A frightened man?
October 14, 2009 3:02 AM   Subscribe

Ralph Nader appraises Obama's first 9 months as president (guess how he feels). Warning: video starts automatically (with bizarre illustrative clips occasionally thrown in).

Executive summary:
* His early months in office have been "very disappointing."
* Obama is "a frightened man," who won't take on corporate power.
* Obama is "conflict averse" - and a "harmony ideology type," who's being taken advantage of by the sharks in Congress, of both parties.
* He's "Bush-Cheney redux" when it comes to military and foreign policy, "albeit with better speeches" to the Muslim world. Given Obama's handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nader wonders in amazement: "And they gave him the [Nobel] Peace Prize?"
posted by leibniz (189 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Haven’t watched the video, but I can’t really see much that anyone could seriously disagree with in your summary.
posted by silence at 3:07 AM on October 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


One thing that struck me is how it compares to that previous interview he gave for Fox at the time of the election (I didn't want to link it in the main post because it's annoying). The idiotic presenter declared him to be now irrelevant on the basis of a shoe-horned charge of racism. I guess he's not so irrelevant after all.
posted by leibniz at 3:12 AM on October 14, 2009


Haven’t watched the video, but I can’t really see much that anyone could seriously disagree with in your summary.
posted by silence

Since you don't know what Nader actually said, how could you see anything to disagree with?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:43 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is always easier for those who know they'll never really be elected to say the uncomfortable truths and sling insults or soundbites. For example, Al Sharpton was a joy to watch in the 2004 primaries, because he had no intent of censoring himself. He was there to say the truth, not to get elected.

That said, Nader did well as a consumer advocate back in the day, but has coasted on his success, and has no clue how politics works. He unapologetically acted as a spoiler in the 2000 election (the US electoral college system sucks, but Nader DID contribute to Bush's election), and generally is tone-deaf when it comes to political matters.

The general issue at hand when comparing Obama to Bush is twofold. One, Bush broke the law, repeatedly. Obama is doing his best to do things a lot more by the books, by passing laws instead of writing executive orders. It's always harder to get shit done when you actually follow the rules. Do we want him following the rules? Well, really, yes. We don't want to continue a dangerous precedent forward to later Presidents, some of whom may be Republican.

Secondly, it's always harder to fix things than to ruin them. It takes a second to break a leg, a month to heal. Despite how great it'd be in the short-term, Obama cannot just pull out all troops from the Middle East. He can't just throw a budget and plan at Congress and make them sign it. He doesn't have a magic economic wand that creates jobs and starts the flow of money. 8 years of wanton pillaging of the coffers of America cannot be undone so quickly.

I guess Nader and I had different textbooks in our US Government classes in public school, because as it turns out, the President actually has limited power to get shit done. According to the rules, he's part of the Executive Branch, which means he carries out the law, but doesn't make it. He was handed a shitty economy, 2 wars, a dismantled government, and a health-care system in shambles. Fixing even one problem would be tough, but after 9 month, we're expected to shame him for not putting all of his eggs in one basket?
posted by explosion at 3:46 AM on October 14, 2009 [70 favorites]


Or do you mean that the summary agrees your own thinking bout Obama?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:46 AM on October 14, 2009


I'm still pissed off that Nader went around saying in 2000 that Bush and Gore were essentially identical. Maybe from Nader's point of view they were, and maybe he got some votes from the "not Bush and not Gore" camp. But Bush was far worse than Gore ever would have been and yes, I'm still pissed off at Nader for ignoring the difference.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:56 AM on October 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


Hey folks! We finally found the left-wing equivalent of Glenn Beck!
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 4:02 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, fuck that guy anyway.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:03 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's hard to take seriously a man who wrote a novel with antagonists named "Bush Bimbaugh" and "Shawn Hammity".
posted by Target Practice at 4:07 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Target Practice: It's hard to take seriously a man who wrote a novel with antagonists named "Bush Bimbaugh"

Come on, now... that's hilarious if you're twelve years old.
posted by Kattullus at 4:29 AM on October 14, 2009


Ralph Nader, here for a serious and objective appraisal of these grapes: sweet, or are they tart? Really ... really ... tart.
posted by adipocere at 4:32 AM on October 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Obama is my new bike but Nadar saved my life.

I can always get another new bike.
posted by srboisvert at 4:39 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Somehow I managed to read the FPP and the first several comments in this thread thinking it was about Ron Paul.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:52 AM on October 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


That said, Nader did well as a consumer advocate back in the day, but has coasted on his success, and has no clue how politics works. He unapologetically acted as a spoiler in the 2000 election (the US electoral college system sucks, but Nader DID contribute to Bush's election), and generally is tone-deaf when it comes to political matters.

But *that* said, if the Democrats can't pass substantive health care reform (by which I mean either single payer or at least a public option) and other absolutely vital bills, I will be voting Green in 2010, 2012 and for the foreseeable future.
posted by DU at 4:55 AM on October 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


that confirms it, Obama is definitely doing something right if he's managing to piss off both Beck and Nader.
posted by johnny novak at 5:03 AM on October 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


I've suspected since 2000 that Nader is a false-flag right wing operative. Yes, he was once a consumer advocate, but now he mostly spends his time trying to divide and marginalize the progressive left as a voting block... and, oh look, he's a self-made millionaire. He made his millions playing the stock market, which, for a "consumer advocate" comes across as really sketchy and suspect, especially as he doesn't do much consumer advocacy of any worth since he hit it big in investing.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:17 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


When Nader starts mattering (and being right), let me know.
posted by grubi at 5:30 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obama is "a frightened man," who won't take on corporate power.

Did Ralphy say this on Fox News? That's where he was handing out his advice last time. Ralphy does love him some Rupert Murdoch.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:37 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't do video - so I'm just going on leibniz's summary. (Sue me.)

There isn't one of those four points that hasn't already been said, repeatedly, on any number of lefty blogs.

But you can't blame any of those bloggers for Gore losing in 2000, so by all means... enjoy the hate-on.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:40 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Y'know, I voted for the motherfucker in 2000 (Missouri...didn't really matter), but at this point he could tell me the sky is blue and I'd take exception. Fuck that guy.
posted by notsnot at 5:45 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thousands of Americans live each year because of Nader taking on Detroit so many decades ago. Love him or hate him, that's more than any US politician has done recently.
posted by Lucy2Times at 5:55 AM on October 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Doesn't seem that off to me. Sure, this sounds harsh and unfair, but O seems to be married to his harmony politics to a fault.

I'm sorry, but social conservatives sometimes need to be told to shut the hell up.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:57 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just think, if he'd campaigned a bit harder last time, he could be complaining about the third month of the Palin presidency now.
posted by Grangousier at 5:59 AM on October 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'm seeing a surprising number of baseless ad hominem attacks against someone whose statements and earlier predictions have essentially been right on the money.
posted by leibniz at 6:01 AM on October 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


I'm seeing a surprising number of baseless ad hominem attacks against someone whose statements and earlier predictions have essentially been right on the money.

Nader is on my short list of Metafilter topics that probably shouldn't be done at all, at least not here.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:07 AM on October 14, 2009


I'm seeing a surprising number of baseless ad hominem attacks against someone whose statements and earlier predictions have essentially been right on the money.

Both sides think their guy is just swell and the other guy is a heel and they think that that is the way it is, not their opinion, so there is nothing anyone could ever say to change their minds because its NOT their opinion, it is fact. And Ive never seen blind adoration for a political leader on the level that Obama supporters have. Damned shame.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 6:18 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Executive summary of Nader's political clout:

*
posted by Pollomacho at 6:26 AM on October 14, 2009


someone whose statements and earlier predictions have essentially been right on the money

Can you point to a comprehensive list of statements and predictions Nader has made so that I can evaluate for myself their accuracy and precision rather than take your word for it?

Because the prominent ones I can think of are rather far from the money.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:29 AM on October 14, 2009


someone whose statements and earlier predictions have essentially been right on the money.

Nonsense. Nader doesn't make predictions. He merely asserts that he could do it better, whatever "it" is. Nader may have been an effective consumer advocate once, many years ago, but he hasn't done shit but piss and moan for a decade or two now. Win an election Ralphy, take a stand. Go get your god damned hands dirty for once. Then maybe someone will take you seriously.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:32 AM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


This Nader fellow ought to run for president.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:34 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm seeing a surprising number of baseless ad hominem attacks against someone whose statements and earlier predictions have essentially been right on the money.

I'm pretty sure the last time Nader was on Metafilter, it was because he went and said a thing on Fox News that was so racist that even the Fox News commentator called him on it.

The dude was sterling in the '70s with his consumer advocate initiatives. Car safety and environmental awareness can be directly attributed to him. However, he's changed his focus in the past 20 or so years, he's doing a lot less good, and continuing to get attention and air time on his notoriety and past glory. You see this all the time with celebrities, where they keep popping up on VH1 (Rock of Love what?) or Fox News (Victoria Jackson what?). Nader's basically the same thing, it's sad, and disruptive.
posted by explosion at 6:36 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's nice that Obama is dealing with this broken leg and that's difficult etc etc. But the main point is that it's quizzical that he get's a Nobel Piece Prize. Nader said that he hasn't done much different from Bush to show that he's not really done much for a NPP. And it's true, possibly if he get's through 4/8 years, pulls out of Iraq evenly he might deserve a NPP. Not yet.

Also, why did he mention Nobel, and that he invented dynamite? And why did they have that horrible cut away of Alfred Nobel with a stick of dynamite on his lap? I will never watch a video by those people again.
posted by Napierzaza at 6:36 AM on October 14, 2009


> And Ive never seen blind adoration for a political leader on the level that Obama supporters have.

Are you kidding? There wasn't a single Republican not giving Bush a reach-around for the entire eight years. Obama has been in office for less than a year and even progressives are reaming him out because he hasn't solved their pet issue overnight.
posted by cj_ at 6:37 AM on October 14, 2009 [12 favorites]


Ive never seen blind adoration for a political leader on the level that Obama supporters have.

This here is a rampant exaggeration. Given the proven effectiveness of Bush, putting aside personal feelings and ideologies, it's still clear that any given enclave of Bush supporters had a much higher level of blind adoration. And that's nothing compared to the admiration of Reagan. If they didn't think the Catholic Church was evil, Reaganites would be petitioning the Pope to have Ronnie canonized.

That said, Barack is dreamy, isn't he?
posted by explosion at 6:40 AM on October 14, 2009


That said, Barack is dreamy, isn't he?

He certainly is, explosion, but that monthly check from Soros for saying so is a fine thing, too.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2009


Give him a show with Orly Taitz. Watching those two in the same room trying to interact with each other might be the only way I could tolerate either at this point.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2009


cj_: " There wasn't a single Republican not giving Bush a reach-around for the entire eight years. Obama has been in office for less than a year and even progressives are reaming him out because he hasn't solved their pet issue overnight."

So we should be more like the 22%-ers? Seriously?

As for gulags being my "pet issue", what I can tell you? I've got a thing about gulags.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2009


Ralph Nader appraises Obama's first 9 months as president

You mean Ralph Nader, KING OF THE UNICORNS?
posted by Artw at 6:51 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


@ROU_Xenophobe: In the awful Fox news interview that I linked right at the top of this thread, he worried that Obama would be too in thrall of corporate interests. This seems to have been borne out. Second, have you even watched the video clip, in which he provides reasons for the statements summarized in the OP?? I'm surprised you can type your knee is jerking so hard.

Same reply to Octobersurprise. You accuse Nader of not 'taking a stand' wtf??

@explosion: It wasn't racist, it was construed as such by a commentator who had absolutely no interest in dealing with the substance of his arguments. By the way, while I agree that Obama should get some latitude, I wonder if you would care to specify how long would be reasonable before he delivers on his campaign promises- and also whether it shows good leadership that when you have an almost uniquely strong electoral mandate and majority, you still fudge a key priority healthcare act?
posted by leibniz at 6:51 AM on October 14, 2009


I can’t really see much that anyone could seriously disagree with in your summary

Uh, I can. Almost to the point of getting all pissy about it, in fact. So next time you decide to speak on behalf of everyone, why not check with a couple of us first?
posted by saulgoodman at 6:54 AM on October 14, 2009


someone whose statements and earlier predictions have essentially been right on the money.

Like the statement that it wouldn't matter if Bush or Gore were president? Do you honestly believe that?
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:54 AM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe, sorry, actually it was Octobersurprise who had the kneejerk response, not you. And I assume there's a bunch of other predictions Nader has made which are rubbish.
posted by leibniz at 6:56 AM on October 14, 2009


This Nader fellow ought to run for president.

If Ralph Nader really wants to make a difference, he ought to run for Congress. Or his state legislature. Or mayor. Or the city council. Or any position he's realistically capable of achieving, at which point he'd have some power to do something to actually affect people's lives. But then he'd have to take on responsibility and work to provide results, as opposed to bitching and moaning about what other people are or aren't doing.
posted by EarBucket at 6:57 AM on October 14, 2009 [14 favorites]


The people who say that Nader's consumer-advocate/public-citizen work literally saved thousands of lives? They're right. The people who say that he pretty much cost Gore the 2000 election? They're also right.

Now, can we talk about what he thinks about Obama?
posted by box at 6:58 AM on October 14, 2009


EarBucket - so what you're saying is that Nader has a Sarah Palin like relationship to actual work?
posted by Artw at 7:06 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Slight derail, but last Saturday my college football team lost a very winnable game because our backup freshman quarterback was put in for the final drive instead of the starter, who had already won a couple games in this scenario. Many fans, myself included, went to bed angry -- clearly this was the the wrong call, our coach sucks, blah blah blah.

The next day, it comes out that the starter had suffered a concussion during the game, and that his shoulder was still hurt. And people admitted that maybe the coach of the team might know more about what's going on in his squad that we armchair quarterbacks did, and maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt.

So in a scenario like this, I think about the people doing the criticizing. Do they know what's going on? Do they have access to the important information? Do they have an axe to grind?

Colin Powell criticizes Bush, I listen. Nadar? Not so much.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:07 AM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Nader is a self-aggrandizing shitbird with a talent for publicity stunts and little else. Anyone who really thinks that whatever lives he may have saved through consumer advocacy justify supporting him should consider the number of lives that were wasted in Iraq because Nader helped put George W. Bush in office. (If you really think that Al Gore would have gone into Iraq post-9/11, feel free to move on to the next comment.) That, besides the fact that Gore has been many times more effective of an environmental advocate than Nader has been or ever could be, should show this guy up as a cheerleader mostly for himself, but there are still a few apologists floating around, apparently.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:07 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


> It wasn't racist, it was construed as such by a commentator

The hell? In what bizarro world is calling a black man an Uncle Tom not unapologetically racist? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here.
Uncle Tom is a pejorative term for a black person who is perceived by others as behaving in a subservient manner to white authority figures, or as seeking ingratiation with them by way of unnecessary accommodation.
The "substance" of his argument was entirely about Obama's race. For fuck's sake.

> So we should be more like the 22%-ers? Seriously? As for gulags being my "pet issue", what I can tell you? I've got a thing about gulags.

First of all, I didn't say we should be more like them. I am pointing out that his comment was ridiculous because it conflicts with reality in such an obvious manner that I'm seriously wondering if we're all in the same universe here.

Point taken about the "pet issue" thing, I don't mean to belittle the thing you find important. But for someone else it's DADT or DOMA, for another it's the war in Iraq, for another it's health care, for another it's that marijuana isn't decriminalized, on and on. He's been in office for nine months and has a hostile and uncooperative congress. It's not blind adoration to point out that there's no way he could have solved all of these issues already. Hell, a significant part of that was just trying to get his appointees seated.

It's like there's no possible middle-ground here between hating him and worshipping him that reasonable people are allowed to have and it's frustrating.
posted by cj_ at 7:10 AM on October 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh for God's sake, he's an old man. Say thank you for the seat belts and clean air, and leave him alone.
posted by anniecat at 7:11 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


First, there's a pretty balanced evaluation of the charge that Nader spoiled Gore's chances in the 2000 election on the wikipedia page. I suggest you check it out if you are interested in that issue.

Second, even if Nader spoiled Gore's chances, to blame him for the Iraq war on that basis is so absurd it's not worth arguing against.
posted by leibniz at 7:14 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm of two minds on Nader, personally. I voted for him (twice, as a matter of fact, first in the Dole v Clinton election). He seems to be far too blindered lately and only into his own fight against... something... I guess, if in fact he was really for or against anything at all. But I saw him speak a few years back and he genuinely seemed to care that people were involved with their government. During the q&a time he didn't once dodge a question or hesitate to encourage others. I saw him hand out email addresses to people who were going into gov't work but still wanted to be involved politically, he mentioned activist groups for all different parties for soldiers to join, he was encouraging people to start activism groups and how to interact with politicians, and be heard seriously and even had to shout in the dark from behind a dead microphone after he ran over his allotted time and they killed his power. So I dunno what his main goal is anymore, but his secondary goal seems to be just for people to make their voices heard, and he seems to not care if you share his views or not, he just wants people to be involved, and quite frankly, I have a hard time faulting him for that.

So yeah, as long as he's not actively running for president, I'm glad he's out there.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:14 AM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


By the way, while I agree that Obama should get some latitude, I wonder if you would care to specify how long would be reasonable before he delivers on his campaign promises- and also whether it shows good leadership that when you have an almost uniquely strong electoral mandate and majority, you still fudge a key priority healthcare act?

The way you frame your questions reveals that you haven't been paying close enough attention to really understand the straight answers. So I'll take just this last bit about fudging health care as an example.

There's been no fudging of health care yet. Despite the media's tendency to issue blow-by-blow reports as if each step in the process or each passing rumor were as serious and pivotal as any other, the lawmaking process is by design a long, grueling, deliberative process with a lot of competing interests pulling back and forth and making deals until all is finally said and done.

No one now seriously thinks that there will not be a major health care reform bill of some kind on the President's desk in the near future. Regardless of whatever shape the legislation ultimately takes (although I'm also relatively confident that despite all the nay-saying, the final reconciled version will include a decent public option, as long as people keep the pressure on their congressmen), that's already far more than the Clinton administration ever managed to accomplish (other than reforming defunding welfare): The original Clinton health reform plan included many of the same features as the Baucus bill--universal mandates, employer based health plans, no public option--but was even more industry friendly (putting everything in the direct control of HMOs) and didn't go nearly as far as the current reforms under consideration, and that plan was effortlessly killed by industry interests in congress. The progress Obama has made on health care is stunning by comparison!

To use a baseball analogy, people on all sides have been falling over themselves to critique the President's swing, and to blame him for not knocking it out of the park, but all this time, the pitcher hasn't even gone into his wind-up yet.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:15 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Colin Powell criticizes Bush, I listen. Nadar? Not so much.

Yeah, those wacky 19th century photographers of the rich and famous. Does he really think that taking a famous portraits of Dumas pere and Victor Hugo qualifies him to talk about our sitting president?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:16 AM on October 14, 2009


actually it was Octobersurprise who had the kneejerk response

What kneejerk response? Point it out. Look, if Ralphy thinks he can do better, then he should run for office, and then do all that great stuff he likes to talk about (cf. Al Franken). What? He couldn't get elected dogcatcher? Oh, well, there's always Fox News.

Give him a show with Orly Taitz.

I'll buy that for a dollar!
posted by octobersurprise at 7:17 AM on October 14, 2009


In what bizarro world is calling a black man an Uncle Tom not unapologetically racist?

He was speaking in terms of class, not race, comrade.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:19 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


cj_ Watch the interview again. He says it's a question Obama must face- whether he will be an Uncle Tom or not. That's hardly the same as calling him an Uncle Tom. It's an emotively loaded challenge admittedly. But it is certainly possible that Obama could metaphorically play an Uncle Tom role when corporate power is largely in white hands, and the black community is often the poorest.
posted by leibniz at 7:19 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just remember Ralph, it is because of you that Obama is President today!
posted by Chuckles at 7:20 AM on October 14, 2009


Say thank you for the seat belts and clean air, and leave him alone.

I'll leave him alone when he leaves me alone.
posted by blucevalo at 7:24 AM on October 14, 2009


Jaltcoh: Like the statement that it wouldn't matter if Bush or Gore were president? Do you honestly believe that?

While it's impossible to know for sure, I think we can all rest easily with the assumption that Gore would have slashed environmental initiatives, started two wars, nominated conservatives to the Supreme Court, ignored a disaster in New Orleans, pulled out of the Kyoto Treaty, fired nine US attorneys for political reasons, outed a CIA spy for political reasons, tortured prisoners, signed the Patriot Act, promoted creationism in the classroom, accused of treason anyone who disagreed with him, and treated the worst terrorist attack in US history happening on his watch as though it meant we should trust him with keeping us safe.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:27 AM on October 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


cj_ It's like there's no possible middle-ground here between hating him and worshipping him that reasonable people are allowed to have and it's frustrating.

Yep, it's like political discourse is stuck in middle school or something. There's actually something of a reverse conspiracy theory going on in which every faux pas and misstep is considered to be evidence of some uber-Machiavellian conspiracy to put conservatives into political zugzwang or hapkido joint lock.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:31 AM on October 14, 2009


I'll leave him alone when he leaves me alone.

Is he lurking in the bushes again and surprising you by asking to use your bathroom? It's time to tell him that that's not okay.
posted by anniecat at 7:32 AM on October 14, 2009


Is he lurking in the bushes again and surprising you by asking to use your bathroom? It's time to tell him that that's not okay.

Oh, I don't mind that. It's the mooching that really gets on my nerves. You'd think a man his age would be able to read the damn recipe and buy the proper quantities of sugar before he gets started baking.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:37 AM on October 14, 2009


To use a baseball analogy, people on all sides have been falling over themselves to critique the President's swing, and to blame him for not knocking it out of the park, but all this time, the pitcher hasn't even gone into his wind-up yet.

The bill that came out of the Senate Finance committee is reform only in the most literal sense of the word. It "re forms" how we pay private insurers, but it doesn't fix a damn thing.

If that's the bill? I'd rather have nothing, because the only thing it changes is the money flow. We'll still have the lousy outcomes, we'll still pay more than anyone else, and, despite the fines, etc. to try to force people into the system, we will still see *millions* uninsured, because the fines will be cheaper than the coverage, and when it's health insurance or eat?

To use your analogy, Obama's pitching to a curve ball hitter, and the catcher just flashed two fingers.

Meanwhile, Don't Ask-Don't Tell? Guantanamo? Afghanistan? Three thing -- three -- that as Commander and Chief, he could fix. Instead, we get more promises, Gitmo is still operating, and we're sending another three brigrade to the country that broke both the British Empire and the Soviet Union.
posted by eriko at 7:47 AM on October 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


Thousands of Americans live each year because of Nader taking on Detroit so many decades ago.

So is that more or less than the hundreds of thousand of dead Iraqis because of Nader taking on Gore so few years ago? 'Cause I'm pretty sure they'd rather be alive and driving slightly more dangerous cars.
posted by Justinian at 7:48 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow. Nader is *REALLY* looking old... looking gaunt and frail. 75 years old, apparently. I can't imagine him running past the next election.

And what with the "King Kong vs. dinosaur" / shark / volcano / Alfred Nobel w/ an animated stick of dynamite video cut-ins? Amateurish. This feels more like a paid, pre-scripted infomercial than an interview.

Also, I find it amusing that Nader says there's going to be "a second round in a year or two" for health care, in which the Democrats try getting everything they really wanted and need to contain the cost of health care.

Don't you think that this isn't already pretty obvious to the Democrats? They know that whatever health care proposal passes, it won't be fully in place for a few years. If it doesn't fix all the problems, they'll have plenty of justification to take action... and, indeed, could more easily accomplish much of the work through a 50-vote reconciliation, even if they don't have a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Reconcilliation is supposed to be about controlling the deficit, passing the budget, etc. Given that the framework for healthcare will already be in place, it becomes much more of an issue where one could use the tactic, with some justification.
posted by markkraft at 7:50 AM on October 14, 2009


He says it's a question Obama must face- whether he will be an Uncle Tom or not. That's hardly the same as calling him an Uncle Tom.

"... It was absolutely, positively racist, as no one ever calls a white person an "Uncle Tom." If he really wanted to discuss the issue, he could have apologized for it on the spot, admitted it was a mistake, and moved on. All it would have taken was a simple, "I regret the terminology I used, and I'm sorry. Let us move on to the crux of my argument."

The other problem is that Nader had no point. "Will (s)he serve the people or lobbyists" is a question that you can ask about absolutely every politician from the local level all the way to national. He brought up nothing at all new or interesting, and he was clearly fishing for more attention. ..."


Apologies for self-link, but we've discussed this already in-depth.
posted by explosion at 7:52 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


ElmerFishpaw: And Ive never seen blind adoration for a political leader on the level that Obama supporters have. Damned shame."

I think this is a fair statement. I'm way far left of even many Mefites, and I've been all kinds of slammed for pointing out that Obama is not the Messiah(tm).

I think Ralph was a contributing factor to the disaster that gave us Bush V.2, but that doesn't diminish the fact that I think he's right about Obama V.1. Obama hasn't done a damn thing to advance most of the causes he campaigned on, choosing instead to try to play nice with people who call for his assassination and compare him to Hitler.

He abandoned single payer out of the gate, and now he's abandoning a public option in favor of the largest middle class tax increase and fines for not buying insurance from the same companies that have been raping Americans for the last 10 years of ridiculous rate increases and healthcare rationing. And people are still singing hosannas like he's brought down the tablets from on-high, when all he's trying to do is deliver 45 million more customers to the rapists.

The right wing was practically masturbatory about Obama's choices of Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense and General James Jones as National Security Adviser because it "means that Obama intends to carry on the Bush administration’s military policy in Iraq and beyond." {Wall Street Journal print edition} And so far, that's what looks to be happening. Our soldiers are still serving 4 and 5 tours of duty, the troop reductions are those that were planned when the "surge" was planned, and we're ramping up Afghanistan like we can do something there that no other military in the history of the world has been able to do.

The new president for whom we all had such high hopes hired Micheal Froman, a Citigroup executive who took a 2.2 million dollar bonus AFTER he joined the White House, to serve on the economic team at the same time the government was giving Citigroup a massive bailout. Then, after promising "no lobbyists", Obama hired Goldman Sachs lobbyist Mark Patterson as chief of staff at the Treasury. He hired another Goldmanite, Gary Gensler to police the commodities market. He handed control of the Treasury and Federal Reserve over to Geithner and Bernanke...guys who have spent their entire careers giving bathroom blowjobs to New York bankers. When he went to Wall Street, on the anniversary of letting Lehman Bros fail, his plan was so free of reforms that bank shares soared. He, and his handpicked cronies of big business, have done NOTHING, not one damn thing, to reign in naked short selling or derivative manipulation, or any of the other things that pushed the system into crisis in the first place. He just rewarded them and is continuing to reward them.

So yeah, maybe it's been only 9 months, but instead of being 9 months of Change(tm), it's been 9 months of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss". Sure, he's not as stupid as Bush, and he wears a suit better, and hes prettier to look at...but he's not doing anything for you or me. He's doing a lot for Wall Street. He's doing a lot for the military industrial complex. He's doing a lot for the pharmaceutical companies. He's doing a lot for the medical industry. But he's not doing anything for us.

But to point out that the emperor is wearing no clothes is to invite the rage and scorn of the True Believers.
posted by Peecabu at 7:54 AM on October 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


It's an emotively loaded challenge admittedly. But it is certainly possible that Obama could metaphorically play an Uncle Tom role

I'm laughing at the extent to which you, a white guy, are willing to go to exonerate another white guy for describing a black President (on the day of his inauguration, no less) as an Uncle Tom beholden to other white guys (on a network owned by--and largely run by and for--white guys). And you have the nerve to say that my knee is jerking? Oh, heavens!
posted by octobersurprise at 8:01 AM on October 14, 2009


I'll leave him alone when he leaves me alone.

Is he lurking in the bushes again and surprising you by asking to use your bathroom?


No, he's been doing something much more dangerous: running for president.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:05 AM on October 14, 2009


The bill that came out of the Senate Finance committee is reform only in the most literal sense of the word. It "re forms" how we pay private insurers, but it doesn't fix a damn thing.

Have you even read summaries of the major features of the actual bills in congress? If you had, then you'd have to know that's absolutely not true.

All forms of legislation currently under consideration prohibit existing condition exclusions, require universal coverage, provide for plan portability, provide safeguards against rescission (dropping unhealthy customers) and raising premiums on less profitable customers, and provide supplemental financial support for households who can't afford coverage at levels up to 400% of the poverty level.

There's an incredible amount of very substantive reform in all versions of this legislation, and a lot of benefits for consumers. And again, as I pointed out above, the Clinton plan didn't go even half as far in terms of substance (would you prefer Clinton's plan to put regional alliances of HMOs in charge of managing a universal health care mandate?), and that plan was essentially DOA despite being a potential boon to the health care industry, so it's an absurd sort of bizarro world claim that the Obama administration has not made impressive amounts of progress on the health care reform front. It may not fix the problem to your satisfaction if the problem as you define it is that, in principle, you don't believe health care should be a for-profit activity. But that's not the more immediate problem, and it's not one that can be fixed overnight--especially not when we don't currently have even the outlines of a coherent public health care system.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:05 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hey folks! We finally found the left-wing equivalent of Glenn Beck!

Yeah, as if Glenn Beck had the qualifications and the history of Nader. Remember that Ralph Nader staked his claim as a consumer rights advocate in the 1960s. Glenn Beck staked his claim as a right-leaning radio shock jock in the '90s. So, really, whatever you think of the guy and his approach to politics, have some respect.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:06 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


But then he'd have to take on responsibility and work to provide results, as opposed to bitching and moaning about what other people are or aren't doing.

It's worth pointing out that Nader has always been an activist. He still is, and he does a lot of work other than running for president, which is really a minor sideline. I suppose there is an argument to be made against activists, but it's typically not an argument worth having from my POV.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:11 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


To use a baseball analogy, people on all sides have been falling over themselves to critique the President's swing, and to blame him for not knocking it out of the park, but all this time, the pitcher hasn't even gone into his wind-up yet.

I voted for him, and I damn sure am not going to shut up about my reasons for doing so.

He better follow through, and I'm not going to keep quiet if he doesn't.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:14 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


So yeah, maybe it's been only 9 months, but instead of being 9 months of Change(tm), it's been 9 months of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss". Sure, he's not as stupid as Bush, and he wears a suit better, and hes prettier to look at...but he's not doing anything for you or me.

1) Unilaterally banning torture by Executive Order, the most powerful means available to a sitting president: Nothing.

2) Respecting State jurisdiction to enforce state drug laws (putting an end to medical marijuana dispensary raids common under Clinton and Bush): Nothing

3) Formalizing the first ever detailed executive policy regarding the application of the state secrets privilege: Nothing.

4) Making more Freedom of Information and other public information available than any previous administration (for example, dropping the fees for the Official Journals of Government from $17,000.00 to $0 and making the federal register available to web developers and researchers through an open XML API): Nothing.

5) Setting a closure date for Guantanamo Bay and after difficult negotiations in congress, reaching an agreement to house and try most remaining detainees in the US: Nothing.

6) Brokering a major new nuclear deal that holds tremendous promise for finally defusing the diplomatic standoff with Iran: Nothing.

7) [Insert dozens of other things here.]

Jesus, I'll take all that "Nothing" over your misinformed belly-aching any day.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:18 AM on October 14, 2009 [21 favorites]


Is he lurking in the bushes again and surprising you by asking to use your bathroom?

It doesn't particularly help engender respect for the man to use a metaphor that makes him sound like a creepy old leering pervert.
posted by blucevalo at 8:25 AM on October 14, 2009


I can't figure out why the Yahoo Finance guys would interview Nader.

It's worth pointing out that Nader has always been an activist. He still is, and he does a lot of work other than running for president, which is really a minor sideline.

His new book, "Only the Super-rich can save us!" has actually sold a few copies. It's #1,263 in the Amazon sales charts.
posted by notmtwain at 8:27 AM on October 14, 2009


I think we covered the Nobel Peace Prize previously, but that executive summery was : (1) the world is extremely happy that Obama, more than merely understanding diplomacy, actually cares what they think, (2) they felt the peace prize would help him accomplish peace goals like withdraw from Iraq, and (3) they feared awarding the prize to the obvious contenders up would anger either China or Russia. Obama explicitly acknowledged point (2) when accepting the prize, btw.

I think the problem with Nader recently has been that he's seeking political solutions when he's unskilled politically but had been successful outside politics. Chinese companies routinely modify their production lines making previously safe products dangerous. American distributors often either don't want to know or get bullied into moving the bad goods. Nader could helps tons with such issues.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:28 AM on October 14, 2009


jeffburdges: Well that, and Obama spent almost a full year running against hawkish Democrats and Republicans by patiently reintroducing the concept of diplomatic engagement into a political process that's been dominated by saber-rattling since Reagan.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:41 AM on October 14, 2009


Every time an Obama-related thread comes along here on MetaFilter, I marvel again at the incredible ability of Democrats/Lefties to destroy each other. It's like a bag of weasels. I think this is why the GOP persists, almost in spite of itself: at least all those right-leaning folks can at least pretend to get along for the sake of the greater party good.
posted by Go Banana at 8:45 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every time an Obama-related thread comes along here on MetaFilter, I marvel again at the incredible ability of Democrats/Lefties to destroy each other. It's like a bag of weasels. I think this is why the GOP persists, almost in spite of itself: at least all those right-leaning folks can at least pretend to get along for the sake of the greater party good.

*Snerk* You mean the GOP that had voters threatening to bail over Romney's Mormonism, and Limbaugh and Colter declaring their refusal to vote for McCain?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:52 AM on October 14, 2009


It's like the man said, Banana:

I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat.
posted by Target Practice at 8:53 AM on October 14, 2009


saulgoodman: "1) Unilaterally banning torture by Executive Order, the most powerful means available to a sitting president

Torture has always been banned under federal law by our ratification of the Geneva Convention. That Convention also requires Obama to prosecute torture. He has publicly stated he will not do so.

2) Respecting State jurisdiction to enforce state drug laws (putting an end to medical marijuana dispensary raids common under Clinton and Bush)

Feds Raid Two Los Angeles Pot Dispensaries - August 13, 2009

3) Formalizing the first ever detailed executive policy regarding the application of the state secrets privilege

Of the many ways that the Bush administration sought to evade accountability for its violations of the law and the Constitution under the cover of battling terrorism, one of the most appalling was its attempt to use inflated claims of state secrecy to slam shut the doors of the nation’s courthouses. Sadly, the Obama administration also embraced this tactic... - The New York Times

4) Making more Freedom of Information and other public information available than any previous administration...

... the White House and the pharmaceutical lobby secretly agreed to precisely the sort of wide-ranging deal that both parties have been denying over the past week.

Group Files Suit Against Obama Administration for Access to Visitor Logs

5) Setting a closure date for Guantanamo Bay and after difficult negotiations in congress, reaching an agreement to house and try most remaining detainees in the US

Gitmo May Not be Shut by Jan. Deadline

6) Brokering a major new nuclear deal that holds tremendous promise for finally defusing the diplomatic standoff with Iran

In an act of common sense, he's talking to them. Maybe something will come it. [golf clap]

7) [Insert dozens of other things here.]

Did Obama’s Monsanto Choice Put the Fox in Charge of the Hen House?

Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to limit the influence of lobbyists in his administration, a recent lobbyist for investment banking giant Goldman Sachs is in line to serve as chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

'Appalachian Apocalypse': Obama Permits Mountaintop Removal Mining

Obama will bypass Congress to detain suspects indefinitely

President Obama announced in March that he would be sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized -- and the Pentagon is deploying -- at least 13,000 troops beyond that number, according to defense officials.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:55 AM on October 14, 2009 [11 favorites]


But seriously, where's Mike Gravel when we need him?
posted by mylaudanumhabit at 8:56 AM on October 14, 2009


At least he's sticking his grubby little head out of his hidey-hole in a non-election year. I thought we only had access to the Nader when it came time to pick a new POTUS. As a frustrated 17 year-old non-voter in 2000, I will never, ever forget his little "f you" contribution to the last eight years of my adult life.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:01 AM on October 14, 2009


"He abandoned single payer out of the gate, and now he's abandoning a public option. . ."

So, you're complaining that he refused to let Republicans attack the Hillarycare straw man that *EVERYONE* knew wouldn't pass, and now he's *still* supporting a public option... just like the House of Representatives and most Senate Democrats?!

Really, isn't it just a wee bit premature to say there won't be a public option... especially since President Obama and the Democratic Party as a whole has so much invested in having a public option of some sort pass?

The simple fact is, if a public option doesn't pass, the Republicans will declare victory and talk about Obama's failure. This isn't something he wants, for obvious reasons.
posted by markkraft at 9:04 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


has no clue how politics works

That's actually a good thing. Ask FDR.

I knew Obama would be more of the same. That's why I voted Green. I suggest you all do the same next time.
posted by Zambrano at 9:09 AM on October 14, 2009


Joe Beese: Can we please leave this tired old back and forth in the past? You're still citing the same old stuff that's been debunked in excruciating detail in dozens of other posts (and the inclusion of those eleventh hour raids requested by state authorities on illegal, non-compliant marijuana dispensaries is still incredibly dishonest). I stand by exactly what I wrote.

Your counterpoints all rely on rhetorical slights of hand to make their arguments (the "holding suspects" indefinitely thing, for example, which seems to suggest the administration backs giving the executive the unchecked authority to detain anyone it deems a terror suspect indefinitely into the future. In fact, its stated policy is exactly the opposite, and many detainees have already been released. The administration's position on the issue is a narrow one, related specifically to a small number of existing suspects in detention. President Obama has never once suggested permitting such a practice going forward on a prospective basis. This particular issue relates only to those few Bush terror detainees who were so badly tortured under the Bush administration they can't be brought to trial in the civilian court system at all despite overwhelming evidence of their terrorist affiliations. It's not a good situation, but it never will be nor could it be now. No human being has the power to make the situation a just one, because that would require undoing the past. For the small handful of detainees concerned, there's not any correct, established way to proceed under the law, and even if congress stepped in to remedy the extra-legal nature of the situation, you'd be unsatisfied with the result. And releasing men who have killed and who would kill again to advance an extremist cause does no service to justice or national security now, no matter what injustices may have been committed by the previous administration.

Oh, and "Gitmo May Not Be Shut by Deadline"? Seriously?

Well, damn. I'm folding up my lawn chair and calling it a day then. Obviously, if someone who can write an article and get it published somewhere thinks our team might not win the game that hasn't even started yet, it's time to kill the home team quarterback and fire the coaching staff.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:25 AM on October 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


saoulgoodman: Obviously, if someone who can write an article and get it published somewhere thinks our team might not win the game that hasn't even started yet, it's time to kill the home team quarterback and fire the coaching staff.

Yes, because discussion about whether a politician is fulfilling promises and to what degree is so much like murder and firing someone.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:38 AM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


What evidence is there that the Green party would be any more effective?
posted by freshundz at 9:51 AM on October 14, 2009


saulgoodman: "Joe Beese: Can we please leave this tired old back and forth in the past? You're still citing the same old stuff that's been debunked in excruciating detail in dozens of other posts..."

You made a point-by-point presentation expressing your views. I made a point-by-point reply expressing mine.

You are on record as being unconvinced. Right back at ya.

Feel free to flag my posts as "excruciatingly debunked" if necessary.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:59 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Joe Beese:

Ironically enough, your laundry list o' outrages only shows me how uninformed you are about the issues in question.

For example:

"Torture has always been banned under federal law by our ratification of the Geneva Convention."

Your point is moot, given that our prior president refused to define torture as torture.

"That Convention also requires Obama to prosecute torture. He has publicly stated he will not do so."

Actually, he said that Holder will decide whether to prosecute or not. Holder is currently investigating the matter, and has top Republicans worried.

"The Justice Department . . . sent a loud and clear message that previous decisions to decline prosecution mean nothing and old criminal charges can be brought anytime against anyone." - Kit Bond

Or at least any guilty party. Aww. Even Diane Feinstein is a bit put off by how aggressive his investigation is.

"the White House and the pharmaceutical lobby secretly agreed to precisely the sort of wide-ranging deal that both parties have been denying over the past week"

You're talking about the "deal" that both the White House and the pharmaceutical industry denied as being accurate, right?! The one that was made at the Senate -- not the White House -- level?

Just because the White House could go along with a Senate compromise, that doesn't mean that there's some sort of evil conspiracy, or that anyone else is bound to it. Certainly, most Senate Democrats clearly don't consider themselves bound by the terms of some "deal" they were never a party to. (Several have said as much.)

Again, this does nothing to undermine Saul Goodman's assertion that the Obama administration is making more Freedom of Information and other public information available than any previous administration. It just shows you're willing to criticize perfectly legal Senate negotiations with lobbyists that have absolutely nothing to do with FOIA requests.

"Group Files Suit Against Obama Administration for Access to Visitor Logs"

White House will release visitor names.

"Gitmo May Not be Shut by Jan. Deadline"

Because they're still looking for places to take in Gitmo prisoners, because our own states refused to do so. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who just met with Obama a week or so ago, agreed just yesterday to take in several of them.

"President Obama thanked me for the position of Spain regarding accepting prisoners from Guantanamo . . . We are firming up which people we will take. Our commitment is firm in this sense. We want to back the objective and the commitment of President Obama that Guantanamo be closed." - Prime Minister Zapatero

Gee, Joe... it sure sounds like your president is taking advantage of every possible opportunity, creating a team of international allies that are willing to help us on this, so that he can honor his promise to close Guantanamo, doesn't it?!

"In an act of common sense, he's talking to (Iran). Maybe something will come it. [golf clap]

"The wisdom of this approach was reinforced . . . when the United States secured an agreement that will significantly reduce Iran's capability to produce a nuclear weapon. Even at this early stage, President Obama's diplomatic strategy has already achieved more positive results than the Bush administration's bellicose policy did in eight years."

I have a feeling you're going to be doing a lot of golf clapping over the next eight years.

Seriously, though... it would improve your credibility if you researched what is happening in greater depth, rather than just making negative laundry lists with no follow-up and no consideration for the difficult and time-consuming legal, political, and process-oriented changes involved, giving credit when credit is due.

I personally posted / griped loudly about the whole mountaintop mining issue myself back when it was first announced months ago, but I am very pleased to see that this old Bush initiative has been stopped cold by the Obama administration.
posted by markkraft at 10:14 AM on October 14, 2009 [16 favorites]


Fair enough, Joe Beese, fair enough. But my original reply was directed at another poster's remarks, and there's no point in rehashing the old stuff. You know my position; I know yours. Even what you consider modest, imperfect progress, from where I sit, is a major improvement over riding Bush's express train to hell.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:23 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


(d'oh! on review, also what markkraft said.)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:26 AM on October 14, 2009


The point we're missing is that the attacks are coming from the radical fringe left and the radical right (which is in the process of going fringe). The issue isn't Obama's effectiveness. The problem is a sanity deficiency in the most strident of his critics.

This is tough for Dems to deal with, because their nature is to speak truth to power, even if the truth's not all that honest, and we've been coming off of 8 years of "My President, Right or Wrong (and He's Never Wrong!)" from the GOP wingnuts. Our wingnuts are not like their wingnuts.

To be honest, I like the lefty lunatics better - give me people who question any and all authority for any and all reasons over people who pray to paper cut-outs of their annointed ruler.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:32 AM on October 14, 2009


Jesus, I'll take all that "Nothing" over your misinformed belly-aching any day.

Gotta love how when you disagree with Obama disciples youre 'misinformed'. Catch that waft of superiority there? You dont agree with me because youre stupid and I watch Rachel Maddow so obviously that makes me the 'informed' one.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 10:34 AM on October 14, 2009


[Nader] has no clue how politics works.

Actually, I think has a very precise understanding of how politics works, i.e. of how money corrupts the potential of reforming democracy to the benefit of the average citizen: of how lobbyists and entrenched corporate interests undermine the legislative process . Health Care is actually not at all dissimilar to many of Nader's consumer-protection preoccupations, and in it we see a paradigm case of how corporate power corrupts the will of the people. The poll numbers show an overwhelming majority of Americans are already to the left on this issue: that is, are to the left of the current "reform" that is being suggested (i.e. they favor not even just a strong public option, which they do favor, but single-payer, which was never even considered by the powers that be). So it may be that it is precisely because Nader understands how politics works, i.e. how it works for the corporations that own the process, that makes what he has to say worth listening to.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:40 AM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't watch Rachel Maddow. I read news online. Lots of it. Almost obsessively during working hours.

And it's not about "superiority." It's about facts. And the sloppy, emotionally-ragged intersection of facts and rhetoric.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:42 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've been, and continue to be, pretty critical of Obama, but man...a lot of his farthest-left critics seem to have believed that the first thing he'd do after taking the oath of office would be to run over, tackle Cheney and make a citizen's arrest or something.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:47 AM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Gotta love how when you disagree with Obama disciples youre 'misinformed'.

And for clarity's sake, the point (as markkraft demonstrated), isn't that anyone is misinformed because they disagree with the "Obama disciples," but that many are flatly misinformed about the record, regardless of who they agree or disagree with.

If you look back, you'll note that markkraft refuted Joe Beese's criticisms point by point.

Can you refute his criticisms yourself with better sources of information? Or don't you believe in stooping to engage in a constructive discussion with an "Obama disciple"?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:50 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been, and continue to be, pretty critical of Obama, but man...a lot of his farthest-left critics seem to have believed that the first thing he'd do after taking the oath of office would be to run over, tackle Cheney and make a citizen's arrest or something.

Or just be a left-wing version of Bush/Cheney.
posted by mazola at 10:58 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


God, it's getting as bad a primary season. If God came down and gave liberals a stack of gold coins in one hand and a steaming pile of cow shit in the other we would argue for three days about how hard to clap.





I don't know what it means either
posted by nanojath at 10:58 AM on October 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


The irony is that the world has Nader to thank for Obama.

Obama is my new bike but Nadar saved my life.
Put the Nadar on your new bike and you'll see him coming.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:02 AM on October 14, 2009


In some ways, I think it's the lefty-critics that have an unrealistic image of President Obama, secretly thinking that he could, if he really wanted to, all by himself deliver every policy measure they'd like to see in an instant.

Of course, if you really were expecting President Obama to be some kind of political Superman, you were bound to be disappointed. If on the other hand, you just wanted to see him taking practical, determined steps to correct the long-term course the nation's been on in recent years, then he's still your man.

Now whether or not I'll still feel that way if Afghanistan drags on another couple of years without any substantial progress, and if he doesn't manage to do something in the meantime to spur the creation of new jobs, who knows.

But damn--the guy's got a lot on his plate. More, arguably, than any sitting president in decades. And an entire TV news network (not to mention legions of conservative publications and ersatz think tanks) dedicated to raising doubts about the integrity of his character, blowing even the tiniest events out of proportion and spinning them as major political setbacks, and stoking seditious impulses among the American public at large. He doesn't need me on his back, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:05 AM on October 14, 2009


If God came down and gave liberals a stack of gold coins in one hand and a steaming pile of cow shit in the other we would argue for three days about how hard to clap.

Just as long as God doesn't clap.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:06 AM on October 14, 2009


Just realized that I mentioned the mountaintop mining issue being stopped cold by the Obama administration, but forgot to supply details...

From the Sierra Club's blog:

"Very big news out of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this morning – the agency has determined that all 79 mountaintop removal mining permits submitted to them for review by the Army Corps of Engineers would violate the Clean Water Act.

After eight long years of rubber-stamp permits being issued during the Bush Administration, this is one of the most dramatic and encouraging actions yet by the Obama Administration, and marks a welcome return of the rule of law to the coalfields of Appalachia. . .

It is important to note that this is only the first step in this process. These mountains have not been saved. The Army Corps now has 60 days to revise the permits and address EPA’s concerns. In our view, a sound reading of the science would determine that these permits cannot be issued."


Meanwhile, In Charlestown, WV...
Mountaintop Mining Hearing Turns Cacophonous

Hundreds of coal miners and mining supporters turned out to protest a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public hearing Oct. 13 about whether to end an expedited permit process for surface coal mining, and while environmentalists also came to express their concerns, they often found themselves shouted down by miners.

Miners swarmed the entrance of the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater wearing reflective miners’ uniforms while chanting “Tree Huggers Go Home!” and holding signs critical of U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., for comments they viewed as “anti-coal.” . . .

“They’re trying to shut down mountaintop removal, and that’s taking our jobs away,” said Sam Robinson, a Massey Energy employee from Logan.

posted by markkraft at 11:29 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


mazola: Or just be a left-wing version of Bush/Cheney.

Not really. Executive privilege is a good thing, in moderation, and the fact that Bush & Cheney clearly abused theirs in ways that were illegal makes a poor justification for Obama's reluctance to use powers granted to him by the Constitution and Congress. And Obama supporters are more than happy to give him a free pass on the use of executive privilege when it supports their views.

saulgoodman: In some ways, I think it's the lefty-critics that have an unrealistic image of President Obama, secretly thinking that he could, if he really wanted to, all by himself deliver every policy measure they'd like to see in an instant.

Of course, if you really were expecting President Obama to be some kind of political Superman, you were bound to be disappointed. If on the other hand, you just wanted to see him taking practical, determined steps to correct the long-term course the nation's been on in recent years, then he's still your man.


Well, can we start from a basic assumption that Obama is still our man, and most of us "lefty-critics" voted for him at least once, and likely will vote for him in the reelection campaign?

But no, I don't think that we have unrealistic expectations. Some actions are well within the scope of his authority as granted by the Constitution and congress, and in other cases, all we are asking for is evidence of a change process rather than stump speeches and bullshit from Gibbs.

On the contrary, it's his supporters who I find most likely to argue that President Obama is a political Superman, or rather Lex Luthor is perhaps more appropriate, as everything that happens in Washington is treated as evidence of some master strategic plan towards some liberal goal that exceeds anything he actually promised.

saulgoodman: He doesn't need me on his back, too.

On the contrary, given that one entire premise of his campaign was built around participatory democracy, I think it's a foolish idea to check out now and put your faith in the idea of a master plan that will deliver the results you want, if you only have faith, sit down, and shut up. For one thing, I think Obama has been and is committed to mutually incompatible political agendas. The left needs to stay vocal about the core values and rights at stake, lest the resulting policy compromise turns into mere appeasement of the Blue Dogs. And second, if Obama chooses to punt on issues to the Congress, then we need to make clear to Congress what we expect.

(To use your sports analogy, Obama supporters appear to be insisting on giving the quarterback credit for plays made by the other team after the punt.)

The third reason why the left can't retreat and trust on these issues is that as we've seen over this past summer, conservative groups are extremely adept at astroturfing on issues like health care. Retreat and trust essentially gives the teabaggers the floor to dominate the appearance of public opinion. The need for grassroots action on these issues didn't end with the election of Obama.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Gotta love how when you disagree with Obama disciples youre 'misinformed'.

If you don't agree that Obama is every bit as bad as Cheney on his most torturey days, and that literally every second of his Presidency has been either ineffective or malevolent, you are a blind sheep disciple and an Obamatan. There is literally no middle ground.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:35 AM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Executive privilege is a good thing, in moderation, and the fact that Bush & Cheney clearly abused theirs in ways that were illegal makes a poor justification for Obama's reluctance to use powers granted to him by the Constitution and Congress.

Agreed. Still I think many on the left are frustrated that Obama is proceeding in a manner where change might come as the result of something more... organic.

Call me an optimist, but I still have hope in Obama's ways. The biggest change so far has been in process and I applaud that.
posted by mazola at 11:57 AM on October 14, 2009


Helen Thomas: Obama "lacks courage"

Is there any kind of personal attack we can use to dismiss her too?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:02 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


On the contrary, given that one entire premise of his campaign was built around participatory democracy, I think it's a foolish idea to check out now and put your faith in the idea of a master plan that will deliver the results you want, if you only have faith, sit down, and shut up.

Those are the only options, eh? Hop on his back and screech like a wounded barn owl, or sit quietly and say prayers to my political messiah?

Progressive reformers in America need to recognize it's up to them not only to combat the forces opposing progressive reform, or to criticize the current political authorities in the abstract in keeping with vague notions of "keeping them honest," but also to be the positive agents for the progressive reforms they wanted to achieve--to appeal to the better angels of the American character, the populist impulses for advancing the public interest and assuming civic responsibility. That meant not just tearing down others efforts at reform, but supporting moves in the right direction and advancing a positive agenda of their own.

Where President Obama's concerned, whenever he makes a policy move in any direction, before the ink is even dry on the news print (heh! anachronisms are fun), the move is already being scrutinized on all sides (it might have been nice to see even half as much vigilance in the first four years of the Bush era). Literally, I can't remember the last time I saw a news item about an administration policy or official position (or even more often, a provisional congressional measure miss-attributed to the administration) that didn't also devote just as much attention to the views of administration's critics, preemptively anticipating and second-guessing how the policy, as implemented, would likely fail to achieve its goals. That phenomenon's contributed to a false impression in many cases that policies that have actually been quite successful in achieving their goals have failed somehow.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:04 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Retreat and trust essentially gives the teabaggers the floor. . ."

Jeez... even Reagan was polite enough to "trust, but verify" the Soviets. You're unprepared to even offer the same to our President.

If we dont attack Obama first, the teabaggers win!
posted by markkraft at 12:10 PM on October 14, 2009


I'll also add that it's important to keep the grass-roots activism, discussion, and criticism alive for another important reason: it wins elections.

Quite seriously, the Republican majority in congress for over a decade and the Bush campaign were built on hundreds of local networks and phone lists a foot thick. Obama steamrolled over the Republicans by activating local activist groups into a juggernaut that raised more cash, registered more voters, and made Republicans fight for ground they took for granted.

saulgoodman: Those are the only options, eh? Hop on his back and screech like a wounded barn owl, or sit quietly and say prayers to my political messiah?

Why do you think those are the only two options proposed here?

saulgoodman: That meant not just tearing down others efforts at reform, but supporting moves in the right direction and advancing a positive agenda of their own.

I'm not seeing many cases where progressive are tearing down efforts at reform by the current administration. I am seeing cases where the administration is reasonably criticized for offering little more than stump speeches claiming support while people in Congress are doing the visible work and taking the political risks.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:13 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


meant --> means

Is there any kind of personal attack we can use to dismiss her too?

Let me see if I can wrap my head around what you're asking for here--is there any kind of personal attack I can use against Helen Thomas to counter her personal attack against President Obama which you are citing to bolster a personal attack on me (or "Obama disciples" or someone anyway)? Too confusing. I'm taking my ball home.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:13 PM on October 14, 2009


KirkJobSluder: "I am seeing cases where the administration is reasonably criticized for offering little more than stump speeches claiming support while people in Congress are doing the visible work and taking the political risks."

Uh, they're the ones who have to write the laws.
posted by kathrineg at 12:17 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Criticism wins elections?! Didn't help the Republicans in 2008 much...
posted by markkraft at 12:22 PM on October 14, 2009


markkraft: Jeez... even Reagan was polite enough to "trust, but verify" the Soviets.

Apples and toaster ovens. Politicians ultimately represent and serve us as voters, while the Soviet Union was a sovereign foreign power.

markkraft: If we dont attack Obama first, the teabaggers win!

Well, if indeed the Obama administration shares the same sense that the reforms are urgent and necessary, then it's not an attack on Obama to point out that the reforms are urgent and necessary.

Citizen advocacy is a key part of the political process. And it's not about attacking Obama. It's about making passionate and public arguments for the kinds of reforms we want to see. And that kind of advocacy is going to be critically necessary to build the congressional consensus needed to pass these reforms.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:27 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why do you think those are the only two options proposed here?

My point is that our engine's stuck in criticize the president gear. We need to engage in a way that's fundamentally different in kind, not just degree. Vocally criticizing this or that, no matter how vocally, by itself does not satisfy my definition of playing a positive role in advancing reform efforts.

I am seeing cases where the administration is reasonably criticized for offering little more than stump speeches claiming support while people in Congress are doing the visible work and taking the political risks.

So we need to expand the Bush practice of law-making by executive fiat to more domestic matters then, is that what you're proposing?

The congress consists of the elected representatives of the American people and it's the only constitutionally-authorized lawmaking body of the Republic of the United States of America.

The President's job (apart from waging war, making executive appointments, setting executive policy, and occasionally vetoing bills) is to make stump speeches and use his popularity to pressure lawmakers that are falling out of line with the platform of the party he represents.

Erode his popularity as the nominal head of the party, and suddenly, he doesn't have any real power at all to push through his agenda. Get it? You'd better. The opponents of reform do.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:27 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


kathrineg: Uh, they're the ones who have to write the laws.

Not true. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 was largely engineered by Kennedy and Johnson. So were Rosevelt's New Deal, and Bush's No Child Left Behind and Patriot Act. The Obama White House played a big role in shaping the initial version of the economic stimulus package. So expecting the White House to take the lead in writing legislation has been well within the scope of Presidential authority since the 18th century, something the current administration has already done, and something the current administration promised during the campaign.

It's also the President's prerogative to punt issues to Congress, but he doesn't then get to turn around and take credit for something he effectively washed his hands of for the current session.

markkraft: Criticism wins elections?! Didn't help the Republicans in 2008 much...

Perhaps you should actually read the post? Grass-roots organizations and networks that advocate around key issues win elections.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:35 PM on October 14, 2009


But it is certainly possible that Obama could metaphorically play an Uncle Tom role

Aaaaaand this is where your credibility on racial issues dissipates, dude. In a puff of white smoke, no less.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:50 PM on October 14, 2009


saulgoodman: My point is that our engine's stuck in criticize the president gear. We need to engage in a way that's fundamentally different in kind, not just degree. Vocally criticizing this or that, no matter how vocally, by itself does not satisfy my definition of playing a positive role in advancing reform efforts.

Really? Because it seems to me that just about any consideration and debate regarding government policies on the table seems to end up in reflexive defenses of the president. Surely there must be a middle-ground somewhere.

saulgoodman: So we need to expand the Bush practice of law-making by executive fiat to more domestic matters then, is that what you're proposing?

Except of course that law-making, or policy-making by executive fiat seems to be perfectly acceptable when it comes to EPA enforcement of the Clean Water Act and closing gitmo. Obama can temporarily suspend DADT enforcement, having been given that power by both the Constitution and Congress.

Or he could take a more active legislative role along the lines of FDR, Kennedy, and Johnson, (or as he did with the stimulus package.)

But if the gay rights fight is in Congress, then the progressive action would seem to involve creating the coalitions needed to pass ENDA, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, and the Respect for Marriage act that have been introduced in this term, rather than making appeals to a grand executive plan that these things absolutely positively cannot be advanced before 2010.

The President's job (apart from waging war, making executive appointments, setting executive policy, and occasionally vetoing bills) is to make stump speeches and use his popularity to pressure lawmakers that are falling out of line with the platform of the party he represents.

Sure, and we are asking nothing of the president that has not been considered within the scope of his job since the 18th century.

Erode his popularity as the nominal head of the party, and suddenly, he doesn't have any real power at all to push through his agenda. Get it? You'd better. The opponents of reform do.

So, it's "if you are not with us, you are against us" time?

Again, take for granted for a moment that one can disagree with the president on some issues, while generally supporting him and his need for reelection. So the question I'll ask of you, how can we express disagreement with the president in a way that moves things forward?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:55 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


The people who say that he pretty much cost Gore the 2000 election? They're also right.

Bush or Gore both won Florida, depending on how you counted the votes. Nader had nothing to do with it.


Regardless of whatever shape the legislation ultimately takes (although I'm also relatively confident that despite all the nay-saying, the final reconciled version will include a decent public option, as long as people keep the pressure on their congressmen), that's already far more than the Clinton administration ever managed to accomplish

You are assuming an awful lot.

The progress Obama has made on health care is stunning by comparison!

Well, he's also had the benefit of 13-14 years of a fucked-up health care system getting more expensive and less effective. At some point (50 million uninsured; 100 million uninsured?) critical mass does the work for you.

There's been no fudging of health care yet.

Oh really?

We still have very little idea about what the president thinks we should do about health care.

I knew Obama would be more of the same. That's why I voted Green. I suggest you all do the same next time.

No, no. Peace & Freedom. Or Socialist (they usually share a candidate for President). If you're really gonna "throw your vote away," do it in style. I am not joking. That's what I do.

And now, I would like to see saulgoodman and Joe Beese wrestle. Thanks.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:55 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's about making passionate and public arguments for the kinds of reforms we want to see. And that kind of advocacy is going to be critically necessary to build the congressional consensus needed to pass these reforms.

This is true. However, Ralph Nader, judging from his work of the last decade or so, has no interest in building such a congressional consensus. In spite of the whatever effective work he's accomplished in the past, presently he is the Glenn Beck of the left: an egomaniac more interested in jeremiads than "building congressional consensus."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:57 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


KirkJobSluder: When the Clinton administration tried to pass health care, congress quickly killed it and began offering alternative proposals of its own (none of which succeeded). The political fault-lines that became apparent throughout that entire debacle made it clear to most observers at the time that the best chance for health care reform to get the support it needed to pass is if it first went through the full legislative drafting process and emerged as a pure product of congress.

It remains the conventional political wisdom that Clinton's top-down approach to promoting its health care reform agenda played a major role in the failure of those reform efforts. If President Obama had taken a similar approach, it would have been roundly dismissed as a miscalculation and a political failure from its inception. As it stands now, the odds are good that health care reform will actually happen this time, which is a truly remarkable turn of events.

So the question I'll ask of you, how can we express disagreement with the president in a way that moves things forward?

I just want to know why it never seems to be the case that passionately expressing agreement with the president on some particular matter is seen as a way to move things forward.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:59 PM on October 14, 2009


saulgoodman: It remains the conventional political wisdom that Clinton's top-down approach to promoting its health care reform agenda played a major role in the failure of those reform efforts. If President Obama had taken a similar approach, it would have been roundly dismissed as a miscalculation and a political failure from its inception. As it stands now, the odds are good that health care reform will actually happen this time, which is a truly remarkable turn of events.

Sure, I'm not certain how this transforms advocacy for health care reform with a public option, or even single-payer health care into an attack on the president.

I just want to know why it never seems to be the case that passionately expressing agreement with the president on some particular matter is seen as a way to move things forward.

Sometimes it is. I'm of the opinion that Obama revolutionized our discussions of foreign policy by being the first major Democratic candidate to not rattle the saber to prove his military willingness.

But when passionately expressing agreement with the president involves undermining progressive legislation currently considered by congress, I have to wonder what's going on.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:06 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: Obama has supported (and I think still ideologically supports) single-payer health care. But he has always--since first declaring his presidential candidacy and publishing his campaign platform--made it clear that he supports wide-ranging reforms that include a public option for now. I read his campaign platform in detail when it was first released, and it was spelled out right there in black and white, where he stood on the issue. And he hasn't once issued a statement contradicting the approach he advocated during the campaign. (Well, unless you count that time he made the public statement, "I believe we need a public option," and thankfully, the press was able to discern that there wasn't enough fire in his eyes when he said it, so what he actually meant to say was, "I kind of sort of think it would be nice if there were a public option, but you know, I don't really mean it when I say that.")
posted by saulgoodman at 1:11 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


And it really wasn't a rhetorical question, how can people reasonably express disagreement with the president?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:16 PM on October 14, 2009


The first step is to have a reasonable disagreement. I ain't seen one in this thread yet.

More to the point, the furor is over what the President hasn't done yet, rather than what he has done - to the point where what he has accomplished that may be of interest to progressives is glossed over, ignored, or slandered into irrelevance - by progressives!
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:34 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, it's "if you are not with us, you are against us" time?

Actually, I would characterize it more as "If you're with us, then be with us already, dammit!" (Also, what Slap*Happy said hits it exactly.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:37 PM on October 14, 2009


Obama should be reaching out to the peace movements (not the military) in Israel and Palestine, as Nader suggests. Unfortunately, peace movements have been discredited.
posted by i'm being pummeled very heavily at 1:39 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pardon, but I see a world of difference between the criticism of Obama's policy and actions as president on the left, and the attacks from the right. The criticisms from the left center on pragmatic questions regarding the shape, size, and timeline of the reform process. The criticisms from the right center on the legitimacy of Obama's authority by attacking his status as an American citizen, his commitment to America, and by proposing he's fundamentally dangerous.

The former is part of the give and take of the political process, by people who will, with a few exceptions, campaign and vote for Obama come 2012. The latter is an attack on Obama's legitimacy as a citizen.

saulgoodman: Actually, I would characterize it more as "If you're with us, then be with us already, dammit!"

Why do you assume that simple disagreement means that we are not, "with you?"

Slap*Happy: The first step is to have a reasonable disagreement.

How is it unreasonable to be disappointed that someone who called himself a "fierce advocate" of gay rights is insisting on a timeline for reform substantially slower than those taken by members of congress?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:49 PM on October 14, 2009


saulgoodman: I mean, what exactly does "with you" entail. Are we supposed to wear the lapel pins and have the right bumper stickers? Do the super-secret handshake or flash hand signs? Do we wear the hanky in our left or right pocket?

Or does "with you" entail a silencing of dissent and groupthink?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:53 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obamatan is my new favorite word.
posted by booticon at 2:02 PM on October 14, 2009


It really should be spelled Obamaton, though.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:05 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regarding this Uncle Tom thing, and please try to read carefully without jumping to conclusions...

First of all, if I ask whether you are going to be an asshole or not, I am not calling you an asshole. I am merely implying that it's possible for you to be an asshole.

If Barack Obama betrays his black countrymen because of an adherence to the interests of rich white americans, then he would appropriately fit the uncle Tom analogy. Note that this is possible for Barack Obama because many black americans have voted for him and respect him precisely because he is black. This makes racial betrayal possible.

The fact that the uncle Tom analogy is not applied to white people does not make it racist, merely race specific (or at least underclass specific). The fact that it is race specific might suggest racism to people rather sensitised to this issue. But if you watch something like Malcolm X's accusation that Martin Luther King is an Uncle Tom, you see that the point is not to be racist, but to raise race consciousness.

Everyone is aware that the history of racial discrimination of America makes the election of a black president significant. Does it really mean something that a black man was elected president- in the sense that his race will make some kind of difference to his presidency? I think a lot of people think so. If so, then the worry that he will be just as subservient to the powers that be as all the other presidents has a special poignancy which the story of uncle tom helps to highlight.
posted by leibniz at 2:22 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


So... you;re saying that Nader is Malcom X?
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on October 14, 2009


Why do you assume that simple disagreement means that we are not, "with you?"

Simple agreements shouldn't cause you to label a president who shares nearly all your political aims and ideals "a coward," "really, really stupid," a modern day "Herbert Hoover", the "Whiner in Chief", or a "failed commander in chief" all on the basis of your subjective impressions about what seems likely to happen in the future.

And he just made an address on gay rights on Saturday, reaffirming his campaign pledge to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and to work for greater equality and protections against sexual identity based discrimination. Not too long ago, he issued the first presidential medal of freedom ever awarded in history to an openly gay man. So he's working on it.

Or does "with you" entail a silencing of dissent and groupthink?

If the only point of the dissent is that, because you lack the discerning wisdom to tell the difference between an informed, reasonable consensus and mindless group-think, you feel it necessary to perform some arbitrary, contrarian act for no purpose other than to convince yourself that you're still your own damn special snowflake, then yes, I suppose it does. Policy debate shouldn't be so carelessly confused with character assassination.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:26 PM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


leibniz: But if you watch something like Malcolm X's accusation that Martin Luther King is an Uncle Tom , you see that the point is not to be racist, but to raise race consciousness.

Yes, and Chris Rock talks about there being two kinds of black people. I'll bet Ralph Nader does a great impression.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:31 PM on October 14, 2009


I'll bet Ralph Nader does a great impression.
posted by EarBucket at 2:35 PM on October 14, 2009


Lol. But I assume that you don't think Nader is not allowed to use the Uncle Tom analogy just because he's white (without opening yourself up to similar charges of racism)?
posted by leibniz at 2:35 PM on October 14, 2009


Oh boy...
posted by Artw at 2:37 PM on October 14, 2009


saulgoodman: Simple agreements shouldn't cause you to label a president who shares nearly all your political aims and ideals "a coward," "really, really stupid," a modern day "Herbert Hoover", the "Whiner in Chief", or a "failed commander in chief" all on the basis of your subjective impressions about what seems likely to happen in the future.

Then perhaps you should argue with those people instead, and not insist that anyone who disagrees with the president is one of those people.

And he just made an address on gay rights on Saturday...

A stump speech and $5 gets me a cup of reasonably good coffee, and perhaps a biscotti as well. I'm not saying the speech is not a good thing. But prosecutions under DADT could be suspended tomorrow at the stroke of his pen. His timeline doesn't start anything before 2010, while the legislative repeal is sitting in congress right now. The challenge is getting these things through congress now, not at some unspecified point in the future.

It's certainly not a character assassination to say that his speeches and handwritten letters are long on promises, and far short of the actual reforms needed.

Policy debate shouldn't be so carelessly confused with character assassination.

Certainly, now how can we reframe the debate to reduce this confusion?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:41 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


leibniz: Lol. But I assume that you don't think Nader is not allowed to use the Uncle Tom analogy just because he's white (without opening yourself up to similar charges of racism)?

Do you think Nader should be 'allowed' (??) to do Chris Rock's stand-up routine? Discuss.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:42 PM on October 14, 2009


I read it all. I think Joe Beese has a point. You can't let Obama just do what he wants, he'll take the easiest way out (in other words what's been happening for 8 years). He has to have pressure applied to him. If you let off the pressure, the Teabaggers, Handgun Lusters, Berthers, and the '(blank) for Christ' Parties WILL supply the pressure and the mainstream media will listen because it's in their financial interests. The only way to counter act this is to strongly encourage/force him to act responsibly at the grassroots level.
posted by peppito at 2:44 PM on October 14, 2009


shakespeherian: tough call... I'd have to sleep on it.

Goodnight!
posted by leibniz at 2:45 PM on October 14, 2009


Lol. But I assume that you don't think Nader is not allowed to use the Uncle Tom analogy just because he's white (without opening yourself up to similar charges of racism)?

I certainly think so. I don't care if you think I'm racist against white people (oh noes).

I don't want to hear white people use any kind of racially specific insult, ever. I think it's insulting and condescending and mentally lazy and fucking rude. That's all there is to it.
posted by kathrineg at 2:49 PM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


And to Obama's credit, he did say that frustration with the pace of progress was reasonable in his speech:
Now, I've said this before, I'll repeat it again -- it's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans petitioning for equal rights half a century ago.

...

That's the story of America: of ordinary citizens organizing, agitating and advocating for change; of hope stronger than hate; of love more powerful than any insult or injury; of Americans fighting to build for themselves and their families a nation in which no one is a second-class citizen, in which no one is denied their basic rights, in which all of us are free to live and love as we see fit. (Applause.)

Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let's say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he's held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it's time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us -- on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.
He didn't have to say this, but I'm glad he did. And I really have to wonder whether the people pointing to the speech as a reason to back off from citizen activism to pass these reforms actually bothered to read it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:04 PM on October 14, 2009


Do you get his emails, the ones you get if you signed up for the website during the campaign? Dude asks for activism all the time. I;m not sure that "activism' is entirely what is being criticized here.
posted by Artw at 3:08 PM on October 14, 2009


Artw: The argument as presented appears to be that LGBT people shouldn't point out the apparent lack of progress regarding any of the gay rights reforms promised during the campaign because that might undermine the popularity and stature of the president. Which is a moot point if the president empathizes with and supports the activism efforts as part of the change process.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:23 PM on October 14, 2009


I don't understand the argument that Obama should repeal DADT with an Executive Order. I understand absolutely why people want it gone, but why is there so much pressure to do so in a manner which can just as easily be undone by the next guy? It seems that his position that he will not do so via EO and rather wants it done as an act of Congress is a much stronger reaffirmation of his support for gay issues than simply doing whatever is absolutely fastest.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:30 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Note: I realize I misused "repeal" above. I do understand that essentially what Obama can do via EO is to tweak some limited aspects of the laws which are within his purview to do so. I don't want to argue about this part of it.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:31 PM on October 14, 2009


feloniousmonk: I don't understand the argument that Obama should repeal DADT with an Executive Order.

Which is good, because no one is making that argument. The argument that is being made is that the President is authorized as Commander in Chief and by Congress to make policy decisions regarding what should be prosecuted and discharges during military deployments. It certainly would be a temporary measure, but it would protect people currently in the service.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:35 PM on October 14, 2009


Should have been slower on the preview. It's not an either/or situation. The President can both exercise his executive privilege and the repeal can move through Congress at the same time. The argument for the use of executive privilege here is that justice delayed is probably going to be justice denied for the people dismissed while the laws work their way through Congress.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:38 PM on October 14, 2009


I don't understand the argument that Obama should repeal DADT with an Executive Order.

As far as I can tell that argument is made because it gives people who like complaining something to complain about. So they can be "activists". Because apparently being a self defeating whiner is the same as activism.
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on October 14, 2009


Artw: As far as I can tell that argument is made because it gives people who like complaining something to complain about. So they can be "activists". Because apparently being a self defeating whiner is the same as activism.

And preventing the dismissal of approx. 1300 members of the armed forces (disproportionately ethnic minorities and women, as a curious fact) over the next two years, as well as easing some of the ludicrous standards imposed on those who fear dismissal certainly can't be a factor.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:46 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I will concede that, I wrapped up the EO approach into the CIC policy approach you are talking about. My fear is that once such measures are taken it will be almost impossible to motivate the Congress to address the issue in a meaningful way. I don't like the very real spectre of half-done and reversible civil rights issues that it raises in my mind.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:47 PM on October 14, 2009


feloniousmonk: Good point. I disagree but it's a good point.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:48 PM on October 14, 2009


I understand where Artw is coming from, although I would not use those words.

It seems like a significant amount of the criticism of why it has not happened is being made with the default assumption of bad faith on the part of Obama. On the hand, I can't really blame anyone for that assumption the way the government has behaved over the past decade or so, but on the other hand, it makes for very frustrating discussions.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:51 PM on October 14, 2009


feloniousmonk: It seems like a significant amount of the criticism of why it has not happened is being made with the default assumption of bad faith on the part of Obama. On the hand, I can't really blame anyone for that assumption the way the government has behaved over the past decade or so, but on the other hand, it makes for very frustrating discussions.

I don't think it's bad faith as much as conflicts of interest. But it appears to be impossible to have a nuanced discussion in which he sits somewhere on the scale between "fierce advocate" and "homophobic Blue Dog." Neither does it appear that you can have a conversation about him in regards to domestic and foreign policy without treating him as an extreme caricature. It's either character assassination, or two-dimensional idolization. And I don't feel either really does justice to a person whose position on these issues is personally complex, and has changed over time.

It's something I admire and respect about him, but while his heart is in the right place, I don't think he's a "fierce advocate." I don't expect him to be either, because the role of fierce advocates in this is to give their congresscritters and earful and engage in the hundreds of local activism needs that demand it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:21 PM on October 14, 2009


"I really have to wonder whether the people pointing to the speech as a reason to back off from citizen activism to pass these reforms actually bothered to read it."

Who is saying don't engage in activism? The only person I know who said anything like that is Barney Frank... who didn't say "don't march", but did say they'd be better served by lobbying politicians instead.

The problem is that a minority of activists, rather than advocating effectively *FOR* something, are spending their time slinging mud against the president, in a very personal way, as if he's the reason for all their miseries.... as opposed to the ONLY president in history who might sign off on redressing their longstanding grievances...

(...even if he chooses not to do so by dictat for reasons that, say, a former constitutional law professor might hold regarding such things.)

I see a president who is willing to enforce laws, tax codes, etc. as written, even when he feels they are unjust, as a way of putting his own party in Congress on the spot to do their damn jobs, with the hope that forcing that particular muscle to be exercised *might* start to improve peoples lives, while hopefully wearing down endless partisan obstructionism, or at least encouraging Americans to vote the obstructionists out of office.

Really, I've never seen a president put his fellow Democrats on the spot quite this much. They wanted a chance to prove themselves? This is it. They'd better not mess it up.
posted by markkraft at 4:24 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


markkraft: Who is saying don't engage in activism?

"Shut up, sit down, and get on the bus?"

DOMA, DADT, and ENDA are in Congress now, today, not 2010. Whatever grand plan was in mind about postponing action for a more appropriate time is moot.

The problem is that a minority of activists, rather than advocating effectively *FOR* something, are spending their time slinging mud against the president, in a very personal way, as if he's the reason for all their miseries.... as opposed to the ONLY president in history who might sign off on redressing their longstanding grievances...

Sure, there is some mudslinging. There is also some fairly legitimate concern that advocacy may not be as "fierce" as promised during the election campaign. And it's pretty clear that just about any discussion about pushing things forward is equated to slinging mud.

So I'll ask you the question no one seems to be answering. How do we reframe the discussion to be open to reasonable policy criticisms and distinguish them from slinging mud?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:42 PM on October 14, 2009


Someone said: "He [Nader] unapologetically acted as a spoiler in the 2000 election (the US electoral college system sucks, but Nader DID contribute to Bush's election), and generally is tone-deaf when it comes to political matters"

But wouldn't it be nice if more people of principle changed the tune of politics, so that political matters were't so dissonant, and we were more transparent in our political institutions?

btw, the only thing that made Ralph Nader irrelevant was the press and the Democratic Party. The former treating hsi ideas with no attention, or portraying Nader as irrelevant, and the latter locking Nader out of debate. Last, Al Gore and his handlers lost the 2000 election. Gore is a gifted politician, and when he's himself, he transmits a passion that's convincing. In 2000, Gore's election handlers were trying to shape him, from debate to debate, into something they thought poll-defined voters wanted to see. He came off like a wooden statue, and out of touch. THAT is what cost him the election. I can't imagine the Al Gore we have come to know *since* his defeat as someone who would have lost to a knucklehead like George Bush Jr.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:45 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can't do activism regarding DADT without noting the fact that we are looking at 650 dismissals a year until someone decides to act. That's not mud, that's an ugly political reality.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:52 PM on October 14, 2009


It's hard to take claims that it's about "character assassination" rather than differences of opinion regarding policy when both are being tarred with the same broad brush and no one can seem to provide a distinction between the two that doesn't depend on agreement with the policy in question.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:58 PM on October 14, 2009


"it's pretty clear that just about any discussion about pushing things forward is equated to slinging mud."

Not so. There were about a hundred thousand people who tried pushing things forward last weekend, who did their best to push things forward.

There were also those like Andrew Sullivan, who transparently misrepresented Obama, ignoring whole sections of what he said... calling his speech "highfalutin bullshit", falsely accusing him of having "no verifiable record that he has done anything", and telling him to "have a nice steaming cup of shut-the-fuck-up"... all while falsely accusing the leader of the largest LGBT organization in America of being "happy to wait till 2017" to hold Obama accountable, and saying that his "real job is to get gay money to support healthcare reform".

This has already been debated to death in another post -- where it belongs -- but one thing I haven't heard from you is that this kind of talk -- a lot of which has been going around -- is incredibly dishonest, disrespectful, childish, and harmful... ESPECIALLY when used against those people who you are counting on for help.

"How do we reframe the discussion to be open to reasonable policy criticisms and distinguish them from slinging mud?

Well, here's a short list, for starters:

1> You don't start parroting and promoting people with ideological viewpoints similar to your own, but take others completely out of context and jumping to wildly illogical and unsupportable conclusions.

2> When someone lies, greatly exaggerates, or behaves in a dishonest or disrespectful manner, even if they're on the same side, you should speak out and hold them accountable, lest they damage the credibility of the cause you are fighting for and lose you the moral high ground.

3> You don't stay silent when people within your midst talk about breaking laws, or advocate violence.

4> You don't put the failure to get the legislation that you want passed entirely on the shoulders of one person, unless it can be clearly shown that they openly oppose it.

5> When someone is sitting on the fence, your criticism should be made in a way that appeals both to facts and to their better self. Show them the advantages of going out on a limb for you, or if they've said they'd help, ask them to provide specific steps and additional information on how they intend to help you. Concentrate your activism on fleshing out their commitment.

6> Realize that politicians have their own priorities, and even "selfish" motives like wanting to get reelected or "not wanting to rock the boat" are often based on fear of the opportunities that would be lost to enact gradual change, or what could happen should the other side take power. As such, they usually move on issues when they feel that the people are ready for it. They are in politics for the long game, and, as such, tend to rely on strategies for achieving goals with the least blowback / highest chance of success.

7> Realize that politicians cannot afford to tackle everything at once, without risking doing some things in a halfassed way. As a rule, they should not rush into complicated issues without due diligence. They deal with huge, complicated systems and issues, and don't want to take political hits because one of their rushed, half-baked policies caused unexpected chaos somewhere along the line.

8> The undecided people in the middle are usually the ones who decide most issues. They're also usually the ones who take the greatest offense when you lie to them. If you want to advance your cause, always be honest and human to them. Earn their trust, and work towards the moral high ground.
posted by markkraft at 7:31 PM on October 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Let me retry step #1:

1> You don't promote those who happen to support your causes, but who also engage in tactics that take others completely out of context, or who jump to wildly illogical and unsupportable conclusions.
posted by markkraft at 7:33 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"You can't do activism regarding DADT without noting the fact that we are looking at 650 dismissals a year until someone decides to act. That's not mud, that's an ugly political reality."

Actually, the ugly political reality is that the White House wants to repeal DADT just like they've said, but they've made a judgment call...

They are willing to accept 650 dismissals a year, because without the weight of those constant dismissals, members of Congress wouldn't consider voting to repeal DADT. Indeed, by addressing a relatively minor injustice too early, it could weaken the public's gradual yet steady shift towards LGBT equality in other ways.

The administration's consolation to their role in this injustice is that they fully intend to push Congress to insert a method for those previously dismissed to reenlist... and, of course, that they feel justified that they are working pragmatically, for achieving the greatest good.

Ultimately, like so many other things at the very highest level of government, there are a lot of casualties for every decision made or not made. It all comes down to a pragmatic judgment on how, in the long run, to minimize losses. As such, all losses are, unfortunately, acceptable ones.
posted by markkraft at 7:52 PM on October 14, 2009


To the best of my knowledge, Don't Ask Don't Tell is actually enshrined in statute. It can't be overturned without act of Congress. The most Obama could do with an executive order is order that for violating a specific law, servicemembers won't be prosecuted.

That seems like a dangerous precedent, no matter what the specific law is.
posted by kafziel at 8:13 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


markkraft: This has already been debated to death in another post -- where it belongs -- but one thing I haven't heard from you is that this kind of talk -- a lot of which has been going around -- is incredibly dishonest, disrespectful, childish, and harmful... ESPECIALLY when used against those people who you are counting on for help.

Sure, so is telling people to shut up and sit down. And so is conflating civil disagreement with a gay rights organization with a willingness to commit acts of vandalism. And so is going off half-cocked and accusing everyone around you of "attacking the community." At which point, you lost any credibility to complain about dishonest, disrespectful, childish, and harmful. So please look to your own house, because you are looking like a mighty big hypocrite.

But I don't accept this burden of responsibility that I should be a whip and call j'accuse regarding people I don't read, much less agree with. I think I've already said that I find both the extreme positions that he's a "fierce advocate" on the one side, and that he's a "bigot" on the other side to be absurd. The notion that we must repudiate anyone within the community is deeply offensive to me.

For some specific points.

3> You don't stay silent when people within your midst talk about breaking laws, or advocate violence.

That depends greatly on the laws in question. Civil disobedience is sometimes a useful and justifiable strategy, and our sexuality has been criminalized in multiple ways.

In regards to 4), 6) and 7). It just seems that you are stacking the deck in such a way that only the discussions you agree with are reasonable, and others are tossed into the rubbish bin of "character assassination." It is possible to have reasonable differences of opinion regarding strategy.

6) and 7) are demanding that we put perhaps a bit too much faith in the assumed honesty and valor of politicians. I don't think we can take for granted that politicians are in office for the long haul of gradual change, rather than the long-term maintenance of a gravy train. When politicians are up-front regarding their conservative tendencies, I don't feel it's a bad thing to call them on it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:43 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


markkraft: Actually, the ugly political reality is that the White House wants to repeal DADT just like they've said, but they've made a judgment call...

And I think it should be possible to disagree with that judgment call on a matter of principle without being accused of a character assassination of Obama.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:50 PM on October 14, 2009


"To the best of my knowledge, Don't Ask Don't Tell is actually enshrined in statute. It can't be overturned without act of Congress. The most Obama could do with an executive order is order that for violating a specific law, servicemembers won't be prosecuted."

Exactly.

I have pointed this out repeatedly elsewhere, in fact. Even Hillary Clinton said the same thing when she was running for office, and would no doubt be following essentially the same strategy on this issue.

"I don't know what the legal framework would be because you remember that, in the face of what Bill [Clinton] was trying to do in '93, the act, by veto-proof majorities made prohibitions on doing that. So whether the president has authority to do it by executive order or not, I'm not sure. But I have been committed for more than nine years to eliminating 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

Seriously, though... most politicians are lawyers for a reason, as its much of the job. President Obama happens to be a very good one, who appears to be surprisingly ethical... for a politician. That's why he doesn't play fast and loose with the law, rape the Constitution, talk about what "is" is, lie to investigators, or intentionally help deceive the American people about active legal cases, when doing so would be to his benefit.

People voted for the Boy Wonder... now several wish, in retrospect, that they had backed The Dark Knight. The criminals face the justice system rather than harsh vengeance... oftentimes, the worst get off clean and return to their life of crime. Justice is delivered in drips and drabs, yet nothing ever seems resolved.

...but if you're honest to your higher selves and to what you and your country loses when it turns to institutionalized vigilantism, you'll probably realize that despite it all, we made the right choice.
posted by markkraft at 12:45 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


"so is conflating civil disagreement with a gay rights organization"

If the premise you claim for disagreeing with said organization is intellectually dishonest, illogical, and unsupportable, well... there's nothing civil about it.

Most importantly, it's ultimately self-destructive to your cause... which explains why Andrew Sullivan has been aggressively backpedaling and spinning lately.

Now he's claiming he actually *prefers* the legislative approach to addressing DADT -- which undercuts his tirade against the president -- and says that Democratic fear of a backlash on tackling these issues should be handled "with clarity and hope".

(You know... clarity like "gay money for healthcare reform" and "happy to wait till 2017", and hope like "highfalutin bullshit" and STFU.)

Basically, Andrew Sullivan is now telling us that when it comes to effectively dealing with the issues effecting the LGBT community, we shouldn't be listening to Andrew Sullivan.
posted by markkraft at 1:12 AM on October 15, 2009


(In any event, we should end this derail and return the subject to the issues surrounding Nader's post.)
posted by markkraft at 1:20 AM on October 15, 2009


markkraft: ...but if you're honest to your higher selves and to what you and your country loses when it turns to institutionalized vigilantism, you'll probably realize that despite it all, we made the right choice.

I've been taking it for granted that most of the discussion is coming from people who voted for Obama once, and will back his candidacy in 2012. Why do you assume this is not the case?

markkraft: If the premise you claim for disagreeing with said organization is intellectually dishonest, illogical, and unsupportable, well... there's nothing civil about it.

Certainly, Sullivan is a crank on this issue. On the other hand, it's also intellectually dishonest and not very civil to treat all disagreement as represented by Sullivan or political vandals.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:46 AM on October 15, 2009


If you really dislike Andrew Sullivan that much, perhaps you should yell directly at him, rather than yelling at people who are not Andrew Sullivan and might have much more reasonable justifications for ambivalence regarding Obama and the HRC.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:19 AM on October 15, 2009


So... you're saying that Nader is Malcom X?

Why not? The boys at RedState think Rush Limbaugh is MLK. Stop trying to keep the white man down!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:42 AM on October 15, 2009


3> You don't stay silent when people within your midst talk about breaking laws, or advocate violence.

Re: advocating violence. Um, what about Barack Obama?

Can pacifists and supporters of non-violent resolution ignore the president's war mongering?

If the answer is "lesser of two evils" or "that's what he has to do to get elected," I think you are one of the reasons why were are stuck in this two-party, first-past-the-post political nightmare.

I don't generally fawn, but KirkJobSluder, you're my new MeFi hero, at least today. Your patience and approach to political dialogue are inspiring.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2009


The reason we're "stuck in this two-party, first-past-the-post political nightmare" is the twelfth amendment. Nothing more, nothing less. The electoral system mandated by the Constitution cannot support more than two viable presidential candidates. You want to change the two-party system, you have to change the Constitution first.
posted by kafziel at 10:06 AM on October 15, 2009


mrgrimm: it's pretty clear from context that markkraft was talking about domestic terrorist acts or grassroots violence for political motives, not all-out war, which no matter how you or i might feel about it personally, hasn't been regarded as violence in the ordinary sense under the law or mainstream human cultural traditions going back thousands of years.

so you've just engaged in exactly the kind of disrespectful and bad-faith discussion tactic we've been criticizing--in this case, passing off a misleading rhetorical equivalence to create the impression of offering a real point.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2009


saulgoodman: so you've just engaged in exactly the kind of disrespectful and bad-faith discussion tactic we've been criticizing--in this case, passing off a misleading rhetorical equivalence to create the impression of offering a real point.

Well, this is the pot calling the kettle black here, as you've fairly consistently treated disagreement with incumbent politicians and personal attacks on them with the same broad brush.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2009


And to go back a bit because there is a key point that I missed:

saulgoodman: If the only point of the dissent is that, because you lack the discerning wisdom to tell the difference between an informed, reasonable consensus and mindless group-think, you feel it necessary to perform some arbitrary, contrarian act for no purpose other than to convince yourself that you're still your own damn special snowflake, then yes, I suppose it does. Policy debate shouldn't be so carelessly confused with character assassination.

There isn't a consensus. On health care, some want single-payer, some want public option, some Democrats see the reforms as an attack on free enterprise. On gay rights, some people are arguing for action next session, congressional bills are in play this session, Obama said before inauguration to wait, he said last week to be vocal, the HRC is calling for action now. Reasonable people disagree regarding the scope, timing, and scale of the reform effort. The consensus isn't there yet, and you don't get a consensus by yelling at people engaged in reasonable policy debate, people who are generally committed to reelecting the president, that they should shut up lest they harm an election effort that's not even started yet.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2009


To the best of my knowledge, Don't Ask Don't Tell is actually enshrined in statute. It can't be overturned without act of Congress. The most Obama could do with an executive order is order that for violating a specific law, servicemembers won't be prosecuted.

It didn't stop Truman from issuing an executive order ending segregation in the military, and people said the same things back then about it. Surely, Obama can draw inspiration from six decades past.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:17 PM on October 15, 2009


It didn't stop Truman from issuing an executive order ending segregation in the military

To be fair, segregation was a military policy, not a US statute. Undoing something that involves only the executive branch is simpler than something that also includes the legislative.
posted by EarBucket at 6:16 PM on October 15, 2009


Greg Palast -- no weak centrist -- asked quite rightly, "Why Would Ralph Lie to Me?"

"Like every vote-hungry politician, Ralph made some very seductive campaign promises. Nader promised us that his was not a campaign to elect a President but to build a movement. The November 7 march to the polls would be just the first stop for a mass organization that would take on Corporate America and their indistinguishable vassals, the Democans and Republicrats. But, even before the alligators ate the last ballot box in Florida, it was clear that Ralph had simply strolled away from his promise. The day after the meltdown of our democracy, I waited for Nader's call to fill the streets of Miami to prevent the disenfranchisement of Black voters. Instead, Ralph shot off a couple nifty one-liners about Gore's inability to beat a brain-cracked cowboy. Hey, Ralph, what's so funny?"

As someone who also voted for Nader in that election, I am still left asking... "where's the movement?"

I mean, he should still have my contact information, but he doesn't call, he doesn't write... I still hear from Dean, and I didn't even vote for him!

Ralph Nader can't seem to get three hundred people into the same room nowadays... unless he's charging a speaking fee. His movement is so far above politics that it's completely ineffectual. He couldn't even be bothered to get fifty people out in the street in this whole huge national healthcare debate to advocate for universal health care. Bloody f'ing useless... so much so, that you'd think he was working for the Republicans if you didn't know better.

Really, WTF Ralph?!
posted by markkraft at 6:32 PM on October 15, 2009


"you've fairly consistently treated disagreement with incumbent politicians and personal attacks on them with the same broad brush."

Actually, he went after someone who claimed Obama had "done nothing" and was the same as Bush with a list of what he had done.

Why, oh why are those on the far left still using the completely disingenuous, ignorant "same as the Republicans" attacks against Democrats, as if the last eight years didn't prove such notions to be wrong?

It's a tired, empty shell of an argument, best left on the scrap heap of history. Try this... "Democratic politicians have forgotten who they were and what they used to stand for." It's far closer to the truth, and it gives those who join you hope that maybe they can remind them.

The truth of the matter though is that there can be no real change from the far left until Nader goes and we get a new generation of pragmatic progressives that are willing to stay committed before and after elections, to apply pressure to the Democrats and start getting a little tit-for-tat.

Nader's repeatedly shown that he has no interest in leadership outside of the election season.
posted by markkraft at 6:52 PM on October 15, 2009


you've fairly consistently treated disagreement with incumbent politicians and personal attacks on them with the same broad brush.

No, I haven't. I've said there's no need to characterize those whose positions you don't happen to agree with as "frightened men," "failures," "Herbert Hoovers," etc.

Here's a hint: If your righteous outrage follows chiefly from an assumption that some action 'X' may/may not have desirable/undesirable consequence 'Y' at some point in the future--and that assumption isn't so obvious not only to you but to every other reasonable thinking person that its proof is self-evident--unless you happen to be the happy owner of the world's first functional crystal ball, it might be premature to use strong terms like "betrayal," "cowardice," "capitulation," or "failure," just to name a few of the contemptuous terms that crop up with some frequency in the cacophonous, grade-school orchestra performance that too often passes for nuanced political discourse.

Especially when one of those people being labeled as "frightened" has the kind of political courage and fortitude not to back down when facing a hostile legislature in which, flatly defiant of their own platform, even prominent members of his own party come forward to say that they won't tolerate a single Guantanamo detainee being brought to American soil. A congress that continues to fight President Obama at nearly every turn, refusing to fund administration policy initiatives like the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay (Obama has consistently reaffirmed his commitment to closing it anyway). And how do those who claim to support Obama's positions on such policies--who claim they want to see Guantanamo closed and the detainees returned to some semblance of justice--react? By piling on the one guy pushing for the policies they profess to want, accusing him of not being serious enough in the effort or questioning his commitment or going into jeremiads about all the other policy areas in which he hasn't yet made enough progress for their satisfaction--one man--instead of laying the blame at the feet of the obstructionists in congress, the media interests with their obvious conflicts of interest, those who fund the various PR organizations working around the clock to derail reform efforts, or--god forbid--assuming some personal responsibility for not taking a more positive role in trying to achieve the policy aim.

I haven't said a damn thing about not disagreeing with incumbents. I disagree with incumbents all the time. Even Obama. For instance, his support for more private/public school partnership and voucher program expansions: I think this is terrible policy and would like to see the focus put on rehabilitating and even expanding the public school system. The only thing I've criticized is pissing on parades for the sake of it, out of nothing more than the bile and spite that fills a certain type of person who by temperament despises nothing more than the sight of happy parades or bandwagons, and the lazy tendency of these pathological critics to let their little contrarion phallic twitches become a substitute for sober-eyed analysis and substantive criticism.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:37 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman: No, I haven't. I've said there's no need to characterize those whose positions you don't happen to agree with as "frightened men," "failures," "Herbert Hoovers," etc.

There's no need to do characterize them as "little contrarion phallic twitches" either.

(And again, perhaps you should take it up with the people who make those characterizations? Rather than yelling at just about everyone?)

I haven't said a damn thing about not disagreeing with incumbents.

That's the problem. Because if you actually had said that, your words would at least be consistent with your behavior in this thread. As it is, you've been pretty fairly hostile in regards to anti-Obama invective, and unfairly hostile to reasonable disagreement. And I suggest that you should back off playing your off-key single note here, because if you actually bothered to listen to what people are actually saying, you might find a lot less pissing on parades.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:57 PM on October 15, 2009


Nader is pretty much a non-entity to me anymore. Irrelevant.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:07 PM on October 15, 2009


KJS: I thought it would be clear I primarily meant Nader, among others of his stripe, since this is a thread about him.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:41 AM on October 16, 2009


You know, I don't think
[picture of Rodin's The Thinker]
that Nader
[stock photo of Nader]
really is a very unbiased
[split-screen graphic of donkey and elephant symbols]
spokesman.
[clip art of cartoon guy speaking from podium]
While I don't think he's dishonest
[Simon Legree image]
I think he really heavily tilts his opinions
[picture of pinball machine with "TILT" across scoreboard]
towards what would be the most soundbite-worthy.
[picture of stereo speaker with a cartoon bite taken out of it]
Ah, well,
[picture of well]
I suppose that doesn't make him
[picture of Nader]
any different than the rest of most of the media pundits
[grid photo of screenshots of big-name media pundits' shows]

WCITYMIKE: NADER
"NOT UNBIASED"

WCITYMIKE: NADER
"NOT DISHONEST"

WCITYMIKE: NADER
"TILTS OPINIONS
TOWARDS SOUNDBITES"

WCITYMIKE: NADER
"NO DIFFERENT
THAN MOST PUNDITS"


MetaFIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILter ....
posted by WCityMike at 3:06 PM on October 16, 2009


« Older Depending on how permanent Sharpie markers really ...  |  Notary fee: $3; County Clerk R... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments