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Maher and Feather
June 18, 2009 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Bill Maher's criticism of Obama? Be more like Bush. ...And just like Lindsey [Lohan], we see your name in the paper a lot, but we're kind of wondering when you're actually going to do something. Follow up of his statements with Keith Olbermann. ...But where's the beef? And it's easy to make speeches; what's hard to do is stand up against corporations. Corporations and their incredible strength are what have ruined this country so far, and this president -- we thought -- might be the one to stand up to them. I'm losing hope. I still have audacity, but my hope is fading.
posted by Christ, what an asshole (124 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Obama is playing it cool.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:02 AM on June 18, 2009


It's not hard to find reasons to feel disappointed right now, that's for sure.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:11 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even when I agree with Maher, I find him incredibly irritating.
posted by blucevalo at 10:12 AM on June 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


Maher thinks he's the rational political voice appointed by left-leaners to take the Obama administration to task on not doing enough, fast enough. He might be right, but he just comes off sounding impetuous.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:14 AM on June 18, 2009


Obnoxious people always think they represent the middle.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:15 AM on June 18, 2009 [20 favorites]


The only mainstream presidential candidate in recent memory who's said that "corporations" are the problem is Ralph Nader (needless to say his take is more sophisticated than Maher's, not that I agree with either). I don't think you can find much in Obama's campaign statements to suggest either that 1) this country has been "ruined" or 2) that corporations are to blame, so it seems churlish to be disappointed.
posted by grobstein at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


Obnoxious people always think they represent the middle.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:15 AM on June 18 [+] [!]

Plus 1 Mr. Zombie
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2009


I can never hear what Maher's saying over the sound of him being so got dang smug all the time.
posted by boo_radley at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


"You're the president, not a rerun of Law & Order."

He should have ended it right there: long enough to get the great one-liner out, short enough to prevent us realizing that there really isn't much content to his criticism.
posted by googly at 10:18 AM on June 18, 2009


WHERE'S OUR HOPIUM?!!?!!!
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on June 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


But where's the beef? And it's easy to make speeches; what's hard to do is stand up against corporations. Corporations and their incredible strength are what have ruined this country so far, and this president -- we thought -- might be the one to stand up to them. I'm losing hope. I still have audacity, but my hope is fading.

YES.

You know what? I don't want bipartisanship, because the Republicans are as crazy as a sack of crazed weasels and twice as evil.
I want my socialized healthcare. I want my socialized education. Obama isn't coming through with what so many people were hoping for. Bush might have been driving the country towards the edge of a cliff, but if Obama doesn't start steering or stepping on the brakes then we're still all screwed.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2009 [19 favorites]


I liked those clips. I don't find Maher irritating or obnoxious, but actually quite funny. And I think we need more progressive gadflies to ensure we get the changes we need.
posted by ornate insect at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I loved Bill Maher in DC Cab.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:21 AM on June 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


>: I don't think you can find much in Obama's campaign statements to suggest either that 1) this country has been "ruined" or 2) that corporations are to blame, so it seems churlish to be disappointed.

And that's the thing. Everyone voted based on what they wanted Obama to be, not what he actually is. I mean, yes, it's nice to have a President who can talk in complete sentences and has an idea what the word 'diplomacy' means, but for all the right-wing noise being spewn, the guy is not that far left, much less a socialist or marxist.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:22 AM on June 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


take the Obama administration to task on not doing enough, fast enough

It's always harder to build than destroy, and it took Dubyah eight long, hard, fully erect years to grind the U.S.A. down into the lumpy hollows of the squalid crack house mattress it now snoozes upon.

Cut the guy a break. No more than three crises at a time, please.
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:23 AM on June 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


Okay here's the thing that pisses me off about Maher and his ilk. Throughout the entire 84-year-long 2008 election season, Obama supporters were accused of thinking he'd miraculously solve everyone's problems, turn around everything bad, and basically be a political messiah. And now that he's actually president, it turns out that's exactly what so many Obama supporters expected. They're disappointed because they had ridiculous fucking expectations. The whole thing about Obama, and one of the main reasons that I voted for him, was that he kept telling us that it wasn't about him solving all our problems, it was about us losing our stupid cynical partisan snarky apathy and actually becoming practically invested in bettering our country. Maher is exactly the kind of blank-eyed Hopeonaut conservatives accused liberals of being, and clearly had no real idea of who Obama was or why he should vote for him.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:29 AM on June 18, 2009 [74 favorites]


Cut the guy a break. No more than three crises at a time, please.

I was saying the same thing three months ago, but that excuse is increasingly wearing thin. It's frustrating that even on issues with vast popular support, like not enforcing Don't Ask Don't Tell, he seems strangely committed to the status quo.
posted by heathkit at 10:30 AM on June 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's not hard to find reasons to feel disappointed right now, that's for sure.

When Bush was in office, everyone on the Left piled on him and criticized him for ram-rodding his political agenda down the country's throat without regard for checks and balances, separation of powers and established political processes. His few critics on the Right criticized him (if at all) for not going far and fast enough, and would have had all property and income taxes eliminated and the military invading Turkey by now if they could have.

Now Obama's in office, everyone on the left is piling on him and criticizing him for not ram-rodding his political agenda down the country's throat without regard for checks and balances, separation of powers and established political processes. Meanwhile critics on the right thinks he's like bizarro-world Bush, forcing a radical left-wing agenda down the country's throat (for instance, saw a guy the other day with a bumper sticker made to look like a railroad sign that read "Stop the Obama Express").

Somewhere in all this mess, there's a reality that just minds its own business and sits there calmly, saying nothing, while we dance around it, chattering and throwing poo at each other like chimps.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:31 AM on June 18, 2009 [41 favorites]


Just for the sake of messing with people's heads, I'm going to take this opportunity to praise Obama for something.

At a recent fundraiser in Las Vegas for that loathsome lickspittle Harry Reid, the headliner worked the room:

I was telling people, I am back in Caesar's. That was the hotel where we stayed at when we were campaigning here in Nevada. I thought I had a pretty nice room. But now that I'm president, they upgraded me.


I thought that was funny.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:33 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obama is clearly unwilling to take on big corporations to improve the economy and to modernize American infrastructure, Except GM, Chrysler, the Private Equity industry, the banking industry, the credit card companies and the health insurance industry and health care providers. He's clearly a cowardly do-nothing.

I mean, what has he been doing these past six months? Not including his efforts to save a major manufacturing sector of the US economy, stabilizing the equities market, reigning in the banks, investment houses and credit card companies with new legislature, helping Congress shape a national healthcare system, re-structuring two major wars in Asia that have not been going well, rebuilding ties with the Arab and Muslim world, and dealing with North Korea, it looks like he's been doing nothing at all.

I shudder to think what things will look like in two years with this sort of man in the Whitehouse...

(Yeah, sarcasm is cheap. But Maher is so far off base, he's inviting this kind of pickoff.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:34 AM on June 18, 2009 [29 favorites]


I think people are are finding themselves disappointed because they had almost convinced themselves that as soon as Obama got into office he would magically fix everything.
posted by Sargas at 10:34 AM on June 18, 2009


I've watched Maher for, jeez, decades now? He's gotten a bit more strident and nasty over the years, but he still manages to express exactly what I was thinking needed to be said with regularity. And I still think he got shafted for speaking truth after 9/11.

I think part of the "problem" (not that there is one) is his writing staff. During the writers' strike, when he went back on the air without the net of his little blue cards of one-liners to "help" him through the hour, the show turned into some of the most intelligent political and social discussion available at the time. As soon as the strike ended, he stopped being the excellent panel host he had been and went back to trying to steer the conversation in order to let him get as many jokes on the air as possible. I still love the show, but those few weeks when he was flying by the seat of his pants were some of the best television ever, IMO.
posted by hippybear at 10:37 AM on June 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think the presidents been doing a really good job considering the fact that even with solid majorities in both houses the median or 60th person depending is still far to the right of him and it's actually their job to do most of the stuff Obama promised. But I think Maher is onto something with this there are issues where most of America is significantly to the left of the dialog that goes on. Health care is one such issue. Drug reform is another. Wire tapping warrants. Gays in the military. And Obama is willing to pass or defer more than I would like on a lot of these issues. Now in one sense I'm fine with this, a person who agreed with me on everything would never get elected and I think Obama is pretty close to the best that you can get. In another sense though I think there is something very productive about pointed criticisms like this.

I think most people sort of decide whether someone is an extremist by seeing who is criticizing him. Some criticism from the left gives Obama more credibility and moves the dialogue back from the far right where it's spent a lot of time since Regan. Right now having a system of healthcare that is in terms of efficiency unambiguously better than our current system, a system that every other country that's even close to as wealthy as us has is a far left position. And that's pretty crazy but it's a product of the nature of our dialog.
posted by I Foody at 10:37 AM on June 18, 2009


shakespherian: The whole thing about Obama, and one of the main reasons that I voted for him, was that he kept telling us that it wasn't about him solving all our problems, it was about us losing our stupid cynical partisan snarky apathy and actually becoming practically invested in bettering our country.

Yeah, I agree, and that's why I'm voting for him too. But when a substantial plurality of the country is crying out for single payer health care and more civil rights for LGBT folks, his seeming lack of interest in addressing these issues kind of makes me wonder whether his "we are the ones we've been waiting for" stuff was real or bullshit.

Don't get me wrong, I still like the guy a lot, and I understand that there's a big part of the sausage factory I can't see, but with an electoral mandate and a majority in Congress, you can't tell me he doesn't seem to be plodding a bit.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:39 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


everyone on the left is piling on him

This is an exaggeration. Most of the left commentary I read is not at all super-critical of Obama; quite the contrary. Bill Maher is actually an exception. Being critical of Obama on dailykos, for example, is still mostly verboten.

Fwiw, I think it can be healthy to have progressives pushing for change, and there can be such a thing as constructive criticism. Not all criticism is negative, unrealistic or excessive.
posted by ornate insect at 10:40 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what I love about the American left?

Even when we manage to elect one of our own, we give him hell. We hold him to high expectations. We exhort him to be the President that we want him to be. We scrutinize, criticize, excoriate and nag.

And that's just as it should be.
posted by MrVisible at 10:42 AM on June 18, 2009 [12 favorites]


Being critical of Obama on dailykos, for example, is still mostly verboten.

That's because dKos is more or less an organ of the Democratic Party.

I should note that despite my comment above, I do understand that single payer isn't something that'll happen overnight, and that the "public option" may very well be a "stealth" method of starting something that'll eventually turn into single payer. At least, that's what gets me through the day.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:45 AM on June 18, 2009


I think Obama has been really bad on the issues that are important to Gays and Lesbians, and is actually lagging behind the rest of the country on that. I don't withhold my criticism. But that he hasn't stampeded through the Presidency, taking adventage of the massive (and constitutionally questionable) buildup of power in the executive branch to bulldoze corporations?

He'd be a one-term president with a track record of failure behind him. Sorry we're not in your libertarian utopia where we can all smoke pot and mock the religious, Bill, but real change requires real work, and real work takes a lot of time.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 AM on June 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Sorry we're not in your libertarian utopia where we can all smoke pot and mock the religious

Wait... I've been doing it wrong?
posted by hippybear at 10:50 AM on June 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


point taken ornate insect, on the phrasing:

'everyone on the left'

i might have said something more like 'those on the left who are criticizing him'--i meant all the critics on the left, not the entire left viewed as some monolithic entity. it's the nature of the criticism--that obama isn't more forcefully pushing or imposing a certain political agenda--that i mostly meant to address.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:52 AM on June 18, 2009


Wait... I've been doing it wrong?

I didn't say that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:53 AM on June 18, 2009


Said it before. Sayin' it again.

I'm not disappointed in Obama because I was never sucked in by the hype and rhetoric to begin with. I never believed he would accomplish much extricating us from Bush's Iraq folly and I knew in advance (because he made it a point to declare it) that we'd never see justice in the prosecution of the Bushies who orchestrated most of our current problems. I will hasten to add that much of my cynicism belongs to the Congress, who still acts as though the GOP is calling the shots. Let's not forget, many of the ankle-grabbing Quislings who facilitated Bush are still in Congress, feverishly trying to rewrite history.

I voted for Obama on one issue -- Supreme Court nominations. And I figure if you're gonna be a one-issue voter, that's a pretty good one.

I'm still proud I voted for him. Still proud the country came together. Still proud the country resoundingly repudiated the Bush agenda. Still get a lump in my throat thinking of that November morning with lines winding around the block.

But restoring sanity and competence to the SCOTUS is the only thing on my radar screen.
posted by RavinDave at 10:54 AM on June 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Fwiw, I think it can be healthy to have progressives pushing for change, and there can be such a thing as constructive criticism.

completely agree. it's just the inconsistency that bothers me. is dictating policy bad or is it only bad when it's not your guy, so to speak, in office? i'm in the 'dictating policy is almost always bad' camp.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:55 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Centrist president is centrist! OMG Bill Maher, congratulations on your blinding grasp of the obvious!

And there is nothing funnier than some rich media guy complaining about how evil "corporations" are. As if HBO is an autonomous collective. Come see the hypocrisy inherent in the system!
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:55 AM on June 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


They're disappointed because they had ridiculous fucking expectations.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:29 AM on June 18


I guess thinking "I'm pretty sure this guy won't reverse his position on torture and warrantless wiretapping and equality for homosexuals and the War On Iraq and healthcare and everything I voted for him for" was pretty fucking ridiculous.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:57 AM on June 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


hifiparasol: But when a substantial plurality of the country is crying out for single payer health care and more civil rights for LGBT folks, his seeming lack of interest in addressing these issues kind of makes me wonder whether his "we are the ones we've been waiting for" stuff was real or bullshit.

I agree that Obama has been disappointing on LGBT issues, but I don't think he ever gave us much reason to have any other expectations in this regard. Campaigning Senator Obama was always very forthright about his opposition to homosexual marriage, and while I think that's awful and a damn shame, when I see people on MeFi and elsewhere who (perhaps rhetorically, perhaps with a flair for the dramatic) grimace and suggest that they're withdrawing their support for Obama because of his 'betrayal' or whatever, I wonder how closely those people payed attention during the campaign.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:57 AM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


ornate insect: "Being critical of Obama on dailykos, for example, is still mostly verboten."

Not judging by the number of "favorites" that comments like these have been getting.

As for the Great Orange Satan himself, he's struggling valiantly against his own disillusionment.

Tuesday he wrote:

So apparently the plan is:

1. Ignore promises to repeal "don't ask, don't tell".

2. Write unnecessary and bigoted legal briefs comparing gays to pedophiles and incest.

3. Wait seven years.

4. Hope Obama does the right thing "before the sun sets on his administration".


But by Wednesday, the Kool-Aid was tasting fine again:

this could've been announced via press release and buried from view. Instead, Obama announced the move in a public ceremony. It's clear the White House is feeling the pressure, as the substance of this executive order probably didn't warrant the attention it got. Rather, it was clearly an excuse for Obama to very visibly reaffirm support for repealing DOMA. And despite Obama's checkered record on gay rights, this is not an insignificant signal on his part.

posted by Joe Beese at 10:58 AM on June 18, 2009


And that's the thing. Everyone voted based on what they wanted Obama to be

they were looking for kucinich but a chorus of angels and the firm hand of a loving god directed their voting fingers to the obama button.

but anyway, if kucinich had been elected there'd have been a "plane crash" already...
posted by klanawa at 10:59 AM on June 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


I will hasten to add that much of my cynicism belongs to the Congress, who still acts as though the GOP is calling the shots. Let's not forget, many of the ankle-grabbing Quislings who facilitated Bush are still in Congress, feverishly trying to rewrite history.

bingo! and probably exerting enormous pressure on the executive to go along with those efforts in return for even the most modest efforts to implement the executive's agenda.

we're talking here about a congress who cut funding to close guantanamo ostensibly based on over-hyped and inflated NIMBY nonsense. but i can't believe for a second there isn't a lot more power-play going on behind the scenes between the majority in congress (a full fourth of which, btw, hold positions on national defense, social policy spending and tax policy that are virtually identical to those of the Republican minority) and the executive branch than we could possibly imagine.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:01 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't worry -- you can vote for Nader next time, and then enjoy eight blissful years under President Palin. How's that sound?
posted by spilon at 11:10 AM on June 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


if kucinich had been elected there'd have been a "plane crash" already...

if kucinich had been elected, the only way he could have put any part of his agenda into effect would have been to somehow secure the loyalty of the military and declare martial law, because there would have been that much knee-jerk opposition to his administration from the entrenched powers in washington.

look, bush didn't do what he did alone. most of washington was 100% on board when it counted, dems and republicans alike. and a lot of those officials--elected and unelected, and particularly in the judiciary--are still right where they were. no one man could hope to wade into that swamp and drive out all the snakes.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:10 AM on June 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't want bipartisanship

Me either. I want gridlock. At this point, it's the best we can hope for.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:13 AM on June 18, 2009


I used to love Bill Maher. Went to see him live one time. But in the last few years I just want to strangle him every time he opens his mouth. It's a combination of the stoner logic and ultra-smugness.

I am so tired of hearing liberals complain that Obama hasn't fixed anything yet. The right is trying to paint him as a failure and the left is helping them along. I understand the left has had some disappointments in the last few months, but really, we're upset because we the massively FUBARed healthcare industry hasn't been fixed in six months? That electing Obama didn't make all the problems in the economy that are the result of at least 20 years of economic policy just go away over night? Grow up!

I'm grateful Obama is smarter than his supporters.
posted by threeturtles at 11:13 AM on June 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


I won't go into any problems I have with Obama but I will say that Bill M. is a lot like R. Nader: both denounce corporations and their influence but seem unable to tell us what ought to be done about them and how to curb them and their influence. Lobby groups are legal. They pay for a lot of what goes into elections. That pay influences legislation. To think you can simply 'stand up to corporations:" is a naive and a simplistic thing to say. Example: Joe Lieberman is very much funded by the insurance industry in his home state (Connecticut); his wife is a big lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry...guess how he will vote on health! Dodd, another Dem, is also married to a woman who is involved in the health industry...and on and on. Follow the money. That is the way the system works. We don['t have a Mr Deeds going to DC to make change all by himself with a few nice gestures.

For some funny (and bright) guy on tv to tell Obama to stand up to corporations is just plain dumb. He can stand up to his corporation on tv because he brings in money and they like that. Same with Keith O. and Rachel M. Thy can be "left" because the corporate owners of MSNBC smell the money in ads being left brings in. Tolerate them because of it.
posted by Postroad at 11:16 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look, the choices were Obama or John McCain.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:18 AM on June 18, 2009 [13 favorites]


"Yeah, I agree, and that's why I'm voting for him too. But when a substantial plurality of the country is crying out for single payer health care and more civil rights for LGBT folks, his seeming lack of interest in addressing these issues kind of makes me wonder whether his 'we are the ones we've been waiting for' stuff was real or bullshit."

I think the problem is that he displayed a lot of leadership on these issues when campaigning and not so much as president. He seems much more willing these days to compromise when it comes to the people he's supposed to represent, as opposed to the moneyed interests whom he claimed would not have the power over our government under his administration. He seems not so willing to stand on principle anymore but more willing to try to split the difference. I understand there are political considerations, and that it's important not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. His muted support of Iran's burgeoning revolution is a good policy, if a bit frustrating from the sidelines, but he needs to be very careful as not being seen as an intervening force in their elections (as he mentioned in his speech in Cairo the US deposed Mossadegh in 1953). But his lack of at least moral support in other areas where he previously was very strong is a bit baffling, although the fear is that he's going to turn out like Clinton: well-liked but rather ineffective, and sometimes downright destructive to the causes he claims to support.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:23 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


president obama is, for the most part, incapable of governing any better than the congress he has to work with - and the congress he has to work with sucks
posted by pyramid termite at 11:26 AM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I won't go into any problems I have with Obama but I will say that Bill M. is a lot like R. Nader: both denounce corporations and their influence but seem unable to tell us what ought to be done about them and how to curb them and their influence."

That's precisely the opposite of what Ralph Nader does. Remember auto safety? Remember the Corvair? "Unsafe at any speed?" He started PIRG. He has always been a major consumer advocate, and he walks the walk. His political campaigns are a tiny part of his activist life, and I do have some misgivings about the way he's done that, but he's hardly just a gadfly.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:27 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


"president obama is, for the most part, incapable of governing any better than the congress he has to work with - and the congress he has to work with sucks"

He is capable of providing stronger leadership. He can't force anyone's hand, but he can be more forceful.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:28 AM on June 18, 2009


Did my innocuous comment about Joe Beese get axed? If so, I blame Obama.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:29 AM on June 18, 2009


the congress he has to work with sucks

Bill Clinton disagrees: Clinton made the point, which I think is worth repeating, that Obama has "the best Congress since Kennedy was assassinated" and everyone was tripping all over themselves to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with LBJ.
posted by ornate insect at 11:31 AM on June 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


mods: I was affectionately teasing Joe B. we've even Me-mailed about it. now we have to get MeTa-married. you're all invited to the reception.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:41 AM on June 18, 2009


Pffft. I've already lived through this once. After 12 years of Reagan/Bush I thought Clinton was going to be a godsend. He wasn't, but on the whole he was an improvement, even though he was deeply flawed. Obama is a distinct improvement over Son-Of-Bush... so far, and so far not deeply flawed. Really, folks, this is about as good as it gets.
posted by lordrunningclam at 11:53 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bill Clinton, the guy who first established the practice of extraordinary rendition and signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act into law? Yep, he seems like a good judge of congresses.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:54 AM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Rule #1 of U.S. politics is; "I'm the only person who can fix this and I'll get right on it after you elect me again."

The catch 22 is that it's not in the interest of politicians to repair the issues that get them elected. If abortion is made illegal (for example), then what's the point of voting for a Republican? Solving an issue just means you can't campaign on it next time around, or at least espect less turnout as a result of it. Sure you can say "I did this and I did that" but nobody cares what you did, only what you're going to do. Party rhetoric is, as always, no holds barred resulting in the illusion of populist leaders gung ho to harbor radical change. Official party policy, however, tends toward moderation, resulting in less than significant legislative shifts.

My opinion, your typical individual Democrat or Republican is significantly more radical than the parties that represent them. Perhaps this is not such a bad thing, but I have to think it's a failure of the system when the people are being misrepresented, for better or worse.
posted by _aa_ at 11:55 AM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


shakespeherian +1
posted by edgeways at 12:05 PM on June 18, 2009


Yes, it got axed. It's great that you were secretly affectionately teasing, but to those not in on the secret it looked like straight-up calling out a user who wasn't even in the thread, which would be totally crappy behavior.
posted by cortex at 12:05 PM on June 18, 2009


Word. May I apologize in political speak? "I sincerely regret if my comments were construed in a way that may have caused offense."
posted by joe lisboa at 12:11 PM on June 18, 2009


The criticism isn't aimed at Obama.

Well, it is, but it's not him that's the problem. The problem is with THE MEDIA. (Which is to say, the lazy, celebgossip/faux-scandal/soundbite fluff-spewing television "news.")

THE MEDIA overhyped Obama as the Second Coming. THE MEDIA set up all the false expectations. THE MEDIA is portraying Obama as the burger-buying, date-going-out-on, fly-swatting guy who doesn't seem to be doing much Presidenting. THE MEDIA did this. It's how THE MEDIA always does it. It's how THE MEDIA always does everything. Why do you think this Bill Maher bit (which, as far as I can tell, is no different from any other Bill Maher bit) is getting this kind of traction? THE MEDIA. "Bill Maher criticizes Obama" is this week's "Jon & Kate splitting up?"
Who even gives a shit, really? THE MEDIA.

Those fancy arm-wavy chyron interfaces don't pay for themselves, you know.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:12 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Patience is a virtue. I, for one, have been very happy with President Obama.
posted by satori_movement at 12:20 PM on June 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've been thinking about Obama a lot lately, because in many ways I do think he's been disappointing. His economic plan was basically Bush 2 - more Tarp money, no heads roll at the banks, default to more Goldman Sachs cronies to run things - and I think that's very bad, and it wasn't what I expected in November. So how to make sense of it?

Well, I see three possibilities: one, when he was on the campaign trail he made promises he is now unable to keep, or which he knew he wouldn't keep, or we interpreted what he said in a different way than he meant it. Two, he underestimated the way things really worked, and is now going through a learning curve trying to find a way to enact his agenda over the complaints of entrenched powers like the military industrial complex or the healthcare industry. Or three, he's just playing the long game and because so much of what he's really doing is happening behind closed doors setting up for payoffs coming way down the line I can't see it right now.

Honestly, any of those explanations makes sense. One is politics as usual, two is de rigeur for freshmen presidents, and three - well, three is wholly in keeping with Obama's entire career, from when he started out as a community organizer, up until he beat Hillary for the nomination despite being an underdog because he built a better grass roots organization in states major candidates rarely campaign in. So who the fuck knows? Obama is a more nuanced president than Bush (thank God) which means he's a lot harder to read.

That said, the other day I read something on Andrew Sullivan's blog that made the whole thing cohere for me. Sullivan was trying to figure out why Obama would release torture memos, but not torture photos. In many ways that is an odd way to split the difference... But I think that's actually emblematic of his whole approach: Solomon-ing up the baby to make both mothers happy. His bailouts are too big for a lot on the right, and not big enough for the Krugmans of the world; people are mad that he saved this bank or that bank and people are mad that he let GM fail; some think his stance on marijuana - decriminilize it eventually - is too far, others think it should be fully legal. Don't Ask Don't Tell might seem like something that's universally unpopular - but whatever its numbers are in the general population, I have no idea how its viewed in the Joint Chiefs of Staff or in the higher ups in the military - so doing nothing on that might be one way of splitting the difference between public opinion and practical implementation, between not alienating the people he works with or the people he's responsible to.

Although its tacky to be an armchair pyschiatrist, I think its appropriate to point out that Obama got to where he is by being black enough for black people and white enough for white people, and that if you read his book, you realize how exceptional it is that he can talk trash and get in fights on the basketball court with his coach but come home and pat his mom on the hand and promise that he'll do better in school, and have both his friends that he does drugs with and his straight narrow mom both believe in him, even if they know he's kind of playing them.

Fundamentally, for better or worse, I think he is a split-the-difference type guy, which means he'll make some great strides and lag behind on a lot of stuff, but where you think he fell behind and where you think he vaulted forward is probably going to vary person to person. For example I think he's done well on handling Iran but then again we can't afford the American Empire, and being in endless wars we can't pay for which promise no tangible benefits... well, that turns world powers into has-beens, at great cost to the citizens of those countries... So his continued support for Iraq and Afghanistan is bad, not just in the limited specific sense, but in the broader sense that it shows that his plans are more politics-as-usual -war-as-a-way-of-life America-deserves-to-run-the-globe foreign policy which I think is ultimately detrimental to America.

But then again, he's also getting criticized by a lot of people for not being hawkish enough. So what do I know? Maybe he has to make sacrifices on foreign policies just to keep military people happy and in his camp; maybe in the long term America will change its foreign policy towards more of a third way we can only guess at now, in between an idealistic world of diplomacy and our current world of big stick diplomacy.

In conclusion: Is Bill Maher right? Yes. And No. Depends on the issue at hand, and where you stand.

Unless Obama's playing the long game, at which point we won't even know for a few years. But even then, probably yes and no.
posted by Kiablokirk at 12:36 PM on June 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


We don['t have a Mr Deeds going to DC to make change all by himself with a few nice gestures.

I'd like to point out that we may have a Mr. Deeds going to Richmond, at the very least. I don't know if he can make change there all by himself, though.
posted by malthas at 12:40 PM on June 18, 2009


dKos is more or less an organ of the Democratic Party.

An organ? Really?

Maybe a minor organ. Definitely not the heart or lungs, though.

dKos is more like, I dunno... the whiny pancreas part.
posted by rokusan at 12:46 PM on June 18, 2009


Patience is a virtue. I, for one, have been very happy with President Obama.

Yes. And at the rate he's going (it's been SIX MONTHS, people!), he won't need a second term anyway, so hate away, haters!

WRT Guantanamo and "why isn't he freeing those guys?": Dude, shhh. He has to wait for everyone to do their predictable little NIMBY thing before he can possibly get away with saying, with a shrug and a sigh (and a wink and a nod), "Well then, I guess I'll just let them go home." If he does it too soon, it'll look too much like "palling around" for the you-know-whos clinging to their you-know-whats.

dKos is more like, I dunno...

Gallbladder.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:49 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bill Maher and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert can bite me. Their oppositional-for-the-sake-of-being-oppositional comedic stylings are getting a little bit hackneyed at this point. It took a few months, but now that they no longer have the Evil Bush/Cheney/Condoleezza/Gonzales axis to tilt against, they are flailing and waving their arms around in the sky trying to stay relevant, looking for anything to insult and screaming at the top of their lungs like Sam Kinison.

I mean, Stephen Colbert has apparently reinvented himself as 1967-vintage USO Bob Hope, complete with twirling cane and stale puffball routines, and Jon Stewart was on last night having Dan Rather spray him with a fire extinguisher while he stripped his shirt off and then railing heroically against ... CNN using Twitter. Twitter!

/end of rant
posted by blucevalo at 12:50 PM on June 18, 2009


Where's all the hate for Daschle right about now? He's the one currently inching congress just a little closer to effectively gutting Obama's health care reform proposal.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:54 PM on June 18, 2009


I think this is a really good point about Obama:

"I missed an excellent post the other day from Spencer Ackerman citing Trita Parsi of the NIAC:

It was important, Parsi said, for any non-Iranian organization wishing to show solidarity with the opposition to ensure that “anything they do is two steps behind the opposition and not two steps ahead.”

I just wanted to point out that this has always been Obama’s MO. He’s always a step or two behind where his supporters want him to be, getting pulled along by their enthusiasm, rather than out ahead of them where he might get cut off. It’s a community organizer’s MO. You never get out ahead of your constituency. Instead you shape the playing field so that your constituency’s desires flow towards where you think they should go, and allow them to carry you along behind them."
posted by oneirodynia at 12:58 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


This "bipartisan-spirited" capitulation from Daschle coming just after Reid made a grand public gesture of announcing just a couple of days ago that bipartisanship would take a backseat to getting a meaningful health care package through.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:59 PM on June 18, 2009


Not to sound like a whiney, electric car driving hippie liberal, but I listen to NPR for news on my commute everyday, and that Obama sounds like one busy motherfucker. When he's not pulling some hapless corporation out of the burning wreckage of their own largesse (and finding ways to legally prevent them from winding up there again, and punishing them if they do) he's forming a whole new government office to educate citizens about credit, stocks and other financial matters.

As has been stated, a) I think a lot of people expected to wake up after election day and everything would be OK™ again, and b) Bill Maher is a complete douche. The name of the OP fits in this case. Unless that was part of the joke, in which case carry on.

I am reminded of a story *puts on reading glasses and cardigan*. In the Second World War, GI's would frequently give their chocolate rations to little children, who would gorge themselves silly on the stuff. In many cases the badly malnourished children would become violently ill, almost to the point of shock, in the presence of the rich confection on piteously empty stomachs. Point being, it would be a really nice gesture for Obama to come storming into Washington imprisoning anyone who had ever met Bush, Rummy, or Cheney or made a bad loan while simultaneously shutting down the stupid, backward automakers. I would wager, however, that the resulting shock would fuck us a lot worse than having a cautious, thoughtful president ever could.

New Obama slogan: "Slow Your Roll, America."
posted by littlerobothead at 1:00 PM on June 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


He’s always a step or two behind where his supporters want him to be, getting pulled along by their enthusiasm, rather than out ahead of them where he might get cut off. It’s a community organizer’s MO. You never get out ahead of your constituency. Instead you shape the playing field so that your constituency’s desires flow towards where you think they should go, and allow them to carry you along behind them.

That's not Obama; that's democracy. What you want is a dictatorship.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:00 PM on June 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just wanted to point out that this has always been Obama’s MO.

The current situation in Iran is a lot more complicated than many of the more enthusiastic anti-Ahmadinejad crusaders seem to realize or want to acknowledge. Obama's playing that one exactly how he should be.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:03 PM on June 18, 2009


Alot of amnesia going around these days. I like Bill Maher, but also remember clearly when he used to pepper his show with proclamations like "this Iraq thing could be working, and Bush will be seen as right on this one".

I don't hold comedians to the highest standards... being a lifelong fan of Howard Stern and fart jokes and all... but perhaps Bill isn't well placed to feign populist disappointment in our new president just yet.
posted by Hickeystudio at 1:22 PM on June 18, 2009


Is it just me or has Maher been more and more hostile to his audience in the past few years? His opening monologues are painful to watch. Instead of being a good comedian, who will let a shit joke fade graciously away, he actually gets pissy and blames the audience for not understanding his obvious genius. At least once a week he insults his crowd for not getting it.

and no I don't know why i still have my dvr set to record his show. i guess i keep expecting it to be better than it is
posted by eyeballkid at 1:23 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I should clarify this comment by explaining that if the recent unrest in Iran has been supported by the US State Department and our intelligence agencies in any way (still an open question), I think it's highly likely that Obama might have balked at the plans initially but found himself facing too much resistance within the establishment. Plans to destabilize Iran, if they existed, would have been in development, at great expense, for a considerable length of time; overcoming the institutional momentum in a situation like that might have been nearly impossible. Such plans might have been re-branded as a contingency for weakening rather than toppling Ahmadinejad, as a tactic for increasing US diplomatic leverage in future negotiations with Tehran. Clinton is no foreign policy dove, after all. She might have supported the plans.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:30 PM on June 18, 2009


When Bush was in office, everyone on the Left piled on him and criticized him for ram-rodding his political agenda down the country's throat… Now Obama's in office, everyone on the left is piling on him and criticizing him for not ram-rodding his political agenda down the country's throat…

There is a key difference you ignore. Bush's political agenda was fucking evil. The agenda Obama represents is not. On the one hand, you had Bush forcing a war of aggression on the nation; on the other hand, you should have Obama forcing equality on the nation.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:33 PM on June 18, 2009


The only mainstream presidential candidate in recent memory who's said that "corporations" are the problem is Ralph Nader

Nader was more mainstream then Edwards?
posted by delmoi at 1:35 PM on June 18, 2009


saulgoodman: "The current situation in Iran is a lot more complicated than many of the more enthusiastic anti-Ahmadinejad crusaders seem to realize or want to acknowledge. Obama's playing that one exactly how he should be."

I have no problem giving Obama full credit for this one. Whichever way it plays out, the less we're seen to do with it, the better for all concerned.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:36 PM on June 18, 2009


fool me twice... never get fooled again!
posted by prototype_octavius at 1:43 PM on June 18, 2009


I have no problem giving Obama full credit for this one.

Good on you, Joe. Unfortunately, a lot of folks in the punditry and Democratic leadership, including Biden and Clinton, are aggressively lobbying Obama to take a much harder line on Iran right now.

I suspect, on a lot of issues, Obama's own views are counter to the establishment Dems in Washington, but they've got him outnumbered and outgunned, because they control the process.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:46 PM on June 18, 2009


oops... meant that first link to go here.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:47 PM on June 18, 2009


five fresh fish: There is a key difference you ignore. Bush's political agenda was fucking evil. The agenda Obama represents is not. On the one hand, you had Bush forcing a war of aggression on the nation; on the other hand, you should have Obama forcing equality on the nation.

I don't think this difference should be significant. The American government is specifically not supposed to work the way Bush used it-- the POTUS is not supposed to be able to ram-rod a political agenda down the country's throat. Whether that agenda is fucking evil or not, whether it is for a war of aggression or for equality, we need to be consistent on how we view the President's relationship to the Constitution. Our opposition to Bush's wiping his ass with the Constitution should not have had anything to do with the substance of his policy-- if it did, if we're actually fine with the President wiping his ass with the Constitution provided that we agree with him, then we were disingenuous about our complaints.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:48 PM on June 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


I favorite shakespeherian a million times. Sure it would be great if the President could wave his magic ObamaWand and undo the last 8 years, but I will happily settle for a president who respects the Constitution.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 1:55 PM on June 18, 2009


The whole thing about Obama, and one of the main reasons that I voted for him, was that he kept telling us that it wasn't about him solving all our problems, it was about us losing our stupid cynical partisan snarky apathy and actually becoming practically invested in bettering our country.
Ugh, what a bunch of palbum. Because nothing says "non-cynical" and "improvement" then indefinite detainment of prisoners without charging them with a crime and helping to cover up (let alone not prosecuting) bush administration criminality. Or handing the economy to the same idiots who fucked it all up. Oh, and Tom Daschle remember the guy Obama wanted for Health and Human services secretary, but had to give up because he was too corrupt? He's out there arguing against a public option on health care now. To be fair, Obama still supports a public option on healthcare. But he's not exactly fighting very hard for it (so far)

There's nothing "non-cynical" about what Obama's been doing since getting into office.

Look. The problem isn't that he's "letting things slide" It's that he's taking affirmative steps that make things worse. Indefinite detention is a major one. State secrets are another. These are the exact opposite of the positions he had when he ran for office. And yes, that absolutely means he's breaking the promises he made, not just what people projected onto him. (Also, he's being much tougher on Israel then I would have expected from his campaign rhetoric. That's something I'm glad he's doing but you certainly can't say that he made that clear during the campaign)
posted by delmoi at 1:59 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I favorite shakespeherian a million times. Sure it would be great if the President could wave his magic ObamaWand and undo the last 8 years, but I will happily settle for a president who respects the Constitution.

Because nothing says "respecting the constitution" like warentless wiretapping and indefinite detainment!
posted by delmoi at 2:00 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bill Maher should be more like Bill Hicks. Especially with regard to things like being genuinely perceptive and, oh, you know, funny?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:05 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also:

I don't think this difference should be significant. The American government is specifically not supposed to work the way Bush used it-- the POTUS is not supposed to be able to ram-rod a political agenda down the country's throat.

Bush only managed to pass one major policy initiative, no Child left behind. Oh, and Tax cuts. His only other major domestic initiative, privatizing social security, failed.

In contrast, The democratic party now has 59 senators, and it will soon have 60. But for some reason, some of those senators are more worried about health insurance companies then they are about the health of the American people.

But that's beside the point. No one is accusing Obama of not "ramming" our agenda down America's throat. It's about continuing to ram some of worst aspects of the Bush "legal" system, created without congressional approval down our throats and on top of that twisting arms in congress in order to "legitimize" them and make them legal. That's the opposite of what he campaigned on.
posted by delmoi at 2:06 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and speaking of Maher, anyone else notice how he's become such a puritan about healthy eating? The other day he had a doctor on to talk about Swine Flu and he was saying that if you ate right you wouldn't get it because you're immune system would be strong. And he's also said that letting your kids eat junk food ought to be considered child abuse.

For a guy who wants to legalize pot, which may not be bad but it smoking it can't be that healthy, it's a little hypocritical.
posted by delmoi at 2:07 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


delmoi: But that's beside the point. No one is accusing Obama of not "ramming" our agenda down America's throat.

Hi delmoi. I was specifically responding to five fresh fish, who did, in fact, complain that Obama wasn't ramming our agenda down America's throat: on the other hand, you should have Obama forcing equality on the nation.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:15 PM on June 18, 2009


Here's another striking example of how much support President Obama's more progressive policies are getting among his fellow Democratic lawmakers: You might recall, Obama pledged not to take campaign money from lobbyists.

True to his word, President Obama has abstained from accepting lobbyist money at any fundraisers for his campaign or the national party. So the rest of the congressional Democrats, showing the depth and extent of their support for the President's principled position on the matter, recently announced an upcoming fundraiser event to benefit both the national party and their own Democratic congressional campaigns.

At this event, respectful of Obama's position, they will decline to accept lobbyist money--until after Obama leaves.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:24 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Or three, he's just playing the long game and because so much of what he's really doing is happening behind closed doors setting up for payoffs coming way down the line I can't see it right now."

That's a nice thought, but it's awfully hard to make a cogent case that this is why people should support him, because he secretly supports your cause, just wait and see, but pay no attention to what he's doing now and what is actually happening in the meantime.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:02 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was a little rushed there so my posts were kind of fragmented. But I want to point something out. Obama not only can, but he has "rammed things down our throats". Look at the stimulus, for example. That was an enormous spending bill and he had no trouble passing it over the nearly unanimous opposition of the republican party.

Also, there's a huge difference between "ramming" something through by using your influence and popularity to strong arm people in the senate, and doing it by your authority and influence in the white house to break the law.

Liberals were not primarily upset with Bush because of how he operated legislatively. They were upset with his breaking the law. and they were upset about what his policies were. Remember, lots of democrats voted for the Iraq war. There was plenty of bipartisanship there, but the results were horrible.

In contrast to the legislative side, the way Obama is handling the illegal stuff that bush did is even worse. Rather then discontinue it, he's working to make it legal, and shield the perpetrators from any consequences. I don't think that people upset with Bushes lawbreaking just wanted to have it ratified by congress and retroactively legalized. That's just absurd.

During the campaign I remember debating His stance on Israel with people. A lot of them said he secretly wanted to be tough on Israel, even though he was doing everything he could to portray himself as a friend of Israel during the campaign. I remember talking about how he clearly was a Israel supporter, just like everyone in the U.S. government and we just had to accept that. After all, if he was being dishonest about that, he could be being dishonest about anything.

But, it turned out that those people were right. Obama has been tough on Israel, and has been pushing for a complete settlement freeze. And that's one turnaround I'm happy about, but it does indicate that he's perfectly happy to turn back on his campaign rhetoric.

What is so fucking complicated about just doing what you say you're going to do? I never expected Obama to do everything I agreed with, but i certainly didn't expect him to be proposing indefinite detention and covering up everything the Bush administration did. If I had known he was going to, I wouldn't have voted for him. I feel like I should have had the choice based on his actual positions, not what he thought would get him elected in the primary and the general election.
posted by delmoi at 3:09 PM on June 18, 2009


“but anyway, if kucinich had been elected there'd have been a "plane crash" already...”
Or an alien abduction.

“Bill Clinton disagrees: Clinton made the point, which I think is worth repeating, that Obama has "the best Congress since Kennedy was assassinated"”

And what a great congress the 88th was (Morse and Gruening excepted)

Ironic Bill Clinton chose that. Considering what a pain in the ass the southern Democrats were concerning civil rights (and VA Dem – let me repeat – DEMOCRAT - Howard Smith holding up any civil rights bill in the House Rules Committee) and the southern dems threatening to fillibuster and Kennedy needing them to pass his other programs.
That was entirely an on-going negotiation through rocky waters with internal elements of the party as well as social pressures and Kennedy thought a bold bill (pressing for civil rights) would jeopardize the public and political support he needed. It was complicated and required delicate navigation, not bull headed charges.

Not, y’know, like today where it’s all different *cough*

In fact the civil rights bill H.R. 7152 passed only because of support from the GOP, the Dems (including Al Gore Sr. – I believe you know his son from somewhere Bill) filibustered it. As promised.

In fact, generally speaking, most historians agree Kennedy was plagued with problems trying to get his stuff through congress.
But thanks for checking in with the history tip Bill! Other folks went to college too. Oh, thanks for bringing up the whole “assassinated” thing again too. Watch out for my knee next time we meet.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:11 PM on June 18, 2009


For a guy who wants to legalize pot, which may not be bad but it smoking it can't be that healthy, it's a little hypocritical.

While smoking it is the most command delivery method, it is by far not the only one. Perhaps Bill eats it or vapourizes it. Also, there is evidence that even smoking pot isn't as unhealthy as one might expect.

I think Bill's a vegan these days, judging by the way he goes off on diet. And if one is perfectly honest with oneself, it's pretty hard to deny that he's mostly right about diet. You just can't eat a shit diet and expect to be blessed with health and longevity; and you can't have a huge meat diet without causing grievous harm to our planet's ecology.

Bill Maher is an asshole, though. No two ways around that.


As for "ramming the agenda down America's throat" versus the Constitution: by all means, doing things Constitutionally should be foremost.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:17 PM on June 18, 2009


"For a guy who wants to legalize pot, which may not be bad but it smoking it can't be that healthy, it's a little hypocritical."

I know an awful lot of organic/whole-food-eating hippies/freaks. Ganja isn't necessarily associated with unhealthy living.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:32 PM on June 18, 2009


"I think Bill's a vegan these days, judging by the way he goes off on diet. And if one is perfectly honest with oneself, it's pretty hard to deny that he's mostly right about diet."

I think Bill went from a left-libertarian to a mostly left Democrat in the last eight years or so, more in the last few. He seems to be much more wary of free market ideology than he used to be, and much less glib about personal freedoms (not necessarily synonymous with civil liberties).
posted by krinklyfig at 3:34 PM on June 18, 2009


Oh, and good for Bill Maher for his lifestyle changes and all, but his "comedy" reminds me too much of how Dennis Miller has gone, which is to say, a bit too preachy and biased to be all that funny, like he might get hurt if you tell a joke about something dear to his political views. Most importantly, Maher and Miller fail critically by not being able to laugh at themselves (at least not very much). A true comedian is a clown at heart. So, these guys are sort of like soapboxers who can tell a joke or two, rather than true comedians. Even when George Carlin got older and a bit preachy, he was always a comedian above all, and he was never above doing purely goofy shit if he had to to get a laugh. But Maher's got something that Miller lacks, and that is a fairly successful and relevant venue of his own. Whatever people want to say about him, he has more stamina and showmanship than I initially imagined, and I certainly can't blame him for being outspoken politically. I don't think he's convinced anyone who disagrees with him, however, but he's very fair on his own show about allowing all views.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:46 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


While smoking it is the most command delivery method, it is by far not the only one. Perhaps Bill eats it or vapourizes it. Also, there is evidence that even smoking pot isn't as unhealthy as one might expect.

He made a joke about "his bong" in the video that was linked!

Smoking it isn't as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes. In particular, it's not been shown to cause cancer. I thought it might cause emphysema, but Wikipedia says no (of course, it is Wikipedia). I don't think marijuana should be legal either, but it's a little unreflexive to bash other people's vices when you have your own. And on top of that he seems to have gone way overboard in terms of the effects and magnitude of the problems caused by unhealthy eating. He was literally saying that eating right would prevent you from getting Swine Flu.

Plus, I mean come on, a stoner against junk food!? Really?
posted by delmoi at 3:59 PM on June 18, 2009


As for "ramming the agenda down America's throat" versus the Constitution: by all means, doing things Constitutionally should be foremost.

I don't know why people acting like it's some binary choice. There's nothing in the constitution about not strong-arming senators and using your influence in the legislature to pass bills you want. I don't think anyone is saying Obama should stage a coup and depose congress in order archive universal healthcare. But this gladhandling of corrupt senators and kissing up to the insurance industry is just pathetic.

It also doesn't say anything about the filibuster in the constitution. That's just a senate rule. The democrats could get rid of the filibuster if they wanted to, just as the republicans tried to do back when they were in the majority.

The constitutionalism thing is a total canard when it comes to major policy like health care reform or whatever.

--

On the other hand, stuff like detention, torture, wiretapping were done illegally Bush broke the law. No one is saying Obama should break the law, except that that's exactly what he's doing by continuing his policies. Oh, but he's trying to get them legalized. So hey, no more illegality! So saying that people are upset with Obama for not breaking the law or behaving unconstitutionally have it exactly backwards with respect civil liberties.

With the DOMA brief that has everyone so upset, the problem I think is that it was so insulting, etc, even though Obama had said he found the law "Abhorrent" And the gay benefits for Federal employees doesn't include healthcare because of DOMA.
posted by delmoi at 4:09 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


dunkadunc Everyone voted based on what they wanted Obama to be, not what he actually is. I mean, yes, it's nice to have a President who can talk in complete sentences and has an idea what the word 'diplomacy' means, but for all the right-wing noise being spewn, the guy is not that far left, much less a socialist or marxist.

Yeah, he's a centrist. That's why he won.
posted by spaltavian at 6:14 PM on June 18, 2009


People are defending Obama with a "hey, he's only been in office three months! Back off a bit!" defense, and for most issues I would agree. But, for me health care reform is THE issue America must rectify, and soon. Emphasis on soon. It's an uphill fight in a lot of ways, but Obama--yes, Obama himself--will have to gamble some political capital and put a chink in the armor of the Vested Interests in Washington.

The counter to the above defense is "if not now, when?" I don't think Obama should wait a year or two or wait until his next term from 2012--healthcare is crucial now. As soon as the Michigan silliness ends and Al Franken is officially in the Senate, the Dems will have the numbers to get it through. Not really, actually, since there are a LOT of Dems in the pocket of big pharma, the AMA, etc., but that's Obama's job--to get those Dems to come around. Will he have a better chance to do it later? If you think so, please tell me, because I can't think of any reason why.

I think some issues can wait. Iraq and Afghanistan, while we need to end them, can (for lack of a better term) wait for now. Prosecuting Bush era officials can wait. Repealing don't ask, don't tell can wait. Healthcare (and by extension a big chunk of the economic crisis) can't wait. In short, I think it's worth it for Obama to do precisely what Maher is advocating here--use the brass one we know he has. Maher is a douche, true, but in this he's a correct douche.
posted by zardoz at 6:38 PM on June 18, 2009


As soon as the Michigan silliness ends and Al Franken is officially in the Senate

Minnesota. But you knew that.

posted by Sys Rq at 8:58 PM on June 18, 2009


Not really, actually, since there are a LOT of Dems in the pocket of big pharma, the AMA, etc., but that's Obama's job--to get those Dems to come around.

It's not, though. Or at least, it's not exclusively his job. The congress is supposed to be a body made up of representatives of the people. Those in congress are supposed to answer to their constituency, the people who put them in office.

The people who put them in office, with all the industry money that's in the political system, are primarily the industries. Congress could legislate in a way that represents the interests of their electorate--but that won't get them nominated, much less elected.

One crucial dynamic shaping the way our politics play out now: with corporate money in the game, the campaign fundraising deck is stacked in a way that, far from facilitating free political speech, actually subverts ordinary free speech rights and creates systematic inequalities that grant disproportionate political influence to wealthier business interests.

It comes down to simple math: under current campaign financing law, private citizens who don't own or otherwise represent some form of corporate body can contribute $X.00 dollars to a given political campaign only once, due to campaign contribution limits. However, individuals who also serve in leadership roles within one or more corporate bodies effectively have twice as much or more power to contribute to the political campaigns of their choice, because not only can they contribute up to the maximum limits as individuals ($X.00), they can also steer the funds of any organizations they represent into those campaigns up to the maximum limits (n($X.00)).

And so, current campaign financing law inherently creates gross systemic imbalances in favor of the wealthy, undermining equal participation in the political process and providing unequal protection of free speech rights.

The only solutions I can think of would be to either establish a serious reform party or to vote all the bums out: Not in the congressional elections (the Republican party is still the far greater evil; it would give them the delusion that we wanted a return to Bush-era policies, or possibly worse, if they were to retake congress now), but in the Democratic primaries.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:58 PM on June 18, 2009


And it's all the more difficult when representatives have actually been heard saying things to the tune of "My job is to make sure I get elected again" instead of "My job is to make sure things turn out best for the people I represent."
posted by five fresh fish at 9:11 PM on June 18, 2009


"I think Bill's a vegan these days, judging by the way he goes off on diet. And if one is perfectly honest with oneself, it's pretty hard to deny that he's mostly right about diet."

Yes. If you want a nice endless diatribe, you need only whisper one syllable into Bill Maher's ear: "Corn." He's right about it, of course, but just way too aggro to really ever win anyone over. That is, he usually starts out right, but by the time he's worn himself out, whatever kernel (heh) of truth it was that set him off has somehow buried itself in a load of batshit worthy of Glenn Beck himself.

To be honest, Bill Maher seems to be on that slippery slope to the Celebrity Center. To wit, prescription drugs: "Poison!"
posted by Sys Rq at 9:17 PM on June 18, 2009


Yeah, he's a centrist. That's why he won.

Hey, super. Thing is, the neocons have been pushing "centre" to the right for over two decades. And no offense, America, but your centre was never that central to start with. Time to push it left. Bill Maher is doing exactly what he should be doing. The Dems got elected with a huge mandate. Reasonable people can now criticize them. This is a good thing.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:20 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or an alien abduction.

my guy believes in aliens. your guy believes in flying zombie jewish carpenters.

i say we call it a draw.
posted by klanawa at 9:42 PM on June 18, 2009


This is actually happening later than I expected. When Obama was elected, everyone put him on a pedestal. And what do people do with the people they put on pedestals? Tear them down, of course, when they find out they weren't the Gods they thought they were. Obama isn't walking on water so it is time to destroy him.

All I ever expected from Obama was to be better than his predecessor, and by this measure he's doing an incredibly good job.

My goodness, you thankless people, don't you have memories??? Would you learn your lesson if this country swung far to the wacko right again? I think not, unfortunately.
posted by eye of newt at 10:26 PM on June 18, 2009


i didn't really have time to say much about this earlier, but i think the basic problem is that we don't know what he's really done - in fact, he doesn't know

either the storm is over or we're in the eye of the hurricane - if our economic crisis has bottomed out, i think he might get a good deal of the credit for this - and it is priority no 1 - if otherwise ...

i have the uncomfortable feeling that a lot of the stuff we're arguing about and passionately pushing obama to do may turn out to be utterly irrelevant in a few months - all it takes is one thing going very wrong and we have a whole new situation to deal with

so my feelings are mixed - on the one hand, it's halftime - really - 2010 is an election year for the house and all the pushing in the world isn't going to get them to do anything that could make them vunerable to losing their seats - we're halfway through obama's first period of real effectiveness and so far it's pretty mixed - it's time for him to push for health care - if he can't get it done this year, he may never get it done

i still think that we cannot afford to wallow through the past no matter how sordid and illegal it may have been - and frankly, it's absurd to put all the blame on obama - is congress hold hearings on any of the controversies surrounding iraq and guantamano? - they have the power to compel information from those we want to hear from - but they're not doing anything

truth is the political establishment as a whole is complicit in what happened the last 8 years - they aided and abetted it and there are few people who hold office who can proclaim real innocence

maybe that's why we're not seeing trials and the kinds of revelations that are wished for here

but what really is starting to concern me is that our system is showing signs of no longer working - look at california - look at new york - look at michigan - all states evenly and bitterly divided - all states unable to make hard decisions to keep the government running as it should be

many more years of this and the american people might start supporting extreme measures and extreme people to "get something done" - and don't assume that it's going to be someone on the right

obama, most of all, needs to show us that he can lead - and we, especially those of us in political office, need to show him that we're capable of following, with feedback, support and reasoned opposition when needed

and we also very much need not to have the shit hit the fan

i think he may be up to the leadership - i don't really know if we're up to the followership - and god only knows about that damned fan and that damned shit
posted by pyramid termite at 11:09 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


The whole thing about Obama, and one of the main reasons that I voted for him, was that he kept telling us that it wasn't about him solving all our problems, it was about us losing our stupid cynical partisan snarky apathy and actually becoming practically invested in bettering our country.

And I have a pony to sell you.

What exactly do you suggest we do to address health care, DOMA? Strongly worded letters? Wanna help fund a primary challenge to fake-Democrat-corporatist Pelosi?

Who is this "we" in "We are the ones we've been waiting for," the ones who are going to convince Republicans and corporate-whore Democrats?

I'm open; you tell me how that happens.
posted by ambient2 at 12:46 AM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Strongly worded letters to your representatives — and perhaps to the erstwhile representatives who ran against him/her — certainly can't hurt, and is very likely to help a lot.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:24 AM on June 19, 2009


ambient2: Who is this "we" in "We are the ones we've been waiting for," the ones who are going to convince Republicans and corporate-whore Democrats?

If the options are 1) attempting to ourselves affect positive change and 2) attempting to locate a politician who will do it for us, I think (1) is the more realistic scenario. Vote against incumbents. All of them. I mean, obviously there's a lot of blame for the individual members of Congress who work for moneyed interests and can't solve any real problems because they won't get reelected and are too busy trying to raise money for reelection to do anything productive anyway, but there's also blame on the American people, because we're keeping the incumbancy rate at over 90%. Vote against incumbents, even if that means voting for the other 'team.'
posted by shakespeherian at 5:40 AM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problems creep in during the primary season, not during the general elections. Pay close attention to the primary candidates, throw support behind the upstart challengers who haven't been too compromised by party politics and Washington's poisonous culture yet (or even run yourself if you really do stand on principle), and vote out all the incumbents in the primaries. The problem is this: by the time the primaries are done, all the candidates to choose from during the generals are pretty much reading from identical playbooks. It's too late to make a free choice by the time the generals come around.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:31 AM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think (1) is the more realistic scenario. Vote against incumbents. All of them. Vote against incumbents, even if that means voting for the other 'team.'

Oh this is so smart. let's ignore whatever our actual congressperson does and vote against them even if they are in the house progressive caucus and vote against Iraq war funding every year and support single-payer health care! They're incumbents, so they suck!

How about actually learning the issues, getting involved and voting in the primaries.
posted by delmoi at 6:38 AM on June 19, 2009


delmoi, I recognize that you disagree with pretty much everything I've said, but is it possible that you could use a more civil tone? I'd rather have a conversation than an argument.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:44 AM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, Bush didn't even destroy America in five months. And fixing it is way harder. Cut the man some slack, fer chrissake.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:41 AM on June 19, 2009


MetaFilter:WHERE'S OUR HOPIUM?
posted by aldus_manutius at 9:28 AM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


delmoi, I recognize that you disagree with pretty much everything I've said, but is it possible that you could use a more civil tone? I'd rather have a conversation than an argument.

In delmoi's defense, "Vote against incumbents. All of them," really is completely fucking crazy and irresponsible. Sorry, it just is.

Suggesting a limit on Congresspersons' and Senators' terms would be one thing, but advocating that voters should cast their ballots without any regard to a candidate's position is quite another.

(Don't worry, the Congressional dinosaurs will die off soon enough.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:36 AM on June 19, 2009


Look, the choices were Obama or John McCain.

It's only been a year and I haven't yet forgotten that actually, the choices at one point were Obama and Clinton.
posted by Salamandrous at 4:40 PM on June 19, 2009


the choices at one point were Obama and Clinton.

Well, of all the things that keep me up at night (and there are a lot of them), it's definitely not that Clinton didn't get the nomination.

Clinton is at this very moment still demonstrating the king of soundness of judgment that informed her pro-Iraq invasion vote by arguing that it's a good idea for the US to go poking Iran in the eye with a sharp stick again, despite the fact that anybody with half a brain recognizes that nearly all of the major challenges in our current relationship with Iran are a direct consequence of the US having pursued a nearly identical realpolitik just a few decades ago.

It's the worst kind of magical thinking to repeat the same mistakes and keep expecting them to yield different results, and yet, there's Clinton arguing for the US to take a hard-line in support of the push for regime change in Iran.

Our foreign policy for the last 50 years or so--from the many CIA's campaigns to destabilize developing Latin American countries to training the Mujaheddin fighters that later became the Taliban to installing the Shah in Iran--has been nothing but a great, reeking pile of shit, not only betraying every value we've ever professed to hold as a nation, but inevitably leaving us with nothing but more shit in return. But unfortunately, most of the Washington establishment--including Dems like Biden and Clinton--love that kind of evil, scheming, cynical shit (plans within plans). And no President by himself can change the nature of that establishment, least of all in a few months.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:13 PM on June 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


"the kind of soundness of judgment," of course.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:14 PM on June 19, 2009


I vote in the primaries, although since you can only vote in one party, you can't vote against all the incumbents you really want to. Me, I've voted for Somebody Other Than the Incumbent at least 80% of the time in primaries, and the incumbent still won 90+% of the time. But I tried. I put in the effort. Yay, me.

I was reminded of the rare joy of being on the winning team last year, when in the non-partisan election for a County Supervisor, the guy I voted for beat the Incumbent with a majority in the first round even though the incumbent had an overwhelming lead in lawn signs. (Apparently, a bunch of vacant McMansions the incumbent had pushed to get built in previously unspoiled but very visible areas made a stronger visual impact.)

As for Bill Maher, why can't he be more like Bill Hicks? (Yes, Bill Hicks is dead, which may or may not be what I meant).
posted by wendell at 8:36 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Bill Hicks and politics - his number on political view was "bust up the mob." Any mob. If you find yourself in a group of people shouting and yelling and waving torches and pitchforks, get out.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:36 AM on June 20, 2009


"Plus, I mean come on, a stoner against junk food!? Really?"

Well, at some point, you have to start eating good food. And good food tastes good when you're stoned, too.

"As for Bill Maher, why can't he be more like Bill Hicks? (Yes, Bill Hicks is dead, which may or may not be what I meant)."

Bill Hicks was somewhere between Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor, which is to say, really out on the edge and a great storyteller, good enough to draw you in and pull the rug out from under you just for his own amusement. Maher gets on tv a lot, and he knows how to tell jokes and spout opinions and be a talk show host, but he's not even close to that sort of craft/art. I don't even see them in the same league. When he first hit the scene, Maher made a point, constantly, of mentioning whenever possible how he hung out with Hef at the Playboy Mansion, and I got the impression early on that anyone who talks about something like that enough is maybe not the kind of performer who is going to blow people's minds.

Although, admittedly watched Real Time last night, only because DirecTV gave everyone all free channels for the weekend. My impression is about the same, though he seems to be mellowing with age and definitely more solidly left now. Meghan McCain was on and floundered badly, showed her age in a negative way, but Maher was very graceful and, I guess patient with her, though some other guests were not. But, damn, nowhere close to Hicks.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:47 PM on June 20, 2009


"But unfortunately, most of the Washington establishment--including Dems like Biden and Clinton--love that kind of evil, scheming, cynical shit (plans within plans). And no President by himself can change the nature of that establishment, least of all in a few months."

Although he's not doing everything I would like, at least Obama's response to Iran has been very measured in the face of a lot of hysteria, and he's calling the shots. And he's not wishy-washy with the military like Bill Clinton. He's able to project a very calm, detached response with the authority needed to override the temptation to be reactive. Unlike Bill Clinton, Obama doesn't allow the "weak" label to stick to him, so there isn't as much to distract people. He appears so far to be very good at playing the chess game of foreign policy at the most important moments, to project quiet authority, and that's an incredible asset for us. It's so very different from what we've been through for the last eight years, or even from Democrats of the last 40 years. It seems he can contain the sabre-rattling for now. Iran is imploding as I type this, so not easy to say what will happen down the road, but at least we have someone as Commander in Chief who is good at the job, and who isn't an apocalyptic born-again with a simplistic intellect and ties to Saudi oil, and with Satan Himself as his VP. But he better not get tied up in some LBJ-like quagmire in Afghanistan. There is no military solution there, either.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:13 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


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