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Barack Obama
"Lincoln Sells Out Slaves"
by: Rob Kailey - Sep 13
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If You Haven't Seen This
by: Rob Kailey - Apr 28
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Impeach the President?
by: Rob Kailey - Mar 16
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It's the system, stupid!
by: Jay Stevens - Oct 24
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Rob Kailey is a working schmuck with no ties or affiliations to any governmental or political organizations, save those of sympathy.

Obama's first year

by: Jay Stevens

Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 00:06:04 AM MST


There's been a lot of angry comments from the left over Congressional Democrats' and President Obama's job performance thus far this year. But it's not all universal. To some, Obama's first year in office has been historical in the amount of progressive legislation or government functions that have been passed or implemented.

For one, Kossak bacalove posted Professor Robert Watson's list of Obama's "90 accomplishments" during his first term. Watson claimed Obama's "first six months have been even more active than FDRs or LBJs..."

Sadly, though, Watson's list is peppered with meaningless items. Like #1: "ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending." Uh, call me a cynic... Other items are nice, but neither critical nor transformative, like #5, "families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB." Yes, it's a meaningful gesture to the troops and their families, and is likely to have positive effects on troop morale, but it's a service provided for a few, not a major "accomplishment."

Jay Stevens :: Obama's first year
Worse still, Watson's included "announcements." If "has announced his intention to push for energy reform" and "has announced his intention to push for education reform" count as accomplishments, then I have accomplished quite a bit in my lifetime! Heck, as a kid I announced both that I was going to be an astronaut and a stand-up comic! Quite an eclectic set of accomplishments, right? Right?

Then there are fudged items. Like #21, "the prison at Guantanamo Bay is being phased out." Uh, great. But what about reinstating habeas corpus, and prosecuting those that implemented, designed, and ordered torture of detainees? And items that, well, aren't really "accomplishments," just the perpetuation of a broken system, like #22, "US auto industry rescue plan," and #26, "US financial and banking rescue plan." Or ol' #81, "deployed additional troops to Afghanistan." Um, excuse me?

The sad thing about this list is that it buries Obama's real accomplishments in the padded list. The administration's depoliticizing of science (#71) is actually a major reform, especially as it addresses climate science: the regulation of carbon emissions by the EPA (#43) is huge, and allows the government to directly address climate change under existing air pollution legislation. Ending no-bid defense contracts (#62) and cutting the F-22 (#13) represent a real shift in ideology and defense spending - though in practice they're minor changes.

That's the thing. There are subtle, yet significant, shifts in policy that are occurring under Obama. Despite all the frustration I've vented against health-care reform in Congress and the president's unwillingness to advocate for real, effective reform, I think Jacob Weisberg is essentially right when he writes:

We are so submerged in the details of this debate-whether the bill will include a "public option," limit coverage for abortion, or tax Botox-that it's easy to lose sight of the magnitude of the impending change. For the federal government to take responsibility for health coverage will be a transformation of the American social contract and the single biggest change in government's role since the New Deal.

I think a lot of us get impatient with the incremental and half-assed reforms that seem designed to coddle the industries that created our healthcare crisis, but then, we've already accepted the idea that government should have a hand in universal access to health care.

Does this mean I think the bill couldn't be better, and I'm full of joy and glee about it? Of course not. Do I think that a similar compromised approach to climate change would be acceptable? H*ll, no; I've got children whose livelihood and living standard is threatened by a man-made natural disaster! But it's important, too, not to be blinded by our own circular debates and ideology and realize how big our problems are and how difficult it is to move the government, an economy, an industry, and popular opinion. Do I think our current crises need to be met with boldness and real reforms? Yes, and I think they'd be popular. But, then, I'm not president, nor will I ever be president, let alone the lowliest staffer on the least powerful House Representative's staff. (Apparently Rehberg has all the help he needs.)

I like what Wulfgar! wrote about the debate and rhetoric through out the healthcare bill's creation. A lot of criticism of Obama and Congressional Democrats has been both on the money and helpful...and totally off-the-wall loony. So when I see sh*t like this, I have to agree 100-hundred-percent with Wulfie:

What actually took place is that we have a really crappy Senate bill that could have been worse except for the left flank, and could have been better if they hadn't tried so hard to scare people and piss them off. Now, we have the left flank joining the teabaggers in calling for the firing of administration officials and even as far as the impeachment of the back-stabbing President. If you are rational, you have to ask yourself the question: When I agree that my enemy is insane, and I hope for the same outcomes of my enemy, am I all that mentally put together?

Or, Jeff Fecke: "Quite honestly, if Grover Norquist approached me and asked me to help him in his quest to save puppies, it would lead me to rethink my feelings about puppies."

So, yeah, forgive me for not tearing my chest hair in agony right now. Reform is happening. Maybe not at the speed I'd hoped. Maybe not in the direction I'd like to see it go. But things are happening.

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Obama's first year | 24 comments
If we're invoking the holy writ of history ... (0.00 / 0)
All change is incremental.  Some of those increments are large and some small.  That's what "fits and spurts" means, isn't it?  And it's little more than dishonest to claim that the big ones usually happen through the 'mainstreaming of activist's goals' without violence and pain enacted on their 'enemies'.

What is "meaningful" change is personal.  It is native only to the accepted morality of the person making the judgment.  It shouldn't be a mystery that not everybody shares the same moral sense, and damning others because they don't share yours is really kinda silly, and mostly counter-productive.  Turning activism into a jihad is no different than Bush's "with us or against us", and that's exactly what we've seen in the HCR debate.


Feke's piece is a piece of shit (0.00 / 0)
Go read what Hamsher is saying over at Firedog...

I think she is spot on...Rahnm Emanuel and the corporatist in the Obama administration called the shots on this health care bill, and they are stonewalling any investigation into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac...and they just signed the papers on another $800 billion dollar bailout for Fannie and Freddie..

Jay you are right...this is about poor people...poor people getting screwed by the conservative, corporate wing of the Democrat Party...it is not about shutting down Fannie Mae...geez!


[ Parent ]
Good Point Jed (0.00 / 0)
It is easy to praise the tiny, incremental steps forward from our positions of privilege. Sure 30,000 people died of causes related to malnutrition today (mostly women and children) but look at how Gitmo may be closed sometime in 2011!

Its all relative to the urgency one feels. I'm not living on the street, or in Honduras, or in Kandahar, so the pace of change is...irritating... but just the way it is. Not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good makes for great intellectualizing but the loss of the utopian imaginary is the slow strangulation of dignity and justice.

By the way, hope everyone is enjoying the holiday with loved ones. With respect.


again... (0.00 / 0)
...not sure you'd do things differently. I don't think any of us saying that even a watered-down bill will help some folks have lost sight of what an ideal system would look like.

and happy holidays to you, too...


[ Parent ]
Them's a powerful grouping of words there (0.00 / 0)
It ain't great.  Don't say it is.  People will continue to suffer, only it'll be less so that's better, right?

I can't be happy about it either, troutsky.  Dems will come to regret this deeply.  They've not just ignored their base, they've bloodied its eye.  On top of that, their asking for us to hold their arm up in victory.

2010 will tell.  2012 will tell.  When the bill comes in on the middle class, it's gonna hurt, that's for sure.


[ Parent ]
The Wrong Strategy (0.00 / 0)
I can't believe all of the attention the people who are saying we should team up with tea-baggers are getting.  It's an obvious attempt to de-legitimize everyone who is against this bill, and paint us as extreme.  It's insulting, and I sure wish you'd knock it off.  

It doesn't make sense.  All of the people who are hunky-dory with this bill would have been just as happy with a strong public option, and a bill that puts stronger restrictions on insurance companies.  But they're too busy planting the moderate flag on top of their heads to realize that the only thing that's pushing their views to this made-up "center" is the money of insurance companies.  Well congratu-fucking-lations.  You're a moderate.

Oh, and merry Christmas!


uh...Norquist isn't a teabagger... (0.00 / 0)
...and yes, if you're partnering with people whose primary goal is to marginalize progressives and fight against any and all progressive change -- who lack any sort of coherent political vision outside those impulses -- if you're siding with them, you have a problem.

Hamsher should be marginalized. Did you read the post Wulfgar! linked to? The call to investigate Emmanuel isn't about holding a crooked pol accountable, it's an attempt to blame the recent financial collapse on the poor, and end government-assisted home-ownership loans to working-class families. So, yeah, I'd say she should be ostracized.


[ Parent ]
Errr... (0.00 / 0)
You're responding to an argument that I did not make.  I'm not saying that people who make that argument shouldn't be marginalized.  The problem is, you're not marginalizing them - they're being blown up beyond their actual influence in a deliberate attempt to paint anyone who opposes this bill as unreasonably extreme.  It's like attaching the Code Pink moniker to people who opposed the Iraq War.  It's a deliberate propaganda tool, and you're falling for it hook, line, and sinker.

There's a lot of blind progressive rage out there right now.  People are wondering what the fuck is going on - and to have some unimportant people going completely off the deep end is normal - and should be expected.

Anyways, Jay - I think that you and I are pretty much in the same camp on this - I know you're pissed off about the bill - I'm probably a little bit more pissed off and pretty close to thinking it should be killed, but I think we have the same general issues with it.  

Even more of what's pissing me off now though is the way that people who opposed the bill are being marginalized, talked down to like they're children who just don't understand politics.  We DO understand it - we understand that the reason this bill ended up so "moderate" is because the moneyed interests paid to water it down as much as possible.  It's politics as usual, and while some people have been conditioned to expect it, and pat themselves on the back for "getting it," some of us are going to remain pissed off as long as it keeps going on.  


[ Parent ]
point taken... (0.00 / 0)
...tho' I don't see the same marginalization you do. I don't think condemnation -- outside of the usual gang of insider commentators -- struck Hamsher until she started going on Fox News and allying with Norquist. (And I'm willing to bet that Hamsher was one of the folks saying Dem presidential candidates shouldn't make appearances on Fox during the campaign.)

[ Parent ]
So Jay... (0.00 / 0)
we should not be concerned when the Obama administration drags its feet on investigating what has been happening at Fannie and Freddie...we should not be concerned when they use Xmas eve and the threat of a December 31st deadline to dump the news that they are going to allow possibly $800 billion be available to bailout the toxic mortgages Fannie and Freddie have been buying up....we should not be concerned when they negotiate a health care REFORM bill that is corporate friendly and will put $1 trillion dollars in the pockets of private insurance companies over the next ten years...

Are you seeing a pattern of wealth distribution here????????

Well...maybe you aren't concerned....maybe you feel its in bad taste to really get pissed off, to sue, and call for their resignation when Democrats behave that way?  Perhaps you aren't that concerned because you have so much invested in getting these people elected, and its scary, and difficult, to now condemn them for the very behavior you know is wrong?

Hamsher is right..unless you hit them hard they will ignore you...its all about power, and the corporate Democrats will eat their own...unlike you...to keep their power. I have seen it and felt it, right here in the Garden City...it is ugly, mean, and a big surprise when it happens....but it only has to happen to you once and you'll never forget it, nor will you forget how you MUST respond.



[ Parent ]
Norquist (0.00 / 0)
Does not care a rat's *ss about ethical impropriety in the White House, unless it fits his agenda of blowing up public programs. I'm not sure why that's irrelevant here.

[ Parent ]
Jay do you not want to accept, or (0.00 / 0)
are you saying you are certain, Rahmn did nothing wrong?  Was this Christmas eve move to up the Fannie/Freddie bailout to $800 billion okay?

I don't know Jay, it seems to me that the corporatist within the White House are really into transferring wealth from the middle class and the poor to their pockets and the pockets of their friends...but you seem hung up on Grover Norquist and "blowing up" public programs....It doesn't bother you that this public program has been pumping money into Emmanuel's pocket.  


[ Parent ]
Hit hard? (4.00 / 1)
My reading is that every time liberal Democrats or Labour get hit hard ( Reagan / Thatcher ) they instinctively move to the center, which means right. Welcome Clinton, Blair , Third Way New labour blah blah. Soon the Tories and Republicans are back in "control" but inside this diversionary social policy circus the power has actually shifted very little. After a bit Market Fundamentalism drives things into the dirt and we are back to "reform" and around we go.

Hamsher takes a very short view and her efforts and tremendous ability to organize should be directed against an unjust structure rather than interchangeable puppets playing roles such as Rahm or Barack.Unfortunately she seems unable to carry her analysis deep enough and identify the disease creating this "Groundhog Day" nightmare as opposed to symptoms. I'm sure she means well however.


As a pup at Firedoglake I admire Jane's energy. (0.00 / 0)
But I agree that playing the game instead of changing the unjust structure results time and again with liberal activists playing football with Lucy for those of us with time to play.  But for a majority of working Americans and especially the working poor, it is no game. And for millions of people in hundreds of places around the world that feel the oppressive hand of American empire on their necks,  it is certainly no game.  And for our dying planet, it may be the final phase of the endgame.

But maybe a better analogy is Shakespeare's.  We are all merely players who strut and fret our time here and then, poof, are gone.  Each of us has a part to play and maybe Jane's part is to nip at their heels or at least pull the curtain back and expose the little men. She has built a site with a lot of hard work on her and Marcy's part.  She has a thoughtful group of commenters many of whom are further left than she.  The single payer advocates on the site (I was one) had some rowdy disagreements with the public option people, but most of us are still speaking, but some have moved on.

I struggle with what my part is too.  I asked Matt Taibbi that question.  He said all he could do was to find out and tell the truth as he sees it because there are so, so many lies and weasel words. That at least keeps me sane in this latest perversion of our so called democratic republic.
I also read Paul Street for another sane perspective on this Orwellian time.  His latest piece skewers the so-called "progressives". "The (Fading) Call of Obama".
http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewA...
Footnote: Go see Avatar preferably in 3D (Billings has 2 theaters - Windsongs 10 and 14) and immerse yourself in another world for 2 1/2 hours.


[ Parent ]
Thanks for the perspective, (0.00 / 0)
FC. It seems that the new year will start off retrospective, looking back to a year-ago's hope that our nation would catapult itself out of its corporatism and militarism.

In all actuality, that is a good thing, as once the left realizes that its hopes for Obama were nothing more than projections cast upon a hollow brand (the marketing of "Brand Obama"--I snorted up a bit of coffee on that one), then we can get on with putting our energies to work empowering our own movement, instead of greasing the way for a faux one.

And I heartily ditto your advise to go see Avatar. It's f*cking amazing.

And did anybody else make the connection between Avatar's RDA Corporation's Colonel ("Let's get it done before dinner") Miles Quaritch and Apocalypse Now's  Lieutenant Colonel ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning") Kilgore? The director was channeling Kubrick through the whole military offensive sequence!

Cameron intricately links the goals of the corporation with the goals of the military in a neo-fascist model not so unlike our unholy alliance between Halliburton, BlackWater, and the Pentagon.

James Cameron stirs the heart of all Vietnam era anti-war activists, and melds it with a pagan, pro-environmental flourish to create a classic tale of good vs. evil. It is a cautionary tale about where our world is headed, willing to destroy anything that gets in our way in our pursuit of the aptly named "unobtanium."

Mix in a classic love story pitting a hero who is torn between the patriotism for his corporation or the people of his love, the Na'vi, and you have all the makings of an escapist cult classic as riveting as LOTR.

And as the lure of unobtanium drives the greed of post-apocalypse earth in Avatar, it presages how the illusions of Brand Obama will prove to be kryptonite for democrats and faux-gressives who cannot see through their own illusions of Obama and the worsening ruling culture of crony capitalism and corporatism in america.


[ Parent ]
Thanks for the perspective, (0.00 / 0)
FC. It seems that the new year will start off retrospective, looking back to a year-ago's hope that our nation would catapult itself out of its corporatism and militarism.

In all actuality, that is a good thing, as once the left realizes that its hopes for Obama were nothing more than projections cast upon a hollow brand (the marketing of "Brand Obama"--I snorted up a bit of coffee on that one), then we can get on with putting our energies to work empowering our own movement, instead of greasing the way for a faux one.

And I heartily ditto your advise to go see Avatar. It's f*cking amazing.

And did anybody else make the connection between Avatar's RDA Corporation's Colonel ("Let's get it done before dinner") Miles Quaritch and Apocalypse Now's  Lieutenant Colonel ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning") Kilgore? The director was channeling Kubrick through the whole military offensive sequence!

Cameron intricately links the goals of the corporation with the goals of the military in a neo-fascist model not so unlike our unholy alliance between Halliburton, BlackWater, and the Pentagon.

James Cameron stirs the heart of all Vietnam era anti-war activists, and melds it with a pagan, pro-environmental flourish to create a classic tale of good vs. evil. It is a cautionary tale about where our world is headed, willing to destroy anything that gets in our way in our pursuit of the aptly named "unobtanium."

Mix in a classic love story pitting a hero who is torn between the patriotism for his corporation or the people of his love, the Na'vi, and you have all the makings of an escapist cult classic as riveting as LOTR.

And as the lure of unobtanium drives the greed of post-apocalypse earth in Avatar, it presages how the illusions of Brand Obama will prove to be kryptonite for democrats and faux-gressives who cannot see through their own illusions of Obama and the worsening ruling culture of crony capitalism and corporatism in america.


[ Parent ]
Damn I hating repeating myself (0.00 / 0)
Never hit the space bar multiple times trying to figure out where you are in your writing. It just bounces up and hits the "post" button multiple times, even if you haven't finished editing your piece. Oh well. Time for lunch...

[ Parent ]
Obama's first year | 24 comments
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