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Change We Can Believe In . . . Eventually
November 4, 2009 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Mark Halperin assesses the Obama Administration after 9 months in office.
posted by bearwife (103 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
We still torture: The new evidence from Guantánamo—By Luke Mitchell
posted by chunking express at 8:55 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


“If Politico and Halperin say we’re winning, we’re losing,” David Plouffe.
posted by octothorpe at 9:04 AM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Obama and the DNC basically did nothing to help with "No on 1" in Maine. I'm so sick of it.
posted by kmz at 9:11 AM on November 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


fwiw, from digg, here's another one: What Obama's Done in a Year...
posted by kliuless at 9:12 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nine? TWELVE whole months, and STILL no moonbeams flying out of his ass.

WORST PRESIDENT EVAR
posted by yhbc at 9:17 AM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


octothorpe - that was before winning the election, and speaking to the projections from Politico and Halperin that Obama would win.

More details to the fluff of Time mag: The Obameter: Tracking Obama's Campaign Promises. But if you think this is too liberal a look at things, check the Official Obama administration Scandals List. Don't worry about questionable sources, this list keeps links to news reports and the like to a minimum. Plus, there are some LOL-rific images sprinkled throughout the 700+ scandals listed to date.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:20 AM on November 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Chunking express, can you get those of us without a Harpers subscription access to what looks like a really interesting article? (Did I violate the new copyright treaty proposals by asking for this??)
posted by bearwife at 9:21 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


[A few comments removed. I know the many-clicks model of web publishing is annoying, but we don't need to talk about it every time content happens to take that form, especially not right off the bat in lieu of actual discussion.]
posted by cortex at 9:22 AM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I never thought any of this was going to be easy," said Obama, speaking at the University of New Orleans in his first visit to the Gulf Coast city since taking office. He poked fun at his critics, asking, "Why haven't you solved world hunger yet? It's been nine months. Why?"
posted by Joe Beese at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


that was before winning the election, and speaking to the projections from Politico and Halperin that Obama would win.

I knew that but it shows how much the Obama administration probably cares about what Halperin thinks about it's progress.
posted by octothorpe at 9:30 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


bearwife, the article is available as a PDF, here.
posted by zarq at 9:34 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Joe Beese does it feel like the President is sassing you personally
posted by boo_radley at 9:35 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


boo_radley: "Joe Beese does it feel like the President is sassing you personally"

No. Though that thing he said about how fat my mama was steamed me plenty.

I just found it... noteworthy how he tried to equate world hunger with all the things that he, you know, actually has control over.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


A Time magazine article and a wiki link to the author? Seriously?
posted by Slap Factory at 9:46 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nine? TWELVE whole months

Nope, Obama's been in office for a little more than 9 months.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:47 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


What Obama's Done in a Year...

Perhaps a better time to publish this would be after he's been president for a year, as opposed to, say, now.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:49 AM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just found it... noteworthy how he tried to equate world hunger with all the things that he, you know, actually has control over.

But he had the power to change anything, when the election results came in. At least it felt like that, with dancing in streets all over the world. From two terms of a president who wasn't elected by the majority, seen by many as an incompetent simpleton, to a poised man of color who spoke with authority, if not with vigor and power, things were going to change. They were emotional, heady times, and there was a LOT to live up to. So the emotions die down, leaving the expectations high and dry. Was he really just another politician? No, why would we have been dancing in the streets, hugging strangers, screaming in joy? As covered in other Obama threads, he's playing it safe, instead of charging in on the power of a Democratic majority.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:50 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, has Obama kicked those Pharisees out of the Temple yet?
posted by GuyZero at 9:52 AM on November 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


[A few comments removed. I know the many-clicks model of web publishing is annoying, but we don't need to talk about it every time content happens to take that form, especially not right off the bat in lieu of actual discussion.]
posted by cortex at 1:22 AM on November 5 [+] [!]


Hey cortex and everybody else - Autopager. Don't browse without it. Plus, for every site that's not in their database, YOU can make a difference by creating a profile for that site, which means nobody else has to do it, and nobody will ever have to complain about clickthroughs again! I'm making a profile for this beast right now. Hold tight.
posted by saysthis at 9:56 AM on November 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


But he had the power to change anything, when the election results came in.

Not according to the Constitution.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:58 AM on November 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


There seems to be a rash of articles about Obama's lack of achievements lately. Andrea Peyser's column pissed me off especially. It's NOT been a year yet, people, and even if it had been, he was elected for FOUR. Cut the man some slack.
posted by monospace at 10:03 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


No. Though that thing he said about how fat my mama was steamed me plenty.

In fairness, Joe Beese, yo mamma pretty fat. She so fat, they just call her O . . . O Beese.
posted by The Bellman at 10:04 AM on November 4, 2009 [35 favorites]


Obama's gotten some intense, arbitrary opposition in those nine months, though. I don't think anyone quite expected the right's temper-tantrum reaction to the election. For nine months, they've done the political equivalent of going limp on the grocery floor, wailing.
posted by droob at 10:06 AM on November 4, 2009 [12 favorites]


Obama and the DNC basically did nothing to help with "No on 1" in Maine. I'm so sick of it.

In fact, the DOJ, under the leadership of Obama, fully intends to defend DOMA, despite Obama's verbal opposition to it. It makes me sick to my stomach, as well. Maybe Nader was right.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:06 AM on November 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


filthy light thief: "But he had the power to change anything, when the election results came in."

Obama's disillusioned former supporters don't criticize him for things they thought he could change but that he couldn't - i.e. world hunger. They criticize him for things that he promised to change but doesn't appear to have even tried.

And I don't think that Obama trying to equate the two with his own rainbows-and-unicorns jokes is going to help the Dems much in 2010.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:08 AM on November 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Cut the man some slack.

I would, but school has started and I always see him sitting at the table with the kids with rich parents. He's friendly to us but he's always hanging out with those guys after school.
posted by crapmatic at 10:13 AM on November 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


And I don't think that Obama trying to equate the two with his own rainbows-and-unicorns jokes is going to help the Dems much in 2010.

The retarded, entrenched two-party system means you only had two choices in the last election. If Obama does NOTHING in the next 3.25 years he will have made the country a better place than McCain would have.

The US electoral system is about picking the lesser of two evils.
posted by GuyZero at 10:15 AM on November 4, 2009 [13 favorites]


There seems to be a rash of articles about Obama's lack of achievements lately

It's only going to get worse, if he doesn't get some stuff done that he can point to.
posted by smackfu at 10:17 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think very highly of Obama and his administration myself, but think Halperin, who in fairness is not a fluffy guy, points out some significant areas of political weakness. No one seems to have a way to crack the bitter partisanship that paralyzes Washington, and that is going to hurt in next year's elections. The "freak show" problem, combined with the strong focus on D.C., seems to mean a big disconnect between the slow work toward compromise and stability in the capital and the volatility of independent voters who are really worried about the U.S.'s economic future. And finally, the employment picture has to improve if other things like consumption are going to get any better.

Also, I agree that Obama wasn't President until he was sworn in but will point out it has been a year since he was elected and got to work on his transition to power.
posted by bearwife at 10:21 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sing songy article. Like reading Dr. Seuss. "Obama's done this, but there's that. So far Obama has x, but there's y. Obama is up, but he's down. He's left, but he's right. He's over here, but he's over there."

Yeesh.

"We still torture: The new evidence from Guantanamo—By Luke Mitchell"
Ah, right, that's the article that says, back in July "As of this writing at least thirty men are being force-fed at Guantanamo. They are being force-fed despite the departure of the administration that instituted force-deeding, despite the current administration's order to shut down Guantanamo and despite its even more specific order requiring prisoners there to be treated within the bounds of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions..."

Lotta 'despite' there.
Pretty sure after taking office Obama issued an executive order prohibiting torture. As it sits the Army Field Manual allows for force feeding, sensory dep. and sleep deprivation.

I don't know why Obama allowed that appendix to be written back in 2006 by the Bush administration.
But it seems like they did a lot of tricky bullshit that would cause problems for years to come. I don't know why Obama doesn't simply wave a magic wand.
Or better still - why not declare martial law and force all these changes through quickly. You know, the good ones. The ones we all like. Not those bad ones we disagree with.

As it sits, six (of 13) Uighurs were released from Gitmo just over the weekend. I mean cut loose. They go home. And rightfully so. But it's not getting a lot of fanfare in the press. And given the mediasphere and a big hunk o' the American people, that's not such a bad thing.

Especially given that the hate crime bill so many folks feel passionate about (that also cut military spending and expanded some of the warmaking) restricts the administration from transferring any detainee being held at Guantanamo to the U.S. for trial until 45 days after it has given notice to Congress so Gitmo prisoners could not be released into the U.S.

Bush so much as sneers at congress, they cower in a corner, Obama invites them in, suddenly they're not going to take any crap from a president.

Folks too - hey, we love what you stand for, but we're not going to y'know, back you up when you need it, just pile shit on you because we couldn't get away with it under Bush.
Oh and his popularity numbers begin to slide. Swell.


Anyway you've had the director of the ACLU human rights program say just recently he expects the Obama administration to come up with concrete plans to implement and enforce ratified human rights treaties as well as bring back the Interagency Working Group on Human Rights (which the Bush administration dumped) to coordinate and promote human rights within domestic policy.
There has also been a push to reform the Civil Rights Commission into a Civil and Human Rights Commission to monitor U.S. compliance with human rights as well as Civil rights (Obama's only 1/2 black so he'd probably only 1/2 be on board with it, no?) and domestic enforcement of the recommendations of the U.N. committee on the elimination of racial discrimination (again - only 1/2 black) and coordination of human rights on the state and local level with federal policy and the creation of state and local civil and human rights commissions.

Obama's expected to bring the working group on human rights back up on Dec. 10 (international human rights day), also the day Obama actually receives the Nobel Peace Prize for no reason.


Y'know though, I don't care how great or lousy he is. Even if he's the best president of all time - that'd be a flash in the pan.
Only thing I want from him is to change the laws so we can have systemic change and we're not dependent on the largess and leadership of a given individual.
I don't really expect him to succeed. I hope, only, that his style becomes the pattern of success in politics which can lead to major systemic changes.
As it is, it looks like he's making some inroads. Not quickly. Takes a while for ice to crack a rock too. I can wait.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:22 AM on November 4, 2009 [17 favorites]


Democrats' Quiet Changes Piling Up
"While President Barack Obama still faces stiff headwinds on a range of major legislation on his agenda, he has been signing into law a slew of smaller initiatives that had gathered dust on the Democratic wish list for years...."
posted by ericb at 10:23 AM on November 4, 2009 [8 favorites]



There seems to be a rash of articles about Obama's lack of achievements lately



He doesn't have alot of time for Xbox.
posted by The Whelk at 10:23 AM on November 4, 2009 [19 favorites]


Apparently he has time for Charlie Sheen. According to Charlie Sheen, at least.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:33 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anything worth doing takes at least a year, often much longer. Let's not talk about what he's accomplished, but, instead, what he's actively trying to accomplish. I don't care whether he has completed his promise checklist, I just care whether or not he's working on it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:35 AM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


PLEASE STOP FAVORITING EVERY COMMENT IN A THREAD IT IS CHILDISH
posted by yhbc at 10:37 AM on November 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Calm blue ocean yhbc, calm blue ocean.
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 AM on November 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Smedleyman, the article is called "We still torture." And America still does. So I'm not sure what the issue is here.
posted by chunking express at 10:43 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


GuyZero: "The retarded, entrenched two-party system means you only had two choices in the last election."

The only thing entrenching it is people's disinclination to vote for one of the many other candidates running.

Become the change you seek. Vote third-party.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:43 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Without getting into a Yes and/or No about Obama, I would point out that the Wiki link, read with some care, shows that Halperin's batting average on many guesses is not overly good, and so I wonder as to his political acumen in general.
a snide aside: comparing say Obama to Bush is like taling about a bad blow job. Even a bad one is better than none.
posted by Postroad at 10:47 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


As it sits, six (of 13) Uighurs were released from Gitmo just over the weekend. I mean cut loose. They go home. And rightfully so. But it's not getting a lot of fanfare in the press.

Fanfare? You imprisoned some dudes for how many years, and then sent them home. Who should we throw a parade for exactly?

That people are so blaze about Guantanamo Bay is ridiculous.

And calling it Gitmo is fucking stupid. Is it really hard to say Guantanamo?
posted by chunking express at 10:47 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even a bad one is better than none.

Err...
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:51 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Halperin is an ass. This is the man who called Matt Drudge the "single most influential purveyor of information about American politics" in his 2006 book on how to win in 2008.

Guess that one came true.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:53 AM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


As it sits, six (of 13) Uighurs were released from Gitmo just over the weekend. I mean cut loose. They go home. And rightfully so. But it's not getting a lot of fanfare in the press.

Fanfare? You imprisoned some dudes for how many years, and then sent them home. Who should we throw a parade for exactly?


Pretty sure it was not Barack H. Obama. Think that's the point being made here.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:54 AM on November 4, 2009


"We still torture: The new evidence from Guantanamo—By Luke Mitchell"
Ah, right, that's the article that says, back in July "As of this writing at least thirty men are being force-fed at Guantanamo.


That's not torture. Not letting people kill themselves in hunger strikes isn't torture.

Seriously, closing this place is difficult. We could just send them back to their country of origin? Are you for that? Because what will happen is certain death for many of them. That's the only reason that place is still open. If we only had to keep the 4 or 5 we have related to 9/11, people would be fine with putting them in the U.S.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:57 AM on November 4, 2009


Duverger's Law

Can we please stop treating third parties as the answer? The math works against a diversity of parties and in the United States the two parties are very very very firmly entrenched.
posted by uri at 10:59 AM on November 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


boo_radley: "Joe Beese does it feel like the President is sassing you personally"

No. Though that thing he said about how fat my mama was steamed me plenty.

I just found it... noteworthy how he tried to equate world hunger with all the things that he, you know, actually has control over.


What are the things that Obama has "control over?" As in can make them happen instantaneously and in a way that will work in the long term. Sure like to see this list.

Reminds me of all of the people who assure me that Obama can pass health care, but fail to provide to me the "count" that is the name of the members of Congress who are certain to vote for their pet version of health care.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:02 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's not torture. Not letting people kill themselves in hunger strikes isn't torture.

Force feeding people is torture. WTF? You're actually making one of the points in the article.
It is our evolving understanding of force-feeding that most clearly demonstrates this process of inversion and invisibility—not because it is the most horrifying form of torture, though it is horrifying, but because it has been so completely mainstreamed. Indeed, as it is practiced at Guantánamo, force-feeding is understood not only to not be torture but in fact to be a form of mercy. It is understood, above all, as a way to “preserve life.”
...
As of this writing, at least thirty men are being force-fed at Guantánamo. They are being force-fed despite the departure of the administration that instituted force-feeding, despite the current administration’s order to shut down Guantánamo, and despite its even more specific order requiring prisoners there to be treated within the bounds of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which—by every interpretation but that of the U.S. government—clearly forbids force-feeding.1

1. The conventions forbid “humiliating and degrading treatment,” and doctors who advise the Red Cross, which in turn has considerable oversight in interpreting the conventions, have repeatedly made clear that force-feeding is humiliating and degrading. See, for instance, the judgment of Red Cross adviser Hernán Reyes, in a 1998 policy review: “Doctors should never be party to actual coercive feeding, with prisoners being tied down and intravenous drips or oesophageal tubes being forced into them. Such actions can be considered a form of torture, and under no circumstances should doctors participate in them, on the pretext of ‘saving the hunger striker’s life.’”
We could just send them back to their country of origin? Are you for that?

Maybe the people in Guantano can become naturalized citizens. They've been in the US long enough. Maybe they can claim refugee status. They are already in the US after all.
posted by chunking express at 11:10 AM on November 4, 2009


Ironmouth: "What are the things that Obama has "control over?" As in can make them happen instantaneously and in a way that will work in the long term."

For example: rather than spending the lead-up to Election Day campaigning for a former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Obama could have made a town hall appearance in Maine alongside Philip Spooner and use some of those rhetorical skills he's so famous for to throw the full symbolic weight of the Presidency behind marriage equality for all Americans. It wouldn't matter if we still lost. He would have done the right thing. And, in the long term, it would work.

Oh, that's right... I forgot. Obama doesn't actually support marriage equality for all Americans.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:22 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


he has been signing into law a slew of smaller initiatives that had gathered dust on the Democratic wish list for years...."

Oooh. Does this mean he'll tackle grocer's apostrophes next? I've always wanted someone to get around to making them a federal crime.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:23 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, that's right... I forgot. Obama doesn't actually support marriage equality for all Americans.

so then why are you complaining?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:31 AM on November 4, 2009


It is our evolving understanding of force-feeding that most clearly demonstrates this process of inversion and invisibility—not because it is the most horrifying form of torture, though it is horrifying, but because it has been so completely mainstreamed. Indeed, as it is practiced at Guantánamo, force-feeding is understood not only to not be torture but in fact to be a form of mercy. It is understood, above all, as a way to “preserve life.”

If you are saying we should allow persons to kill themselves while in our care, then I totally oppose you and everything that stands for the idea that a person who refuses food should be allowed to starve themselves to death.

Do you feel that the court orders obtained every year in the US by prison and mental health officials are wrong too? Should the mentally ill in institutions be allowed to kill themseslves?

I do not stand, ever, for allowing healthy persons to kill themselves while within the care of my government. I'm certain that upon reflection, you do not either.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:35 AM on November 4, 2009


Anything worth doing takes at least a year, often much longer. Let's not talk about what he's accomplished, but, instead, what he's actively trying to accomplish. I don't care whether he has completed his promise checklist, I just care whether or not he's working on it.

Brilliant. This foolish impatience only weakens the cause of reform.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:37 AM on November 4, 2009


Ironmouth: "so then why are you complaining?"

If it will help you understand the prinicple involved, mentally substitute "health care reform" for "marriage equality" - and "child dying for lack of health insurance" for "Philip Spooner".
posted by Joe Beese at 11:39 AM on November 4, 2009


Obama doesn't actually support marriage equality for all Americans.

Don't be so sure...
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:40 AM on November 4, 2009


If you are saying we should allow persons to kill themselves while in our care, then I totally oppose you and everything that stands for the idea that a person who refuses food should be allowed to starve themselves to death.

Bully for you. Saying these people are 'in your care' is also a bit much.

Second, these people aren't mentally ill. Anything else random you want to throw in to make your case? Well, I suspect some of them might be crazy now, since they have been tortured at the behest of the US government for how many years now.

And no, I do think people have the right to go on hunger strikes if their imprisonment is unjust.
posted by chunking express at 11:42 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jaltcoh: "Don't be so sure..."

1996?

You mean back when he supported single-payer universal coverage?
posted by Joe Beese at 11:45 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Things that require a mere uncontested signing: accomplished.

Things that require actual political effort: ......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....
posted by HTuttle at 11:45 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


HTuttle: "Things that require a mere uncontested signing: accomplished.."

It does seem telling that the signing of a bill to outlaw what was already illegal is his major legislative accomplishment to date.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:54 AM on November 4, 2009


You mean back when he supported single-payer universal coverage ?

It's not obvious to me that he doesn't still support single-payer health care. I'd imagine he does. Politicians don't always enact the complete set of policies they would like to see.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:01 PM on November 4, 2009


I do not stand, ever, for allowing healthy persons to kill themselves while within the care of my government. I'm certain that upon reflection, you do not either.

I just wanted to chime in with chunking express, here; I do too. I absolutely do. I vastly prefer the ideals of self-determination to paternalism.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:05 PM on November 4, 2009


Jaltcoh: "It's not obvious to me that he doesn't still support single-payer health care. I'd imagine he does. "

July 1 : For us to transition completely from an employer-based system of private insurance to a single-payer system could be hugely disruptive, and my attitude has been that we should be able to find a way to create a uniquely American solution to this problem that controls costs but preserves the innovation that is introduced in part with a free-market system

This does not meet my definition of "support". YMMV.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:12 PM on November 4, 2009


So Joe Beese, you criticize Obama "for things that he promised to change but doesn't appear to have even tried." And then you say marriage equality is one of those things. But regardless of the merits of marriage equality, Obama hasn't actually promised to change that, so you substitute health care reform. But of course that's not in his power to just sign into existence, so shall we substitute now as grist for your mill?

And I seriously am always amazed that people act as if Obama's just been sitting on his hands for the past nine months. I mean have you somehow missed that he waded directly into healthcare reform upon being elected, which is pretty much the thorniest and most difficult to achieve legislation for Democratic presidents during the entire last eighty years?

And I also don't get the criticism for failing to try for single payer now. What would we get in return for that? A noble flaming political death? Honor of some sort?
posted by bepe at 12:15 PM on November 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't understand why people continue to turn 'Obama hasn't done X, Y, and Z' into 'Obama hasn't done anything.'
posted by shakespeherian at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2009


July 1 : For us to transition completely from an employer-based system of private insurance to a single-payer system could be hugely disruptive, and my attitude has been that we should be able to find a way to create a uniquely American solution to this problem that controls costs but preserves the innovation that is introduced in part with a free-market system

This does not meet my definition of "support".


Well, as you said: "July 1," 2009. In other words, you're quoting something he said in the middle of trying to pass a specific piece of legislation that falls short of single-payer. Naturally he's trying to justify the legislation he's trying to pass now. Why would you expect him to forthrightly argue for what he actually believes as opposed to what he thinks is achievable?

Back in the old days of the 2008 presidential race, people said that Obama is "opposed" to an individual mandate to buy health insurance. But guess what? He changed his mind based on circumstances. Back then, internet commenters would have quoted his statements supposedly he doesn't "support" an individual mandate. But it's just not valid to infer that "he said this, so he believes it (or will act on it)." It's easy to forget Obama is just a politician.

Anyway, look at his specific rationale in your quote: it's carefully crafted so that he'd have plausible deniability even if he passes the current health-care bill and later tries to use it as a stepping stone to single payer. He could then argue that his previous objection to single-payer was specific to the moment: it would have been too "disruptive" -- i.e. too expansive relative to what came before. If he succeeds in what he's trying to do now, it could set him up to argue that we can later move to single-payer without being too disruptive.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:27 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


There was another great article in Harper's comparing Obama — who, just so we're all clear, I think is the fucking awesome — to Herbert Hoover. (Barak Hoover Obama: The best and the brightest blow it again. The argument being made is that like Hoover, Obama is a brilliant and smart guy that understands all the problems faced by the US, but ultimately he is still tied to the orthodoxy of the politicians that proceeded him. He's not willing to make all the crazy-ass choices that are needed at a time like this. Some choice quote:
...

Hoover’s every decision in fighting the Great Depression mirrored the sentiments of 1920s “business progressivism,” even as he understood intellectually that something more was required. Farsighted as he was compared with almost everyone else in public life, believing as much as he did in activist government, he still could not convince himself to take the next step and accept that the basic economic tenets he had believed in all his life were discredited; that something wholly new was required.

...

Much like Herbert Hoover, Barack Obama is a man attempting to realize a stirring new vision of his society without cutting himself free from the dogmas of the past—without accepting the inevitable conflict. Like Hoover, he is bound to fail.

...

like Hoover, Obama has been unable to make his actions live up to his words. Health care is being gummed to death on Capitol Hill. Obama has done nothing to pass “card check” provisions that would facilitate union organization and quietly announced that he would not seek stronger labor and environmental protections in NAFTA. He has capitulated on cap-and-trade in the budget outline and never even bothered to push for an actual carbon tax. Only minuscule portions of the stimulus bill or his budget proposals were dedicated to mass transit, and his indifference to the issue—what must be a major component of any serious effort to go green—was reflected in his appointment of a mediocre Republican time-server, Ray LaHood, as his transportation secretary.

Still worse is Obama’s decision to leave the reordering of the financial world solely to Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, both of whom played such a major role in deregulating Wall Street and bringing on the disaster in the first place. It’s as if, after winning election in 1932, FDR had brought Andrew Mellon back to the Treasury. Just as Herbert Hoover could not, in the end, break away from the best economic advice of the 1920s, Barack Obama is sticking with the “key men” of the 1990s. The predictable result is that, even as he claims to recognize the interlocking nature of the problems facing us and vows to solve them as a whole, the president is in fact abandoning most of his program, at least for the time being.

...

Obama will have to directly attack the fortified bastions of the newest “new class”—the makers of the paper economy in which he came of age—if he is to accomplish anything. These interests did not spend fifty years shipping the greatest industrial economy in the history of the world overseas only to be challenged by a newly empowered, green-economy working class. They did not spend much of the past two decades gobbling up previously public sectors such as health care, education, and transportation only to have to compete with a reinvigorated public sector. They mean, even now, to use the bailout to make the government their helpless junior partner, and if they can they will devour every federal dollar available to recoup their own losses, and thereby preclude the use of any monies for the rest of Barack Obama’s splendid vision.

Franklin Roosevelt also took office imagining that he could bring all classes of Americans together in some big, mushy, cooperative scheme. Quickly disabused of this notion, he threw himself into the bumptious give-and-take of practical politics; lying, deceiving, manipulating, arraying one group after another on his side—a transit encapsulated by how, at the end of his first term, his outraged opponents were calling him a “traitor to his class” and he was gleefully inveighing against “economic royalists” and announcing, “They are unanimous in their hatred for me—and I welcome their hatred.”

Obama should not deceive himself into thinking that such interest-group politics can be banished any more than can the cycles of Wall Street. It is not too late for him to change direction and seize the radical moment at hand. But for the moment, just like another very good man, Barack Obama is moving prudently, carefully, reasonably toward disaster.
posted by chunking express at 12:28 PM on November 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


And the essay really is better than a bunch of pull quotes, so if you can find it you should read it. It's from back in July, so they were talking about his first 100 days.
posted by chunking express at 12:29 PM on November 4, 2009


And calling it Gitmo is fucking stupid. Is it really hard to say Guantanamo?

FWIW -- the military and residents (3/4 of which are civilian family members) at the base call it "Gitmo" as a shortening of GTMO. It is the "oldest U.S. overseas outpost...since 1898, when U.S. Marines fighting the Spanish-American War established camp at the natural harbor on Cuba's southeast coast."*
posted by ericb at 12:49 PM on November 4, 2009


...six (of 13) Uighurs were released from Gitmo just over the weekend. I mean cut loose. They go home.

No, they go to Palau. Home would be China. Of course, if you were to give me the choice, I'd pick Palau.

If you want a smart expression of the Beltway Boys' wisdom, Halperin's your man. Of course, I don't have much use for it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:49 PM on November 4, 2009


Guantanamo Bay Gazette continues to affectionately refer to the base as GITMO.
posted by ericb at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2009


bepe: "So Joe Beese, you criticize Obama "for things that he promised to change but doesn't appear to have even tried." And then you say marriage equality is one of those things."

Incorrect.

Ironmouth's challenge was: What are the things that Obama has "control over?" As in can make them happen instantaneously and in a way that will work in the long term.

I replied that throwing the symbolic weight of the Presidency behind marriage equality was something that Obama could do at any time - and, in my opinion, would work in the long term. I did not say that Obama had promised to do so.

Of course, Obama did promise - repeatedly - to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And as far as anyone outside the smoke-filled rooms can see, he hasn't done jack shit about that either.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:07 PM on November 4, 2009


I hear defensiveness when moderates respond to the fact that there are people who demand a lot more of their leaders. Inevitably there are caps, references to unicorns, farts, rainbows, confetti, glitter and the myriad combinations of those things. At first I didn't really get what all that was about, but now I think it reads pretty defensive.

Moderates, nothing to be defensive about. If there weren't people to the left of you demanding more, you'd be the extreme left. So maybe appreciate that the thing that makes you defensive is also the thing that provides the context for your moderate views.
posted by birdie birdington at 1:27 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's black and he won the popular vote for President by 10 million in a country in which most black people couldn't (really) even vote at the time of his birth.

That in itself should be worth a Nobel.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah you're right, Joe Beese, I misread that. Mea culpa. Poor reading comprehension on my part. So right now my list of "things Obama's promised to do and could do right now but hasn't" includes DADT. Fine, fair enough. Arguably within executive authority, said he'd do it. I guess closing Gitmo. The word is it'll happen soon, especially with with several federal districts fighting over the opportunity to try the cases. But it hasn't happened yet. And it's unclear yet whether there'll still be some sort of military commissions in the US, but we'll see. And the fact that commissions might still be in play incenses me, so I'm not completely in adoration mode. So that's two things. What else?
posted by bepe at 1:37 PM on November 4, 2009


Of course, Obama did promise - repeatedly - to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And as far as anyone outside the smoke-filled rooms can see, he hasn't done jack shit about that either.

Uh, anyone knowing anything about that knows that he's trying to put consensus together on that--Clinton's big failure on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and that everyone is on board, Army, Navy and Air Force--except the Commandant of the Marine Corps, who is an ass. So as he's trying to push the biggest medical reform program in US history, he's trying to find a way to get the Marines to buy into the strategy, so that actual gay service personnel can serve in a military that has accepted them and will work to help them rather than be a hinderance.

The other problem is, of course, that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was passed by Congress. So congress has to hold hearings on the matter, draft a bill, then pass it in two houses, then send it to conference committee, then pass the final bill, then send it to the president's desk.

It seems to me that those who complain about Obama not moving fast enough don't really have a full grip on the issues or even how the government works.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


note that all of the stuff in the "smoke-filled rooms" is regularly reported in the newspaper. Just read up.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:40 PM on November 4, 2009


I hear defensiveness when moderates respond to the fact that there are people who demand a lot more of their leaders.

[...]

Moderates, nothing to be defensive about. If there weren't people to the left of you demanding more, you'd be the extreme left.


People who aren't as impatient as you are "moderates?"
posted by brundlefly at 2:45 PM on November 4, 2009


And no, I do think people have the right to go on hunger strikes if their imprisonment is unjust.

To their death? I disagree.

Plus, uh, which Guantanamo prisoners exactly, as in by name are hunger striking? The guilty ones who are legitimately imprisoned, or the innocent ones? We don't know these facts. We know that Khalid Sheik Mohammed is there. Is he hunger striking? Does he have the right to avoid justice by killing himself already? Since there have been no trials, there cannot be any determination of who is unjust or justly imprisoned.

You assume that they are innocent. Most certainly are. But prisoners don't have the right to kill themselves before trial or release.

I personally do know that they are having a hell of a time trying to put together the legal framework for moving these prisoners. There are so many issues that the general public is unaware of, even small legal issues, that need to be dealt with first. It is complex legal work. Bush f'd things up so bad it is taking a long time to get this stuff done.

Guess McCain would have freed those prisoners quicker, eh?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:47 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hear defensiveness when moderates respond to the fact that there are people who demand a lot more of their leaders. Inevitably there are caps, references to unicorns, farts, rainbows, confetti, glitter and the myriad combinations of those things. At first I didn't really get what all that was about, but now I think it reads pretty defensive.

This does not constitute argument. It is an attempt to make it seem like someone is wrong because you don't like the adjectives they are using and see it as an opportunity to impunge them without actually grappling with the questions at hand. This is as bad as saying "rainbows" and "unicorns."

The fact is that doing the number of things that Obama promised (or in the case of marriage equality, didn't promise at all!) takes time. It is clear that Obama is emphasizing, (rightly, in my estimation) health care reform over all other issues. Since it will be the hardest issue he has to face, with the biggest impact, it is the first thing he is tackling. I see no problems with that. People with no knowledge of how government works or the law expect things to get done right away without realizing that much of what needs to be done needs to be done by Congress. Guantanamo? Needs an entirely new legal structure to get those people out of there becasue most were seized illegally. It is simply not possible to open the gates and have them walk out without creating more problems than were there before. It would be totally irresponsible to deport them to their home countries where they would be likely killed. And to the contrary of what was asserted above, these persons retain no right to US residency or citizenship, nor could the President order them US citizens, even if he wanted to. Congress must act on these issues as well. You can't just say "give them US citizenship" and expect to be taken seriously.

We are a nation of laws. This isn't a fucking episode of "24" where the President orders it and Jack Bauer just does it. This is real life, with real problems. That means we have to do a lot of work to get this right. Obama is also very concerned about Congress--he wants them fully on board with all of this so that (1) they will never be the lap dog they were on Iraq and the PATRIOT Act and a whole bunch of other things; and (2) so that they will have full buy-in on everything and won't move to reverse what he is doing.

And every time you attack Obama without any factual basis, baby Sarah Palin smiles.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:58 PM on November 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


The president of the US is no longer a sick fucking joke. Do I think Obama needs to man up and start getting some shit done, like a real public option on health-care for starters? Sure.

But Jesus Christ people, can you remember what it was like listening to second-term George Bush speak on camera, obviously wishing he was somewhere else sucking down whiskey?
posted by bardic at 6:23 PM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


> PLEASE STOP FAVORITING EVERY COMMENT IN A THREAD IT IS CHILDISH
posted by yhbc at 10:37 AM on November 4 [has favorites +]


Heh.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:50 PM on November 4, 2009


Of course, Obama did promise - repeatedly - to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And as far as anyone outside the smoke-filled rooms can see, he hasn't done jack shit about that either.

Shortly after President Barack Obama pledged Saturday to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” during a speech to the Human Rights Campaign, the Administration’s highest-ranking LGBT official said the White House is speaking with certain senators about strategies for repealing the policy -- specifically Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

I know it's not fashionable to say this, but "the smoke-filled rooms" are where a lot of the real work gets done in Washington. Obama's MO is to get everything lined up, and then move, and that's exactly what the administration is doing on DADT. Change that sticks takes time, and takes work, and every indication is that the administration is putting both into its approach to repealing DADT.
posted by EarBucket at 6:55 PM on November 4, 2009


Guess McCain would have freed those prisoners quicker, eh?

Did I say that anywhere?

I'm sure it's not too hard to find all sorts of good reasons why people need to be tortured by Americans. You seem to be doing a good job. I'm sure people being paid to do so could do an even better job.
posted by chunking express at 8:41 PM on November 4, 2009


is Mark Halperin still an idiot? I'm just going to assume he is.
posted by yhbc at 10:37 AM on November 4 [has favorites +]
Everyone hasn't turned on "show favorite counts" in preferences yet?
What are the things that Obama has "control over?" As in can make them happen instantaneously and in a way that will work in the long term. Sure like to see this list.
Obviously "Work in a long term way" is entirely subjective, although I know you like presuming your subjective opinions are factually. Obama could certainly close Gitmo in a couple of hours or days. I suppose there might be some political fallout from that, but you can't ignore the law because it's unpopular.
Maybe the people in Guantano can become naturalized citizens. They've been in the US long enough. Maybe they can claim refugee status. They are already in the US after all.
Except they're not, which was the whole point of putting them there in the first place.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 PM on November 4, 2009


I don't know what McCain would actually have done but I'm pretty sure he said he would close the prison during the campaign. Given who his advisers were, I'm pretty sure he'd cave and keep it open though.
posted by delmoi at 9:29 PM on November 4, 2009


Dennis Kucinich (Ralph Nader [Cynthia Mckinny {your favorite socialist candidate}]) won the election for President in November 2008. What would they have accomplished at this point?
posted by dirigibleman at 9:47 PM on November 4, 2009


Obama could certainly close Gitmo in a couple of hours or days. I suppose there might be some political fallout from that, but you can't ignore the law because it's unpopular.

Really? You believe Obama can just close Gitmo? Where, exactly do the detainees go? When I mean exactly, I mean the actual location, as in the name of the facility where it is? And, exactly, as in the exact name of the detainee in question, which prisoners go where? What criteria do you use to release them? What countries do they go to? Do you know the exact names of the countries where specific detainees are going to go? I don't know the answers to any of these questions. However, I know that these are not easy problems to be dismissed so easily with a wave of the hand as you do. You act as if there aren't dozens of laws that impact these detainees, laws which the detainees' attorneys haven't had time to look at. Have you considered the very simple fact that it would be a due process violation for the government to act precipetously without giving the detainees attorneys the chance to figure out what is in their own best interests?

All this, for a problem Bush created. Obama wants to close Gitmo. It isn't easy to do.

And who is opposing it and making trouble? The Republicans, not Obama. Obama wants to close Gitmo and you attack him, rather than the party which put those detainees there, passed those laws and attacked Iraq. You know if the Republicans were on board things could go a lot faster. But rather than put pressure on the people whose opposition is the main block to the problem, you attack the only guy who can help you. Brilliant political strategy there.

This whole be a hardass thing and quickly shove things down people's throat without taking a care for any potential problems that arise is something Republicans do. Being pushed by emotions without thinking things through is exactly the source of the major predicaments we find out country in. Obama has to govern the country, not just do a lot of shit that people who supported him want willy-nilly. The guy has been in office 9 months, in the midst of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and is currently fighting two wars. It isn't all going to get done right away. And every attack on the president strengthens his enemies. Why don't you attack them? They are in his way. Removing them is a good thing.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think anyone quite expected the right's temper-tantrum reaction to the election.

Well, maybe, where 'not anyone' is taken to mean 'almost everyone'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:21 AM on November 5, 2009


Ironmouth, closing Guantanamo is probably tricky I agree. Stopping all the sadistic behaviour that goes on there? Please.
posted by chunking express at 7:06 AM on November 5, 2009


Ironmouth, closing Guantanamo is probably tricky I agree. Stopping all the sadistic behaviour that goes on there? Please

But we differ on what is going on there. I do not think that persons in custody have the right to kill themselves through starvation. You do, and you describe this as torture. We can differ on whether or not it is right, but it is neither torture or mistreatment in the way that Bush did it.

Furthermore, "sadistic" behavior? How is stopping people from killing themselves sadistic? We should let them kill themselves? Is that your final answer? Please answer this question.

Why don't you go after the Republicans who are actually making it more difficult with their disengenous claims that we cannot put the persons we decide need to go to trial in US jails? They are the ones to be stopped, not Obama, who would like nothing better than to be rid of all of this.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:09 AM on November 5, 2009


Although it is true that waterboarding is once again proscribed, it is equally true that the government continues to permit a series of “torture lite” techniques—prolonged isolation, sleep and sensory deprivation, force-feeding—that even Reagan appointee Judge Susan Crawford had to acknowledge amounted to torture when she threw out the government’s case against one accused terrorist. Like waterboarding, these techniques cause extreme mental anguish and permanent physical damage, and, like waterboarding, they are not permitted under international law. But unlike waterboarding, they remain on the books, in detailed prison regulations and field-manual directives, unremarked by anyone except a few activists.
Is that all cool too? Also, maybe you should read the description on what force feeding consists of.

And yes, people should be able to go on hunger strikes. I said as much up thread. I can repeat that again for you a few comments down too, if you like.
posted by chunking express at 11:25 AM on November 5, 2009


Most of these prisoners are not facing imminent death. In fact, force-feeding is itself a risky “treatment” that can cause infections, gastrointestinal disorders, and other complications. The feedings begin very soon after prisoners begin a hunger strike, and continue daily—with military guards strapping them to restraint chairs, usually for several hours at a time—until the prisoners agree to end the strike. This hunger striker is not an emaciated Bobby Sands lying near death after many weeks of starvation. He is a strong man bound to a chair and covered in his own vomit.

...

Ahmed Ghap pour, an attorney with the human-rights group Reprieve, which represents thirty-one detainees at Guantánamo, told Reuters that prison officials were “over-force-feeding” hunger strikers, who were suffering from diarrhea as they sat tied to their chairs. He said in some cases officials were lacing the nutrient shakes with laxatives. And the situation was getting worse. “According to my clients, there has been a ramping up in abuse since President Obama was inaugurated,” Ghappour said, speculating that guards there wanted to “get their kicks in” before the camp closed.

David Remes, an attorney who represents fifteen detainees at Guantánamo, wrote in an April petition to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that one of his clients, Farhan Abdul Latif, had been suffering in particular. When the nasogastric tube “is threaded though his nostril into his stomach,” it “feels like a nail going into his nostril, and like a knife going down his throat.” Latif had in recent months resorted to covering himself with his own excrement in order “to avoid force-feeding and that, when he was finally force-fed, the tube was inserted through the excrement covering his nostrils.

Another prisoner, Maasoum Abdah Mouhammad, told his lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights that he and fifteen other men had also refused to eat: Mr. Mouhammad described that men were vomiting while being overfed. Some of the striking detainees had kept their feeding tubes in their noses even when not being force-fed just to avoid having the tubes painfully reinserted each time. Mr. Mouhammad reported that interrogators were pressuring and coercing the men on hunger strike to eat, making promises that they would be moved to the communal living camp if they began eating. Mr. Mouhammad described these experiences as “torture, torture, torture.”
From the same article, linked above.
posted by chunking express at 11:31 AM on November 5, 2009


Certainly, if there is too much force-feeding going on, it should change. However, they are not allowed to kill themselves.

Having said that, I actually read Judge Crawford's decision, not just a summary of it. It is based on a motion filed in the first few days of the Obama administration. That motion is based on Bush administration issues, not Obama administration issues. See my comments in the earlier thread.

And if there are people indeed "ramping up abuse" because they think Obama is going to stop the abuse, then those people should be punished. Those people need to be removed, if the allegations are correct.

But my point remains. The fastest way to get Gitmo closed is to stop Republican opposition and lying about what would happen if the detainees were moved to American prisons. There have been a lot of lies which amount to implying that the detainees are super-prisoners who will break out of any jail with their super-powers etc. The republicans have been holding meetings in Kansas and getting the locals all riled up about having them at Ft. Levanworth. These are the people you need to focus your anger at.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:59 AM on November 5, 2009


And yes, people should be able to go on hunger strikes.

To their deaths? What about Khalied Sheik Mohammed, who has admitted to planning 9/11? Is he allowed to hunger strike himself to death? Ramseh bin-Al-Shieb?

Assuming that their guilt holds up in a court of law, I want them punished. I live in DC. I was here that day. I know people who were killed. I know someone (my friend Fergus' wife) who saw the plane hit the Pentagon as she pulled into the parking lot that day. Perhaps these things mean little to you. They mean a lot to me and the threat remains real. I do not think Bush's response to the threat was correct, but that does not mean that the threat remains or that those persons responsible for mass murder that day should not be punished.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:02 PM on November 5, 2009


To their deaths?

How about "to the point they are so weak you don't need to strap them to a chair and shove tubes down their throats to feed them, you can just give them an IV." Does that seem like a good compromise?

I don't know what sort of justice you expect to get from any trial. All of these men are victims of torture. Khalied Sheik Mohammed confessed to basically every single crime anyone has committed in the last decade. There isn't going to be any real justice. The whole process is tainted and fucked up. The US fucked it up.
posted by chunking express at 12:35 PM on November 5, 2009


“Smedleyman, the article is called "We still torture." And America still does. So I'm not sure what the issue is here.” - posted by chunking express

So the article is a non sequitur? The point then is what, about America? Well, the subject of the POST the Obama administration. So the issue would be torture, under the Obama administration, that ‘we’ still do, despite, y'know presidential orders to the contrary. Which would include stopping force feeding. Which was written into an appendix in the Army Field Manual by the former administration.
Lots of tricksy messy b.s. left behind. It ain't all going to be magically cleared up. There are political interests and power and influences outside the white house.

“ ‘As it sits, six (of 13) Uighurs were released from Gitmo just over the weekend. I mean cut loose. They go home. And rightfully so. But it's not getting a lot of fanfare in the press.’
‘Fanfare? You imprisoned some dudes for how many years, and then sent them home. Who should we throw a parade for exactly?’ “

I did? Huh. Last I checked *I * have donated money to the legal defense fund and worked actively to aid in the release of interned prisoners.
Oh, I’m stupid. You must mean ‘we’ the U.S. Ah. So in that case you don’t mean specifically Barack Obama who is ordering the release of prisoners after George Bush ordered those dudes imprisoned.

But yeah where do ‘we’ get off working through the courts to establish a ruling in the United States Court of Appeal to for the first time publicly acknowledge that none of the Uighurs were enemy combatants and that there was no evidence justifying their imprisonment. Man 'we’re' such jag offs that way, working to rectify a problem through the law to establish a precedent to remove loopholes the prior administration exploited. Christ what assholes.

Also – the gist would be that there isn’t much 'fanfare' in the sense that it’s not well-known publicly because there would be a lot of heated political opposition to releasing prisoners at all.
So it's being done, just without much press in order to avoid political resistance by the American public that are still GOP and/or subscribers to the right wing talking head rhetoric.
I believe I alluded to that using the terms "big hunk o' the American people" to refer to the American people and 'mediasphere' and 'press' to mean, y'know, the press.

“That people are so blaze about Guantanamo Bay is ridiculous.”

Totally, I remember seeing ‘you’ all gung ho in Chicago at the Gorman firm, dropping off those checks for the Center for Constitutional rights all up in J. Wells Dixon’s grill agreeing that Obama reached a major milestone in working to close Guantanamo but working to get other countries to agree to resettle the detainees who can’t return to their home countries… oh, wait.

“That's not torture. Not letting people kill themselves in hunger strikes isn't torture.”

Irrelevant. It’s against the U.N. treaty. It’s against the established conventions on human rights. We shouldn’t do it. End of story.

“Seriously, closing this place is difficult. “

My point exactly. Bureaucratic inertia, not Obama administration policy. Contrary to it in fact.

“We could just send them back to their country of origin? Are you for that? Because what will happen is certain death for many of them.”

Actually, I think we should give them asylum. But it’s not politically doable. So we’re trying to find places for them in Germany, Australia, etc.

“But rather than put pressure on the people whose opposition is the main block to the problem, you attack the only guy who can help you.”

Fairly typical really.
Although I must be a truly appalling communicator. Reading the thread it seems most folks believe, like me, Obama is a smart president working to achieve certain human rights goals - debatable as to his efficacy - and one of the few bones of contention is an irrelevant point as to what constitutes torture in what is an established human rights violation.

But y'know, I'm a pro-torture hyperpatriot prick, whatever it is I'm actually saying. Or indeed, whatever I'm personally up to. Or how vehemently anti-torture my comments have been in the past. (It's not like you can just search past comments, not on teh internets). And yeah, who's got the time to read when it's so important to argue?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:56 PM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whatever you think of Obama or his policies and effectiveness, the simple fact is that the people will judge him not on what he does but on how closely he meets their expectations. Breakups are never pleasant, and that's what you're seeing. That was the single biggest problem with the 2008 election. Obviously you want who you want and you have high hopes for him, but the "Obamania" was at nearly a delusional level. "He's the love of my life!" Call me after you've been married for a while.

Not closing Guantanamo and not pulling out of Iraq and not pushing for universal coverage means he betrayed his supporters. I understand the political complexities, but many people don't. They can't blame Bush, so they're starting to blame the government.

Obviously, I don't want him to make good on many of his campaign promises, and it worries me he might succeed. But what SCARES me much more is how severe the backlash will be if he fails. No one ever really trusted the government, but he's fostering an irrational paranoia about the government. People won't even get the flu vaccine. You can call them stupid, and they are, but the point is that the President is wrecking the faith in the government. If he loses the Left as well-- if the Left decides that he's just another pawn in the big government conspiracy to keep the rich rich and the poor poor....

For the sake of the union, he must lose the next election.

If you have the Messiah, the world's support and a bottomless checkbook, and you can't get what you want, then your party is a catastrophic failure.
posted by obamamustlose at 2:58 PM on November 5, 2009


I don't know about that. I'd like to see him around for another 4 years.

This is old, but good, and maybe related: I want a president.
posted by chunking express at 3:09 PM on November 5, 2009


Whatever you think of Obama or his policies and effectiveness, the simple fact is that the people will judge him not on what he does but on how closely he meets their expectations.

Even if their expectations are not based on things he said. For instance, criticizing him for considering raising the troop levels in Afghanistan when he repeatedly said during the campaign that he'd pay more attention to Afghanistan than Bush did.

Not closing Guantanamo and not pulling out of Iraq and not pushing for universal coverage means he betrayed his supporters.

In January, he called for Guantanamo to be closed in a year. It hasn't been a year, and he's been blocked by NIMBY people in Congress. He's promised to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by August 2010, and all troops by 2011. If those dates come and he hasn't done those things, you can criticize him then.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:16 PM on November 5, 2009


Obviously you want who you want and you have high hopes for him, but the "Obamania" was at nearly a delusional level. "He's the love of my life!" Call me after you've been married for a while.


Made-up quotations inserted into the mouths of straw men are not especially persuasive. Plus, your nic says it all. Anyone who now wants Obama to 'lose' must hope for even more interesting times.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:05 AM on November 6, 2009


I had to go and do the dishes for a while to regain some composure before commenting.

We know that Khalid Sheik Mohammed is there. Is he hunger striking? Does he have the right to avoid justice by killing himself already? Since there have been no trials, there cannot be any determination of who is unjust or justly imprisoned.

You assume that they are innocent. Most certainly are. But prisoners don't have the right to kill themselves before trial or release.


What the fuck, America? You lock people up for years under conditions you wouldn't treat a nasty dog, you do everything to deny them justice ranging from trial by media to threatening their lawyers, you have literally driven them crazy using sleep deprivation and other techniques of torture.

And then we get this Kafkaesque excuse that there haven't been trials yet so nobody can be set free? And that it's "complicated" because the government can't wave a magic wand to make everything right?

Well, they sure could wave that magic wand and make everything all full of horror, pain and death back in 2001-2002 and every moment since then, for many people.

So these people, deprived of regular justice, tortured for years, and just because a few pukestains in congress or whatever reek a political opportunity, you turn a blind eye towards their continuing torture sessions? This is beyond disgusting.

Ironmouth, even though I quoted you I do not mean to pick on you specifically. I know you expressed the opinion of a large part of the USA. Rest assured, however, that I just vocalised the opinion of a large part of THE REST OF THE WORLD.


Anyway, progress is being made, albeit slowly. Innocents are being released, frequently dumped in Albania, of all places; and others are transferred to a more normal justice system, with hopefully less torture and more accountability.
posted by LanTao at 5:06 PM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


What the fuck, America? You lock people up for years under conditions you wouldn't treat a nasty dog, you do everything to deny them justice ranging from trial by media to threatening their lawyers, you have literally driven them crazy using sleep deprivation and other techniques of torture.

And then we get this Kafkaesque excuse that there haven't been trials yet so nobody can be set free? And that it's "complicated" because the government can't wave a magic wand to make everything right?

Well, they sure could wave that magic wand and make everything all full of horror, pain and death back in 2001-2002 and every moment since then, for many people.

So these people, deprived of regular justice, tortured for years, and just because a few pukestains in congress or whatever reek a political opportunity, you turn a blind eye towards their continuing torture sessions? This is beyond disgusting.


First, please don't just categorize us as "America." It is hugely more complex than that. Did we categorize all of the Dutch as Nationaal Socialistische Beweging when we rolled in there? No.

Second, "continuing" torture? The persons calling this "continuing torture" are people arguing that not allowing prisoners to commit suicide by starvation is torture. Hardly. You are not allowed to kill youself while in custody. Do they allow prisoner suicides in the Netherlands? No.

Finally, please do not just act like a wand can be waved. It cannot. The prison at Guantanamo cannot just be shut down. Where do the "innocents" go? Where do the "guilty" go? Is it your belief that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who it is believed was brains behind the 9/11 attacks, which hit MY city, should just be let go? If so, we differ on a large number of things. If the accusations are proven in a court of law, under U.S. law, he is personally responsible for the deaths of many more people than were ever held in Guantanamo, all of whom were innocent. But the fact that Bush waterboarded him means, OK, go free, sorry about all of that old chap, in fact why don't you sue us? Bullshit.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:50 PM on November 24, 2009


Irrelevant. It’s against the U.N. treaty. It’s against the established conventions on human rights. We shouldn’t do it. End of story.

So the fact that the UN says it is torture means it is? Who says their words go. Guess what, there isn't a prison in the world that just allows hunger strikes to the death. Why would you allow the accused to cheat justice? Seriously, I have no truck with that. There is no right to suicide while in custody.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:53 PM on November 24, 2009


So the fact that the UN says it is torture means it is? Who says their words go.

How about the US government says so, since it is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:46 PM on November 24, 2009


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