Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Obama's Big Sellout
December 10, 2009 9:36 PM   Subscribe

Taibbi-filter: Obama's Big Sellout

What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.
posted by moorooka (156 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I read that. Confused, as the Citigroup bailout was under Bush. Really don't see how Obama is involved at all.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:47 PM on December 10, 2009


Ah, Taibbi. Never fails to make me proud of my vote for Nader.
posted by 445supermag at 9:47 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy.

Don't really remember that part either. This is one weird article. Guess this is what happens when you try and get your political news from Rolling Stone, one of the most commerical magazines in the US.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:50 PM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Taibbi seems really fond of salary figures, innuendo, and profanity, but not much for financial/legal details. I haven't read his other work for RS, so this column may be the exception, but he's simply not laying a good base for his arguments here (muddled though they are).
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:51 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't agree with Taibbi, but I'm a huge fan of his writing. It's maybe a little coked-up-seeming, but I find the enthusiasm absolutely infectious.

Also, the cynicism.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cognitive capture. Is there any doubt now that our system is broken? We've come very far with respect to the issues of race and the American identity. However, we still have not answered the question that MLK asked in 1967:
There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, Who owns the oil? You begin to ask the question, Who owns the iron ore? You begin to ask the question, Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water? These are questions that must be asked.
Link
Maybe we couldn't answer the question until now. Before, if you were Black, Asian, Latin, any kind of non-white group, then you didn't count in the USA. You were invisible. You had to bow down to the Great White Father, and probably, even then, you didn't count. However, today, we have an American identity that is inclusive of those of us who were previously excluded. Sure we're still struggling with that-- some people, like Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan are pissed about it. But everyone else is okay with it.

So perhaps now, that we can see ourselves as one people, we can really get down to work, and answer the question that MLK posed more than 40 years ago.
posted by wuwei at 9:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [29 favorites]


"It would be almost as fruitful to chant, 'Expropriate the expropriators,' and a lot more fun." — Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer, on the current proposed financial reforms.
posted by enn at 9:58 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think there's going to be a lot of wrong-about-Obama apologetics in this thread...
posted by klanawa at 10:03 PM on December 10, 2009


So Tiabbi is a teabagger?
posted by nudar at 10:03 PM on December 10, 2009


So, Matt Tiabbi -- what the fuck have you done to fix the situation? Remember, Obama's platform wasn't that he was going to fix economic mess, foreign policy woes, etc., it was that we were. Except we bailed out. Whoops.
posted by spiderskull at 10:06 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think there's going to be a lot of wrong-about-Obama apologetics in this thread...

Obama has no bubble-fat.
posted by stbalbach at 10:08 PM on December 10, 2009


I read that. Confused, as the Citigroup bailout was under Bush. Really don't see how Obama is involved at all.

Oh yeah I'm sure he was just chilling in Chicago drinking beers and not paying attention to anything going on in Washington. Nevermind all the people on his transition (explained in the article) team who were still working with Citigroup.

Plus, it's not like Obama and McCain were invited to the bailout negotiations or anything.

That said, I'm not really sure anyone who actually worked at citigroup actually cared about citigroup. They didn't really seem to take the same kind of pride in their work and company that the people at, say, Goldman Sachs seemed to have. It almost seems kind of like a retirement club for famous wallstreeters. Robert Rubin was getting paid like $15 million a year, overseeing no one and having no responsibilities (but apparently he was instrumental in getting the mortgage derivatives guys to really amp up their work.)
posted by delmoi at 10:13 PM on December 10, 2009


DJIA's at 10400; compare with 6400 seven months ago. TARP was pretty much a trillion-dollar write-off, now it's a race to see who can pay it all back first, interest and all (before the hammer comes down on management bonuses, a'la Frace and the UK.)

Number of mega-manufacturers to go under in the past none months? Zero. And this is after GM and Chrysler were eyeing caskets from the brochure in December of 2008.

Number of new international crises sin Feb 2009? Zero.

In short, Tiabbi is trolling... and right this very instant, trolling Obama from a left-wing position means you're a crypro rightie - and engaging in false-flag politics for fun and profit.

I don't expect the dude to walk on water, but we're still a year shy of inauguration day. There is a very large, steaming pile of predecessor to deal with...
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:18 PM on December 10, 2009 [41 favorites]


Tiabbi is one of those writers who has enough substance to be credible, but enough style to be dismissable if you don't like what he's saying. I don't agree with the conclusions of this article but it inspired at least a slight pang of introspection about my opinion of Obama. Speaking as someone who thinks the U.S. needs a lot more introspection, I appreciate that, at least.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:19 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


At some point "but if Bush were still in office, he'd be worse!" isn't going to cut it anymore. I was a fervent Obama supporter during the campaign, but I've been pretty much underwhelmed by his approach in office. I'm all for realistic, real-world politics, not pie in the sky utopianism.

But somehow, as if by magic, all the "realistic" political arguments for his administration keep lining up with pro-Wall Street policies. So sure, it is better than Bush, but not in ways that are making any concrete difference where I live, thousands of miles from DC.
posted by Forktine at 10:21 PM on December 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


As long as Americans are content with the foxes guarding the henhouse, it won't matter who is President.
I don't recall any protests when things were good and politicians started dismantling some of the safeguards that were put into place during the Depression.
Most people thought "OH! FREE MONEY!" refinanced their homes and bought a boat or went on vacation. I know I felt like a chump for not buying a house in the 80's.

Seriously, all the smart kids go into FINANCE, not government! So all of us 'consumers' are to blame.
posted by black8 at 10:22 PM on December 10, 2009


Number of new international crises sin Feb 2009? Zero.

Irrelevant.
posted by kenko at 10:24 PM on December 10, 2009


So Tiabbi is a teabagger?
Of course, anyone who disagrees with his economic and financial policies is a right-wing loon. Duh.
So, Matt Tiabbi -- what the fuck have you done to fix the situation?
What do you think he should have done that he didn't?
Remember, Obama's platform wasn't that he was going to fix economic mess, foreign policy woes, etc., it was that we were. Except we bailed out. Whoops.
WTF does that even mean? How exactly could "we" fix a credit crunch brought on by giant financial companies hording capital in order to keep from going bankrupt because they owned a bunch of mortgage derivatives that were impossible to sell, thereby destroying their balance sheets?

What, in particular should "we" have done and if we should have done it, wasn't it Obama's responsibility to at least let us in on whatever it is "we" were supposed to do?

---

DJIA's at 10400; compare with 6400 seven months ago.

Unemployment rate: November 2008: 6.8. January 2009: 7.6. November 2009: 10.0.

But hey, everyone's 401(k) is only 30% less then it was before last fall, rather then 50% less. Oh what's that? Not everyone has a 401(k)? Not everyone is rich and some people worry more about putting food on the table then the value of the DOW?

Oh well, I'm sure all those people really feel a lot of empathy for bankers paying themselves huge bonuses large enough for them to retire off of out of the tax dollars they (used to) pay while they worry about how much longer their unemployment checks will cover their COBRA premiums. I'm sure they'll still come out in November of 2010 and vote straight D ticket. After all, the health of a nation is measured by the happiness of the rich. And rich people on TV keep saying "When the Dow is above 10,000 people are happy." And it is!
posted by delmoi at 10:28 PM on December 10, 2009 [34 favorites]


Number of new international crises sin Feb 2009? Zero.

What about the great Dubai default. Shadenfruedilicious!
posted by delmoi at 10:30 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


At some point "but if Bush were still in office, he'd be worse!" isn't going to cut it anymore.

February 2012. Vote in the primary/caucus for the magical rainbow unicorn of your choice then. Since Obama isn't a magical rainbow unicorn, howsabout supporting him, as a mere mortal from the center, against the rightwing creeps hell-bent on subverting the American will? Or are you too incensed that your lucky charms aren't as magically delicious as you imagined they would be?
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:33 PM on December 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


Of course, anyone who disagrees with his economic and financial policies is a right-wing loon. Duh.

I didn't call anyone a loon.
posted by nudar at 10:36 PM on December 10, 2009


Ugh... How many of these things am I going to have to wade thru this month?

The backlash is ON baby! Jeeeze... I get it already.
posted by MeatLightning at 10:38 PM on December 10, 2009


the magical rainbow unicorn

Ah, the familiar "anyone critical of Obama is just a wild-eyed, naive idealist" dismissal.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:38 PM on December 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


Since Obama isn't a magical rainbow unicorn, howsabout supporting him.

Supporting him how? Does he need our rhetorical support on internet message boards? Perhaps we should all paint pictures of him and hang them up on our walls.

What does that even mean?
posted by delmoi at 10:40 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Forktine: At some point "but if Bush were still in office, he'd be worse!" isn't going to cut it anymore.

What is the measurable nature of "not cutting it"? Being better than the alternative is still being better than the alternative (and yes, I think he's doing better than McCain would have).

You want to bring this up in a primary battle, fine. Maybe Kucinich would be a better president, if you can convince people to elect him. In the meantime, "not good enough" is a fuck of a lot better than gutting our national image, morale, resources, environment, and sense of justice.

And that's giving you your point for the sake of argument. Despite my aforementioned introspection, I think Obama is doing about as well as could be expected given the brutally partisan and counterintellectual nature of the modern United States. I still think he may surprise us all with the progress he makes in four years.

It's still early. Give him a chance.

I don't want to be still saying that two years from now, but it is still early.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:47 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


In short, Tiabbi is trolling... and right this very instant, trolling Obama from a left-wing position means you're a crypro rightie - and engaging in false-flag politics for fun and profit.


Tiabbi basically just accused Obama of being a crypto rightie, so that somehow makes Taibbi a troll engaging in false-flag politics, because everyone knows Obama is our lord and savior.
posted by Brian B. at 10:48 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I didn't call anyone a loon.

teabaggers ⊆ loons
posted by delmoi at 10:48 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I gotta say that Obama's been doing just as well as I expected him to. I didn't expect him to magically give us a better economy, because, you know what, he never said he would. Taibbi's starting premise, that Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy is fantasy. Obama was clear that he was not going to start upsetting applecarts in the middle of the crisis. A crisis we're still legitimately in the middle of, by the way.

I think there's been a bit of a bust, where people who allowed themselves to believe that Obama would fulfill their fantasy are starting to realize that maybe they should have paid attention to what the man actually says. This President has been right on the entire time; doing exactly what he said he'd do. Not that I agree with everything he's done -- far from it -- but I'm not sitting here putting on my shocked face when the President of the United States goes and does what he says he's gonna do.

I think Taibbi's writing is better when he's the cynical guy who's making fun simply by being the one guy in the room who actually pays attention to the real world; this paranoid, disconnected Taibbi is a lot less fun.
posted by breath at 10:50 PM on December 10, 2009 [15 favorites]


Supporting him how? Does he need our rhetorical support on internet message boards? Perhaps we should all paint pictures of him and hang them up on our walls.

How to support Obama: get involved in local and statewide politics. Get the local representatives you believe in elected, write to your congressional representatives and tell them to get their healthcare asses in gear. Write to the advertisers of Fox news and tell them that you're not going to buy their products because they're paying for sedition. There is something, somewhere, that you can do that will get things done and clear obstacles, however small, to having a more perfect union. Do it!
posted by breath at 10:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


In short, Tiabbi is trolling... and right this very instant, trolling Obama from a left-wing position means you're a crypro rightie - and engaging in false-flag politics for fun and profit.

What? Obama is a conservative, right-wing politician working within a conservative, right-wing party. Why is it required that "left-wing" people stifle their criticism of Obama but not his only slightly more conservative predecessor?
posted by cmonkey at 10:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


That Dubai default turned out to be more of a minor aftershock than an earthquake in its own right, though thanks to the Economist I learned that the Arabic word for schadenfreude is the rather more elegant-sounding shamad.

Slap*Happy:trolling Obama from a left-wing position means you're a crypro rightie - and engaging in false-flag politics for fun and profit.

I think a lot of people don't know where they really stand. People want left-wing results, but a great many of them have lost patience with any kind of political process and IMHO secretly crave some Vladimir Putin style autocratic leadership. Also, people's expectations about how fast and consistently things can get done are wildly unrealistic these days. The same people who invest JFK with god-like standards of insight and political ethics today would have been howling in agony about how badly he had betrayed them, had the Internet been available back in 1961 when Kennedy was lurching from one crisis to the next.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:57 PM on December 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


Supporting him how? [...] What does that even mean?

I've wondered that too, because on the face of it it doesn't make obvious sense. I think it is another way of saying "Dissing on Obama has become as tiresome as cheerleading for him. Enough. Go have this discussion where it might make a difference. Anywhere but here." Which I totally understand. But it would be better if people who felt this way just came out and said that, instead of being weirdly passive about it.
posted by Ritchie at 10:59 PM on December 10, 2009


I think there's been a bit of a bust, where people who allowed themselves to believe that Obama would fulfill their fantasy are starting to realize that maybe they should have paid attention to what the man actually says. This President has been right on the entire time; doing exactly what he said he'd do.

Obama spent the whole campaign talking about how much he loved Isreal, never once talking about trying to get them to stop settlements or wanting to pressure them, etc. At the time, lots of Obama supporters insisted that it was all a ruse, he didn't really believe and he would be tough with Isreal once he got elected.

I thought that was ridiculous. After all, if he would flip flop on that, he could flip on anything. People just had to accept that he was a very pro-Israel politician (like everyone else).

And then he got elected and what happened? He completely flipped on Isreal and demanded that they cease all settlement activity.

This is something I didn't expect at all, and I was really surprised. But there was zero indication that he would do anything like that during the campaign.

Unfortunately the other issues that he's flipped on have been a lot worse. In particular state secrets stuff like "terrorist" detainment. Did Barack Obama campaign on a promise to keep people in prison without any due process or right to trial, even military commissions? Absolutely not, and he wouldn't have won the democratic primary if he had.

But the idea that Obama is doing "exactly what he said he would do" is ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 PM on December 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


but a great many of them have lost patience with any kind of political process and IMHO secretly crave some Vladimir Putin style autocratic leadership.

Ah, the familiar "anyone critical of Obama is an impatient neophyte who secretly despises the democratic process" dismissal.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:03 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Much as you can support your country by criticizing it, you can support your Democratic president by criticizing him. The guy can take care of himself, he can handle it.
posted by Kirklander at 11:04 PM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


delmoi -- "we" could have been more organized in getting our senators to vote sensibly instead of letting them do what they want. "We" could have countered the rise of irrationality dictated by Beck and Palin.
posted by spiderskull at 11:08 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Teabaggers are loons, yes. But they are loons who, besides birth certificate death panel kenyan marxist paranoid derangement, have been known to complain about Obama's bailout. Something I increasingly see Tiabbi talking about as well. Just being glib. Do I think Obama is above reproach and scrutiny? Of course not. Do I think Obama has pulled a bait and switch? Also no.
posted by nudar at 11:11 PM on December 10, 2009


Oh yeah I'm sure he was just chilling in Chicago drinking beers and not paying attention to anything going on in Washington. Nevermind all the people on his transition (explained in the article) team who were still working with Citigroup.

Plus, it's not like Obama and McCain were invited to the bailout negotiations or anything.

That said, I'm not really sure anyone who actually worked at citigroup actually cared about citigroup. They didn't really seem to take the same kind of pride in their work and company that the people at, say, Goldman Sachs seemed to have. It almost seems kind of like a retirement club for famous wallstreeters. Robert Rubin was getting paid like $15 million a year, overseeing no one and having no responsibilities (but apparently he was instrumental in getting the mortgage derivatives guys to really amp up their work.)


Huh? Ok let me slow down here and see what we have. So the fact that Obama was "paying attention" while someone else was president means Obama is responsible?

OK part 2. Obama and McCain were present at the Citigroup bailout negotiations in mid-November 2008? Again, very confused. If you are talking about TARP, Elizabeth Warren chaired the oversight panel which found that “there is broad consensus that the TARP was an important part of a broader government strategy that stabilized the U.S. financial system by renewing the flow of credit and averting a more acute crisis.” Elizabeth Warren is the lefty-of-lefties Bankruptcy Law professor at Harvard. You don't get more left than her. Like it or not, TARP worked. It was necessary. We can say it sucked that it had to be done, but there's nobody who knows anything about the reality of it that's saying that it didn't work.

Ok part 3. Some people who worked on Obama's transition team worked for Citigroup. And?
I'm thinking you are trying to say that somehow they steered the Bush Administration to initiate the bailout of Citigroup on Obama's orders or something?

You know there's a lot of very good, solid and supportable criticisms that can be made of the Obama administration. But this is so weak--a guy knew a guy and Obama was not yet president but in the country so its his fault. Like Tabbibi you are just spouting off stuff without it being connected to reality.

Frankly I don't get this backlash. Its like people are so used to beating on Bush and are so lost that they have to make up stuff and beat up on Obama. Please, some decent critical thinking here! Not just he knew a guy who knew a guy.

I will say that it is Obama's fault in one sense--he did so well in the election and stirred up so many emotions that some groups of people weren't paying attention and didn't listen to what he had to say. They just saw "hey unicorns!" and skipped off to the victory parade.

So weird. As batshitinsane and fact-free as the republicans.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:13 PM on December 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


In what universe is Elizabeth Warren an uber-leftist? She's advocating a common-sensist defense of the middle class against the predatory practices of banks that, if this country's politics were not so skewed right, would be uncontroversial and centrist.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:17 PM on December 10, 2009


It's "Taibbi". That is all - sorry.
posted by zoinks at 11:23 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


In particular state secrets stuff like "terrorist" detainment. Did Barack Obama campaign on a promise to keep people in prison without any due process or right to trial, even military commissions? Absolutely not, and he wouldn't have won the democratic primary if he had.

Really, because it seems to me that what he is doing is trying to bring the detainees to the US for trial or to find a country to release them to if they don't want to go to their home countries. I think there is a guy called, what is it? Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who he's going to put on trial in NEW YORK CITY in fucking FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT. Has he ordered a single person into some sort of indefinite detention. NO NOT A ONE. Has he been creating a supermax prison in Illinois to put the detainees on American soil? YES.


I do find your statements on Israel to be interesting--perhaps he has changed his position on settlements, except for I FULLY FUCKING SUPPORT STOPPING ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS THE DEFAULT LEFT-WING POSITION IN THIS COUNTRY. Never had you pegged for a big supporter of Israel, Delmoi, but I guess I can be surprised..

That people can argue with a straight face that somehow Obama isn't living up to his promises shows only one thing. People were not paying attention during the election.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:23 PM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


sorry im a bad speller.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:25 PM on December 10, 2009


It's still early. Give him a chance.

Bush, November 6, 2001: "You are either with us or against us." Even earlier for him. Should we not have given him a chance too?
posted by ed at 11:29 PM on December 10, 2009


This thread is like the end of Thelma and Loiuse.
posted by boo_radley at 11:31 PM on December 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Much as you can support your country by criticizing it, you can support your Democratic president by criticizing him. The guy can take care of himself, he can handle it.

Nobody has a problem with people criticizing Obama. But I sure as hell am going to argue against the ridiculous "I can't believe he sent more troops to Afghanistan--what a betryal!" arguments here. Dude has been saying year after year he was gonna do that.

Also the linked article for the FPP is so fact free. Literally he says that what Bush did while Bush was president was Obama's fault. Really. That is what the article says. Why? Because uh some guys on Obama's transition team apparently were controlling Bush via robot controls or something. Please, make actual criticisms based on actual facts.

My criticisms are as follows: Although he started fast on appointments he has slowed to a fucking crawl. He's let that go and it is hurting the government.

He is not prosecuting the actual torturers and saying he's not going after the guys who actually waterboarded people. All of this focus on Yoo et al. is stupid. The guys who actually waterboarded are the first guys you go after and then you go up the chain. There should be no immunity for them. This violates Geneva etc.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:32 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bush, November 6, 2001: "You are either with us or against us." Even earlier for him. Should we not have given him a chance too?

Of course we should have. He fucked up his chance to do right. I'm not saying I didn't expect it, or that I voted for the fool, but I was all for going after the Taliban. The minute he went all axis of evil, he lost any support for his wartime leadership.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:34 PM on December 10, 2009


All you need to do is look at a candidate's corporate donors to know exactly how they will govern. Any candidate who even hints at going any further than lip service to progressive causes will be Dean Screamed out of commission before the primaries get serious. When Goldman, Citigroup and JP Morgan are 3 of his 7 top donors what makes anyone think he's going to turn around and bite that hand when elected? Really now, tell me when that has ever occurred. This started as a joke but I really want to start a movement to force politicans to wear patches on their suits to denote the corporations their donations come from. The bigger the donation the bigger the patch.
posted by any major dude at 11:34 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


And then he got elected and what happened? He completely flipped on Isreal and demanded that they cease all settlement activity.

I don't really know that much about his stance on israel. I definitely allow that there's some stuff he's gone back on or simply messed up. But he has a very good batting average overall, much better than most politicians, and certainly good enough that you can't claim he's failing overall without ignoring a whole lotta reality.

So I'll withdraw my "exactly" and replace it with "very consistently".

Unfortunately the other issues that he's flipped on have been a lot worse. In particular state secrets stuff like "terrorist" detainment. Did Barack Obama campaign on a promise to keep people in prison without any due process or right to trial, even military commissions? Absolutely not, and he wouldn't have won the democratic primary if he had.

I seem to recall him saying that he wouldn't prosecute the past administration, and the state secrets thing seems like an extension of that promise to me. I don't like it, but it is consistent with what he said. He also ordered the orderly shutdown of guantanamo bay, the CIA black sites (admitting to their existence in the process), and put a hold on prosecutions of unjustly held inmates. I think that in terms of forward-looking actions he knocked this one out of the park and exceeded my expectaions. Do I wish he'd also sated our national bloodlust for punishing politicians? Yes, but he didn't lie to
me about it.
posted by breath at 11:42 PM on December 10, 2009


HP LaserJet P10006, I think you are well capable of arguing against me without mischaracterizing what I said, and will thank you not to do so again.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:44 PM on December 10, 2009


All you need to do is look at a candidate's corporate donors to know exactly how they will govern.

Wow, that blanket statement is so warm and toasty.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:45 PM on December 10, 2009


Man, I don't mean to come off an an inferior ironmouth clone here; I guess we have very similar viewpoints on these matters. :)

I think the most interesting question is: given that people aren't 100% satisfied with what's happening in the country after Obama's election, what to do? The answer is to organize, build up grassroots support, move the overton window, and make shit happen!

That's the lesson to learn from obama's election -- he won it by out-organizing, out-mobilizing, and out-inspiring his opponents. That's how you get shit done in this world!
posted by breath at 11:53 PM on December 10, 2009


Taibbi uses curse words and says things a lot of liberals agree with. For some reason this gives him a lot of credibility on the left. I don't necessarily think Obama's been that great on these fiscal issues, but Taibbi annoys me.

Too much of the opposition to Obama from the left has been people wanting him to adhere to positions they imagined he had versus the ones he actually had (for instance Afghanistan). Still that opposition is a leg up on the right's pushback which is basically insane.
posted by owillis at 12:12 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


ed: Bush, November 6, 2001: "You are either with us or against us." Even earlier for him. Should we not have given him a chance too?

I'm pretty sure it's okay to just say that was a moronic and wrongheaded opinion on its own merits. And when Obama does that, feel encouraged to call it out.

But whereas the quote from Bush was part of a pattern of idiocy and poor governance, Obama's missteps have at worst been apathy in the face of a bad situation (perpetuating Bush's torture jurisprudence, failing to repeal DA/DT, etc).

In that respect, it's still early. Give him time.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:23 AM on December 11, 2009


Wow, that blanket statement is so warm and toasty.

you disagree?
posted by any major dude at 12:34 AM on December 11, 2009


All you need to do is look at a candidate's corporate donors to know exactly how they will govern.

Wow, that blanket statement is so warm and toasty.

you disagree?



I interpreted that as "the statement is so damn accurate."
posted by peppito at 12:36 AM on December 11, 2009


In short, Tiabbi is trolling... and right this very instant, trolling Obama from a left-wing position means you're a crypro rightie - and engaging in false-flag politics for fun and profit.

Quoted for...holy shit, craziest false flag accusation I ever saw. Awesome.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:37 AM on December 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


What a world we live in, where Barack Obama is left of center, and criticizing him from the left makes you a conservative.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:42 AM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


The problem I have with Taibbi, (and a lot of lefty critics of Obama) is that he always goes for the emotional argument. This worked with Bush because his actions were so blatantly incompetent and malicious that all you really could do was sit back and howl. There was no point in arguing nuances.

Obama is really a very different politician. He cares about competent government and I voted for him for this reason alone. With TARP he has made it clear that he did what he did to try and avoid a second great depression, and he has proposed tougher banking standards, (which the industry is fighting). Taibbi's emotional outbursts only obscure these details and I think increases public ignorance.

I am of two minds about this, because even though he is misleading, Taibbi is a good propagandist and by building up pressure from the left he could help bring about more progressive policies. However, if he just discourages people from voting democratic, he will have given aid to the Republicans.
posted by afu at 1:08 AM on December 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Number of mega-manufacturers to go under in the past none months? Zero. And this is after GM and Chrysler were eyeing caskets from the brochure in December of 2008.

Um. I mostly agree with the main thrust of your argument but GM went under on June 1st, 2009. I think you'd accept that they qualify as a mega-manufacturer given you specifically mention them in the quote. So you seem to have missed the fact that they filed Chapter 11.

But GM filing chapter 11 wasn't a problem. The problem was that GM didn't file chapter 11 even earlier. Any moron with more smarts than a turnip knew that giving GM a bunch of cash in late '08 and early '09 was simply delaying the inevitable. So we shelled out billions and billions of dollars simply so Congress could play political CYA games.
posted by Justinian at 1:38 AM on December 11, 2009


Personally, I see absolutely nothing wrong with taking the president to task. It's what he wants, and moreover, what he needs. It helps him get the job done. But I do wish some people would stop this "Obama isn't a leftist" or "Obama is a conservative" talk. He isn't. Within an American context, the country he lives in and the country he leads, he is on the left. If you want to put him in a global context, then he'd be a conservative in Scandinavia, a radical leftist in Syria, and so on and so forth. He's an American politician and should be seen in an American context.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:05 AM on December 11, 2009 [14 favorites]


Before the election Taibbi had mentioned that there were a couple of questionable things about Obama's campaign, most notably that there was a lot of insurance money behind it. He remarked on the great hope of the campaign however, and that many of the people he talked to seemed remarkably gunshy about their support, like they had been burned before, and were almost begging him not to find anything seriously wrong with their candidate.

I don't think Taibbi is a troll. He might be a little wrong about this, but if he is it isn't for the wrong reasons. From what I've seen of him, he knows his stuff. If he thinks Obama has betrayed the nation, I think it is for valid reasons, and I say it would be an error to discount that out of hand. And if Taibbi is saying it, it seems likely that some other people will start saying it soon too.
posted by JHarris at 2:30 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was going to write a comment about how Taibbi isn't really as far from the media mainstream as he would seem to think* because he employs the same kind of appeal to emotions as everyone else (the only difference being that Taibbi uses more curse words), but this got me thinking whether it is right to expect anything more (like rational arguments, in this case, actual critique of Obama's policies) from a Rolling Stone journalist. But then I thought: if you can expect political commentary from Cartoon Network, then why fuck not?

* I was also going to call him a sellout and talk about how I liked him much more back when he used to write about his binges with Boris Yeltsin.
posted by daniel_charms at 2:33 AM on December 11, 2009


Obama's missteps have at worst been apathy in the face of a bad situation (perpetuating Bush's torture jurisprudence, failing to repeal DA/DT, etc).

I agree with much of what you say, but I disagree in part here. I don't think there's anything about Obama that is apathetic. I think these "missteps" are due to his exceptionally cautious nature. On the torture issue, I think everyone was expecting show trials and public executions, but when you're dealing with the thorny and legally complex issues nested within the Big Black Box that is National Security, you just can't turn on a dime... at least not without immediately endangering officers and operations underway in the field and potentially criminalizing scores of people who were actively trying to do the right thing under impossible circumstances. I do understand why he's moving slowly there.

The rest of this is another WE WUZ ROBBED screed about Obama. For better or for worse, Obama is exactly the President we saw during the campaign. Cautious to a fault, calculating, working very hard to at least keep any doors to bi-partisan cooperation open, and generally of sound judgment.

So far, I'm not seeing anything that I could not have predicted, or didn't actually vote for. I know full well others disagree with decisions he's made, and policy stances he's taken, but the shock and outrage over the type of leader he has become in office, smacks of overstated righteous indignation and rings incredibly false to me.
posted by psmealey at 2:49 AM on December 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


"I don't recall any protests when things were good and politicians started dismantling some of the safeguards that were put into place during the Depression."

Ah! Thank you.

"How to support Obama: get involved in local and statewide politics. Get the local representatives you believe in elected, write to your congressional representatives and tell them to get their healthcare asses in gear."
No, no, Obama became part of the problem the moment he got elected. The political process is part of the system. Once you get involved in the system you become evil because the system is evil. The key is not being 'for' anything and critical of anything that has a direction. This way you can just be right all the time instead of trying to accomplish anything with anyone.

"Dissing on Obama has become as tiresome as cheerleading for him."
Has become? It was always tiresome. When did it become only Obama's ball?

"Much as you can support your country by criticizing it, you can support your Democratic president by criticizing him."
Although y'know, maybe addressing a specific cause as a problem and rallying support to address it to move political will in that direction would be better. But I'm sure he reads Metafilter to get important political advice.

"The answer is to organize, build up grassroots support, move the overton window, and make shit happen!"
...going outside and mobilizing? Instead of shouting criticisms from the couch?

The big problem is that criticizing Obama is incredibly trite. And I'm curious where the criticism was before he got elected? Oh, he lied to us, boo hoo. Yeah? The right wing said the same about Bush. That got Oh So Much Sympathy here didn't it?
I might have bought that Hussein had WMDs before the war because some other folks convinced me but I wouldn't trust that Bush bastard to hand me a sandwich from day one.
So now, what, you're suckers because you voted for Obama? Well, what were you doing under Bush? Because if you weren't working for the same issues then as now you're a hypocrite too.
Only thing that has changed is that we don't have a gigantic obstruction in our government stopping every grassroots move we make. That's a huge boon.
So the criticism on Obama rings more like - gee, we mobilized during the elections, but we're all tired now, so he should do all the work. It sounds more like an excuse and scapegoating than a genuine desire to do something to change things. If the problem is global warming, or the Afghan war or the financial structure, hell, you can talk to your congressman about that, get a group together, lobby, organize, but if Obama is the problem *shrug* can't do anything about that. He's president. He's got all the power. What crap.
Ok, so maybe everything Taibbi said is true - anything you can do about it?
I mean - as soon as you accept Obama has "secret motives," behind the scenes he's a servant of the Gnomes of Zurich and every politician is lying to you the entire system is corrupt, what can possibly be accomplished by participation in the system? Why not then engage in violent overthrow and resistance? I'm perfectly serious. If Bush had suspended elections I would have started doing just that. And there were other folks rattling those chains as well.
Of course, I advocated the same damn thing then - get involved, work to make the change you want to see. Maybe put the spurs to your party hacks, link up with other folks in other states and spend money only in blocs targeted at issues, like closing the loopholes in derivatives and reforming the financial regulatory system, maybe give Barney Frank more juice, etc.
Only real difference between then and now is there's a better chance of making some headway.
Barack Obama, a once-in-a-generation political talent whose graceful conquest of America's racial dragons en route to the White House inspired the entire world, has for some reason allowed his presidency to be hijacked by sniveling, low-rent shitheads - buuuuut fuck it why should we lift a finger to back him against those greedy bastards? He's probably a greedy too. ...uh, except it's all clear to me now..it wasn't before during the campaign...'cos he was lying.
I love the paranoid style in U.S. politics. Only downside is that it's self-inflicted impotence.

Meh. The just person is better off than the unjust because only the just are at peace with themselves.
(Factoid: Michael Froman is Abe's brother who is the sausage king of Chicago which is why Obama stops at Ben’s Chili Bowl for a half-smoke, he's a dupe of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:00 AM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


So the criticism on Obama rings more like - gee, we mobilized during the elections, but we're all tired now, so he should do all the work.

February 2012. Vote in the primary/caucus for the magical rainbow unicorn of your choice then.

You guys can't have it both ways.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:13 AM on December 11, 2009


...so either mobilize to put pressure on politicians while they're in office to lend relevance to an issue or vote them out of office in 2012, maybe go third party to lend relevance to an issue? Can't have that both ways?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:46 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like it or not, TARP worked. It was necessary.

You have absolutely no way of knowing if something else would not also have worked, and perhaps even better than the TARP throwing-good-money-after-bad solution. Thus you have no logical way of either knowing, saying or even insinuating that it was "necessary."

The TARP bailouts could have been scripted by the Mob. "Uh, nice economy you got yourself there. Would be a shame if sumthin', oh I dunno, happened to it…"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:42 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy.

I don't really know about that. There was a certain point at which the US government had an equity stake in several major banks that entitled them to seats on the boards of directors, and I personally would have preferred that the administration use that opportunity to basically
decimate the boards and start over again with representatives that might actually competently look after shareholders' interests. That did not happen.

However, the economy is growing again, and we are no longer in a tailspin, and the worst has passed. We can't really expect a politician to take radical action: our political culture does not select for that, and Obama never presented himself as such. It looks like the worst of this mess is that we get stuck holding the bag with AIG.
posted by deanc at 5:45 AM on December 11, 2009


Jebus, this thread is why I'm not involved in community politics and leadership anymore.

You work your ass off to solve problems and make a difference, deal with hard issues and manage to make a little progress, though not as much as you'd hoped, and what do you get for it? Even your allies and supporters are waiting in the shadows with daggers drawn, waiting for their pound of flesh because you haven't delivered on all their hopes and dreams.

I swear, it's like people have no sense of political memory that lasts longer than one election cycle. Your enemies you can handle. What really is draining, though, is when your friends start abandoning you and calling you names less than a year after you get into a position to make a difference.
posted by darkstar at 5:45 AM on December 11, 2009 [16 favorites]


Obama-cynicism is the new black.
posted by aught at 6:04 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


So to speak.
posted by aught at 6:04 AM on December 11, 2009


That people can argue with a straight face that somehow Obama isn't living up to his promises shows only one thing. People were not paying attention during the election.

I was paying attention when he promised to be a fierce defender of gays and lesbians, when he promised to end DOMA, pass ENDA, and get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Instead, he's filing briefs defending DOMA, doing end runs around ENDA, and waffling on Don't Ask Don't Tell- this after having a man who will not criticize Uganda's plans to MURDER EVERY GAY CITIZEN IN THE COUNTRY give the invocation at his inauguration.

Where is the financial reform that will help (campaign platform) MAIN STREET instead of WALL STREET? Where are the job initiatives to employ people and build a high speed commuter train system? Where is the single payer health reform that he favored in the primaries, and has now abandoned so completely, he won't even defend a public option?

So perhaps I am saying with my *gay* face that Obama isn't living up to his promises- because he's not, and I was, in fact, paying pretty close attention.
posted by headspace at 6:07 AM on December 11, 2009 [8 favorites]


... given that people aren't 100% satisfied with what's happening in the country after Obama's election ...
... Obama's job approval rating sits at 50 percent ... the lowest level it has reached in CBS News polling.

Still that opposition is a leg up on the right's pushback which is basically insane.

please note: the pushback isn't coming just from the right, ok? there are plenty of folks on all points of the political map who, if not pushing, are shaking their heads & saying 'wtf?'

The big problem is that criticizing Obama is incredibly trite. And I'm curious where the criticism was before he got elected?

are you serious? any criticism on this board got shouted down & piled on, and that spirit, as evidenced in this very thread, still lingers.
posted by msconduct at 6:13 AM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Really, because it seems to me that what he is doing is trying to bring the detainees to the US for trial or to find a country to release them to if they don't want to go to their home countries. -- Ironmouth
Srsly?
Finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people.

I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face. We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who have received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, commanded Taliban troops in battle, expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

As I said, I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture – like other prisoners of war – must be prevented from attacking us again. However, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. That is why my Administration has begun to reshape these standards to ensure they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible and lawful standards for those who fall in this category.
-- Barack Obama, May 21 2009
Could you at least try being honest, as opposed to cherry picking things that back up your point and ignoring things that don't? He explicitly said we need to keep people detained without trials or even military commissions. This is not in any way disputed. In fact I'm pretty sure you defended that policy in the past and even said that KSM could never be prosecuted.
I do find your statements on Israel to be interesting--perhaps he has changed his position on settlements, except for I FULLY FUCKING SUPPORT STOPPING ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS THE DEFAULT LEFT-WING POSITION IN THIS COUNTRY. Never had you pegged for a big supporter of Israel, Delmoi, but I guess I can be surprised.. -- Ironmouth
Well, I had intended to point out I was glad he was doing it and that it was a good thing, but re-reading my comment I guess that's not in there.

But at the same time, this is a pretty weird response. Whether or not I agree with the policy, there's no denying it's totally at odds with his rhetoric during the campaign. And that's my point. In fact, I brought it up to point out that's it's not all stuff that liberals don't like.

The problem is, the majority of flipflops seem to be things that leave "the Left" worse off.

Also, he certainly did campaign on increasing troops in Afghanistan. That doesn't make it a good idea.
I seem to recall him saying that he wouldn't prosecute the past administration, and the state secrets thing seems like an extension of that promise to me. I don't like it, but it is consistent with what he said. -- breath
No, what he said was, explicitly, that he was opposed to the way the bush used the states secrets privilege to try to kill lawsuits. Again, he is doing exactly what he criticized bush for. There's no need to try to "extend" his other statements. And by the way, do you have any citations for him saying he wouldn't prosecute the bush administration? I don't think he ever said that specifically before the election. What I remember him saying was something like "No one is above the law, but we need to look forward, not back". Obviously those two things are somewhat at odds, but clearly he chose the latter over the former.

But just to clarify: He did say he was opposed to using state secrets as a way to kill lawsuits over torture. He did not say people in the bush administration wouldn't be prosecuted as far as I know, again, do you have any examples of him saying that?

People saying flat out that Obama said he wouldn't prosecute bush administration officials and try quash lawsuits against them are as guilty of revisionist memory as people who think he said he would pull out of Afghanistan. He didn't say anything specific about it either way.
posted by delmoi at 6:48 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Instead, he's filing briefs defending DOMA, doing end runs around ENDA, and waffling on Don't Ask Don't Tell- this after having a man who will not criticize Uganda's plans to MURDER EVERY GAY CITIZEN IN THE COUNTRY give the invocation at his inauguration.

A couple of points on that. 1) The law was changed to require gay people to be counciled, rather then executed. An improvement. 2) Rick Warren has actually come around and spoken out against the law in the past couple days. Which is a good thing.
posted by delmoi at 6:53 AM on December 11, 2009


One of the things I love about this community is the thoughtfulness and intensity of the opinions expressed and the variety and scope of the evidence presented.

I don't have a lot to add except as a sideliner with interest in the outcome which is: President Obama has been in office for 10 months of a 48-month term and his administration’s achievements and accomplishments seem gigantic and legendary from my corner of the world. His actions and policies have done much to relegitimate the US as a negotiating power in the global political arena; the US after more than 20 years of obstructionism is advancing (not nearly fast enough) the agenda on C02 emissions; the US is actually on the eve of passing a Frankenstein's monster Universal Health Care Bill (seriously!); the fact of his genealogical heritage has forced the US (and the world) to think hard on the meaning of race and how it relates to the advancement/impediment of women in society and politics; and more.

There are things about this administration that disappoint and alarm me: this administration’s waning commitment to reestablishing curtailed civil liberties is deeply puzzling and worrisome (WT-good-goddamn-F!); while shoring up the US (and global) economy, Obama’s administration has given longer life to the unsustainable and inequitable profit/production model at the heart of the contemporary "free" market; like the rest of this cowardly country (I am a US citizen) the Obama administration has gone silent on and/or reversed support for LGBTQ civil rights (I'm looking at you CA, NY, and NJ. Holy hump me.); and others.

So, on balance, a lot of good stuff with a sizeable helping of frustration. Seems like another day in the life where we are all challenged to work harder and more thoughtfully in effective directions, rather than entrenching and hardening in the way old folk (like me) tend to do.
posted by mistersquid at 6:54 AM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think what Taibbi is edging at here is that Obama ended up "owning" the problem of bank failure by trying so hard to fix it their way. What it leads is people blaming the left and each other on the left for not doing it right. The bank failure was a great opportunity to try something new with least risk. This is basically why health care is so important, because it allows the left to own the debate on good government and force the right into apologies and defenses for the failed status quo.
posted by Brian B. at 7:01 AM on December 11, 2009


We've had a lot of threads lately that are critical of Obama, maybe we should just cut our losses at this point and start anticipating the criticisms we can make against President Pawlenty three years from now.
posted by mpbx at 7:08 AM on December 11, 2009


I think Tony Kushner said it best

TK: I have said this before, and I'll say it again: Anyone that the Democrats run against Bush, even the appalling Joe Lieberman, should be a candidate around whom every progressive person in the United States who cares about the country's future and the future of the world rallies. Money should be thrown at that candidate. And if Ralph Nader runs -- if the Green Party makes the terrible mistake of running a presidential candidate -- don't give him your vote. Listen, here's the thing about politics: It's not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this..

The GOP has developed a genius for falling into lockstep. They didn't have it with Nixon, but they have it now. They line up behind their candidate, grit their teeth, and help him win, no matter who he is.

MJ: You're saying progressives are undone by their own idealism?

TK: The system isn't about ideals. The country doesn't elect great leaders. It elects fucked-up people who for reasons of ego want to run the world. Then the citizenry makes them become great. FDR was a plutocrat. In a certain sense he wasn't so different from George W. Bush, and he could have easily been Herbert Hoover, Part II. But he was a smart man, and the working class of America told him that he had to be the person who saved this country. It happened with Lyndon Johnson, too, and it could have happened with Bill Clinton, but we were so relieved after 12 years of Reagan and Bush that we sat back and carped.


If you want Obama to be great, you need to force him to be great. As FDR once said to his supporters, "Now go out there, and make me do it!"
posted by jonp72 at 7:11 AM on December 11, 2009 [11 favorites]


Thank you Darkstar! it's a shame I can only favorite that once...
posted by MeatLightning at 7:14 AM on December 11, 2009


Obama is only left-of-center if your entire sample consists of American right-wing politicians.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:16 AM on December 11, 2009


I am as unhappy with what is going on in our Congress, with our President, as is the next guy--if progressive--but to suggest that Nader would have fixed all things is patently absurd.
What would Ralph have done about the CIA? the Pentagon? the zillions of Lobbyists? where has he ever suggested what he would do about these outfits that shape all we do?
ps: Ralph now giving consideration to running as an independent for a senate seat, where, I suspect, he will tone down his rhetoric a bit and find a way to get along with Joe Lieberman, a fellow independent from Connecticut.
posted by Postroad at 7:19 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


We've had a lot of threads lately that are critical of Obama, maybe we should just cut our losses at this point and start anticipating the criticisms we can make against President Pawlenty three years from now.

Nonsense. We totally need to rally around the lesser of two evils, and accept that dissatisfaction with attempted goals is secondary to making sure the Republican candidate just doesn't win.

After all, it worked perfectly with President Gore in 2000 and President Kerry in 2004.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:24 AM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Nonsense. We totally need to rally around the lesser of two evils, and accept that dissatisfaction with attempted goals is secondary to making sure the Republican candidate just doesn't win.

I'm less worried about the goals Democrats will attempt and fail to achieve than I am about the ones Republicans will actually follow through on.
posted by mpbx at 7:30 AM on December 11, 2009


Taibbi lost me at this: Much like Alan Greenspan, a staggeringly incompetent economic forecaster who was worshipped by four decades of politicians because he once dated Barbara Walters. He wants to be taken seriously, but in the middle of a serious discussion he throws in a snarky line which begs the question of why Greenspan was accorded Word-of-God status, which would, you know, actually be germane to the discussion at hand.

Really, he's gone from cool to loony in an amazingly short period of time. I mean, look at this--and I like Elizabeth Warren. He's become like James Howard Kunstler or Chris Hedges or any number of other formerly admirable people who have kind of lost it, only he's still Rolling Stone's pet pundit du jour so he fulfills that same purpose that the articles did in Playboy, proving that it's not just [porn|popstars].
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:31 AM on December 11, 2009


Just want to publicly thank Ironmouth for carrying much of the load in replying to these threads.

I am every bit as passionate, as hopeful, as the next idealistic fella that good things can happen and we should expect good things because they are good.

I am also a pragmatist, and what I have seen over the past year are some pretty good starts. What I think people miss is that Obama is not a radical "LETS TEAR THIS WHOLE THING DOWN AND BUILD A NEW (organization)! WHEEOOO!". He is a centrist. He is methodical. He doesn't have one meeting about Afghanistan and say "HECK WITH IT! PULL ALL THEM BOYS OUT! YEEEHAWWW!". He has scores of meetings and questions everything and makes people grit their teeth and then four months later has an answer.

This is the president I, you, a majority of folks voted for. Someone who would steadily push us back towards stability and a better tomorrow. By all means, criticize! If you want your personal plaid pony, you have every right to stand on a box and hit a bell and yell for it.

But articles like this are so... bizarre. "He did not destroy the financial system to make a brand new one that would have puppies in his first 8 months! He has advisors that are part of the current system!" Really, now.
posted by cavalier at 7:46 AM on December 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


TK: I have said this before, and I'll say it again: Anyone that the Democrats run against Bush, even the appalling Joe Lieberman, should be a candidate around whom every progressive person in the United States who cares about the country's future and the future of the world rallies.
Anyone who thinks Joe Lieberman would have made a good president isn't really worth listening too. The only difference between him and bush is that we would have been fighting a war in Iran too.
posted by delmoi at 7:52 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


As much as I want to be optimistic about his accomplishments, I have to admit this struck a nerve with me.

If we had instant runoff, proportional representation, or some other sensible system of election that didn't force a voter into one of two boxes, I would not be voting D in future elections. They should be *begging* for our votes and scrambling to deliver on their promises, and instead they're merely focused on getting elected so they can get down to the business of feathering their nests. I wish I could say I was disappointed with the president's actions to date, but I didn't really expect a lot in the first place.

It's a surprise to me that there's not a near-unanimous, bipartisan demand to revamp the voting system with the intent to destroy two-party politics.
posted by mullingitover at 7:53 AM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ah, the familiar "anyone critical of Obama is just a wild-eyed, naive idealist" dismissal.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:38 AM on December 11 [+] [!]

Ah, the familiar "anyone critical of Obama is an impatient neophyte who secretly despises the democratic process" dismissal.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:03 AM on December 11 [+] [!]


Please, everybody, stop arguing with arguments that have previously existed. The printer is getting upset and will thusforth be piling them together into big ugly buckets of rhetoric.
posted by kingbenny at 7:53 AM on December 11, 2009


"At least two more combat brigades" can only be construed as "tripling ground forces" if you believe that it really depends what "is" is.

It was supposed to be "Change You Can Believe In" - not "Check The Fine Print".

But for the sake of convenience, let's stick with his flat-out lies. He said he'd filibuster telecom immunity. He said he was against an individual mandate. He said he'd end DADT. He said he'd close Guantanamo in a year. He said he'd release prisoner photos. He said he'd conduct the health care reform debate in the open...

As for "He's only been in office two/six/ten months!", how much more time do you think he has? He came in with an overwhelming mandate and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. That was as much power as he was ever going to have - as much power as any President could ever hope for. Now, thanks in large part to his shitting on his base, the Democrats are facing a bloodbath 11 months from now.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:53 AM on December 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


Taibbi lost me at this: Much like Alan Greenspan, a staggeringly incompetent economic forecaster who was worshipped by four decades of politicians because he once dated Barbara Walters.
Except that he's kind of right about that. Greenspan wash worshipped during the 90s. While not necessarily because he dated barbara walters (though that was a sign of how well connected and accepted he was as part of the "Village" of DC media and society), he did end up revealing that this reputation was undeserved: by 2001, he was claiming that we were in big danger of "paying off the public debt too fast" because he was shilling for GW Bush's tax cuts, and by 2009 he was expressing his surprise and befuddlement that the finance sector did not self-regulate itself to avoid disaster.
posted by deanc at 7:55 AM on December 11, 2009


As for "He's only been in office two/six/ten months!", how much more time do you think he has?

At least three years. Possibly seven.
posted by mpbx at 8:03 AM on December 11, 2009


deanc: " by 2009 [Greenspan] was expressing his surprise and befuddlement that the finance sector did not self-regulate itself to avoid disaster."

Yeah, who would have thought an Ayn Rand acolyte would have a simplistic view of economics and a romanticized opinion of business world ethics?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:03 AM on December 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Rick Warren has actually come around and spoken out against the law in the past couple days.

Sorry, taking two weeks to decide that mass murder of homosexuals is wrong gets you zero credibility. Shit, taking two minutes is unforgivable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:12 AM on December 11, 2009 [7 favorites]



Huh? Ok let me slow down here and see what we have. So the fact that Obama was "paying attention" while someone else was president means Obama is responsible?

OK part 2. Obama and McCain were present at the Citigroup bailout negotiations in mid-November 2008? Again, very confused. If you are talking about TARP, Elizabeth Warren chaired the oversight panel which found that “there is broad consensus that the TARP was an important part of a broader government strategy that stabilized the U.S. financial system by renewing the flow of credit and averting a more acute crisis.” Elizabeth Warren is the lefty-of-lefties Bankruptcy Law professor at Harvard. You don't get more left than her. Like it or not, TARP worked. It was necessary. We can say it sucked that it had to be done, but there's nobody who knows anything about the reality of it that's saying that it didn't work.
-- Ironmouth
Okay to be fair. It is true that I can't really blame Obama for the specific citigroup deal that occurred during the campaign/transition period. But the idea that there was a "broad consensus" about TARP is only true if you only look at elites. Remember, the bailout actually failed the first time it was voted on in congress because the republicans knew it was political poison going right into an election. The average person was definitely against it, and there were lots of alternative proposals out there: Such as taking over the banks, or letting them go bankrupt naturally as proposed by Ron Paul (I think this would have been a bad idea, because that could take years and years to play out).

Anyway, it is definitely the case that Obama and McCain were involved in negotiations about how structure the bill after the first legislative defeat.

I think Taibbi's point was more about the fact that Obama was so closely connected to the people who ran the economy into the ground, and utilized those people to build his economic team as they were robbing the treasury to pay their bonuses. Even if he wasn't specifically involved, it's still a problem.
posted by delmoi at 8:13 AM on December 11, 2009


Riki tiki: "Forktine: At some point "but if Bush were still in office, he'd be worse!" isn't going to cut it anymore.
You want to bring this up in a primary battle, fine. Maybe Kucinich would be a better president, if you can convince people to elect him. In the meantime, "not good enough" is a fuck of a lot better than gutting our national image, morale, resources, environment, and sense of justice.
"

Well I'm glad you said "sense" of justice, and not, actually... you know... Justice.
posted by symbioid at 8:15 AM on December 11, 2009


As for "He's only been in office two/six/ten months!", how much more time do you think he has? He came in with an overwhelming mandate and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. That was as much power as he was ever going to have - as much power as any President could ever hope for. Now, thanks in large part to his shitting on his base, the Democrats are facing a bloodbath 11 months from now.

Because obviously the "blue dog Democrats" were going to march in with the filibuster line and stick to the party.

While this could get me started on a whole plate of "Blue Dog? What the fuck, you republican running as a democrat because it's easier schmuck?", maybe we could just tone down the idea that Obama was the pure progressive liberal macgyver?

Also, the biggest strength of any liberal party is also its biggest weakness -- instead of marching in lockstep with whatever Der Fuhrer decides is the right thing to do, we nitpick and self-attack ourselves to death over what style of shoe, how big the step should be, and what color the confetti should look like.
posted by cavalier at 8:19 AM on December 11, 2009


Actually, this article in the Economist from a month ago is about the Uganda bill, while I can't find anything dated earlier than yesterday saying that Rick Warren had come out against it. So I think it is manifestly obvious that Rick Warren does in fact think that murdering homosexuals is acceptable and that he knows how profoundly unacceptable that sentiment is.

Let's hear it for the Overton Window.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:23 AM on December 11, 2009


Ironmouth: "In particular state secrets stuff like "terrorist" detainment. Did Barack Obama campaign on a promise to keep people in prison without any due process or right to trial, even military commissions? Absolutely not, and he wouldn't have won the democratic primary if he had.

Really, because it seems to me that what he is doing is trying to bring the detainees to the US for trial or to find a country to release them to if they don't want to go to their home countries. I think there is a guy called, what is it? Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who he's going to put on trial in NEW YORK CITY in fucking FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT. Has he ordered a single person into some sort of indefinite detention. NO NOT A ONE. Has he been creating a supermax prison in Illinois to put the detainees on American soil? YES."


Oh, Really? He has come out in support of indefinite detention. Without trial.

I know it's hard to google "Obama indefinite detention" and all... Whether he has personally ordered it NOW is irrelevant. He still supports the very idea of it existing. That contradicts all his lofty rhetoric. The Mohammed thing is a bit of a joke. A front. A distraction. Don't get me wrong, I'd take that over NOT doing it, but let's not pretend that a show trial on American soil isn't a propaganda coup (which you, apparently, just fell for).

Perhaps you've found something more recent that indicates he's changed his mind... again. If so, I would be more than happy to hear such good news. But I ain't holding my breath.
posted by symbioid at 8:32 AM on December 11, 2009


This is all just silly. There is no President that I will ever 100% agree with, even myself.

Is Obama pushing the causes I would like him to push, by and large? No.

However, he is doing the one thing that makes me very happy he's President. He's making things better. Perhaps not as rapidly as I would like or as radically as I would like, but we're seeing movement in the correct direction for the first time in a long while. It's a good first step.

I place far more of the blame for slow progress on Congress, most especially the Senate. Both of my former Senators (who are D's, by the way) have proven themselves to be complete fucktards on the health care issue. Not as terrible as my two new Senators (I like to call them the two stooges, they're so comically idiotic), but they're doing far more to harm progress than Obama is.

When half the country has gone insane, I'm pretty pleased with slow progress, given that the alternative is rapid regression.
posted by wierdo at 8:41 AM on December 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


If Obama's approval ratings continue to plunge and the Dems lose seats in the midterm elections, he's toast in '12, if history is our guide.

Yeah, yeah, cherrypicking I know.
posted by hangashore at 8:50 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


But the idea that there was a "broad consensus" about TARP is only true if you only look at elites. Remember, the bailout actually failed the first time it was voted on in congress because the republicans knew it was political poison going right into an election. The average person was definitely against it, and there were lots of alternative proposals out there: Such as taking over the banks, or letting them go bankrupt naturally as proposed by Ron Paul (I think this would have been a bad idea, because that could take years and years to play out).

That failed the first time because the GOP wanted two things (1) for it to pass; and (2) for them to run against it. They agreed to have a particular amount of votes and didn't live up to that promise. So she ordered a load of Dems to vote against it. God the look on the Republicans faces! They were beaten down! God it was glorious. They whined and whined about the "divisive" speech that Pelosi gave that "caused" too many in their caucus to vote against it.

TARP, like it or not, fucking worked. If it had not been passed, the whole thing would have come crashing down because a lot of the firms that were going to go down were bond guarantors and would have lost their triple AAA rating. That would have meant that perfectly profitable companies, states, counties and municipalities, numbering in the thousands would have gone down because there would be a mass wave of bond defaults related to the guarantors going down, not the borrowers. Credit would have dried up in an heartbeat. And we'd be looking at something much, much worse than we are now.

A lot of this has to do with the easy way this gets spun. The "bankers" (for those of you scoring at home, read "Jews") are getting all of our money in a big swindle. Hardly. That money didn't go to the banks at all. It went to the European counterparties to the CDOs, who otherwise could have bankrupted huge American banking firms upon which the US and world economies rested. The money flowed right out of the banks that got the cash.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:03 AM on December 11, 2009


If Obama's approval ratings continue to plunge and the Dems lose seats in the midterm elections, he's toast in '12, if history is our guide.

Yeah, yeah, cherrypicking I know.


I actually think the Dems will do just fine. The battle over reauthorizing the tax cuts for millionaires that the GOP made in 2001 will come to a head. Obama's going to authorize serious budget cuts and the Dems will hold fast on not renewing those tax cuts, which wisely had a sunset provision written into them. Obama will come on tv and make a big speech like Clinton did and say we can't afford to renew these tax cuts for millionaires. We can afford to give a small tax cut to the lower tax brackets.

This is all coming out in the State of the Union.

The GOP will be between a rock and a hard place then. The Tea Partiers (all laboring under the delusion that the failure to renew the tax cuts will affect their lower-middle class existence) will have a shit fit and the GOP will split in half. The GOP will be swept out of the north east on the house side. Upstate New York will be a bloodbath for them.

People are gonna be surprised.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:10 AM on December 11, 2009


although I get what hangashore is saying--that even if Dems get hurt in 2010, it won't really hurt Obama's chances that much. 'tis true. Exhibit no. 1 is Clinton.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:11 AM on December 11, 2009


The "bankers" (for those of you scoring at home, read "Jews")

TARP opponents are Nazis. Got it.

Anyway, Rick Warren didn't bother to oppose Uganda's "kill all the gays" legislation until after they changed it, so his opposition is pretty much meaningless.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:12 AM on December 11, 2009


If Obama's approval ratings continue to plunge and the Dems lose seats in the midterm elections, he's toast in '12, if history is our guide.

Are you forgetting 1994?
A lot of this has to do with the easy way this gets spun. The "bankers" (for those of you scoring at home, read "Jews") -- Ironmouth
Compare and contrast:
I FULLY FUCKING SUPPORT STOPPING ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA IMMEDIATELY. -- Ironmouth
That's enough to get called an anti-semite by the Neocons and other hard-core pro-Isreal people. Maybe in this case they're right and deep down you hate jews and are just projecting your anti-Semitic on others?

Probably not, but if you're going to run around calling people who are unhappy with financial policy anti-semites you don't really have a lot of room to complain.

I mean seriously, that charge is so hyperbolic and absurd that it ought to be enough ignore everything else you say.

Remember foulks, If you're unhappy with the bank bailouts, Ironmouth thinks you hate the jews because he thinks all bankers are jews.
posted by delmoi at 9:26 AM on December 11, 2009


The "bankers" (for those of you scoring at home, read "Jews")

what
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:26 AM on December 11, 2009


Are you forgetting 1994?

Even better: 1946 (House, Senate). Hellloooo President Dewey!
posted by hangashore at 9:35 AM on December 11, 2009


Civil_Disobedien:t The TARP bailouts could have been scripted by the Mob. "Uh, nice economy you got yourself there. Would be a shame if sumthin', oh I dunno, happened to it…"

Hey, can you hook me up with that time bending machine you got? Because in my timeline, the economy was fucked before TARP.
posted by spaltavian at 9:38 AM on December 11, 2009


That failed the first time because the GOP wanted two things (1) for it to pass; and (2) for them to run against it. They agreed to have a particular amount of votes and didn't live up to that promise. So she ordered a load of Dems to vote against it. God the look on the Republicans faces! They were beaten down! God it was glorious.

Hmm, do you have a citation for Pelosi telling people not to vote for it? My impression was that all the democrats who were going to vote for it did, but the republicans failed to get their votes after Newt Gingrich and others lobbied against the bill. And by the way, the failure of the bill really tanked the market and destabilized the economy even more. It did a lot of damage, so to call it a triumph for the democrats is an absurd revision of history. It was the worst of both worlds politically. Republicans got credit for opposing the bill, even though they flipped around later and voted for it. And Pelosi and the dems looked like idiots unable to get shit done (for a couple days, anyway)

Plus, I think I've made it clear I thought some intervention was necessary. But there were other ways that this could have been done, and Obama and McCain were involved in the negotiations of the bill itself. This is like the third time I've said this.

But your answer belies a lot about how you think about politics. It's all about making people feel bad. Sure, delaying action caused the markets to tank by a huge amount, but the look on the republicans faces were priceless! And you somehow are making this to be some devious plot by Pelosi to embarrass republicans, which is absurd.
posted by delmoi at 9:39 AM on December 11, 2009


I just realized Ironmouth has effectively called me both a hard-core pro-isreal pro-settlement hawk and an anti-Semite who thinks the Jews control the banks just in this one thread.
posted by delmoi at 9:42 AM on December 11, 2009


A lot of this has to do with the easy way this gets spun. The "bankers" (for those of you scoring at home, read "Jews") -- Ironmouth
Compare and contrast:
I FULLY FUCKING SUPPORT STOPPING ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA IMMEDIATELY. -- Ironmouth
That's enough to get called an anti-semite by the Neocons and other hard-core pro-Isreal people. Maybe in this case they're right and deep down you hate jews and are just projecting your anti-Semitic on others?


Let me explain. The jesus people don't really like the Jews, but they must be in place for the rapture. So GOP operatives play on the natural anti-semitism of the dumb teabaggers who ain't exactly the sharpest pencils in the packs. The anti-tarp people play on New York Banker all day long.

I do not mean to suggest that the bankers are actually Jewish or are actually bad. They are people who made a whole bunch of bad decisions that bad regulations let them make. But that doesn't stop the GOP from having it both ways.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:57 AM on December 11, 2009


Remember foulks, If you're unhappy with the bank bailouts, Ironmouth thinks you hate the jews because he thinks all bankers are jews.

No, dumb GOP idiots from Topeka think all New York Bankers are Jews. That's my point. Its code words intended to get people mad at TARP.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:58 AM on December 11, 2009


But there were other ways that this could have been done

Please, in detail, explain the "other ways this could have been done."
posted by Ironmouth at 9:59 AM on December 11, 2009


Are you forgetting 1994?

I think people are remembering 1994. That occurred under specific conditions under a specific set of circumstances (namely, the aftermath of the census-adjustment of districts and a change in the way in which minority-majority congressional districts were created, along with the retirement of a bunch of old southern house members) leading to a decimation of conservative dems and their replacement by republicans.

It's very, very hard to overcome a 20 seat deficit in the senate and an 80 seat deficit in the house in one election. The republicans had a smaller senate majority in 1982, and the economy was worse, and the democrats still couldn't retake the senate until 1986.
posted by deanc at 9:59 AM on December 11, 2009


I just realized Ironmouth has effectively called me both a hard-core pro-isreal pro-settlement hawk and an anti-Semite who thinks the Jews control the banks just in this one thread.

Again I didn't say that. I am not talking about you. I am talking about teabaggers.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:59 AM on December 11, 2009


idiots from Topeka

Why do you hate Kansas?
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:01 AM on December 11, 2009


Are you forgetting 1994?

I think people are remembering 1994. That occurred under specific conditions under a specific set of circumstances (namely, the aftermath of the census-adjustment of districts and a change in the way in which minority-majority congressional districts were created, along with the retirement of a bunch of old southern house members) leading to a decimation of conservative dems and their replacement by republicans.

It's very, very hard to overcome a 20 seat deficit in the senate and an 80 seat deficit in the house in one election. The republicans had a smaller senate majority in 1982, and the economy was worse, and the democrats still couldn't retake the senate until 1986.


I think that everyone is on the same page on that--that one can lose an off-year election and still win the Presidential election anyway.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 AM on December 11, 2009


Why do you hate Kansas?

Sam Brownback.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:02 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fair enough!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:04 AM on December 11, 2009


The "bankers" (for those of you scoring at home, read "Jews")

-1,000 points.
posted by fuq at 10:05 AM on December 11, 2009


There's definitely some bigotry in this thread, but it ain't from Kansas.
posted by cribcage at 10:08 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that everyone is on the same page on that--that one can lose an off-year election and still win the Presidential election anyway.

That wasn't what I was arguing at all (though it is true). I was arguing that one can still be in a bad place in a midterm election, lose seats, and retain your majority. Not every midterm election is 1994. That's why 1994 is significant: because it was a rare event that upended the dynamics of congress. Even in 2006, the Republicans margins in the House of Representatives were very thin... much thinner than the Democrats' margin today.

Almost all midterm elections result in losses for the presidential party. The exceptions were 1998 and 2006. Only in two midterm elections (1994 and 2006) did the house majority flip, and in a third, (1986), the senate majority flipped, but only in a way that aligned with the house majority.
posted by deanc at 10:10 AM on December 11, 2009


The exceptions were 1998 and 2002.

Fixed.
posted by deanc at 10:11 AM on December 11, 2009


delmoi: I just realized Ironmouth has effectively called me both a hard-core pro-isreal pro-settlement hawk and an anti-Semite who thinks the Jews control the banks just in this one thread.

Ironmouth: Again I didn't say that. I am not talking about you. I am talking about teabaggers.

Ironmouth has a point. There has been some antisemitism related to the teabagger movement.
posted by zarq at 10:52 AM on December 11, 2009


Again I didn't say that. I am not talking about you. I am talking about teabaggers.

You should read the whole comment before replying. I do that too sometimes though.

But look, the fact is that the wallstreet banking establishment (composed, primarally of bankers) trashed the economy and then helped themselves (through their peers Hank Paulson, Bernake, Geithner) to nearly a trillion dollars in TARP money, plus loans from the Fed. Then they paid themselves enormous bonuses out of that money.

You're forgetting that the bonuses paid out were enormous tens of billions of dollars. Goldman Sachs was set to pay 11 billion or so in bonuses after taking in $10 billion in TARP money. That is to say, they paid out more in bonuses then they took from TARP. (It looks like they reduced that number at some point, though). JP Morgan Had a 2008 bonus pool of 8.7 billion, after taking $97 billion of TARP money. A little less then 10%.

As I said multiple times, I don't think some intervention was unwarranted, but it should not have been structured in a way that rewarded the people who trashed the economy.

In pure political terms, it's been a disaster. Look, despite what you think about the genious of Nancy Pelosi. The fact is people are outraged about this disparity, and the republicans have managed to turn this into a democratic thing by taking no part in governing the country.

Republicans are the ones cashing in on anti-corporate sentiment around the country while democrats have tied themselves to wallstreet. And now people are talking about Jamie Dimon the CEO of JP Morgan Chase taking over for Geithner. Ugh.
posted by delmoi at 11:07 AM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


The "bankers" (for those of you scoring at home, read "Jews") are getting all of our money in a big swindle.

Nope. Sorry. You lost me there. It's not about "Jews". It's about the bankers, insurance execs and Wall Street assholes who fuck us over every day and who will apparently continue to fuck us over for the foreseeable future. There's no racial component to it. It's all class, and all about the corporate oligarchy. Personally, as a white southerner, the faces of my banker and insurance oppressors look just like mine. And they're Christian.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:10 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Obama's approval ratings continue to plunge and the Dems lose seats in the midterm elections, he's toast in '12, if history is our guide.

Sure, but since Sarah Palin is going to be the GOP candidate (and I'm not kidding, who beats her?), Obama will win in '12, once the country gets a good hard look at the alternative.

That doesn't a mandate make, though. And I think Taibbi's right on a great many things - why, all of a sudden, once on the inside, is Obama stacking his team with the same old financial industry vets who caused the problem in the first place?

Where Taibbi's wrong is in thinking that Obama was ever going to remake the system. No; he sees it as his goal to preserve the system as it is, however f*cked up it may be. You go to war with the army you have; you tackle the economy with the economy you have - dominated by the financial services industry.

The problem here is when we start talking about growth and "getting the economy moving again" - on what basis? You taking out more loans/racking up more credit card debt? Yeah, good luck with that. Rational humans in this era of double-digit employement are desperately trying to deleverage, and a deleveraging consumer base does not growth make.

All of which is a long way of saying that structurally, Obama is f&cked. He can either prop up the edifice or he can let it fall/tear it down and try to build anew - I think he's propping up what was already there, attempting to build on top of it.
posted by kgasmart at 11:33 AM on December 11, 2009


Er, make that double-digit unemployment.
posted by kgasmart at 11:34 AM on December 11, 2009


The audacity of big government
posted by oncogenesis at 12:03 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


When President Obama gave his speech on health care on September 10, he promised that there would be no limit on lifetime benefits under the health care bill... Harry Reid didn’t agree evidently. ...
A loophole in the Senate health care bill would let insurers place annual dollar limits on medical care for people struggling with costly illnesses such as cancer...

Adding to the puzzle, the new language was quietly tucked away in a clause in the bill still captioned “No lifetime or annual limits.”
People are asking who put this in the bill. The only person who could put this in the bill is Harry Reid.
(via)

If 15% real unemployment wasn't enough to decimate Democratic majorities in 2010, just wait until Obama signs a health care reform bill as shitty as the one that will reach his desk... and then tries to sell it as "an imperfect bill, but still an historic first step...". For sign it he will - even if it mandates the poor to donate their kidneys on demand to the rich. At this point he can't afford not to get something... anything passed.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:08 PM on December 11, 2009


What? Obama is a conservative, right-wing politician working within a conservative, right-wing party. Why is it required that "left-wing" people stifle their criticism of Obama but not his only slightly more conservative predecessor?

posted by cmonkey at 10:55 PM on December 10 [7 favorites +] [!]


Bush was only slightly more conservative than Obama? I'm glad that the vast majority of us want a more leftward leaning USA, but that gets a hearty "Oh, come on." That's about as accurate as calling Obama a socialist.
posted by Amanojaku at 12:11 PM on December 11, 2009


Amanojaku: "Bush was only slightly more conservative than Obama?"

When it comes to their views on executive power, you're damned fucking right.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:15 PM on December 11, 2009


The Errors of Matt Taibbi.
posted by owillis at 12:49 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


[Obama] explicitly said we need to keep people detained without trials or even military commissions.
Even worse, he's claiming the right to continue to imprison detainees who've been acquitted.

I seriously don't know how anyone can defend this. It amounts to, "If we accuse you of being a terrorist, we can hold you without trial. We can keep any evidence against you secret. We can try you by jury if we think we'll win there. We can put you in front of a military tribunal if we think we'll win there. We can hold you forever if we think we can't convince anyone that you're guilty. And if we miscalculate and you're acquitted, we can can hold you forever anyway." Would any of you seriously not be outraged by this if it was Bush proposing it? Are you okay with the government having that kind of power?

As for Taibbi, I don't read his criticism as being against Obama employing industry insiders in his administration. The problem is that a)he got rid of ALL the outsiders, and b) the particular insiders he's using are the ones MOST RESPONSIBLE for the mess we're in, and unsurprisingly, the result is that they and all their friends got a little richer by virtue of their own fuckups. Taibbi hates teabaggers, it's obvious from his writing, and he takes a few shots at them at the end of this piece. His specific criticism of them is that they are governed exclusively by misdirected emotion, ignorant either willfully or through laziness.

You Obama supporters need to recognize that not everyone who criticizes him is a crazy idealist or a teabagger. I fully expected Obama to do things I disagreed with, and I even knew he was a liar before I voted for him (telecom immunity). Even so I voted for him with a fair bit of optimism. After all, he was a constitutional law professor, so he would certainly be patching up the civil liberties disaster of the last eight years. And he was a community organizer, so he would be pushing progressive economic policy that would benefit poor and middle class more than the bankers who were tearing the economy to shreds. For the first couple of weeks, I was pleasantly surprised at how I'd underestimated him. But that quickly changed. I'm not upset that he hasn't moved fast enough, I'm upset that many of the specific actions he's taken are WRONG.
posted by Humanzee at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


When it comes to their views on executive power, you're damned fucking right.

Somewhat debatable, but even if I grant that point, "executive power" isn't the sole (or even primary) arbiter of one's "conservativeness."
posted by Amanojaku at 12:58 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's healthcare that Obama will live or die on. If he passes a totally-gutted industry-bailout worse-than-nothing bill, which doesn't even go into effect until 2013, he's toast, and so is universal health care.
posted by mek at 1:03 PM on December 11, 2009


Completely OT: sadtrombone.com is not a trombone.
posted by mistersquid at 1:09 PM on December 11, 2009


I think I was wrong about the trombone not being a trombone.
posted by mistersquid at 1:11 PM on December 11, 2009


The actual Obama is not living up to what my Imaginary Unicorn Fantasy Obama might have promised me during the campaign in my pants!

I'm pleased that Obama got elected. Not even just given the opposition -- he seems like a responsible and good President. But policy-wise, I was never more than lukewarm on the guy, because he seemed (to me) to be promising a lot of exactly what he's delivered. Middle-of-the-road, don't rock the boat too much centrism. Incrementalism, let's say. I thought the country was ripe for a little more revolution, and the moment would pass all too soon, as indeed it has. So we have an incrementalist President, doing his best to make things as much better as he can actually achieve without pissing off anyone his simple existence doesn't piss off already.

This is ok. It's not that exciting, and the Taibbis of the left, who truly thought they heard Obama promise something he never did, are naturally disappointed. But he's done about what I thought he said he'd do, so far, so I don't think I'm the one imagining what I heard before the election.
posted by rusty at 1:15 PM on December 11, 2009


truly thought they heard Obama promise something he never did

This has been said 100 times in this thread, and refuted 101. He was never a hard-left progressive ideologue, but he has broken many promises in very little time.
posted by mek at 2:15 PM on December 11, 2009


This is ok. It's not that exciting, and the Taibbis of the left, who truly thought they heard Obama promise something he never did, are naturally disappointed.

What about all the things he explicitly did promise?
posted by delmoi at 2:34 PM on December 11, 2009


People want left-wing results, but a great many of them have lost patience with any kind of political process and IMHO secretly crave some Vladimir Putin style autocratic leadership.

I'd be happy with someone who had the ability to be as persuasive as LBJ was with a bill he wanted to get passed, though he did have the benefit of a lot of experience wrangling with legislation. Doesn't have to be an autocrat, just effective.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:50 PM on December 11, 2009


This is why I won't vote for anyone who believes in an invisible man in the sky.
posted by Eideteker at 2:51 PM on December 11, 2009


I think the problem is unfettered mandates. In the Paris Commune, delegates (apart from receiving a blue-collar worker's pay) could be instantly recalled by their electorate. I think they didn't pull nearly as many 'politician' tricks.
Seriously, you should stop voting. If you vote, usually, either you lose or get a Pyrrhic victory. Like with Obama. You should start devaluing the vote. You should organize with the people you know - delegate only to someone you personally know. Sure, it'd take a while, but I don't really think you're making progress this way. Obama can betray your votes, or not - who knows? It's up to him. It shouldn't be up to him. You gave him that power. Stop doing that. The good cop/bad cop system of american politics is hurting America, and the whole world, too.
(disclaimer: NON-CRYPTORIGHT-IST)
posted by Baldons at 3:37 PM on December 11, 2009


Man I like you guys.

Must feel great to be a cynic about everything. To see every attempt to make the world a bit better a failure that once again shows that you only ever supported Obama because you didn't want McCain to win. But you knew that it wouldn't really make that much of a difference, I mean what's the real difference between Obama and Bush. We're still fighting the same wars and experiencing the same depression right.

And then you'll bitch for the next 3 years about every decision Obama makes until it's time for that D vs R ballot.

Wonder who you'll fill in.

And then another 4 years of bitching regardless of who wins.

It's like you guys are the true winners out all of us. You get to debase us of our naive understandings of who Obama is and what he represents and at the same time you can preach against the fascism that is gaining force in American politics in general.

Thank you for your contribution to the community.
posted by Allan Gordon at 4:19 PM on December 11, 2009


I voted for Obama because I thought he was a center-left moderate with a penchant for compromise and a calm, rational demeanor. I sure as hell didn't vote for him because I expected him to remake the entire American system.
posted by empath at 5:49 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


This has been said 100 times in this thread, and refuted 101. He was never a hard-left progressive ideologue, but he has broken many promises in very little time.

Not really. I mean, yeah people have pointed out instances where Obama broke one or two "promises", which often are debatable because it's not clear they were promises in the first place, or that the thing he's done even applies to the promise. I don't disagree that he may have broken a few promises, but I don't think it's as many as you think, and he certainly hasn't broken enough for them to be a defining or even notable feature of his administration. Every politician breaks every promise when elected, it's what we fucking expect. The fact that Obama is actually trying to fulfill most of his, and is doing a decent job at it, is amazing.

The source of information you're looking for is the Obameter, which lists 514 promises and keeps track of his progress on them. This is, needless to say, a great site. Currently he's at: That looks pretty fucking decent. If you feel that the maintainers of the site erred in their ratings, perhaps you could volunteer your time to correct mistakes, or start rating the promises that aren't yet rated there. I definitely think that doing so would help to move the debate, and therefore the country, forward. More facts, less rhetoric.
posted by breath at 6:37 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read the "promises broken" section and found that sufficient to dismiss the site as a cruel joke. FISA, "preventive detention", public option, backdoor deals with Pharma: all missing.

So yeah, I'd say they erred pretty significantly, in that they are living in a complete fantasy.
posted by mek at 2:32 AM on December 12, 2009


Wonder who you'll fill in.

Actually, yeah. More important I wonder how many will choose not to show up again. Sort of been the issue everyone who wasn't just trying to make too-cool-for-school comments have been worrying about.

Man I like you guys.

Must feel great to be a cynic about everything.


Well it does sound better than being smug about giving up really early in life, dearie.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:34 AM on December 12, 2009


Since this thread was originally about Taibbi's peice, Taibbi's response to this criticism by Tim Fernholz might be interesting to read. Also this analysis by Feilx Salmon of the dustup, which basically agrees with Taibbi.


It's like you guys are the true winners out all of us. You get to debase us of our naive understandings of who Obama is and what he represents and at the same time you can preach against the fascism that is gaining force in American politics in general.

The word you're looking for is 'disabuse'.
posted by delmoi at 3:03 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


And then another 4 years of bitching regardless of who wins.

Well, speaking for myself, I'm a political junkie, and I like discussing it. I'm also very cynical about politics, even about most of the politicians I like. I'd rather be cynical and inquisitive rather than complacent and ignorant. And I'm always happy to be proven wrong in my cynicism, because that means it all turned out better than I imagined.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:04 PM on December 12, 2009


He came in with an overwhelming mandate and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Ummm... no, no he didn't. He came in with narrow window of victory that was the result of an excellent campaign strategy, an insane VP pick for the GOP, and general unease with the economy.

His "filibuster-proof majority" involves several hard-conservative senators, or moderate senators from hard-conservative states, including an independent who actively campaigned for McCain... so no, it's not filibuster proof at all.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:18 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


You forget that the meaning of "mandate" changed after Bush was given a "mandate" in 2004. Therefore yes, Obama had an overwhelming mandate. I mean, it is a supermajority... what more do you want?

Besides, how do you know you're filibuster-proof until you actually allow someone to filibuster? It's beyond reprehensible that the Republicans get by on just threatening to fillibuster. Should have just rammed single payer through and let them filibuster all they want. Of course, that would require the Dems to want a functional healthcare system, but they are just as bought and paid for as the Rs on that issue.
posted by mek at 11:30 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


You should start devaluing the vote.

The only way to do that is for more people to vote. I think maybe "devalue" doesn't mean what you think it means. But by all means folks, stop voting. Then mine counts more. Thanks.

It's beyond reprehensible that the Republicans get by on just threatening to fillibuster. Should have just rammed single payer through and let them filibuster all they want.

This is meaningless gibberish. I was going to say you have no idea how the US political system works, but then I see you're from Canada. So it's a less stinging rebuke, but seriously, you have no idea how the US political system works.
posted by rusty at 6:14 AM on December 14, 2009


Apparently you Americans have no idea how your own political system works. When was the last time a bill was genuinely filibustered? Apparently it was 1986. It's supposedly a strategic decision, but I call it spinelessness.

I'm not saying single-payer could ever get passed, but you start from a strong position and then bargain back to a robust bill with a public option, something like the House bill. Instead the Dems are now just caving to every whim of Lieberman. LIEBERMAN!! (That said I also think the Medicare exension is a copout and a bad idea.)
posted by mek at 2:11 AM on December 15, 2009


« Older Akinator...  |  If there's one genre you have ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments