wants us to do, we don’t end up where the right wing wants us to end up.
    Conservatism is inherently untenable.

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/max-blumenthal-how-fanatical-religio
    An interesting read on Dobson and the religious right. That “conservatives” are in bed with these people is interesting in and of itself.

    Reply

  4. questions says:

    OA,
    Please look at where that simple belief leads….
    If you leave people alone, they cannot at all coordinate their actions because there are real barriers to being the one who modifies behavior when others are not forced to do the same (read your Hobbes).
    If you leave people alone, some will so totally rip off others that the others have no stake in the society and will work to destroy it. (Read the last few books of Plato’s Republic to see a beautiful rendering of the end of a society when the dispossessed have absolutely no reason to participate, cooperate, exert self-control.)
    If you leave people alone, does that mean no public school, no social security/pension/health care help? No public health? (Give it a try. Nothing like a major outbreak of an infectious disease!! Woohoo! No government is gonna tell me to get vacinated or stay home! I’m a gonna infect everyone, and then I’ll drop dead!!)
    No regulation of commerce, construction, utilities? (Oh dear, I just electrocuted the third kid this week. That darned wiring. Maybe we should have a building code. OOPS, the building just fell down in the rain. Maybe we really should have a building code. But that’ll just increase the cost of building. Can’t do that. I won’t be able to compete….)
    If you leave other nations alone, does that mean no foreign relations at all? No alliances? No trade regimes? No cooperation on piracy, standards? It really doesn’t work.
    What really is “leave” or “limit?” These are ill-defined, poorly bounded, “feel-good” terms that have no meaning at all, and lead to an unacceptable end.
    What individual rights are preserved? What conservative actually practices any of this? Should gay marriage be an individual right? Or is it social? What do the conservatives do about this one? Umm, let me guess….
    Is schooling a matter of individual right/responsibility, or is it social? Conservatives often hate public schooling and would like to see it gutted. (The real point behind NCLB was to label all schools as “failing” and gut them.)
    Conservatism as a “leave me alone” philosophy fails. You don’t want to be left alone when you’re drowning or dying or suffering. You actually want help. In fact, no one could logically will a world in which being left alone for real is what happens. You’d be willing your own death and thus inability to will at that point.
    What people REALLY want is all the help they want when they want it and none of the responsibility to limit their own actions, their private sense of private good, their need to do less. It’s really incoherent. (You could look up “act utilitarianism” and “rule utilitarianism” and Kantianism to get some of the basic points about what it means to have others obey rules to suit you while you disobey rules to suit yourself. And my guess is that TRUE CONSERVATISM finds its TRUE PLACE in this incoherent mess of wanting good and not wanting to sacrifice for someone else’s good. Selfishness and a refusal to see the personhood of others are at the core.)
    Libertarianism is incoherent, and when followed through, leads to an impossible world where there is no social cooperation because there is no social authority because we’re all being left alone. Read your Hobbes (or Spark Note it or Wiki it) to see what happens next!

    Reply

  5. Outraged American says:

    Baloney – a true old school conservative believes that the US
    should leave other nations alone, limited federal government and
    individual rights.

    Reply

  6. questions says:

    There’s no increase for inflation because there hasn’t been much in the way of inflation. It works that way.
    Note that you are arguing two contradictory positions. If SoSec payments don’t rise for a year or two, then there will be more money (not really, but that’s ok, it seems that way) for people your age, so that should make you feel more secure. BUT instead, you freak out that with negative inflation and a lack of COLAs, people will suffer. Which is it you want?
    The conservative way of “helping” people is to leave them to their own devices, to allow power to concentrate in few and thoroughly monopolistic hands, to let those at the top keep the proceeds of the labor of those at the bottom, to allow owners to do better than renters, to make it somewhere between difficult and impossible for workers to join together to fight the owners. the real fix, of course, is higher tax rates and significant redistribution of wealth. Really.
    ***
    http://www.nber.org/aginghealth/summer04/w10466.html
    A quick search on “the effect of social security on elderly poverty” produced this at the top.
    SoSec checks are based on I think it’s the income you receive in the last three years of your work. You’re supposed to supplement it with either a private pension or with private savings or asset sales (get rid of the house….) Sadly, pensions have gone the way of many fringe benefits, and pay has stayed stable while inflation erodes its value and so many people can’t really quite afford to save money for retirement. So things are a little harder on the elderly than they used to be, but still the supplemental income is often the difference between making it and not.
    ***
    “About 50 million retired and disabled Americans receive Social Security benefits. The average monthly benefit for retirees is $1,153 this year. All beneficiaries received a 5.8 percent increase in January, the largest since 1982.”
    From a news article by the AP from August. $1100 is pretty helpful for getting through a month.
    ***
    All the stuff I’ve ever read on SoSec has noted that it has reduced poverty among the elderly in significant fashion even as it has caused problems for younger people. It’s a trade off. the money you middle aged conservatives put in now goes to the current elderly population, and the money that younger people put in in 20 years will go to you. You’ll get yours, don’t worry. SoSec is doing fine, and the “lock box” nonsense is just that — nonsense.
    Money flows around and each dollar is the same as all the other dollars. No dollars are ever locked up unless you keep them under your mattress. Your money in the bank is loaned out pretty instantly and it flows all over the place, and yet, presto magico, is generally still there when you want to make a withdrawal. No lockboxes at the bank either.
    Having some facts behind your worldview might ease some of your anxiety.
    Really, turn off Fox News. They don’t provide facts, they provide anxiety attacks.

    Reply

  7. silver slipper says:

    Questions:
    You’re pulling things into your response that I didn’t say. My complaint against the government regarding social security was that when it was started, the government was to set the money aside and not touch it (except to pay for people’s monthly payments). They didn’t do that. They’ve included all of Americans’ social security taxes into the regular budget and spent it. I didn’t say I thought our taxes paid to social security should have been put in the market – I know that was President Bush’s idea when he was president – but that’s not what I was saying. I myself have never had much faith in the stock market. I kind of feel like you have a mental stereotype of what a conservative is and you think that applies to me.
    People getting rich are not making other people poor. If I become poor it will be because I lose my job for whatever reason that may be. I’ve never considered myself poor even when I first started out on my own and made minimum wage. If I have a job, I’m not poor. I just have to make sure I live within my means.
    I also did not once say I was afraid in my previous post either. I am not afraid of not having social security. But it is realistic to say that it will not be available. The thing that upsets me about it is that the government has lied. The government is not to be trusted. They’ve spent the money I’ve sent for other things.
    I really don’t know how you can say Social Security has ended deep poverty either. If someone only draws $400 a month, they are in deep poverty. Also, what do you think would have happened if it had not been created? I don’t know either of course, but MAYBE people would have become better at saving money and planning for their retirement. And who knows, MAYBE, they would have come out better. Also, MAYBE people would choose to stay in the work force past age 65. I worked with an amazing lady in my job who worked full time (and often signed up for overtime shifts) to age 75+. I really don’t know her exact age when she left. And before you say it, NO she did not keep working because she was forced to from making a low wage. We have a good job, based on a good education, and we make good wages.
    Also, my direct statement along with democrat congress/senate not being concerned for the elderly is… They are not planning to do the annual increase in social security they usually make to account for inflation. You can check out this article if you want. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/148815.php It says that cost of living is not expected to go up next year, but some people’s Medicare B will go up, and other’s Medicare D will go up.
    And with this, I don’t think I’m going to say anymore. We will just go round and round in circles. I do try to understand what you’re saying, and I do follow the links you leave. We just reach different conclusions. Please don’t think that as a conservative that I don’t care about poor people, because I do. It’s just my idea of how to help them is completely different from yours.

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    If Social Security money had been invested in private accounts during the most recent meltdown, then not even that money would have been protected. 35% losses would be common, those dependent on that money (like my mother before she died) would have suddenly been unable to make rent payments, or food payments. Further, when individuals invest, their accounts are expensive to maintain (think of all the fees those really SMART people could collect), and the individual accounts suffer more from mistakes. What a world it would be.
    The fears you have are beyond unjustified, but they are indeed fears. I suggest turning off Fox News which stays in business by frightening the likes of you, and maybe taking a degree in finance or econ. You’ll know more and you’ll have a better sense of when to doubt what you hear on TV.
    As for the poor/rich thing, maybe, just maybe, they are flip sides of one another. Some people end up poor because others end up rich….
    Social Security is responsible for ending true and widespread deep poverty among the elderly. You think 400-1600 a month is too little? Try not having that money and see where you get.
    And no, you don’t KNOW that there will be no money for your retirement. People have been saying that for years. My mom collected enough to live (with some help in addition) til she died. Without that money, she’d have been in my non-existent spare bedroom.
    And “where’s the Democrats’ concern for the elderly?” — You have got to be kidding.
    Keeping SoSec from being privatized? Trying to get Medicare Part D to be based on negotiated drug prices? Pushing health care reform through, preventive care, routine mammograms, generalized redistribution…. It all helps the elderly….

    Reply

  9. silver slipper says:

    Your description of conservative thought is completely inaccurate and affected greatly by your belief that people only care about profit. I want to make a good wage, but I care about people, and I usually give my last dime to help someone else. The things government has done to “help” people, has actually hurt them. I personally am glad there are people smart enough to make lots of money, and have large business, because I’ve never been hired by a poor person. The elderly are in danger of losing their social security and Medicare because our congressmen/ women and senators (that includes democrats, republicans, and independents) have been dishonest caregivers of our funds. Instead of keeping those funds separate, they’ve spent it. I’m middle aged, and I know there will be no funds available by the time I’m a senior citizen. Social Security is also a joke. To live on social security is to live in poverty. It is also this current Democrat controlled senate and congress that is planning for there to be no increase in social security this coming year (you know that yearly adjustment for inflation). So where’s the Democrats’ concern for the elderly?!

    Reply

  10. questions says:

    A conservative person believes that a giant military/industrial/government complex is fine, that the government has a huge role in legislating morality, debt is good when it’s poorer people going into debt to rich people in order to survive, and debt is good when the government uses it to pay for wars, the Constitution should be violated on individual rights (speech, assembly, religion, search and seizure) but should never be violated on “corporate” “rights”, “freedom” is very carefully defined by conservatives, everyone should pull his own weight especially when there are structural barriers to doing so (land-holding patterns, structural unemployment and the like), the elderly should lose Medicare and Social Security (really, that is a conservative view), what one earns by working should be taken by monopolies on the provision of necessites. Water should be owned privately and profiteered. Roads should be owned privately and profiteered. Military service should be private and profiteered.
    There is no PUBLIC good for a conservative, only private profit. And that is why conservatism is a pathetic and failed governing strategy.
    We come together as a single people to help each other and to be able to specialize our tasks, not to make huge amounts of money at the expense of each other.
    We come together as a people because the barriers to coordination are insurmountable without power/law/authority, not so that SOME people can get rich while others die in the streets, their beds, or under bridges.

    Reply

  11. silver slipper says:

    I don’t really follow poll numbers closely. I think poll numbers can really be slanted – depending on how questions are asked, who is asked, etc….
    Also, when I say conservative, I don’t mean republican. A conservative person probably believes: 1. that a large government is dangerous (absolute power corrupts absolutely), 2. debt is bad & if we have debt, we should pay it in full, 3. the constitution is a valuable, dependable document, 4. freedom is our most important asset, 5. everyone should work and pull his/her own weight (unless they are sick, disabled, or elderly), 6. what one earns by working belongs to that person only, and no one should be able to take it from him or her.
    Many democrat voters hold these views. Many independent voters hold these views. All republicans hold these views.

    Reply

  12. questions says:

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/09/angry-white-seniors-and-2010.html
    All about Obama’s generation gap — which is pretty huge, actually.
    “This goes a long way to explaining the reticence of Blue Dog Democrats. They want to keep their seats. One quibble I might have with Wasserman is whether the cap-and-trade or stimulus vote will be the companion danger to the vote on whatever health care bill emerges from Congress.”
    ZOMG — is it possible it’s not lobby money, but actual constituent votes of the frightened and ignorant elderly? The elderly who ALREADY have medical care covered? Very interesting….

    Reply

  13. questions says:

    silver slipper,
    You’re misreading poll data….
    Repub approval is in the 20s. That’s not an overwhelming number.
    Support for the public option is in the higher 60s I believe. That’s not a conservative view.
    “I’m just imagining” is, to me, a sad qualification. My imaginings don’t run that direction.

    Reply

  14. silver slipper says:

    I definitely was not talking seriously when I said “Let’s just split up” because my last sentence was, “I know what I’m saying isn’t possible – I’m just imagining…”
    For now anyway, a large portion of Americans think conservatively. We have a representative government. Therefore, as Questions said earlier, the congressmen/women and senators have to consider the wishes of their constituents if they hope to be reelected. It is therefore hard for a very liberal progressive president to get his agenda through.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “All the progressive/liberal minded persons move to one side of the country and the more conservative minded persons move to the opposite side”
    What side are you conservatives going to be on? I’ve got a friend who just passed the bar, and he’s going to specialize in family law. He might as well settle somewhere thats got a high divorce rate.

    Reply

  16. questions says:

    Paul,
    I don’t think silver slipper ever writes “tongue in cheek,” I think she’s generally deeply conservative, anxious about health care reform, and generally earnest about it all.
    “Laughter” I might read one day, but not in a silver slipper post….
    And even if partition wasn’t serious as a practical matter in the post, it is a real fantasy floating around the USAAMERICAN psyche.

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions,
    I think silver slipper`s comment was written tongue
    in cheek…
    Read up on Bergson.

    Reply

  18. silver slipper says:

    You’re right Questions – it wouldn’t work to separate. After all – if we did that today, what would those moderates/independents do?

    Reply

  19. questions says:

    Hey, Silver Slipper,
    So what would you do if you gave birth to a “monster,” that is, to a kid who didn’t think the way you do? Umm, send him/her to the “other side?”
    Gimme a break. Partition is insane. Like-mindedness is a temporary feat. Find a new fantasy in which, say, you put up with some stuff you don’t like so long as others also do. That’s what it means for us to live together.
    Oh, and please remember that there is bloodshed in the current system, not revolutionary bloodshed, but it’s not exactly a beautiful system for those on the wrong side of the border, the tracks, the income-distribution system, the medical bureaucracy…. I’m not “in” to TonyForesta’s worldview, but I don’t think it should be ignored entirely, despite the flaws.

    Reply

  20. silver slipper says:

    It’s been interesting reading everyone’s comments of displeasure with the Obama presidency! It’s pretty funny that some think President Obama is worried about the right! Believe me, as someone who is conservative thinking, he’s not doing much at all to satisfy the right! It’s very interesting to read someone say there can be a revolution that totally changes our government without bloodshed! Or did that person wish for no government – anarchy? Has there ever been a revolution without bloodshed? In fact, our country can’t even debate health care without bloodshed – recently a code pink protester bites off a 63 year old man’s pinkie finger! I think I have a solution though – why don’t we just split up? All the progressive/liberal minded persons move to one side of the country and the more conservative minded persons move to the opposite side. Two new countries to live life and govern as each group sees best. Maybe there could then be peace and quiet. Maybe there would be less arguing at each other, and less pundits yelling at each other on TV. I know what I’m saying isn’t possible – I’m just imagining how good it would be to have more unity and a more common purpose as a country.

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Israel PM vowed not to freeze settlements: minister
    JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed not to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank, according to one of his ministers quoted on Wednesday.
    “I heard the prime minister say with my own ears that he has no intention of freezing construction in the settlements or in Jerusalem,” the English-language Jerusalem Post quoted minister without portfolio Yossi Peled as saying.
    “He said there is no agreement to freeze construction in the settlements. I am telling you this first-hand,” he told members of Netanyahu’s hawkish Likud party on Tuesday evening.
    continues…….
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090902/wl_mideast_afp/mideastconflictpoliticssettler
    Amazing, isn’t it? Where is the response from these cowards in the Obama Administration? Hillary? Mitchell? Obama? Netanyahu tells you to go fuck yourself, so you just clam up and bend over?
    Are you being blackmailed? Bribed??? Or are you just gutless??? Or worse, is any “hardline” with Israel just insincere posturing, that you have no intention of backing up with actual policies?
    Whatever it is, its pathetic.

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  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Bush’s Third Term? You’re living it.
    http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2009/09/01/the-more-things-change-4/

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Obama Administration Argues Against Releasing Bush-Era Detainee Information
    The Obama administration told a judge late Monday that it will continue to withhold information regarding past detainee policies for national security reasons, a decision assailed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had been seeking Bush-era documents “including a presidential directive authorizing CIA ‘black sites,’” CIA inspector general records, Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel documents about the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
    continues……
    http://tinyurl.com/Obama-aka-Bush

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmericabn says:

    Most of you are missing the handwriting on the wall. Obama has telegraphed his intentions, and is laying the groundwork for the rest of his term. One does not need to “wait” and see what develops. It is quite obvious both by comment and action that Obama is continuing many of the more egregious practices of the Bush Administration; Warrantless domestic evesdropping. Rendition. Signing statements. Refusal to hold KNOWN perjurers and torturers to the letter of the law. Allowing Israel to set the terms for a “peace” it has no intention of pursuing. Escalating military involvement in Afghanistan, an indefinite military presence in Iraq, an increased presence in South and Central America. A continued tolerance for illegal immigration…..the list goes on and on.
    As some of you may know from my past posting, Obama is doing EXACTLY what I said he would do, because he is EXACTLY what I said he was; A media construct, a snake oil salesman. When Kucinich and Ron Paul were so obviously cast aside by the mainstream media, the handwriting was on the wall. All the clues were in place to be able to accurately see Obama for what he is…
    a fraud, a front man.
    Obama doesn’t need any more time to “fix things”, because he has no intention of “fixing things”. He is in office for one reason, to continue this country’s march away from a representative government, and to open global doors for an elitist ruling class, at great cost to our soveriegnity, our freedoms, and our futures.
    And talk of “revolution” is ridiculous on its face. The days of the Minute Men are over. Some may be suicidal enough to take on an Apache attack helicopter with their .300 Winchester Mag, but count me out. An American military action on the defensive against a citizen revolt would be very short lived, with untold numbers of dead citizens, and very few militarty casualties.
    Those of you that are still starstruck enough, naive enough, or just plain stupid enough to think that time is going to improve Obama’s track record are living in a dream world. He’s just another lying posturing piece of shit con-man politician, who has ALREADY proven my point.

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  25. questions says:

    Re-election concerns are pathetic? OK.

    Reply

  26. Kathleen Grasso Adersen says:

    My caption for this photo is: See, I’m not a Muslim.

    Reply

  27. DonS says:

    “Reps have a strong interest in picking the safest votes on high visibility issues and then can stick around and vote more dangerously on low profile no-one-cares issues.”
    Pathetic.
    I’m done.

    Reply

  28. WharfRat says:

    I think African-Americans are still in high sizzle support mode for Barack Obama.

    Reply

  29. questions says:

    DonS,
    At some level of course the choice between representation and leadership is there, but in a high profile, highly polarized public screamfest like the healthcare “debate” any representative who fails to represent runs a significant risk of a primary challenge, a strong general election challenge from a highly qualified opponent (maybe for the first time ever) and a good shot at losing his/her seat.
    The loss of a seat in Congress means you have no more chances either to lead or to represent.
    What would you pick?
    Reps have a strong interest in picking the safest votes on high visibility issues and then can stick around and vote more dangerously on low profile no-one-cares issues.

    Reply

  30. questions says:

    TonyForesta, I feel so much like we must have had very different history classes in school. I seem to remember something about slavery which was the predator class’s ownership of the actual personhood of labor, something about property restrictions on voting which was the predator class’s way to make sure the unpropertied never seized the property of the propertied (sorry about that pharasing), something about the Senate’s being geographical rather than popular to make sure that THE MASS of people in bigger states had limited power, the lack of direct election of those senators, come to think of, it to remove them further from the people….
    I think the real issue for the founders wasn’t at all a “predator CLASS,” it was a predator KING. So long as the king was under the control of the elites, wars would be limited in terms of their sucking power — fewer elite sons and less elite money sucked up, and the benefits of war wouldn’t accrue solely to the crown, but rather would go to said predator class/elite group.
    Locke is full of anti-king stuff and pro-property of the elite stuff.

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  31. Outraged American says:

    Amen Tony. Signed “Former believer in the Constitution”

    Reply

  32. bob h says:

    Most likely Obama is going to have at least three historic accomplishments by the end of the year: rescuing the economy from financial panic, a substantial healthcare reform bill, and an exit strategy from Iraq. He will have done all this in the face of fanatical opposition from Republicans.
    I’m still pretty impressed by Obama. But what no longer impresses me much is that large part of the liberal blogosphere who whine about their dissatisfaction and disappointment when he cannot deliver immediate gratification.

    Reply

  33. TonyForesta says:

    No need to question your truimphant right to say “I told you so” Paul Norheim, because you did and you were right. Like many people I succumbed to the promise of hope and was so adamant and determined to see the fascists in the bushgov, and any republican kept out of office, – that I looked past many obvious signs that have contributed to the shattering disappointment I know today. Nor do I blame all the problems on Obama, or even the fascists in the bushgov, (though I will always contend that there was no more nefarious or pernicious government in the long and sordid history of America, than the fascists in bushgov), and I clearly see that these structural problems are decades long afflictions that have grow worse and more toxic overtime, – and for that reason, (and – yes the shattering betrayal and disappointment in the hopes and promises of Obama may be the catalyst or the straw that broke the camels back) – I don’t see any political or legal way to correct these problems or right these wrongs. The financial system, the government, the courts everything is owned and controlled outright by the predatorclass 1% of the population. Any cursory examination into the founding of our nation Questions, will prove and reveal that the core spirit and primary intention of the founders in designing our unique experiment in democracy was to INSURE, to guarantee that NO CONCENTRATION of wealth or power would EVER gain control of the operations of the government. Our Constitution (that goddamned piece of paper) defines strict prohibitions, and restictions and contstrainments on the structure and operation of the to prevent, discourage, and prohibit any concentration of power by any individual, group, party, cartel, klan, clique, cabal, or oligarch, or group of oligachs or industrial complexes. Eisenhowers admonition is as haunting today, as it was suprising then. The government no longer represents or advance the best interests of the people and so it is our right, and I say our duty comewhatmay – “… to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” And if that day comes, and I hope and pray it comes soon, my family and friends will be united in seeing real change come to this government. The change does not need to be violent or bloody, – but it must be total and complete. The current panjandrum is a toxic lethal cancer destroying and eating away at any hope from my childs future.
    Mr. Obama – tear down this government!!!

    Reply

  34. Outraged American says:

    In 2004, I was terrified at the thought of another Cheney
    presidency, so I actually volunteered to call people in swing
    states to get them to vote for Kerry (stomach churns — took a
    huge swig of whiskey every time I picked-up the phone)
    I myself had no plans to vote for Kerry: I was going to vote for
    Nader. But at the last minute, literally the last minute — I was
    voting absentee and had to chase the postwoman down the
    street– I called Nader’s office and asked what I should do.
    I’m quoting the guy who answered the phone at Nader’s DC
    office, he said, “Do you want to wake-up tomorrow and have
    George Bush still as your president?”
    So I voted for Kerry, and the next morning, when I woke-up,
    Kerry had already conceded an “election” that was never run.
    The two party system, or rather the UniParty, is a tragicomedy
    that has the potential to destroy the world.
    BTW: one of the states whose voters I called was Ohio. I heard so
    many stories about election fraud from real people.
    It’s all a joke.
    I learned my lesson this time and voted for Barr. Not for any
    other reason (beyond that I love his stance on restoring the Bill
    of Rights) but to say F-you to the UniParty.

    Reply

  35. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Well I never did get the magic because frankly, B.O.’s curriculum vitae was a bit thin, compared to Ralph Nader’s lifetime of experience protecting average folks.
    I expect the “Camelotians” are still in B.O.’s camp, in deference to his handler, Teddy.

    Reply

  36. DonS says:

    Questions, I do think I get your point which is pretty basic.
    Recalling some aspect of political theory, there are two views of representative function, which overlap quite often, and also may easily conflict: 1) the “constituitive theory”, which says the legislative representative is a relatively free agent, responsible for exercising conscience, and 2) the strict “representative theory” which views the legislative representative as a mere conduit for the wishes of constituents, like a chip in a computer. Sometimes these different functions aligned with upper and lower house, but the point is salient.
    I believe the real fear and the scare tactics affecting a lot of ordinary folks these days exists. And I see little in the way of courageous legislators trying to sort out what is reasonable. “My hands are tied, this is what my constituents want” is probably both a disingenuous lie, and a cop out.

    Reply

  37. questions says:

    DonS,
    I’m not sure if you’re quite getting my point. It’s not (untypical for me!) an ultimate over the centuries kind of point.
    People in some fairly conservative states aren’t entirely convinced by deep social contracts, are much more libertarian/go it alone in their outlooks than, say, I am. I personally think that libertarianism is a self-defeating and foolish outlook on the world. It misses out on a range of fundamental and ultimate-style facts of the universe, but it’s still pretty damned convincing to a lot of people who feel, for now, self-sufficient and distrusting of “government.”
    Those people write real letters to their MCs (not the forgery crap of the lobby crowd), they write heartfelt notes about independence, tax rates, fear, and THEY VOTE. What’s an MC to do?
    These people dominate in rural states and with the structure of the Senate, their reps can control a decent chunk of our political system. No hypnosis needed. Just plain normal human behavior that discounts future good, HATES loss, doesn’t trust others to make decisions, doesn’t want to be the only one paying for an undeserving OTHER (oh, the immigrant crap that pops out), doesn’t want to support some liberal urban abortion (but of course would consider same for own family but that’s different somehow….)
    There are lots of tensions, lots of things that make no sense to me, but I don’t think hypnosis is the thing.

    Reply

  38. DonS says:

    “What if “for the people” and “by the people” contradict each other”
    Over the centuries, there have been interpretive gloss put on all our founding documents by the judicial, legislative and administrative branches. Seeking to appeal to the founders language without recognition of the gloss that has defined the social contract between the government and the people doesn’t lead very far. Or rather it leads into fine philosophical discussion that can support virtually any proposition.
    If there isn’t an emerging social contract through government and it’s people, there is anarchy.
    And I don’t think ‘hypnotized’, or ‘semi-hypnotized’ is too strong a word. Who is going to cut through the media driven crap? I don’t have the answer, but I do think that is no excuse for grasping the most regressive interpretation of what ‘the mob’ wants or doesn’t want.

    Reply

  39. ... says:

    paul norheim comment on questions comment..
    >>”The impatience of it all is impressive. Bush took 8 years to wreck things. You all
    have given Obama 8 months to put it all back together again.”
    It may surprise you, Questions, but this is the best comment I`ve read so far.<< i agree…
    otherwise this comment page looks mostly like a bitchfest…

    Reply

  40. questions says:

    What if “for the people” and “by the people” contradict each other, as would seem to be the case with health care and other redistributive policies?
    If you read up on the demographic details and political preferences in congr. districts and states where MCs are waffly or against health care reform, you scratch your head in wonder and start thinking that maybe constituent preference is insane, but that it still seems to drive a fair percentage of votes. Not always, but often.
    And “hypnotized” is probably too strong. There’s lots of psych. insights into preference schemes and loss generally comes out as way more painful than gain. Losing a preferred doctor, a health care plan you already have… is more painful than getting a better (maybe even competent) doctor and actual health insurance that doesn’t disappear from: death of the carrier, rescission, job loss, “pre-existing condition” (say, childhood acne) or whatever.
    There is deep reluctance to change even in the face of deep desire to change. The repub sound machine plays on the reluctance side, the dem mess of a messaging construct plays on the desire side but does it stupidly, and here we are.
    Not sure yet if the messaging on health is a “mistake” by the admin or not. A definite proposal from Obama would have been dead in the water, I think. And cutting Congress out would have been a tactical mistake even as letting Congress work its magic has been a mess as well.
    I’m definitely in the “who knows” mode right now.

    Reply

  41. DonS says:

    Questions, your points are probably valid. But that doesn’t negate the idea that government still needs to operate for the people. Whoever said that our media driven populace, nay, hypnotized populace, obviated the responsibility of leaders to lead in a socially responsibly direction. (now you can site all those Ayn Randers and worse who have said exactly this)

    Reply

  42. questions says:

    DonS,
    Read some stuff about how the most conservative corners of the country are a)the poorest, b)the most in need of gov’t services c)the recipients of the lion’s share of per capita wealth transfer and d)the most in opposition to all of that help and then talk about how the government doesn’t meet people’s needs.
    People don’t really seem to have a great idea of what their needs are, and seem to have the most self-destructive sets of identificatory structures. We defeat ourselves over and over and over again and we choose governments to help us along.
    I think we’re just doing what we always do.

    Reply

  43. DonS says:

    With respect, Paul, there seems a qualitative difference in the current environment from the previous one(s), and an atmosphere of crisis that hangs over the ‘needs’ of the body politic. Not all may feel this, and therre is no question the nation can hang on as it eats into it’s capital, so to speak. Now, admittedly, I have only been a sentient observer of the scene for perhaps 30 or 40 of my six plus decades as a US citizen. But that’s my feeling. when you get many nutcases bringing guns to rallies, with hardly a peep from the powers that be and the media — indeed with tacit encouragement from legislators, supposed leaders — something is wrong.
    I for one had little hope for dems over repubs, though Bush’s ‘legally’ stolen presidency hit a frightening low in the twenty first century that frankly surprised me in it venality. Sad that Obama is writing an equally frightening postscript in some ways.
    Obama is not the reason for ‘revolution’. The increasing irrelevancy of the system to meet the needs of the populace is the reason.
    Short, glib answer to a huge subject.

    Reply

  44. Paul Norheim says:

    Tony,
    the US military-industrial complex, the media structure and the other components
    constituting the general political framework have been there for decades. Obama is no
    more reason for revolution than any former president after, say Eisenhower.
    I don`t want to sound like a smart ass who triumphantly shouts: “I told you so before
    the election, didn`t I?” However, I think your main mistake before the election of
    Obama was your assumption that the democrats were uncorrupt people who represent the
    people, while the republicans were paid fascists – and that McCain was the voice of
    the former, and Obama the voice of the latter.
    Too much black and white thinking, Tony, and therefor your disappointment is so much
    bigger than among those who thought that there is much less difference between
    democrats and republicans; they are different shades of grey.
    To paraphrase a great Swedish poet, Thomas Tranströmer:
    Listen to the grey voices, Tony.
    And DonS/Tony Foresta/Carroll: “Burning Washington to the Ground and Start Over”—–
    if a scenario occurred where this was a realistic option, it would most likely lead to
    a right wing military coup in the United States.

    Reply

  45. DonS says:

    Good comment Tony. “Burn Washington to the ground and start over”. (Carroll’s usual prescription). But it may well fit our situation, and what the founders had in mind. Interesting that the right wingers would probably say the same thing so convinced are they that government is a hotbed of socialist evil. I’d be will to let the chips fall where they may. What sort of a revolution is possible today? What would it take to get the attention of the power brokers, and their corporate masters, in Washington and elsewhere who hold much of our fate in their hands? Obama is already vilified by the opposition. You would think it would smack him upside the head: why not be vilified for something you actually do than for someone’s imaginary idea that you are doing it. Clearly though, he’s not leading the revolution. As the US races to the bottom as a ‘civilized’ nation, is the only alternative to give up on government entirely and build one’s own protective environment?

    Reply

  46. questions says:

    “Excoriate the tumor, burn the entire system to the ground, – and start over. It couldn’t possibly be worse!”
    You REALLY want to live in a revolution? Die in a revolution? Watch half your family try to kill the other half of your family? Really?
    There are institutional limits on political shifts. There are 535 self-serving co-rulers. There are media outlets that are also self-serving both institutionally/corporately and individually/journalistically. We’re all kind of in it for ourselves with a lot of different levels of “self” battling for primacy.
    Into this mix comes an administration that needs everyone to look a bit past the most brutish and stupid and short-term versions of “self” and try for something a little broader. We’re not yet up to it.
    The terror of mild sub-optimal results at any moment (I might make LESS money? I might pay MORE in taxes?? I might have to make a trade-off in advance rather than being forced into a crisis that is much worse later???) — this terror is a huge problem for an administration that needs us to do a bunch of this stuff. And, in fact, the field of game theory plays with these kinds of issues.
    How do you get someone with minimal insurance and a lot of fear of loss of that minimal and mostly useless insurance to agree to a change that will likely make his/her situation better in the long run (solid public insurance) but might cost something in the short run (a small tax increase, an extra week to get routine care at the local family practice doctor, or whatever “nightmare” scenario is reasonable?
    And how do you sell that public insurance when an entire network of idiots is pushing the idea that that small, incremental change, will cause us all to die from cancer, never see another doctor we trust, and pay more for the privilege? (And yet, the public option remains pretty popular all in all. The opposition is senatorial/procedural more than “popular” despite Fox news. Not bad, actually.)
    How does an administration deal with Fox and its ilk? Remember, these media outlets make their money through opposition regardless of the good of the listeners.
    There are, as Paul has indicated, some real concerns regarding Afghanistan. Negotiating this situation isn’t going to be easy, pleasant, or satisfying. The compromises are likely to be really ugly, but maybe stability at any level is better than the alternatives.
    I’m just not sure that there are good ways to handle congressional procedure issues, international issues, private motivation issues in a way that preserves the right wing “messiah” myth. And it is likely that the messiah crap was designed to make anything else look like failure.
    Also, dkos reports some polls that don’t look quite as scary…. Maybe some people realize that the world is complicated and “solutions” will be half-measures as there are people with different preference schemes.
    So maybe we’re not at quite the low that has WigWag in mild triumphalism mode, and TonyForesta in full revolution mode. It’s a thought, at any rate.

    Reply

  47. TonyForesta says:

    Intriguing analysis Paul Norheim. Yet the fact remains that Obama has backedtracked, compromised, or overtly betrayed all his campaign promises. What I see is the terrible realization that Amerika is owned and controlled lock stock and barrel by the predatorclass the the predatorclass oligarchs or industrial complexes. The system itself is fatally corrupt and polluted. There is no way for change. Politicians are focused on getting elected and NOT on representing or advancing the best interests of the peoples lives. They all – all of them work for the oligachs and the predatorclass. Obama may not by a satanic nazi beast like cheney, or wanton oil and energy profiteer like bush, but no is he the peoples champion. He promised to give voice to the voiceless and that promise alone was the single reason I supported, defended and voted for him, even against Hillary, – but he has betrayed all those promises. Leadership requires courage. Real courage to stand up against the opposing forces, and make a stand and hold to that stand comewhatmay. Tragically, – no one – NO ONE in American politics has this level of courage. They all bow down eventually to the predatorclass, and the powersthatbe to get elected. I would much rather see Obama savaged for taking stands and suffering the political consequenses that the slow death from a thousand daggers he will endure now by being a fence walker, and wishy washy on every issue. For example – if Obama were to come out and say, that health care reform will require that every single American has access to healthcare (a universal healthcare system/ a socialist healthcare system if that is the way it is defined) and STAND on that position – he would have my respect, and I would fight for him, defend him, and support him to the end, even if that end is defeat. But Obama lacks to courage to make this stand. So does the socalled democratic party, – so from my perspective the people are left with the choice between republican who are overtly fascist and heartless, and a week and cowardly democratic party that is more concerned about elections that doing the peoples will, and advancing the peoples best interests. In this environment, the better option would be to burn the entire structure to the ground and start over. It’s evil. It’s cancerous, It’s toxic, – no good can come of it. Excoriate the tumor, burn the entire system to the ground, – and start over. It couldn’t possibley be worse!

    Reply

  48. Paul Norheim says:

    “The impatience of it all is impressive. Bush took 8 years to wreck things. You all
    have given Obama 8 months to put it all back together again.”
    It may surprise you, Questions, but this is the best comment I`ve read so far.
    I`ve never had any messianistic expectations; the most important thing in my eyes
    was to avoid the election of McCain/Palin. And as Wigwag points out: “no President
    in recent memory came into office with as many challenges to confront as he did.”
    People often compare him to former presidents. To some extent he already is a
    Kennedy. That doesn`t mean much in political terms and with regard to achievements
    (JFK didn`t achieve a lot), but is more about charisma and certain cultural aspects,
    especially racism. Perhaps his charisma will disappear in the coming months – we
    don`t know, and I somehow doubt it. The charisma of the President is certainly
    useful in a time when (and I`m paraphrasing Steve Clemons here) “the enigma of US
    power” is gone, because Bush allowed America to display the limits of it`s power
    through the invasion of two countries and the economic crisis.
    Obama`s intelligence is certainly comparable to Bill Clinton`s, and intelligence IS
    required in these times. However, the intelligence of a politician may also work
    against him. Gorbachew was very intelligent, but he never intended to undermine the
    Sovjet Union or socialism as an ideology.
    LBJ? Afghanistan as his Vietnam? I`ve been contemplating this outcome for more than
    a year now, and according to a recent article in the New York Times, Obama is
    apparently well aware that this may be his fate. So why does he stick to his promise
    to catch the cavemen responsible for 9.11., when he so easily breaks so many other
    promises made during the campaign?
    I think he and those around him (especially Holbrooke) should focus on the
    considerable risk that fundamentalists may take over in Pakistan and obtain control
    over their nuclear arsenal (and also the underlying Kashmir conflict), and be much
    more pragmatic with regard to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Al Quaeda members in
    hiding. The core US “national interests” are linked to the nuclear arsenal, Kashmir,
    and the relationship between India and Pakistan; the rest of it is not worth a
    decades long war with no end in sight and no convincing strategy.
    And then there is the likely risk that he becomes the new Jimmy Carter, achieving
    very little. Wigwag has said a lot about that, and I have nothing to add.
    Roosevelt or Hoover? Probably none of them; he`s not as stupid as Hoover, and he
    hasn`t offered a New Deal, at least not so far.
    I also doubt that he`ll achieve much in the Israel-Palestine conflict. But his
    ATTITUDE towards Muslims and his approach to the settlement issue (simply
    highlighting it) may have some long term effects.
    However, there is more than a grain of truth in the claim that a national leader is
    shaped first and foremost by the events unfolding during their term(s). Few people
    would have guessed what Bush represented if not for 9.11. and his successive
    mistakes and miscalculations. As a contrast: I was never a fan of Ronald Reagan
    (Evil Empire, Star Wars…) or the fat, conservative German Kanzler at the time,
    Helmut Kohl. But I have to admit that they dealt with the event of glasnost in an
    admirable way.
    Certain dramatic events may completely change our view of Barack Obama during his
    time in the Oval office, for better or for worse.
    And if no serious crisis or huge, dramatic event should occur during his presidency
    (rather unlikely); if he becomes more defined by past events, unfolding during
    Bush`s eight years, than by current events, I wouldn`t be surprised if his
    presidency in the future may be compared to different aspects of John F. Kennedy AND
    Lyndon B. Johnson AND Jimmy Carter – simultaneously.
    Not a very flattering prospect, if you think about it.

    Reply

  49. TonyForesta says:

    Obama has betrayed all those who voted for him. He never worked to hold the fascists fiends in the bushgov accountable, and has backed tracked on every promise; Iraq, Gitmo, rendition, spying on American’s et al, the list is long and growing. He side with the predatorclass and the PONZI scheme thieves and swindlers on Wall Street to the exteme deleterious disadvantage of America’s poor and middleclass who have paid the bill so the swindlers and thieves on Wall Street can award themselves 2007size bonuses and return to the bandit capitalist ways that brought the entire world to the brink of economic collapse. Both Obama and the cowards in the democratic party backtracked and bowed down to the pharmaceutical, HMO, and Insurance oligarchs and effectively killed any real hope for healthcare reform. Environmental concerns – off the table. By the way, if you dare read this http://www.counterpunch.org/ “Mexico’s Plagues” and weep for a terrifying peak into the future of waterrights issues.
    Immigration? – off the table. Iraq? still a bloody, costly noendinsight horrorshow. Afghanistan? The Taliban are whacking highlevel officials and winning both the ground war, and the hearts and minds of the longsuffering population.
    Obama, like the creeps and shaitans he replaced is focused on advancing the best interests of the predatorclass and the various nome de jour industrial complexes, and has turned his back on, and betrayed the American people and all those who fought defended, supported, and voted for him.
    I’m for anarchy now. Burn this entire system to the ground, sharpen you pitchforks, and get locked, cocked and ready to rock, because the only hope for real CHANGE, (and I still have the bright blue sign stashed away in my garage promisinig CHANGE!!!!) is a real horrorshow revolution!
    {“hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”}
    The time is long past due for real – and I mean REAL CHANGE!!!

    Reply

  50. nadine says:

    Wigwag, If Obama does bail on the public option, do you think a bill will come out of the House at all? Without the 100 liberal Democrats who have declared “the public option or bust!” there is no majority for a bill.

    Reply

  51. nadine says:

    questions, it is important not to fool yourself with results from surveys that ask questions worded to produce the result you want. As HuffPo explains:
    “More than three out of every four Americans feel it is important to have a “choice” between a government-run health care insurance option and private coverage, according to a public opinion poll released on Thursday.
    A new study by SurveyUSA puts support for a public option at a robust 77 percent, one percentage point higher than where it stood in June.
    But the numbers tell another story, as well.
    Earlier in the week, after pollsters for NBC dropped the word “choice” from their question on a public option, they found that only 43 percent of the public were in favor of “creating a public health care plan administered by the federal government that would compete directly with private health insurance companies.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/20/new-poll-77-percent-suppo_n_264375.html
    The second wording more correctly describes what the public option is at this moment. As Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com points out, only about 1/3 of respondents can even identify what is meant by the “public option” and Democrats do little better than Republicans.
    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/08/poll-most-dont-know-what-public-option.html
    Of course, confusion is to be expected when there is no single bill and anything could get slipped in or out at any time. An Ipsos poll that came out today describes the country as split down the middle about the public option:
    “Washington, DC – Americans remain divided in their views of healthcare reform, as roughly as many feel that a public health insurance plan is necessary in order for all Americans to have access to quality healthcare (49%) as say that this can be achieved without creating a public plan (46%), according to a new telephone poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. This mirrors attitudes from a poll held in early July, when 52% said a public option was needed and 44% said it was not.”
    http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/pressrelease.cfm?id=4507
    And sorry, but the country self-identifies as center-right very consistently, so you’re just wrong on that one. This is from Pew from Nov 2008, the very moment of Democratic victory:
    “The Democratic Party’s advantage in party identification has widened over the past two decades, but the share of Americans who describe their political views as liberal, conservative or moderate has remained stable during the same period. Only about one-in-five Americans currently call themselves liberal (21%), while 38% say they are conservative and 36% describe themselves as moderate. This is virtually unchanged from recent years; when George W. Bush was first elected president, 18% of Americans said they were liberal, 36% were conservative and 38% considered themselves moderate.1”
    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1042/winds-of-political-change-havent–shifted-publics-ideology-balance
    Finally, while the right screams at Obama for planning to bankrupt the country, you are screaming at him for not punishing those dirty insurance companies enough. That’s highly ironic, as it seems clear that Obama means the public option to be the camel’s nose under the tent (single-payer being the camel) and intends to put the insurance companies out of business within a few years. But he can’t say so now because then support for Obamacare will really crater. So he’s getting flak from both right and left for a plan that isn’t even written yet! Man, what a work of genius.
    Look, you really want to punish those insurance companies? Make them compete across state lines. They cannot do so today because of all the different state regulations they are subject to.

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    Don’t get your hopes up over Obama and health care, brigid.
    The New York Times is reporting tonight that the Administration is giving up on the “public option” for health care reform.
    September 2, 2009, 6:20 pm Public Option, R.I.P.
    By Eric Etheridge
    It’s time to pour one out for the public option.
    That’s how many are reading two comments from White House staffers in news reports today, the first from an ABC News interview with White House senior adviser David Axelrod:
    As to the fate of a government option plan to compete with private insurance, Axelrod suggested the controversial concept is gone but not forgotten: “The spirit that led him to support a public option is still very much at play here and so you know he wants competition. He wants choice.”
    The second is from a Politico story that includes this quote by an anonymous White House aide:
    “We have been saying all along that the most important part of this debate is not the public option, but rather ensuring choice and competition,” an aide said. “There are lots of different ways to get there.”
    So it looks like Obama’s answer to health care reform is to give the health insurance companies 50 million new customers subsidized by American taxpayers while leaving the insurance companies free to charge whatever they want.
    Obama’s fecklessness is extraordinary to behold. It looks like the plan Obama will be supporting in his speech to a joint session of congress next week won’t even be as good as the health insurance plan Mitt Romney got passed in Massachusetts.
    It’s not just that Obama is a disappointing President; he’s an incompetent President.

    Reply

  53. brigid says:

    Steve, if you can explain to me how “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rises to the level of a national health care policy, then I can get mad at Obama for not putting gays first. But I forgot, you have health care, probably a cadillac plan furnished by the New America Foundation. But 46 million Americans don’t have any. My sister-in-law has life threatening cancer and her crummy health insurance just informed her they aren’t paying another dime for her treatment, but that problem plays second fiddle to DADT. I forgot.

    Reply

  54. questions says:

    Nadine,
    Polls I’ve seen suggest that even as Obama’s popularity falls out of the stratosphere to more normal levels as he becomes a more normal person, the popularity of the Repubs isn’t rising. Independents aren’t happy about the nutty right.
    A large majority of the country wants some version of something called a “public option” though it seems that what this “public option” is isn’t well-understood.
    The US isn’t “center right.” Many polls I’ve seen over the years suggest that people want functioning services in a wide area, but would rather not pay for them. Yes to services is a lefty thing. Not wanting to pay doesn’t mean not wanting help. There’s a lot of progressivism and a fair amount of distrust in the government. It makes for an interesting tension, not for a “center-right” nation.
    The tea party and anti-health reform people are small in number, loud in voice, given an entire tv/cable network and a bunch of radio stations.
    I think Obama’s biggest problem may actually be twofold — the VRWC (that is, a rightward-leaning media establishment working overtime to be stupid, ill-informed, unchallenging of power, and really conservative) and an ill-informed populace badly served by the media monster. We don’t get information about health care reform, we get nonsense about death panels.
    Afghanistan is probably going to be a disaster, but I can’t say as I personally have an easy answer for this one. Smart pull out, phased pull out, as careful getting out as we were careless getting in, setting up a few safe zones for women refugees or something. It’s a mess.
    Wall St. is such a deeply entrenched interest and is so bound up with the fiscal functioning of the nation as to be its own mini-government. There’s too much wealth in too few hands, but that takes generations to solve. Money must move, but can’t exactly be seized.
    Social change of all sorts takes generations but will happen.
    The impatience of it all is impressive. Bush took 8 years to wreck things. You all have given Obama 8 months to put it all back together again. Not even Humpty Dumpty got it all back. And the US isn’t a scrambled egg.

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  55. DonS says:

    Isn’t it about time to get over all this political posturing and talk about what is good for the country and, by inference, the world?
    Nadine, you effuse that this is a “center right country”, which may or may not be true. But what is true, is that is where your head is, and that is not good for this country or the world.
    As to town hall brown-shirtism, what your seeing isn’t even reasoned right wing thinking. Mere manipulation and more manipulation. I guess that’s good if you think the brown shirts were good.

    Reply

  56. Outraged American says:

    Obama White House plans to harvest information on Americans
    from Facebook, other social networking sites.
    And I read this right after I typed that we need to cut Obama a tiny
    break…
    I don’t know if this article is a joke but if it’s not, it better be. I
    thought we had 1984 under Cheney, but this is outrageous. With a
    big O.
    Obama White House Has Secret Plan To Harvest Personal Data From
    Social Networking Websites
    http://tinyurl.com/nkhm27

    Reply

  57. nadine says:

    “The “Republicans for Obama” crowd led by folks like former Senator Lincoln Chafee, former House International Relations Committee Chairman Jim Leach, philanthropist and lawyer Rita Hauser, and Ike granddaughter and national security policy expert Susan Eisenhower seem to me less enthused for Obama today as they watch with dismay the Obama team make some of the mistakes in Afghanistan that the Bush administration made in Iraq. Men, women, resources, drones, aid, all pumping into the AfPak region without a clear strategy with benchmarks for achievement.”
    This is one of these unintentionally funny pronouncements that elite establishment Democrats make about Republicans. Even RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) like those listed are not upset over Obama’s handling of Afghanistan. It’s the one area where they have little to criticize and where they only hope he stays the course.
    But fiscal policy! The uncontrolled spending, the outsourcing of policy to Nancy Pelosi and her crew of far-left committee chairmen, who don’t know or care about the fiscal ruin of this country but only know that this is their day and they must snatch as much as possible as fast as possible. The upshot is that in the next 10 years, by his own estimates and NOT including any new health care programs, Obama is in line to add 9 TRILLION to the national debt. 2 TRILLION this year alone!
    But oh no, there’s no chance the deficits could be disturbing anybody. Nothing to see here, now run along and pass Obamacare, which the CBO only scored at 1.5 TRILLION. And we know how accurate these estimates are. Why, Medicare only overran its initial 10 year estimate by 10 TIMES the original amount.
    This is a center-right country (check the Pew poll if you doubt me), a business-oriented country where lots of people can read a balance sheet. This majority turned against Bush because he spent too much. Now they find they have exchanged King Log for King Stork, if you remember Aesop’s fable called “The Frogs Look for a King”. Obama has managed to well and truly terrify them, these moderate, center-right, and right-wing people. This is why you are seeing the tea parties and the shouting at the town halls. This is why the passion is no longer on Obama’s side.

    Reply

  58. Outraged American says:

    The media is run by pro-Israelites, so they sure will fall out of
    love with Obama -his approval rating in the country that actually
    matters, Israel, is around 4-6%.
    Hillary Clinton, the Madame Defarge of opportunistic politics,
    would have us in Iran by now.
    BTW: Cheney had two failed presidencies. He, with the help of
    the UniParty system, have brought the US to the bend over
    position internationally and on the verge of financial collapse.
    Not even on the verge.
    I didn’t vote for Obama, and hate Emanuel as his Chief-of-Staff,
    and the expansion of the war on Islam into this new country
    called “Af-Pak” but cut the guy a tiny bit of slack.
    He’s swimming with sharks all around him, some of them biting
    out pieces of his balls.
    One person cannot save this country or the world, especially
    given the entrenched corruption of “our” Congress. Obama is at
    least intelligent, as opposed to the facade we had for eight years
    because of our pretend Numbskull-in-Chief.
    And personally, I would rather have a novice than someone
    deeply entrenched in DC’s power deals. Although I’m sure Rahm
    whispering in Obama’s ear makes up for Obama’s lack of
    experience in how UsRael actually works.

    Reply

  59. WigWag says:

    There are 52 weeks in a year and today we’re right in the middle of week 36. I nominate this post by Steve Clemons as the smartest of his many smart posts during the year.
    In fairness to Obama no President in recent memory came into office with as many challenges to confront as he did. But other than a satisfactory (not great) Supreme Court nomination and a mediocre stimulus bill what other accomplishments can Obama point to?
    While his substantive failures on major policy issues like health care get most of the attention, what about his many failures that fly under the radar. What about the “Employee Free Choice Act?” Its miles from passage and Obama hardly ever mentions it. What about the fact that he’s been in office eight months and there’s still no head of the Agency for International Development? Has a President in modern history had a more disorganized process for appointing people to key positions as Barack Obama?
    And it’s not just the substantive incompetence, it’s the political incompetence. He took safe Democratic Senate seats in places like New York, Delaware and Colorado (not to mention his own seat in Illinois) and by appointing the Senators who represented those states to his cabinet (and in Biden’s case the Vice Presidency) left those seats vulnerable to Republican attack.
    To make matter worse, he appointed very credible Democrats who could have won Republican Senate seats from Arizona and Kansas and took those seats out of contention by appointing those credible candidates to run HHS and the Department of Homeland Security.
    Anyone who thinks that Democrats couldn’t easily lose 5-7 Senate seats and 20-30 House seats next year just isn’t paying attention.
    Obama has the biggest congressional majorities he’s ever likely to have and he’s squandering the opportunity.
    Anyone who thinks Mitt Romney can’t defeat Barack Obama in 2012 is dead wrong.
    George W. Bush adopted a strategy of pandering to his base and ignoring the rest of the electorate. Barack Obama has adopted a strategy of telling his base to “fuck off” while he panders to the right wing. Obama’s strategy won’t work any better than the Bush strategy did.
    Obama will know he’s really in trouble when the press falls out of love with him. There are preliminary indications that this is happening.
    Unless he gets his act together soon we could easily be looking at a failed presidency.
    But it’s really not Obama’s fault. The fact that he was an amateur was obvious to anyone prepared to look behind the curtain.
    The fault lies with all the deluded people who supported his quest for the Democratic nomination. If you’re one of them, don’t blame Obama; blame the person who looks back at you when you look in the mirror.

    Reply

  60. questions says:

    Zathras,
    Nice analysis.

    Reply

  61. Dan Kervick says:

    The EPA just announced that it is going to be releasing an “endangerment finding” in the next few months declaring carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant, an action which will trigger federal regulation of industrial CO2 sources under the Clean Air Act.
    Now call me cynical about Republicans, science, and their attitude toward federal regulatory agencies, but I have a feeling this is not a step that would have been taken under a Republican administration, with a Republican head of EPA.

    Reply

  62. JohnH says:

    I’d say that organized labor, and advocates of consumer protection, civil liberties, health care, and sane foreign and financial policies all share the lowest rung of the Democrap Party with environmentalists.
    It’s the corporate New Democraps who rule.

    Reply

  63. Zathras says:

    In fact, it’s the environmental community that traditionally occupies the lowest spot on the totem pole among the organized interest groups that dominate the Democratic Party.
    Democrats who think of themselves as environmentalists before they are anything else want from a Democratic President the same thing adherents to any of the other “groups” do. They want obedience; they say jump, they want a Democratic President to anticipate how high they want him to go and add 10%. In the world of interest groups, this is called showing leadership.
    Among Democratic interest groups, the groups at the top of the totem pole have four key advantages. First, they are organized, particularly for fundraising purposes. Second, they have specific agendas in a narrow range of policy areas. Third, they play defense more often than they have to play offense; it’s easier to stop the government from doing something you don’t like than to make it do something you want it to. Fourth and finally, their agendas involve issues that do not bring them into conflict with other organized interests within the Democratic coalition. In regard to this last, it helps if a group’s policy goals are in an area so arcane that few people outside the group understand the subject.
    The “group” that has these advantages to the greatest degree is the legal profession, particularly trial lawyers. Close behind the lawyers is the financial services industry, the influence of which has been greatly magnified over the last year as an economic crisis it had helped create enabled it to successfully plead for government help to avoid a full-scale depression. After that come feminists, teachers’ unions and groups supportive of Israel, the latter of which are incidentally the only interest committed to a policy agenda in the foreign and national security area. Civil rights groups representing African-Americans are less influential for several reasons, perhaps most important the fact that their leadership has difficulty agreeing on specific policy goals.
    Environmentalists are at the bottom of the totem pole (back of the train, lowest rung on the ladder, whatever) because their policy agenda is, necessarily, very broad; because their agenda often brings them into conflict with other organized interests; and because they have no geographic base — being spread out across the country (and often interested in different environmental issues) they find it difficult to concentrate resources for political campaigns. Environmentalists therefore tend to have friends among Democratic politicians, but fewer champions than the other groups who will always do what they want when they want it.
    Of course, an interest group with a policy agenda strongly opposed by large numbers of Americans has a problem. Environmentalists run into this situation all the time. A good case could be made, for example, that global climate change is a lot more important to our future than any other policy issue facing us today, nuclear proliferation possibly excepted. Climate change is the environmental community’s issue — yet the steps needed to begin to address it effectively are, most of them, unpopular.
    This is, obviously, also a problem for the homosexual groups Steve Clemons discusses here. They do have the advantages of having organized effectively on behalf of Barack Obama in the campaign last year and having specific policy objectives. However, they are mostly playing offense — i.e. trying to change government policy rather than trying to block change — and do not have many Democratic elected officials as indebted to them as Obama is. Most important, though, their agenda is not popular among the general public. Lots of Americans would object to doing away with the Defense of Marriage Act, for example, some of them strongly. A major investment of political capital, both for Obama and for Democratic legislators, would therefore be required to attain this policy objective. Facing daunting political challenges on subjects regarded by most Democrats as more pressing, beginning with health care, the Obama administration is bound to regard diverting political capital to the agenda of one interest group as untimely.
    Members of any interest group thus disappointed are likely to respond with resentment or even accusations of betrayal. They did not, after all, commit to Obama last year because they wanted to follow him anywhere; they committed to Obama because they wanted him to lead the country where they wanted it to go, right away. Obama, in this area anyway, does not disagree except for the “right away” part. He is aware that enthusiastic responsiveness to the organized interest groups in the Democratic Party is traditionally a path to getting nominated, not elected. He also knows that if he fails on health care reform, on righting the economy, on foreign policy, or on several other issues of greater interest to greater numbers of Americans, it won’t help if all the gay groups love him for having delivered on “their” issues.
    As an afterword, I have to say that it is very bad form for Steve Clemons of all people to be disparaging cocktail parties.

    Reply

  64. Tahoe Editor says:

    Two words:
    OVERPROMISE, UNDERDELIVER
    Remember this one?
    [Vote for me and you’ll look back and realize that] “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

    Reply

  65. Lurker says:

    Steve,
    I see you are getting knocked by some at Huffington Post accusing you of being anti-Obama and anyone who reads you consistently knows that absolutely is a fabrication. You have been one of his biggest supporters and critics. I think you might be one of the only people in Washington who actually does call it as you see it, as you say.
    This was a brave and honest article, and again, we sometimes don’t thank you enough here for what you do, but you enrich our lives and minds.
    I am and remain a strong supporter of Barack Obama and I believe that things will work out OK.
    But that said, I also believe that Obama and his staff need to listen to constructive critics like you in order to improve their chances of success.
    The White House should be applauding you and so should Obama’s real supporters.
    Thanks again for your hard work and thoughtful, provoking words here.

    Reply

  66. Linda says:

    I wrote often last summer and fall that I supported Obama as the best choice for Dems, but that I have a long history of not being happy with my choices for President–usually by two-years into their first term. Obama may well make that within one year.
    I’m not happy about how health care reform is going–selling out to Big Pharma in backroom deal, probably going to dump the public option, and still having Daschle around when he still is working for Alston & Bird and advising UnitedHealth, etc.
    But if nothing else, he’s doing well re: the Supreme Court and other federal judgeships, and that is enough for me to still always prefer a Democrat in the White House.

    Reply

  67. JohnH says:

    Democraps have a long and sordid history of appealing to the grassroots and then stiffing them. One day in the not too distant future they will pay the price…

    Reply

  68. DonS says:

    Grass roots activism, and the hope that Obama will “wake up”. What else is there?
    As to whether he is just a politico-corporate shill or just acts like a politico-corporate clone I imagine the gray area in between is in the ball park. My view: the vast majority of politicos are eyeball deep in the ‘culture’. Makes no difference; the results for our sad country are the same.

    Reply

  69. JohnH says:

    Obama was elected because he could talk nice to the American people. He had always been able to talk the talk, but never had to walk the walk.
    Now people are watching. If he stays on this path, it will quickly be obvious to everyone that he is not all that different from Bush, in the sense that he says one thing and does exactly the opposite.
    Obama’s problem is that the corporate media won’t be eager to convince the world that, despite all appearances, Obama is acting on his beliefs.
    Soaring noble rhetoric can only cover up nasty policies for so long. Washington cocktail parties won’t help either.

    Reply

  70. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Obama needs to wake up”
    He is awake. Do you really think he is just making “mistakes” in pursuing a continuance of the policies Bush instituted? He is doing exactly what he was put into office to do.

    Reply

  71. DonS says:

    This is not a time to be sitting on the fence, arguing that Obama has only been on the job a short time, yada, yada, as the vast majority of his actions have apparently been designed to placate the right. By the time he gets around to something more balanced, even just remedial, not to mention progressive, the US will be locked into the current cycle bad policy on most fronts. Obama needs to wake up. That’s spelled W-A-K-E-U-P! He needs to demand options for real change of direction from his economic, technocratic and militarist advisors. If he has it in him.
    Keep up the good work Steve; it’s getting really scary and depressing, and folks need to scream it.

    Reply

  72. Curious observer says:

    Casual examination of the vitriol certain liberals have for Glenn Greenwald (for instance) tells me that Obama, like Bush, will always have his 29 percenters… the people who, no matter how badly he screws up, no matter how much he sells out their stated principles, will defend him to the end.

    Reply

  73. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Obama is exactly what I told this blog he was; A fraud, a media construct. His actions thus far are supportive of the imminently disastrous direction that the Bush Administration took us.

    Reply

  74. Katherine says:

    Dude, I sometimes disagree with your comments but it’s stuff like *this*–which engages the mind and the heart–that keeps me coming back over and over again. Keep up the good work! And get some rest between those flights, ok? 😉

    Reply

  75. Outraged American says:

    My husband and I kept our votes in Cali to vote against Prop 8.
    Who anyone marries should be between themselves and their
    goddess.
    We are supposed to have separation of church and state. Why
    should the government be allowed to tell churches who they can
    marry and who they can’t?
    I was ashamed to be a Californicator when it passed.
    Although I have to say that stupid San Fran mayor gave The
    Dauphin a huge election boost (not that Cheney won legally
    either time) by legalizing gay marriage as the election heated-
    up.
    And as for the military, we’ve lost so many translators because
    of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” it’s beyond a disgrace.
    It also begs the questions: why do gays become military
    translators in such large numbers? Maybe pillow talk is sexier in
    Arabic.

    Reply

  76. Jim says:

    Count me among the disappointed formerly-rabid supporters. He’s turned wishy-washy at best (health care, gay rights), and continued Bush policies at worst (detainee rights). I just don’t see clear direction and leadership coming from the White House. And here I thought that “elections have consequences.” Guess not.
    But I blame Congressional Democrats just as much. The one bright spot seems to be State. I haven’t changed my mind about Hillary as President, but I do think she’s been impressive as SoS.

    Reply

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