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Volcker Wins over Geithner (and Why This Might Be a Very Good Thing)
January 22, 2010 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Obama Breaks with Geithner to support "Volcker Rule" in sweeping new financial sector reform proposal. Following the counsel of highly-respected former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker in a move that would significantly weaken the role of current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Obama's tough new proposals are being received by recent administration critic Robert Reich as a welcome, if overdue, policy correction. Among other things, the new proposals would effectively restore previous restrictions separating deposit and investment banks (as originally imposed by the depression-era Glass-Steagall Act), as well as imposing stiff new capital requirements, and restrictions designed to prevent banks from becoming too big to fail.
posted by saulgoodman (287 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a great idea, and represents a meaningful change that will actually be beneficial in the long term.

It will never pass.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:03 AM on January 22, 2010 [26 favorites]


One of the new regulations, which I think is already in place is the ban on "Prop trading" where banks just buy and sell stock to make money for themselves. Prop trading (or Proprietary trading) is supposedly one of the big ways Goldman Sachs makes money. In fact Goldman Sachs share price is down 7% over the past two days. Heh.
posted by delmoi at 8:06 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a good start.
Unfortunately, anything Obama proposes will still run head-long into the spineless leadership of his own party, especially in the Senate. Coupled with the fairly certain unified brick wall of opposition on the part of the Republicans, I seriously doubt this will ever see the light of day, unless modified to a fare-thee-well in favor of the financial sector.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:06 AM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


a welcome, if overdue, policy correction.

Agree with the overdue part: this should have been proposed a year ago, back when the administration had more political capital and leverage over the TARP recipients. It seems like Obama realizes that politically he needs to make a more persuasive case for regulating Wall Street. Also, based on the past year I think it's wise for us to wait and see how these new policies are actually implemented over time: announcing new policies is the easy part. But yeah it's a start.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:07 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Finally, some actual policy with real meaning and authority in it. Unfortunately, I have a sneaking suspicion Afroblanco is right about it not passing, or passing in some stripped-down form as to be useless.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:07 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Starting January 20th : it's cash-up-front, Mr. President.

On the day he signs a law with teeth, he'll earn full points.

Until then: filed under "Talk Is Cheap (and suspiciously timed)"
posted by Joe Beese at 8:08 AM on January 22, 2010 [34 favorites]


I haven't been this excited about political reform since Obama announced his plans for sweeping reforms of the health insurance system.
posted by nanojath at 8:09 AM on January 22, 2010 [51 favorites]


The title's pretty ambiguous (it can easily be read that Volcker convinced Geither). Anyway, I'm not sure a president overruling a cabinet secretary on a single issue is much of a break. A break would be firing Geithner (not that I'm necessarily calling for this, but many are).

This idea was first floated a week or two ago in the form of a tax on the largest banks. That had the added benefit of raising revenue, and punished the biggest banks for growing so big. And if the banks just raised their fees to offset the tax, consumer would be pushed toward the smaller banks (thus rendering the big banks less big). Is someone out there who can explain why this newer version is better?
posted by aswego at 8:09 AM on January 22, 2010


Reich's article accurately observes that this is likely a post-Mass policy correction, "for the cameras" and to try to defuse some of the populist anger the Republicans have successfully harnessed.

Too little, too late.
posted by mek at 8:10 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh hey Obama congrats on the acheivement that's great news I'll just write an email to all my friends who are concerned with investment banking oh wait I can't do that because they're all DEAD from CANCER because they don't have HEALTHCARE you spineless TURD.
posted by Avenger at 8:10 AM on January 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm curious how the Republicans will stand against this. I've got $5 saying they go with the, "Regulations are what caused the problems, no a lack of them!" defense. How this will play with the Teabaggers, I'm not sure. (The actual on the ground Teabaggers, not the ones trying to co-opt the movement.)
posted by cimbrog at 8:11 AM on January 22, 2010


WSJ: Goldman Seen Hardest Hit By Prop-Trading Limit

Er, so it's not in place yet.

It will never pass.

Part of the idea is that you want republicans to vote against it, therefore forcing them to shed their fake populist rhetoric, so the democrats can run against republicans as Wallstreet's protectors.
posted by delmoi at 8:14 AM on January 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


On the radio they were saying that Geithner called the policy a 'mistake.' I wonder if he'll last long in the office, once he starts publicly criticizing his boss's decisions.
posted by echo target at 8:14 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


It would have been nice if this had been done, you know, sometime before last tuesday.
posted by cotterpin at 8:15 AM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


...modified to a fare-thee-well in favor of the financial sector.

The top priority has to be getting corporate dollars out of the political process. That's what's really blocking financial, healthcare and military-industrial (i.e. budgetary) reform.
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, I guess I'll be the one to say "finally! Some good news!"
posted by lunasol at 8:17 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The top priority has to be getting corporate dollars out of the political process.

Don't worry: the Supreme Court's got you covered.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:18 AM on January 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


The top priority has to be getting corporate dollars out of the political process.

Oops.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:20 AM on January 22, 2010


echo target: "On the radio they were saying that Geithner called the policy a 'mistake.' I wonder if he'll last long in the office, once he starts publicly criticizing his boss's decisions."

Seems to me that Geithner would command more in his inevitable post-administration lobbying gig as "the guy who defended Wall Street from Washington" than as "the one who resigned under a cloud of suspicion for felony fraud".
posted by Joe Beese at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2010


Jesus Christ, this place has become as toxic as the left-wing blogs. Just to (attempt to) defuse a little advance criticism, I do not believe anyone is above criticism, and I don't support hero-worship.

But what I sense towards Obama is loathing, on a par with mob hatred for me. I also sense that if I were to pop my head up and say I think he's a decent and intelligent man, I'm due for a clobbering from the MeFi mob.

Obama is swimming against a very hard stream, perhaps the hardest of any president since FDR and maybe harder. He's making some mistakes, and he's beginning to drown. And his allies are the first to throw rocks at him as he does. Just close your eyes and guess what the result of that will be.
posted by argybarg at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2010 [94 favorites]


Really you think this thing won't pass? A populist measure that disproportionately impacts coastal states with democratic senators? Go through the list of repubs who will vote for this in the senate. It honestly seems like a layup. Of course the actual point of the bill is lost on me, but any regulation is a step in the right direction. Of course prop trading, private equity and in-house hedge funds had absolutely nothing to do with the implosion but if we want to get proper regulation its almost certain that we will end up over regulated and then walked back over time. I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Should have started with reforming the mortgage market and financial holding company leverage rules first - but those aren't as politically easy and populist as this. Especially limiting mortgage demand (LTV, underwriting - inevitably it impacts lower income people)
posted by JPD at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wonder if he'll last long in the office, once he starts publicly criticizing his boss's decisions.

I'm not a big fan of Geithner, but I think that it's healthy to be around some people who aren't afraid to disagree with you. It's the only way to avoid the groupthink that characterized the Bush II years.
posted by Slothrup at 8:23 AM on January 22, 2010


Oops. On a par with mob hatred for Bush.
posted by argybarg at 8:24 AM on January 22, 2010


I think he's a decent and intelligent man

He is that, but he's under a shit ton of status quo and perhaps its time to just bare some fangs rather than play 3d chess or whatever the hell he's doing.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:24 AM on January 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


Cue kneejerk dissapointment!
posted by Artw at 8:25 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just close your eyes and guess what the result of that will be.

It may be a Republican president. Now close your eyes and guess what the difference between that and what we have now is.
posted by DU at 8:26 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Soooo, the one thing that Obama decides to emulate of the other politicans is the sleight of hand distraction issue? Really, you wanna do that, instead of be a ball buster like LBJ or a triangulator like Clinton or use the bully pulpit like Reagan?

If you had had the balls to bully the republicans when you had the chance instead of trying to make nice, you wouldn't be using this obvious political ploy. I would be very shocked if even a semicolon of this bill passes.

I predict the bill if passed will be 1200 pages long and transformed from a reform of banks to a everyone getting an automatic Five million dollar loan at 300% interest loan from BofA that's due next week.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 8:27 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


This recent Paul Volcker interview was interesting.
You feel strongly that the financial system has gotten out of whack. Do you think the American political process is capable of fixing it?
The American political process is about as broken as the financial system. Therefore, one has to be a bit skeptical. Just to give you one little example, one unrelated to the financial crisis. Here we are on Dec. 29, almost a year after the Inauguration, and there is no Under Secretary of the Treasury. That should be an important position. How can we run a government in the middle of a financial crisis without doing the ordinary, garden-variety administrative work of filling the relevant agencies? The Treasury is an outstanding example of a broken system, but it's not the only one.

Is part of the problem that Congress is slow in the process of approving?
Slow is too fast a word to describe what's going on. The Administration is one quarter over, and it hasn't manned the ramparts of government yet.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:28 AM on January 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


Oh hey Obama congrats on the acheivement that's great news I'll just write an email to all my friends who are concerned with investment banking oh wait I can't do that because they're all DEAD from CANCER because they don't have HEALTHCARE you spineless TURD.

The funny thing is that people in the healthcare thread complain Obama didn't do anything about the banks.
posted by smackfu at 8:29 AM on January 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


Geithner will be out of office in the next year. He will move into a position in the banking industry where he will make more money in a year than all members of Metafilter put together.
posted by procrastination at 8:29 AM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Really you think this thing won't pass? A populist measure that disproportionately impacts coastal states with democratic senators? Go through the list of repubs who will vote for this in the senate. It honestly seems like a layup.

If it doesn't pass, it will because of republican no votes. Which won't be good for their "populist" image. So it either passes or damages the GOP. Either way is good. I suspect your right and the republicans will vote for it, and then try to take credit for it. But never underestimate their craven support for Wallstreet in act, if not rhetoric.

I'm a bit surprised that so many people are pessimistic about this passing, though. It's not like HCR at all. The only way it can really be stopped is if Rush Limbaugh and those types are able to convince the teabaggers that this is a secret washington takeover or something.
posted by delmoi at 8:30 AM on January 22, 2010


Among other things, the new proposals would effectively restore previous restrictions separating deposit and investment banks (as originally imposed by the depression-era Glass-Steagall Act)

This itself is huge. Not to get all post hoc ergo propter hoc, but the demise of Glass-Steagall took seven decades, and the subsequent zero-to-fuckup took only one.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:31 AM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Paul Mason of the BBC's Newsnight programme had a good blog post on this earlier today.
posted by Abiezer at 8:31 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


procrastination Geithner will be out of office in the next year. He will move into a position in the banking industry where he will make more money in a year than all members of Metafilter put together.

B,b,b,but... we're reforming the industry, those ill-gotten bonuses are all things of the PAST!
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 8:32 AM on January 22, 2010


Your cynicism has been noted and will be kept in our records.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:35 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


>Oh hey Obama congrats on the acheivement that's great news I'll just write an email to all my friends who are concerned with investment banking oh wait I can't do that because they're all DEAD from CANCER because they don't have HEALTHCARE you spineless TURD.

The funny thing is that people in the healthcare thread complain Obama didn't do anything about the banks.


Also, Obama's not the particular leader who was spineless in this case (Yes, Nancy Pelosi, I'm looking at you).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:37 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wish there was such a thing as a limit break in politics.

That's just a fantasy however.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:40 AM on January 22, 2010


A break would be firing Geithner (not that I'm necessarily calling for this, but many are).

I figure this was the beginning of the end for Geithner. When that article came out, I thought, aha! This will give Obama the excuse he needs to fire Geithner.

From the first FPP link:
Geithner agreed with Volcker that banks' risk-taking needed to be constrained.

But through much of the past year, Geithner said the best approach to limiting it is to require banks to hold more capital in reserve to cover losses, reducing their potential profits. Geithner said blanket prohibitions on specific activities would be less effective, in part because such bans would eliminate some legitimate activity unnecessarily.


I agree that banks should hold more capital in reserve. Raise capital requirements and lower leverage ratios. Then you no longer have banks using huge amounts of borrowed money to make bets they can't cover. Yes, profits will drop, but so will losses. Leverage, as Lehman Brothers discovered, works both ways.

As for "blanket prohibitions on specific activities"... I'm surprised to find myself agreeing with Geithner here, but maybe not for the same reasons. I think a company like Goldman Sachs is smart enough to create "workarounds" for any prohibited activity. It's possible that some of these "workarounds" might create brand-new "financial instruments of mass destruction"-- new types of derivatives-- that could cause unintended consequences further down the road.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:41 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


They broke up AT&T, they ought to break up the big banks.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:41 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think a company like Goldman Sachs is smart enough to create "workarounds" for any prohibited activity. It's possible that some of these "workarounds" might create brand-new "financial instruments of mass destruction"-- new types of derivatives-- that could cause unintended consequences further down the road.

That's like saying we shouldn't chase criminals b/c criminals will always find new ways around the law.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:43 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


argybarg: "...I don't support hero-worship.

... Obama is swimming against a very hard stream... He's making some mistakes, and he's beginning to drown. And his allies are the first to throw rocks at him as he does.
"

Are you sure you don't support hero-worship? Your description brought to mind John Henry, the steel-driving man.

If McCain received $20 million from Big Health during the campaign, and then pushed for a bill that would deliver Big Health tens of millions of involuntary new customers, with countless billions in taxpayer subsidies as a cherry on the sundae, you wouldn't be spinning any "suffering hero" fantasies for him like this one.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:43 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


The only way it can really be stopped is if Rush Limbaugh and those types are able to convince the teabaggers that this is a secret washington takeover or something.

Just you watch. They're gonna try.
posted by cimbrog at 8:44 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


They broke up AT&T, they ought to break up the big banks.

Interestingly, I've thought that this would be precisely the way to combat the campaign contribution ruling the Supreme Court made the other day. Get really tough on breaking up monopolies again -- after all, if a company isn't big enough to make a gigundo-size campaign contribution, doesn't that level the playing field again?

(Disclaimer: when it comes to economic and financial matters, I am only one step up from "keeping my money in a sock stuffed under the mattress. I acknowledge I'm thinking about this simplistically. *bows*)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seconding cimborg's comment. The right wing noise machine is already revving up:

Limbaugh: “When you say banker, people think Jewish…Obama is assaulting bankers…a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish.”
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:47 AM on January 22, 2010


It may be a Republican president. Now close your eyes and guess what the difference between that and what we have now is.

Um... someone who would continue to stack SCOTUS with the sort of people who just handed elections over to big business?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:47 AM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


a.) Geithner is not going to be replaced any time soon, because
b.) Literally every piece of legislation that might make Obama or the Democrats look good will be filibustered by the Republicans, even if it would make the Republicans look good, too.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:48 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Politics: a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." - Ambrose Pierce.
posted by phaedon at 8:49 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Doctor! Doctor! Stop the autopsy! The president has a pulse again!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:51 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not Geithner who's in the hot seat right now, but Bernanke.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2010


argybarg: "Obama is swimming against a very hard stream, perhaps the hardest of any president since FDR and maybe harder. He's making some mistakes, and he's beginning to drown. And his allies are the first to throw rocks at him as he does. Just close your eyes and guess what the result of that will be."

Glenn:

And then there is the "Blame the Left" theme from Obama loyalists, who actually claim that the Democrats' problems are due to the fact that the Left hasn't been cheering loudly enough for the Leader. I recall quite vividly how Bush followers spent years claiming that the failings of the Iraq War were not the fault of George Bush -- who had control of the entire war, the entire Congress, and the power to do everything he wanted -- but, rather, it was all "the Left's" fault for excessively criticizing the President, and thus weakening both him and the war effort.

To insist that the Democratic Party's failures are not the fault of Barack Obama -- who controls the entire party infrastructure, its agenda, the news cycle, and the health care plan -- we now hear from Obama supporters a similar claim: it's all the Left's fault for excessively criticizing the Leader.

posted by Joe Beese at 8:54 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Limbaugh: “When you say banker, people I think Jewish because I am a big fat fucking racist and I assume so is everyone else.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:55 AM on January 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


hey joe beese have you ever heard of glenn greenwald i think you might like him a lot and maybe quote the SAME THREE THINGS HE KEEPS SAYING IN EVERY SINGLE POLITICAL THREAD
posted by shakespeherian at 8:57 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Literally every piece of legislation that might make Obama or the Democrats look good will be filibustered by the Republicans, even if it would make the Republicans look good, too.

Actually, I should rephrase this. The Republicans will threaten to filibuster every piece of legislation that might make Obama or the Democrats look good. The Democrats will then instantly curl into their usual fetal positions and quietly cry in the corner, so as not to disturb the Republicans, who are busy screaming the Pledge of Allegiance at the top of their lungs over and over.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:58 AM on January 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


Joe Beese >> Glenn:

Speaking of hero worship...
posted by JohnFredra at 8:59 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Limbaugh: “When you say banker, people think Jewish…Obama is assaulting bankers…a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish.”

Is it just me, or is Limbaugh way more explicitly racist than usual lately? Between this and his theory that the Haitian earthquake is a secret plot to give tax money to foreign black people, it seems like his usual racist subtext has moved right up to just plain text.
posted by EarBucket at 9:01 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is it just me, or is Limbaugh way more explicitly racist than usual lately?

Even though he is on different time slots than Hannity, Beck, and Savage in almost every market, he still wants to keep pace with the disgustingness.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:03 AM on January 22, 2010


I haven't really looked deeply at this proposal, but it seems to me that "imposing stiff new capital requirements" on banks would result in even less lending by banks. Considering that increasing banks' liquidity in order to increase lending was part of the TARP plan, how is this not, at least in part, counterproductive?
posted by enkrates at 9:04 AM on January 22, 2010


Its a great idea, I'm all in favor of it, and I'd like to know how anyone thinks it will pass with 41 Republicans in the Senate, and the filibuster in place?

Yay Obama, finally taking a tough line with the banksters.

Boo Obama, waiting to do so until there was absolutely no chance it would ever get through.

You think Harry "the coward" Reid will do anything to force this through? I don't.

At best we'll see this go to the Senate and be filibustered to death. At worst we'll see a repeat of the health care "reform" debacle and the Democrats ritually humiliating themselves at the alter of "bi-partisanship".

What possible downside is there for the Republicans to filibuster this?

EarBucket Yeah, and not just Limbaugh. The whole Right is beginning to be much more open in their racism.
posted by sotonohito at 9:04 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think a company like Goldman Sachs is smart enough to create "workarounds" for any prohibited activity. It's possible that some of these "workarounds" might create brand-new "financial instruments of mass destruction"-- new types of derivatives-- that could cause unintended consequences further down the road.

That's like saying we shouldn't chase criminals b/c criminals will always find new ways around the law.


No, what I'm saying is chase the criminals, but don't create conditions where one hundred more criminals will arise for every one criminal you catch.

The history of financial regulation is full of unintended consequences. Realistically, a company like Goldman Sachs can outmaneuver any federal regulators. Does this mean regulators should give it up? No. It means the regulators should try harder.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:04 AM on January 22, 2010


So is Limbaugh saying that Obama's plan is bad because it is actually Obama secretly attacking Jews? Is that what I am supposed to take away from his statement? I think I am genuinely confused as to what in hell he is talking about. I'm accustomed to being disgusted by what he says but I usually understand the concept. I am just completely at sea here.
posted by Babblesort at 9:06 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


enkrates: "Considering that increasing banks' liquidity giving banks hundreds of billions of free money in order to increase lending was part of the TARP plan... "

FTFY
posted by Joe Beese at 9:08 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


So many zingers, so little time.
posted by muddgirl at 9:09 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


don't create conditions where one hundred more criminals will arise for every one criminal you catch.

But what specific evidence do you have that the current proposals will result in this scenario? So far you have only asserted it as a possibility, but given that most experts agree lack of both regulation and enforcement, and not excessive or poor regulation, caused the current financial crisis, then it's hard not to think your fears about this are misplaced.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:09 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What possible downside is there for the Republicans to filibuster this?

They become the obstructionist party using their political capital to protect the exact businesses that most Americans blame for the recent economic downturn?

That is, if the Democratic party was actually capable of generating any spin of their own.
posted by muddgirl at 9:11 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]



You think Harry "the coward" Reid will do anything to force this through? I don't.

At best we'll see this go to the Senate and be filibustered to death. At worst we'll see a repeat of the health care "reform" debacle and the Democrats ritually humiliating themselves at the alter of "bi-partisanship".
Yes, but if that happens republicans who filibuster it won't be able to claim to be populist fighters of wallstreet. And democrats who help push it forward will be able to make that claim on the campaign trail, even if it doesn't pass.

Politically, even if it doesn't pass, it's political gold for the supporters, and poison for it's opponents. Unlike the HCR which ended up being the opposite.
What possible downside is there for the Republicans to filibuster this?
Being seen as wallstreet's defenders, rather then as preventing people from having to pay for health insurance.
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ambrose Bierce, not Pierce.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:17 AM on January 22, 2010


I'm not sure that Republican opposition is going to be as steep as some people are making it out to be. Volcker isn't exactly beloved, particularly on the far Right (he's a central figure in a lot of Trilateral Commission / One World conspiracy theories dating back to the Carter administration), but he does have grudging respect in Washington and among the business side of the party for controlling inflation.

The Republicans are obviously not going to just roll over easily, because to do so would allow Obama to score a political point. They're much prefer to keep that populist rage focused on Washington in general, and Obama and the Democrats in Congress in particular, then allow it to be redirected back at the banks and Wall Street. Not because they have that much love for Wall Street -- the Democrats are the party of choice on the Street anyway -- but because they don't want to let Obama use it as an escape valve to relieve the anger that seems to be propelling them into a strong position for the mid-term election.

In the end I expect it will pass, since the Republicans know it's in their long-term best interest to prevent a repeat of the economic collapse (many of them see the crunch as the key thing that cost them the election, even moreso than Palin; we can argue about whether that's accurate, but many of them believe it).
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:17 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought Obama was a secret Muslim atheist who was propped up by the Jewish banking and Catholic Illuminati. Sheesh, this is confusing.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:18 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Being seen as wallstreet's defenders, rather then as preventing people from having to pay for health insurance.

Come on. The Republican party can its whole spinning-pro-Wall-Street-policies-as-populist shtick blindfolded, in its sleep, backward, with its hands tied behind its back and an icepick in its brain.
posted by enn at 9:20 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm curious how the Republicans will stand against this. I've got $5 saying they go with the, "Regulations are what caused the problems, no a lack of them!" defense.
It hardly matters. "Socialism", they'll say, maybe. Or something totally unrelated to the actual issue, like "Just another big government democrat tax on small business owners". Or something absurdly unrelated to the actual issue, like "Marriage is between one man and one woman".

Again, it hardly matters. Whatever they say, they'll just keep saying it, and the people will absorb it as factual and relevant, and the Democrats will fold.
posted by Flunkie at 9:22 AM on January 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


There is no way that Obama can "break" with Tim Geithner. Geitherner works for Obama and will now work to implement this or quit. I suspect he implements. No reason to think otherwise.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:22 AM on January 22, 2010


Speaking of hero worship...
posted by JohnFredra at 8:59 AM on January 22 [+] [!]

Yes? ...you were saying? *tap* *tap* Is this thing on?

Oh, that was just a one-liner ad hominem in place of legitimate argument? Gotcha, carry on then.
posted by mek at 9:23 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It hardly matters. "Socialism", they'll say, maybe. Or something totally unrelated to the actual issue, like "Just another big government democrat tax on small business owners". Or something absurdly unrelated to the actual issue, like "Marriage is between one man and one woman".
It won't mollify their hardcore base but I think independents will get the picture.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 AM on January 22, 2010


What happened to Bush's highjinx that essentially gave him dictatorial powers over the House and Senate? Didn't those get passed on to the new President? Why can't Obama just unilaterally overrule the idiots populating the H&S and just make universal healthcare, and regulated banking and stock exchanges, the law?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 AM on January 22, 2010


well, fuck me oops wash my mouth out with soap
posted by infini at 9:28 AM on January 22, 2010


>> it's political gold for the supporters, and poison for it's opponents. Unlike the HCR which ended up being the opposite.

I think that's a key statement -- HCR started out really popular but became a political boat anchor even though people still support the general idea of health care reform. I would hesitate to write off both the GOP's ability pull the same tactical maneuvers here, and the Dems of standing still while it happens.
posted by JohnFredra at 9:29 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What happened to Bush's highjinx that essentially gave him dictatorial powers over the House and Senate? Didn't those get passed on to the new President? Why can't Obama just unilaterally overrule the idiots populating the H&S and just make universal healthcare, and regulated banking and stock exchanges, the law?

Again, this is because the Republicans operate as a bloc, while the Democrats do not. Actually, not only do the Democrats often need to be individually wooed and coddled to vote for even the most obvious and basic things, but they are also terrified that their constituencies are all actually cartoon hillbillies who throw rocks at buses because they represent 'progress' and thus end up voting Republican anyway.

The Republicans do not have this problem; therefore Bush could do whatever the fuck he wanted.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:30 AM on January 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


Seconding cimborg's comment. The right wing noise machine is already revving up:

Why bother? They should just leave the anti-Obama noise making and support undermining to those who are demonstrably best at it: The left.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:31 AM on January 22, 2010


Consider three voices speaking:

A) I wish Obama would go farther on health care/banking/stimulus, but let's start here. It's imperfect, and probably could have been better. But get it passed, let it sink in as part of the political landscape, and we'll build on it.

B) Come on, guy. Remember what you were voted in to do. If you can't remember what you're about, look at these petitions, and listen to the unions or your own advocacy groups. Just getting by isn't good enough. Get over the hump (and here's a push).

C) Obama is a spineless turd, a corporate whore, no different than George Bush. His presidency is already a corpse and I spit on it. If you want to defend him it's because, oh, no one can criticize your Glorious Leader. Guess what that makes you? A turd, a whore, no better than Bush.

The speed with which MeFi, and many Democrats, slid from (A) directly to (C) reminds me of nothing better than a tantrum. At the very least, it creates a toxic atmosphere.
posted by argybarg at 9:31 AM on January 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


The good news is that Obama got his ass handed to him on a platter in Massachusetts and now he finally is doing something about something. But at this point, I don't think he's doing anything more than putting out fires. I am crushed by how weak this presidency is. I don't see him back on the offensive anytime soon.
posted by phaedon at 9:32 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love the smell of strawmen in the morning.
posted by muddgirl at 9:33 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


DU: It may be a Republican president. Now close your eyes and guess what the difference between that and what we have now is.

Yeah; I have. I guess this still has some currency among the Netroots, but it's hard to fathom people flocking to the "they're all the same" canard because Obama isn't achieving every item on the Lefty laundry list.

Obama, who set a timeline to end the Afghan war in 18 months, is exactly the same as a Republican, who'd probably start a war with Iran.

Obama, who has risked his presidency on getting some health care refrom, is exactly the same as a Republican, who'd want no reform, and to actually reduce regulation.

Obama, who wants targeted tax cuts for the middle class and small business to spur job creation, is the same as a Republican, who'd make permanent or expand the Bush tax cuts that favor the ultra-wealthy.

It's just well past absurd at this point.
posted by spaltavian at 9:34 AM on January 22, 2010 [39 favorites]


Why can't Obama just unilaterally overrule the idiots populating the H&S and just make universal healthcare, and regulated banking and stock exchanges, the law?

Surely one of the best things about Obama is that he is attempting to restore some kind of democratic principle, rather than strengthening the Presidency still further?

Still, I can see the frustration.

I suspect that the reason why so many people are so angry about the recent decisions is because they feel that healthcare and banking reform will do a lot of people a lot of good; that they are things that the majority of people actually want.

So, the maddening thing is that the system seems very good at preventing anyone from making some much needed, very beneficial improvements. And with the recent supreme court judgement, things are only getting worse, in terms of weighting the system against the many and in favour of the few.

America is in danger of becoming a corrupt oligarchy; I'm not sure that a tyrant is the answer.
posted by lucien_reeve at 9:34 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


America is in danger of becoming a corrupt oligarchy; I'm not sure that a tyrant is the answer.

Where can we get a quality benevolent dictator, then?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:36 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


But what specific evidence do you have that the current proposals will result in this scenario?

How could I have specific evidence about possible future events?

But if you want to see unintended consequences of financial regulation, just look at the past:
There are 39,000 individuals working full time to regulate the financial markets in the U.S. alone. What did they do when the bubble was inflated? Well, they helped inflate it.

In the 1970s and 1980s, we learned that regulation of product markets caused many problems. The public choice school taught us that when regulators have to choose between increasing their powers and budgets and what improves society, they often choose the latter. Even well-meaning regulation often produces unintended consequences that turn small problems into big ones.

But when the financial markets seemed to be doing reasonably well, that criticism never really had an impact on the world of finance.

What a difference a crisis makes! A detailed anatomy of the bubble shows that many of the policies and regulations meant to reduce financial risk actually increased it. The most obvious example is the government's policy of bailing out financial institutions to avoid crises, which made it more likely that they will engage in risky behavior. And the Fed's attempt to abolish recessions with drastic reductions of the interest rate it sets resulted in the biggest credit bubble in history, and one of the worst recessions.

But there are several other examples in this crisis. In the 1970s, the SEC gave the big rating agencies a regulatory role. They got the right to officially define risk, and other investors were forced to abide by them; many funds were not allowed to invest in anything that was not considered investment grade, and other institutions were forced to hold more capital if they did.

This oligopoly was granted in order to control risk. But the institutions used their new role to inflate the ratings, and dangerous mortgage-backed securities were suddenly considered risk-free.
HP LaserJet P10006, you have greater faith in the regulators' abilities than I do. I agree with you that regulation of financial markets is important , but I also agree with the last line of the above article: "Do not expect too much from new regulations. Tomorrow's crisis is often a result of the solution to the last crisis."
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:37 AM on January 22, 2010


From Abiezer's link to the BBCs Paul Mason:

There will be strong arguments deployed as to why this is a bad thing, but we are not exactly hearing them flood the airwaves this morning. The banking world is stunned.

People on the very desks that would be deemed unlawful in mid-town Manhattan were turning round over their skinny-lattes to each other and saying yesterday: "This is about Martha Coakley and Massachusetts, right? 'S not gonna happen, right?" Nobody saw it coming.


Nice to know, for the moment anyway, that this thing seems to have teeth.
posted by philip-random at 9:40 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


America is in danger of becoming a corrupt oligarchy;
posted by lucien_reeve


The oligarchy is already in place. The fact that they are corrupt is the only thing we've got going right now. They are trying very hard to remove all the laws and regulations that make their activities corrupt. When the oligarchy has complete power they won't be corrupt any more because they will have removed every obstacle to whatever behavior they want to engage in.
posted by Babblesort at 9:41 AM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


But if you want to see unintended consequences of financial DE-regulation, just look at the past:

Two of us can play this game.
posted by philip-random at 9:43 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


btw, there's #netfreedom
posted by infini at 9:43 AM on January 22, 2010


I agree with you that regulation of financial markets is important , but I also agree with the last line of the above article: "Do not expect too much from new regulations. Tomorrow's crisis is often a result of the solution to the last crisis."

I don't think that's likely with the current proposal. The Depression era reforms worked really well to stabilize the financial markets, actually, and there's a long historical track record of economic growth with many of these regulations in place. It's really the persistent, steady erosion of those reforms due to the outsize influence of industry lobbyists and conservative interests that has resulted in such dramatic destabilization of the financial sector (of course, to be fair to the cons, it was Clinton that signed the law that put the final nail in the coffin on those reforms).

These regulations--in restoring many of the stabilizing, post-Depression financial regulations, as well as beefing up capital requirements and putting tight caps on commercial investment activity for deposit banks--should go a long way to restoring sanity, if Obama can keep enough popular support behind the push to get it through what is almost certain to be a squeamish, reluctant, moderate/Blue Dog Democrat dominated Senate.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:50 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


It hardly matters. "Socialism", they'll say, maybe. Or something totally unrelated to the actual issue

Or, they could just say "this is just Obama's attempt at populist demagoguery after the wake-up call in Massachusetts," "it's a desperate flip-flop," etc. This has the benefit of being built on a certain amount of obvious truth (the suspicious timing), as all good propaganda should be.

But I don't think it really represents very serious opposition. Right now the Republicans are ready to oppose Obama on anything that might provide cover for his administration and the Democratic leadership; it will take a little while to separate the kick-him-while-he's-down kneejerk opposition from the substantive opposition to the policy itself. It's really only the latter that matters in actually getting the policy passed, provided the Democrats are patient about it.

The other interesting thing will be the stock market. IMO, that's what really endangers the policy, more than the Republicans. How long can Democrats tolerate headlines like this:
Obama’s Bank Proposal Helps Erase the Month’s Gains
Concerns over President Obama’s plan to limit the activities of banks helped drag shares down on Thursday, erasing all the gains the stock market made in the first three weeks of 2010.
The adversaries here are not so much the Republicans, but those in Wall Street and the I-banks themselves -- and they're a lot more dangerous than just an opposition party. If the bankers can paint the Democrats as basically reopening the wounds of last year's collapse, and if they can drag down the stock market and effectively hold it hostage, then the policy is really in trouble.

It's not the Republicans that really concern me here.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:51 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's an interesting thing to watch a MetaFilter political thread, especially one where the theme is that Obama/Congress/TheLeft should get off their asses and into gear and whatnot. MetaFilter appears fairly heterogeneous, ideologically speaking, and yet there's fightiness over how best to move in the direction we all, ostensibly, want to go.

Imagine how difficult it must be for the President of the United States to get one damned thing done, considering the vast array of ideologies, egos and fucktards he has aligned with and against him.
posted by Pragmatica at 9:55 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, bloody hell. Got my heteros and my homos mixed up again. Won't it be great when it doesn't matter anymore?
posted by Pragmatica at 9:57 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


philip-random-- from that wiki link: Critics argued that credit rating agencies and investors failed to accurately price the risk involved with mortgage-related financial products, and that governments did not adjust their regulatory practices to address 21st century financial markets.

I agree with this. That's basically what the article I linked to said: But there are several other examples in this crisis. In the 1970s, the SEC gave the big rating agencies a regulatory role. They got the right to officially define risk, and other investors were forced to abide by them; many funds were not allowed to invest in anything that was not considered investment grade, and other institutions were forced to hold more capital if they did.

I'm not arguing for no regulation. You're absolutely right that deregulation has unintendended consequences. Repealing Glass Steagall was a huge mistake.

As I said above, I would like the regulators and those who enforce the regulations to try harder. Next time the SEC is warned about a Madoff-type figure, they should do something about it instead of ignoring the warnings.

saulgoodman: I hope you're right.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:57 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not the Republicans that really concern me here.

They should both be of concern, actually. If the Republicans actually stood with Obama on this then there would be no one to cave to their blackmail. But since they are there hungrily waiting to blame the Dems for anything, the Dems will be crushed.

I'm not hopeful, but I'll get on Marcy, Sharrod and George's butts about it anyways.
posted by cimbrog at 9:58 AM on January 22, 2010


Why can't Obama just unilaterally overrule the idiots populating the H&S and just make universal healthcare, and regulated banking and stock exchanges, the law?

How about because he hasn't got a shred of legal authority to do that? Presidents can issue executive orders, but those are limited in power: they carry a lot of weight when it comes to matters of national security, but they don't give the executive any civil authority not explicitly granted under the constitution. Except when operating in the capacity of commander-in-chief, the president has no authority whatsoever to issue law. It has to go through the legislative process, or result from a high court decision.

Granted, Nixon once issued an order by fiat that capped all US wages and retail prices at their current levels for three months and took America off the gold standard without consulting Congress.

But Nixon was a Republican. We let Republicans do things like that because we know they don't really mean it. Even when they act like tyrants, we know they stand for liberty.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:58 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Republicans are obviously not going to just roll over easily, because to do so would allow Obama to score a political point. They're much prefer to keep that populist rage focused on Washington in general, and Obama and the Democrats in Congress in particular, then allow it to be redirected back at the banks and Wall Street. Not because they have that much love for Wall Street -- the Democrats are the party of choice on the Street anyway...

No, the Democrats aren't the party of "the Street".... yet. Take away Wall Street from the Republicans and what do you have: the Tea baggers and the Christian dominionists. What has been happening since Clinton appointed Robert Rubin to treasury is that the Democrats have tried (and successfully) to poach Wall Street from the Republicans. Clinton's economic (and social) policies and were more or less the second coming of Nelson Rockefeller. And now, the Democratic party is essentially the party of Rockefeller Republicans: economic laissez-faire (market solutions) combined with a "help up not a hand out" small dollar, small c conservative social agenda. Obama has always placed himself squarely within that agenda, I mean if you actually read the proposals in his campaign website.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I think what Wall Street is discovering is that they can make more money playing the two parties off of each other... as long as the Teabaggers and Christian Fascists don't actually take total control of the Republicans.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Limbaugh: “When you say banker, people think Jewish…Obama is assaulting bankers…a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish.

Okay, now I'm truly convinced that Limbaugh checked his listener demographics over Christmas and realized that his most devoted dittoheads are also KKK members.
posted by zarq at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Imagine how difficult it must be for the President of the United States to get one damned thing done, considering the vast array of ideologies, egos and fucktards he has aligned with and against him.

I can't think of a more eloquent argument for why he can't possibly now use his bully pulpit to be a powerful advocate for the policies he championed in order to obtain said pulpit, like the public option, for instance.
posted by [citation needed] at 10:03 AM on January 22, 2010


In fact Goldman Sachs share price is down 7% over the past two days. Heh.

Bank Shares Tumble on Obama Crackdown
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2010


delmoi I'm in favor of forcing them to oppose it, but I have my doubts that any of the Democrats have the whatittakes to use the Republican opposition to their benefit.

What I dread is Obama, yet again, declaring that "bi-partisanship" is critical and, yet again, instructing Reid et al to compromise every principal that exists to appease the Republicans and Republicans disguised as Democrats.

Handled properly this could be a big win for the Democrats, but handled like Obama handled health care it'll backfire and make the Democrats, yet again, look like a spineless collection of incompetents.

Kadin2048 wrote In the end I expect it will pass, since the Republicans know it's in their long-term best interest to prevent a repeat of the economic collapse

Possibly. I'm not so sure they won't block it simply because that's what they do. Anyway, they can always spin the proposal as Big Government interfering with business. If the first shots fired by Limbaugh and Sen Whoever there are any indication, that's how they'll go.

We'll find out.
posted by sotonohito at 10:12 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


These regulations--in restoring many of the stabilizing, post-Depression financial regulations, as well as beefing up capital requirements and putting tight caps on commercial investment activity for deposit banks--should go a long way to restoring sanity, if Obama can keep enough popular support behind the push to get it through what is almost certain to be a squeamish, reluctant, moderate/Blue Dog Democrat dominated Senate.

The problem is that there aren't any regulations yet. If Obama were actually proposing a new Glass-Steagel there would be total panic in finanical stocks right now: BoA and Citi would be instant the equivalent of GM. What I initially heard is that he proposed banning "in house" hedge firms, which obviously has a huge amount of wiggle room. And proprietary trading is a just a word.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2010/01/volcker_rule_diy_glasssteagall.html
posted by ennui.bz at 10:15 AM on January 22, 2010


41.
posted by Danf at 10:16 AM on January 22, 2010


Obama is swimming against a very hard stream, perhaps the hardest of any president since FDR and maybe harder. He's making some mistakes, and he's beginning to drown. And his allies are the first to throw rocks at him as he does. Just close your eyes and guess what the result of that will be.

I think you're making a worthwhile point, here, but you're also kinda taking a shot at the "problem" with the dem party that many people here think of as one of the strengths of the liberal platform: that we aren't about party loyalty so much as we're about getting certain important things done.

now, the rabid loyalty the republicans have created around their frothingly hysterical platforms is enviable, true. when you get the entire republican base crying about death panels that don't and wouldn't exist in order to get what you want, that's impressive. and it certainly is hard to fight against that without party unity.

but we don't want a united democratic party MORE than we want healthcare and financial regulation, and that's the disconnect. we don't want people supporting obama for the sake of a strong party, we want it for the sake of obama being able to achieve the goals we want: again, healthcare and financial regulation.

and where those things run into stumbling blocks is absolutely when they encounter division in the democratic party, thanks to dickholes like Leiberman. But then you hear that Obama instructed his people to give Leiberman whatever he wanted, and you think, "You know what? Obama's not getting it done. He's not healing rifts in the party, he's helping foster them, and that's a big ol' fuck up on his part. so I want obama to stop fucking up." I'm all for supporting him. But I want to support him to get the fucking job done, not to fuck up.

And that's not even getting into his record so far on guatanamo detainees and domestic surveillance.
posted by shmegegge at 10:16 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


C) Obama is a spineless turd, a corporate whore, no different than George Bush. His presidency is already a corpse and I spit on it. If you want to defend him it's because, oh, no one can criticize your Glorious Leader. Guess what that makes you? A turd, a whore, no better than Bush.

The speed with which MeFi, and many Democrats, slid from (A) directly to (C) reminds me of nothing better than a tantrum. At the very least, it creates a toxic atmosphere.
Well, that's what's happening in the rest of the country. What do you expect? Just sit back and keep cutting Obama slack and then the republicans rush in and take over the house and senate? How is that a good plan?
Yeah; I have. I guess this still has some currency among the Netroots, but it's hard to fathom people flocking to the "they're all the same" canard because Obama isn't achieving every item on the Lefty laundry list.
Dude, a republican just got elected in Massachusetts, which a pretty liberal state. If you don't think people are flocking to the "all the same" because it's just so obviously not the case then you really need to wake up. People didn't vote for Brown because liberals weren't 100% cheerleading Obama. Don't blame the critics for your own failings, it's just ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as when the right tried to blame "the left" for not cheerleading Iraq for that failure. People are going to make up their own minds and blaming people for not agreeing with you isn't very convincing.
Obama, who has risked his presidency on getting some health care refrom, is exactly the same as a Republican, who'd want no reform, and to actually reduce regulation.


Yeah, "risked his presidency" and what did he get? Nothing.
What happened to Bush's highjinx that essentially gave him dictatorial powers over the House and Senate? Didn't those get passed on to the new President? Why can't Obama just unilaterally overrule the idiots populating the H&S and just make universal healthcare, and regulated banking and stock exchanges, the law?
Bush wasn't able to get any of his domestic policy passed. His big thing was privatizing social security. Didn't happen. The only domestic policy he passed was no child left behind.

On the other hand, Obama can start any wars he wants. He can also unilaterally decide what to do about Iraq and Afghanistan, and he has.
posted by delmoi at 10:19 AM on January 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Imagine how difficult it must be for the President of the United States to get one damned thing done, considering the vast array of ideologies, egos and fucktards he has aligned with and against him.

You also have to add to this the fact that the so-called "left", "progressives", (whatever) have been without meaningful power for so long that they're bound to make some really dumb mistakes in their first year or so.

And yet, the measure of a leader has to be whether he can somehow find a way to actually be effective in spite of all the shit and convolution he's got to deal with. Welcome to crucible, Mr. Obama. You wanted it.
posted by philip-random at 10:21 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama is swimming against a very hard stream, perhaps the hardest of any president since FDR and maybe harder.

Below are two approaches to that problem.

FDR: "We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred."


BHO: "Kumbaya."


Obama is acclaimed for his oratory but you should listen to Roosevelt in this short clip to realize how much we have lowered the bar. FDR was on a level with MLK. Obama -- not so much.
posted by JackFlash at 10:26 AM on January 22, 2010 [27 favorites]


I think you're making a worthwhile point, here, but you're also kinda taking a shot at the "problem" with the dem party that many people here think of as one of the strengths of the liberal platform: that we aren't about party loyalty so much as we're about getting certain important things done.

now, the rabid loyalty the republicans have created around their frothingly hysterical platforms is enviable, true. when you get the entire republican base crying about death panels that don't and wouldn't exist in order to get what you want, that's impressive. and it certainly is hard to fight against that without party unity.

but we don't want a united democratic party MORE than we want healthcare and financial regulation, and that's the disconnect. we don't want people supporting obama for the sake of a strong party, we want it for the sake of obama being able to achieve the goals we want: again, healthcare and financial regulation.


This is exactly what I don't understand. People complain about how "Bush got everything he wanted done" and whine about how the "Democrats can't do that." You know how Bush got everything done? Party loyalty. Remember the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage bill that Bush got passed? Plenty of GOP Congressmen were against it. But it passed because of party loyalty.

What a party does is allow a group of people clustered around a series of common policies to work together to enact those policies. Now not every person in the party agrees with everyone else, but by compromsing on each others' agendas, a lot gets done.

When you do that, you don't get every damn thing you want. But you get a good portion of what you want and you change the direction of the country.

But a lot of people are breaking party discipline right now in the hopes of getting the exact bill they want. That means no bill at all, especially with the margin we have in the Senate right now, which is a problem. And suddenly everyone is against the filibuster, which they loved a few years back when the GOP was threatening the "Nuclear Option" when they wanted to ram through a whole bunch of shitty judges really fast.

Get a grip. If we don't work together we lose. And working together means you don't get everything you want.

A buddy of mine predicted boldly after Obama was elected that it was his left wing that was going to do him in--that they would demand everything and not compromise.

And the events of the last few days are proving this true.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:28 AM on January 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


What happened to Bush's highjinx that essentially gave him dictatorial powers over the House and Senate? Didn't those get passed on to the new President? Why can't Obama just unilaterally overrule the idiots populating the H&S and just make universal healthcare, and regulated banking and stock exchanges, the law

A united party behind him. That's how he got it done. And that's what they are doing to us right now--pressing on our weak points. Some people are helping them out by demanding the perfect rather than the good.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:30 AM on January 22, 2010


you should listen to Roosevelt in this short clip

Goddamn that was a good clip. I really miss having white plutocrats who were on our side.
posted by logicpunk at 10:36 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


spaltavian wrote because Obama isn't achieving every item on the Lefty laundry list.

The problem isn't that he hasn't done everything, its that he mostly hasn't done anything.

There's a timetable for Iraq.

That, right there, is pretty much the only thing Obama has done that is on the left's laundry list, and even there he waffled, slammed the left, and hasn't gotten us out as quickly as he could have.

He's escalated in Afghanistan. Which is exactly what the right wanted, and the polar opposite of what the left wanted.

He's decided to continue with the unconscionable Bush era policies of preemptive detention, no trials, not even charges, for "terrorists". Exactly what the extreme right wing fringe wants, polar opposite of what the left wants.

He kept a crapload of right wing Bush appointees in the various Executive departments, and to no one's surprise at all they've been pushing a right wing agenda, including aggressively and offensively working to protect the DOMA.

He has not used his influence to push Congress to repeal DOMA.

Same for Don't Ask Don't Tell.

And, of course, there's the whole health reform debacle, where Obama engaged in secret negotiations with the industry and then basically took a vacation from doing anything in order to let all that was good in the bill die. He specifically instructed Reid to give Lieberman everything he wanted. Basically he raised the hopes of the left and then took a giant shit all over us.

What we got was a weak, halfway measure on Iraq, a giant "fuck you" on every other item in the laundry list.

I agree with a lot of what you're saying. Obama isn't as bad as a Republican. But he ain't good, and we've got to yell, kick, scream, and raise a fuss to simply get him to do ANYTHING he promised to do, and even when he does start that way, we've got to push and push and push, and yell and yell and yell, or he'll weasel out on us, as he did with health reform.

He's infinitely better than Cranky & Crazy because he, at least, has the possibility of being dragged the direction we want. He's fighting us every step of the way, but the possibility of getting him to do the right thing is there, and it wouldn't be with a Republican.

But that's different, a lot different, from having a genuine ally.

I don't know. I think the man bought into his own hype about being post-partisan and is simply not mentally able to grasp the fact that the Republicans aren't reasonable, but rather that they simply will fight him on everything out of spite. Maybe, I hope, the loss to Brown and the death of health care reform will wake him up out of his fantasy of post-partisan paradise.

Ironmouth wrote that it was his left wing that was going to do him in--that they would demand everything and not compromise.

Compromise requires that the right give way too. See, "compromise" doesn't mean "the left surrenders everything and the right gets exactly what they want". That, however, is exactly what Obama is demanding.

I'm willing to compromise, I don't like it but I'll do it if necessary. What I'm not willing to do is give up everything and get nothing in return.
posted by sotonohito at 10:36 AM on January 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


Ironmouth: Which events of the past few days are related to leftist infighting? I don't disagree it exists and that it's bad, I'm just not sure it's as important as Coakley being above campaigning and Kennedy deluding himself that fair elections aren't a compelling government interest.
posted by jock@law at 10:37 AM on January 22, 2010


I'm starting to realize that I think Obama just made a big strategic miscalculation (an understandable one), but still a major one, by putting HCR so high up on his policy agenda. I'd point out that a significant number of political pundits and analysts (Krugman and Reich included, if I'm not mistaken) insisted that Obama should make HCR reform an immediate, top priority.

At any rate, President Obama's assumption, I think, was that since polls consistently showed a high level of popular support for HCR and since the Democrats had been paying lip service to HCR for decades now, there would be strong support among Dems in congress for the reform, and they would easily get the job done, riding on a wave of popular support.

Unfortunately, that's not how the Dems do business. Moderate and Blue Dog Dems, who make up a large proportion of the party, consistently use rhetoric that far exceeds their actual political will. Consider the fact that as recently as his run on the Gore ticket, Lieberman presented himself as a staunch supporter of the HCR effort. And Lieberman is far from the only (now former) Dem who demonstrated himself unwilling to stand behind his own previous HCR rhetoric.

And all this has been playing out in the context of a political establishment and electorate still deeply divided in the aftermath of the Bush administration. President Obama's mistake may have been not recognizing how deeply divisive the HCR debate would become. Given that deep political fault lines were already showing, a contentious issue like HCR should have been put on the backburner until some of the more immediately pressing problems (financial reform and recovery, job growth, etc.) were addressed. I think he was hoping to get a big, easy win early and then build on that momentum before going into some of the more bread-and-butter reforms he wants, but (with a lot of help from the industry lobby and the tea baggers) HCR turned out not to be a populist unifying cause so much as a new source of pressure on those existing political divisions in the public. It didn't succeed and help build the rallying cry for further reform; it became a source of frustration and a political sore spot.

That's ultimately what sank this round in the health care reform effort, I think, and it was a mistake, but a carefully considered and well-intended one.

Finally addressing the problems in the financial sector in a serious, meaningful way could be a start toward building some political momentum if it succeeds. Repubs know this and on that account aren't going to go along with the financial reforms in good faith even if it's in their own longer term political interests or in the best interests of the nation to support reform. There are already signs the Republicans are gearing up for a major showdown over this, so we need to maintain pressure on the moderate dems and the Republicans. Harry Reid is a useless nit, so it's going to be up to us to keep the Democratic majority in line and to give the Republicans hell so that they at least feel some pressure to capitulate.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:39 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is exactly what I don't understand. People complain about how "Bush got everything he wanted done" and whine about how the "Democrats can't do that." You know how Bush got everything done? Party loyalty. Remember the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage bill that Bush got passed? Plenty of GOP Congressmen were against it. But it passed because of party loyalty.

What a party does is allow a group of people clustered around a series of common policies to work together to enact those policies.


you are exactly right, and I'd like to make it clear that I'm speaking only for myself here, BUT:

there was more to what I said than simply "we want issues, not party loyalty for its own sake." what I may not have made clear enough in my first comment is that it's absolutely a major part of obama's job to foster that loyalty, and that he's not doing it right now. and that's the big problem. he's playing too far to the middle, so while he's pushing for health care on one hand, he's making concessions to a closet republican with the other that actually ruin the health care bill. that's not the fault of a divided democratic base. while he's talking about pulling out of iraq, he's gearing up for afghanistan. while he's talking about closing guantanamo, he's marking 50 detainees as enemy combatants without access to habeus corpus.

and I'm sorry, but party loyalty isn't going to fix those problems until he addresses them. bush didn't inherit the most unified party in american history, he inherited a beaten dog with no direction and thanks to Rove, Cheney and his evangelical faith galvanized it himself. obama has all the ability in the world to do that with the dems, provided he hasn't already sabotaged himself too much already. but he needs to do it. it's not our job to go chanting his name in the streets and pretending he's serving our interests. we want accountability in actual fact, not just name. we want health care in actual fact, not just name. we want financial regulation in actual fact, not just name. plenty of dems want it too, or if they don't they're willing to use it for their own ambitions. he could be using that, but he's trying to make nice with the republicans, which is our party's perennial error.
posted by shmegegge at 10:41 AM on January 22, 2010


+RANT

Obama was a terrific candidate. Terrific. If he had showed 10% of the passion he mustered on the stump while actually being president, he might have gotten somewhere.

What I find really amazing is that, rather than building on the incredible grassroots support he had on both sides of the political spectrum, he essentially turned his back on it and retreated into the White House with Rahm Emmanuel, leaving those pitiful fools in the two houses to try to push reform through so he could appear to be above the fray, while occasionally appearing to wave from his popemobile and witter on about 'bipartisanship', long after the Repubs had made it explicitly clear they were going to sink HCR in order to take Obama down.

He was elected on a clear platform of HCR, ending the influence of lobbyists in Washington, and scaling down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was going to close Gitmo, end DADT, stop the military tribunals, and so on and so on and so on.

After a year, he's managed Cash For Clunkers.

"Change we can believe in" is now as big an embarrassment to Obama as "Mission Accomplished" was to Bush. Except that now Obama is working hard to make Bush look good. Maybe that'll be his most enduring achievement. At least under Bush America had a functioning government and a President with the will to push his (despicable) ideology through.

As Maya Angelou told Oprah, 'When someone shows you who they are, believe them". We now have twelve months' evidence of who Obama is. He's a detached and ineffectual President who is incapable of neutralizing even the most crackpot attacks from the American right. He has been played like a fiddle by the Republicans and the Dems will pay the price for it in 2010 and 2012. And they will deserve it.

Why on earth would anyone ever vote Dem again? Elected on a landslide with a supermajority and a clear, populist mandate for reform, they failed to do anything of any significance. This is as good as it will ever get for the Dems. They deserve to be drummed out in shame. And yes, perhaps that means a Palinocracy. We'll certainly know who to blame.

-RANT
posted by unSane at 10:42 AM on January 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


In the JibJab cartoon about the election, Hillary is shown with a badass (totalitarian) 2012 sign.

If only...
posted by jock@law at 10:45 AM on January 22, 2010


Frankly, I'm a little tired of people saying 'Don't blame the left for not "cheerleading" Obama hard enough,' because I don't think many people are doing that. I think what people are doing, most of the time at least, is pointing out things like this, that in early December polls 25% of opposition to proposed HCR was from the left-- and I'm right with you there, I'll agree that the proposed reform wasn't enough, and I wanted more, and I was disappointed, but those numbers allowed Republicans to say that 46% of America was opposed to reform. And again, I'm not blaming the critics on the left-- the reform should have been stronger, and teabaggers are insane and very loud, and the press spins things in ridiculous ways. And I don't think that critics should shut up and root for something that they're disappointed in. However, the facts seem pretty clear: HCR lost a ton of steam, and a non-zero amount of that is due to critics on the left, and now it looks like it's lost so much steam that it won't pass at all, and I think that's a shame (blah blah, argument about incrementalism, blah blah). Again, not blaming the left, but let's call things what they are: It doesn't seem to be helping, and it does seem to be hurting.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:45 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think Hillary has a genuine shot at the 2012 nomination if this bullshit continues.

Clinton vs. Palin... that's gonna be... wow
posted by unSane at 10:46 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It genuinely has been difficult to keep giving Obama the benefit of the doubt and believing that he's playing the long game on these major issues.

But getting Volcker in here to get tougher on banks is very likely just the sort of clout that will help him win over enough Republicans in the Senate to get this through.

Roping in Volcker to be the hammer on this really is a great "long game" type of move.
posted by chimaera at 10:48 AM on January 22, 2010


No, the Democrats aren't the party of "the Street".... yet. Take away Wall Street from the Republicans and what do you have: the Tea baggers and the Christian dominionists.

I think you're confusing "Wall Street" with industry and corporate types in general. Republicans are very popular, and draw a lot of support and money from powerful corporate lobbies, but there are several industries where they are not favored: among those are Hollywood and the entertainment sector, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street.

If you look at the actual contribution stats, you can see that GS and the other big players lean very blue in their employees' major contributions. (And note that regular folks contributing a few hundred bucks are not getting included in those numbers; IIRC only contributions of $1k or more get recorded.)

Solidly "red" industries (heh) include much of the non-investment banking sector, including commercial banking, insurance, energy, construction, and what's left of domestic heavy industry like steel and chemicals.

That's what's left of the Republican party when you back out the Teabaggers and the Dominionists. And, for the most part, those are the people bankrolling the party. They bring the money, while the rabblerousing social conservatives bring the votes by ranting about teh gheys and abortion. That's the Faustian bargain that the party has essentially played since Reagan.

That said, in many places, Republicans still have a lot of support, outside of urban areas, in what might be called the 'Rotary Club set,' successful small/medium business owners and professionals; typically upper-middle class and white. These are the people who vote mostly based on tax policy. In some cases their support may not be totally rational (i.e. they vote based on expectations that they'll someday be making a lot more money than they probably will), and they may not disagree with some social-conservative policies, but the defining issue is how much they get asked to pay in taxes. This varies by state though; in some places this demographic might self-describe as Independent or as conservative Democrats.

But anyway, Wall Street (by which I mean, specifically the people and companies engaged in securities trading, not as some euphemism for business in general) mostly supported Obama in the last election, and it wouldn't surprise me if Republicans decided to punish them a bit. So I'd be surprised if there's much serious opposition from that camp towards the Volcker rule, once they get done extracting whatever PR points they can get by holding it up.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:50 AM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


But a lot of people are breaking party discipline right now in the hopes of getting the exact bill they want. That means no bill at all, especially with the margin we have in the Senate right now, which is a problem. And suddenly everyone is against the filibuster, which they loved a few years back when the GOP was threatening the "Nuclear Option" when they wanted to ram through a whole bunch of shitty judges really fast.
Oh this whole "Exact bill they want" thing is just such bullshit. There have been huge concessions by the left on it. Huge. And meanwhile, why no invective for the Lieberman/Stupak/Nelson/Bauccus brigades? Why is it only "the left" that's to blame. It seems to me the left made far more concessions to win over a few "centrists"

And by the way, to blame the failure in the house on the healthcare bill on "the left" is ridiculous. Stupak at. al are just as responsible.
Compromise requires that the right give way too. See, "compromise" doesn't mean "the left surrenders everything and the right gets exactly what they want". That, however, is exactly what Obama is demanding.
Well, in this case it's "the left" and "the centrists" where "The centrists" get everything exactly as they want. The republicans are out of the picture, or were. But same thing.

---
Ironmouth: Which events of the past few days are related to leftist infighting? I don't disagree it exists and that it's bad, I'm just not sure it's as important as Coakley being above campaigning and Kennedy deluding himself that fair elections aren't a compelling government interest.
Well, If you look at Grijalva and other progressives, they have been saying they aren't willing to vote for the senate bill in the house. But the same is true of Stupak and his band of anti-abortion (but actually just pro-health insurance) democrats.
I think he was hoping to get a big, easy win early and then build on that momentum before going into some of the more bread-and-butter reforms he wants, but (with a lot of help from the industry lobby and the tea baggers) HCR turned out not to be a populist unifying cause
And not only that, he immediately tried to get the industry on board, working with PhRMA and cutting secret deals and so on.
posted by delmoi at 10:50 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


What happened to Bush's highjinx that essentially gave him dictatorial powers over the House and Senate? Didn't those get passed on to the new President?

9/11 happened giving him basically a blank check to implement whatever Nixonian Enemies-list Fetish Fantasies Dick Cheney and pals saw fit. Obama, trying to be the "Agent of Change" has to try and come off as the opposite of this. Remember Fascists win when people are afraid, not rationalists (or as Bush called them the "Reality-based Community"). Right now, when people see double digit unemployment and $12 Trillion defecits on top of two wars and underwear bombers, the Fascists get to run their mouths. Unfortunately in 10 months the paradigm is unlikely to shift towards a more rational environment so all that is left for the rationalists to do is to call the loonies on their bullshit. Hopefully there are enough people left that aren't straight out of the cast of Idiocracy to listen and Obama doesn't serve the last two years of his one term fighting an Idologue Republican Congress (even a rationalist Republican, yes mostly oxymoronic, Congrss would be better).
posted by Pollomacho at 10:50 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


See, here's how it usually goes:

When Democrats don't support some policy the Republicans are pitching as vital to national interests, the Republicans and their popular base mercilessly attack the Democrats for being weak.

When Republicans don't support some policy the Democrats are pitching as vital to national interests, the Democrats and their popular base mercilessly attack the Democrats for being too weak to force the Republicans to go along with the Democrats.

That's why the Republicans tend to get what they want. No one attacks them. They attack the Democrats and the Democrats attack each other.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think what the posters that are stumped by the sudden upwelling of loathing to Obama's announcement are not considering how overtly and cynically political this move looks and sounds. Of all the things I have considered Obama, I never thought he'd pull such a transparent ploy as this one. If his pants were on fire to do this, why now, when he's lost the votes he needs to pass it. It reminds me of the Boogy-boogy gay marriage monster the neo-cons pull out of the mothballs every few years.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


he's playing too far to the middle, so while he's pushing for health care on one hand, he's making concessions to a closet republican with the other that actually ruin the health care bill.

When he talks about being moderate and bipartisan, that's not for the benefit of the Republicans in congress, it's for the benefit of the many members of his own party who insist on identifying themselves as moderate and bi-partisan. He has to have their legislative support. What part of that is so hard to understand? No matter what you may hear in the press, Harry Reid is no fire-brand liberal, and he's the majority leader. When something like 10--20% of your own party identifies themselves as moderate with a strong preference for bipartisanship, how are you supposed to win those necessary votes over without trying to appeal for them?

Again, he's not calling for a moderate and bipartisan approach to appeal to the Republicans, he's doing it to appeal to Democrats that refuse to cooperate with anything other than what they consider to be a moderate or bipartisan approach.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:57 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's escalated in Afghanistan. Which is exactly what the right wanted, and the polar opposite of what the left wanted.

Why would the left not want escalation in Afghanistan? Unlike Iraq, we went to war there for fairly solid reasons, and once the there the pottery barn rule applies for both moral and pragmatic reasons, so refocusing attention there after it was squandered by the previous presidency makes a lot of sense.

Not to mention that this policy is one of the areas where Obama came most clearly labelled.
posted by weston at 10:58 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think Hillary has a genuine shot at the 2012 nomination if this bullshit continues.

Clinton vs. Palin... that's gonna be... wow
PPP:
Sarah Palin trails Obama 49-41 largely because she loses 14% of the Republican vote to him, making her the only one of the GOP candidates we tested who Obama could get double digit crossover support against. At the same time Palin continues to be the most well liked potential GOP candidate within her party- at 71% favorability. Her problem appears to be that the Republicans who don't care for her will go so far as to vote for Obama instead of her.

posted by delmoi at 10:58 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


i wonder?

Imagine being on the inside of institionalized racism, scurrying around you to clear up their messy little ways as soon as you showed up.

of course teh government is in chaos, give them another year
posted by infini at 11:01 AM on January 22, 2010


...how overtly and cynically political this move looks and sounds

Actually, when I first heard it I was hoping this was his, "Fuck it, these guys are assholes that I can't work with. No more Mr.Nice guy!" moment. I'm still hoping, but we'll see.
posted by cimbrog at 11:01 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of all the things I have considered Obama, I never thought he'd pull such a transparent ploy as this one.

What, now that HCR failed, he's not supposed to try to tackle any of the other problems he's tasked with as President because doing so must really just be a cynical ploy to distract from his failure in another area? So what should he do? Take the year off on vacation to Martha's Vineyard and sit around his bungalow smoking pot all day, and sit around complaining about how frustrated he is that the man just won't let him advance his agenda along with all the other useless assholes so as to avoid the appearance that he is only continuing to act as president in a cynical effort to get people to support him?

WTF?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:03 AM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


When he talks about being moderate and bipartisan, that's not for the benefit of the Republicans in congress, it's for the benefit of the many members of his own party who insist on identifying themselves as moderate and bi-partisan.

yes, so? what does that have to do with leiberman, which is who I was talking about? he's not moderate anything. further, if we're talking about the healthcare bill, it didn't end up playing to the moderates and the centrists, it ended up playing to the insurance special interests, whose leanings are delightfully apolitical.

He has to have their legislative support. What part of that is so hard to understand?

oh, never mind. I see you're not actually interested in having a real discussion.
posted by shmegegge at 11:03 AM on January 22, 2010


republicans who filibuster it won't be able to claim to be populist fighters of wallstreet.

Pish posh. They'll claim to be whatever they want, and it will work. Right now, they are claiming to be the protectors of small-town America, because they have stopped small-town America from getting affordable health care, and small-town America is eating it up.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:03 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I see the usual gang of misfits and dope addicts is here.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:04 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


>> When Republicans don't support some policy the Democrats are pitching as vital to national interests, the Democrats and their popular base mercilessly attack the Democrats for being too weak to force the Republicans to go along with the Democrats.

I think that, in general, I'd agree with you. But what the 60/40 split in the Senate has demonstrated (to me, at least) is that even with a bullet-proof majority, the Democrats are too weak to enact meaningful legislation. The spectrum is simply too broad to politically satisfy both ends. This isn't about forcing the Republicans to agree with the Democrats, it's about getting the Democrats to agree with each other.
posted by JohnFredra at 11:05 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of all the things I have considered Obama, I never thought he'd pull such a transparent ploy as this one.

Me either. Which is why I'm so glad he's doing it! Expose the republicans love of wallstreet. Make them illustrate just how vacuous their "populism" actually is.
posted by delmoi at 11:06 AM on January 22, 2010


saulgoodman if he was so offended by the excess of these banks, why did he continue to bankroll Tarp money their way? This is completely calculated, announced the week of a stunning defeat in Mass... he's trying (probably Rahm's idea) to ride a populist wave of anger against the bank CEO's who's bonuses he was underwriting just last year. How could this look anything but cynically political.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think Hillary has a genuine shot at the 2012 nomination if this bullshit continues.

Clinton vs. Palin... that's gonna be... wow
posted by unSane


Without a gigantic scandal of insane proportions there is a near-zero chance of this occuring. Clinton would not even consider attempting to make this occur. Will not happen.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:10 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


yes, so? what does that have to do with leiberman, which is who I was talking about? he's not moderate anything.

That's how he was viewed by many in Washington for many years. He ran as the Vice Presidential candidate on the Gore ticket, for chrissake.

But he's not who I'm talking about either. I'm talking about the Blue Dogs, Nelson, Boyd, and all the other ass clowns who've been pretending to support HCR for years before making it clear that they never had any real interest in passing reform, not to mention guys like Harry Reid who respond to failure by saying their just relieved to have the pressure off of them.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:10 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dead-ender Chris Dodd defends Bernanke:
"I think if you wanted to send the worst signal to the markets right now in the country and send us in a tailspin, it would be to reject this nomination," Dodd told a group of reporters. "This is not naming someone to be an assistant secretary to something. This is the most important central banker in the world."

Dodd warned that rejecting the president's choice for the Fed chairman would have "huge economic implications, and people need to think about that." Speaking of Democrats who plan to vote against Bernanke, Dodd said he appreciated their frustration but argued that "they're missing the larger point. "That's a short-term answer," Dodd said. "And the short-term is going to create far many problems than it's going to solve."
Dodd isn't seeking re-election, on account of people in CT hating him almost as much as Lieberman.
posted by delmoi at 11:12 AM on January 22, 2010


why did he continue to bankroll Tarp money their way

No, Geithner did because he was in charge of that program--which, you know, was passed into law before Obama took office. When Obama extended Tarp (the so-called Tarp II), it actually redirected most of those new funds under the plan to mortgage relief programs, not to banks, but see, we don't talk about that in any specific, accurate or detailed way in the media or in our debates.

Anyway, Geithner is now seeing his powers limited, which is not a good sign for Geithner's political future.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:14 AM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


not to mention guys like Harry Reid who respond to failure by saying their just relieved to have the pressure off of them.

Imagine how relieved he'll be when he's out on his ass in November.

Durbin is next in seniority; is it pretty much a given that he'll be majority (or minority) leader if Reid goes? If so, does anyone here have a sense of how he'd do as leader? He's obviously quite a bit to the left of Reid but I worry that he shares Reid's aversion to conflict.
posted by enn at 11:15 AM on January 22, 2010


Of all the things I have considered Obama, I never thought he'd pull such a transparent ploy as this one.

You do realize that the run up to the State of the Union is the Presidential equivalent of the TV networks' "sweeps week" right?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:15 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Boy, all you lefties really ought to ease up on Obama.

First, he is what he always appeared to be, and campaigned as: plenty liberal, but no radical. He never said he was going to prosecute Cheney, or bring in single-payer, or let the Taliban back into Kabul. He has the short-comings that he always appeared to have: limited DC experience and no private sector experience whatever; a desire to get along to go along; a rather obvious lack of the common touch that he partially disguises with nifty oratory. It's not his fault you found it easier to read your hopes and dreams into him than into Hillary Clinton, or broke your habit of third party or stay-at-home voting in order to "make history."

I feel sorry for the guy when he has to come out with all of his anti-Wall Street demagoguery. He clearly doesn't feel it, but yet you demand it -- and the only thing it will result in is yet another round of horse-long-since-out-of-the-barn regulation and move-jobs-to-Singapore taxes.

Second, he's done plenty of what you ought to see as good (I tend to see it as bad, but I didn't vote for the guy, after all). He is letting the Bush tax cuts expire. He passed that stimulus package -- hundreds of billions of dollars to keeps the home fires burning for government employees and contractors everywhere (which is what you like, right?) The four-for-one of Sonia Sotomayor (a single minority woman who is quickly showing herself to be 100% reliable for you all). He's given Khalid Shaikh Mohammad the gift of trial by a Manhattan jury -- just about assuring a more lenient sentence than a Texan would get for killing someone in a bar fight.
posted by MattD at 11:19 AM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I direct the attention of the "you can't have everything" people to this:

The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release...


If Obama had told us on the campain trail that he was going to make the gulag bipartisan, I wouldn't have voted for him.

And if you would have, I'd be interested to hear why.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


He ran as the Vice Presidential candidate on the Gore ticket, for chrissake.

that was 8 years ago, dude. that he has basically become an embittered rebulican in dem clothing since then is well known.

But he's not who I'm talking about either. I'm talking about the Blue Dogs, Nelson, Boyd, and all the other ass clowns

then why are you responding to me, when I'm talking about specifically about obama's concessions to lieberman?

but fine, let's talk about your blue dog theory. here's the deal: those guys are obama's excuse. I'm sorry, but the idea that Reid was some kind of problem obama couldn't hangle is absurd. he has taken direct steps to do what they want and then acted like the dem congress has simply been out of his control. it's nonsense.
posted by shmegegge at 11:23 AM on January 22, 2010


This commentary by Simon Johnson, an economist from MIT, did a really great job of explaining what's going on with this. It's like getting a birds eye view of the deeper workings. Great great stuff.

It also made me very hopeful that finally we have, the people, have a real advocate on our side in the venerated Paul Volcker. Also on Obama's side, and I hate to say this but he seems to need a little confidence in dealing with these Wall street alpha male assholes who walk all over him.
posted by Skygazer at 11:23 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama said, all through the campaign, that "bipartisanship" and "a new post-partisan Washington" was his whole deal. It wasn't a secret. And to anyone who wasn't wholly ignorant of American politics, it was obvious that that would not work in practice. So we were left with the question "does he really believe this? Or is it just nice words to get elected?" I mean, the man came out of Illinois. He has to know how politics works for real, right?

It turns out now that it wasn't just pretty words. He really believes in this ridiculous idea of post-partisanship, as if partisanship is not the entire fucking point of politics. If we didn't have positions about the issues and the willingness to fight over them and beat those we disagree with when we have the power to beat them, why should we bother having democracy at all? If there were a post-partisan option, we would all just agree on what needed to be done and hire some bureaucrats to do it. In a post-partisan world, the office of President is unnecessary.

We do not, never have, and never will live in a post-partisan or non-partisan world. Wishing won't make it so, and I, at least, don't even wish it. We progress, as a society and as a species, by debate, by argument, by disagreement over what should be done, and by taking the opportunity to do what we think is right when we are granted the power to do so. Sometimes it doesn't work out so good, but we (if we learn our history) learn from that and do better the next time. It's an ugly thing to watch at ground level, sometimes unbearably so. But it works.

The foundational error of the Obama presidency has been to believe that we should -- or that we even can -- throw out the most basic operating principle of our democracy. We do not have a consensus system. We have an oppositional system. The consensus-seeker is playing the wrong game. He's a shortstop standing on the scrimmage line of a football field. And he will be utterly trampled by those who know what game they're in and are suited up and ready for it.

This was my great reservation abut Obama, and while I hoped that he wasn't really, in his heart, putting on the pinstripes, I feared that he was. And I think in his first year he has shown that that's exactly what he was doing. It's unfortunate, and it may already be too late, now that the brief window of a potential supermajority in the Senate has closed. He won't have that again in this term, and probably not in the next. And if he doesn't figure out what kind of field he's standing on, this will go down as a weak holding-pattern presidency, where not much got done, and will lead to a fired-up, activist right wing taking over in 2012 or 2016, tanned, rested, and ready.

So yes, it's better than having a Republican in office, because the Republican would have moved aggressively the wrong way. But four or eight years standing still is not much of a victory.
posted by rusty at 11:25 AM on January 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


Whenever Obama tries to do something we should by all rights support in one area, we undermine the effort by attacking his results in other areas. Then when he shifts focus to those areas, we criticize him without end for failures in still other areas until he ends up with no political support in any of the areas where he tries to advance the ball.

That's how the left operates, unconsciously primed to fail by a thousand self-administered paper cuts, because the truth is, we've been duped into operating that way for many years by far more politically sophisticated and economically powerful interests.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:27 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


>> And if you would have, I'd be interested to hear why.

It's fine that that would have been a deal-breaker for you. It's not, and will continue not to be for me. Would I have been less excited to vote for Obama? Sure. But if it was a deal-breaker for all of us than McCain would be our president right now. I gather that you see little difference between those two outcomes, but I do. Who would you have voted for instead, Joe?
posted by JohnFredra at 11:28 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


but we don't want a united democratic party MORE than we want healthcare and financial regulation, and that's the disconnect. we don't want people supporting obama for the sake of a strong party, we want it for the sake of obama being able to achieve the goals we want: again, healthcare and financial regulation.

Entirely agreed. Bolstering the party and working with it, even with its infuriating limitations, is a means to an end. It may be the only means to an end.

If there is an alternate means to this end, show it to me. As long as it's not some fantasy about a Progressive Party (give me a break, can you imagine the self-destructive sideshows in that one), I'm all ears.

But what gives me despair is that so many people seem to think politics is their theatrical moment, their chance to have tantrumy freakouts filled with vitriol and expect that it makes the world better. The GOP could not have scripted a better outcome for themselves. They barely have to say "Jimmy Carter, failure failure weakling failure" because Daily Kos (which has become a cesspit) and the Huffington Post and the gang here do all the heavy lifting for them. They're going to bash us back into fragments because we couldn't bear that our most perfect goals weren't realized in a year.

I teach in a public school. You think I don't know about frustration that way? The sheer immovable idiocy of the system is unbearable sometimes. But I've seen, believe me I've seen, teachers who give the idiocy a name, almost always the principal, and consume themselves in hatred over that person. It's not a fit way to live, and it makes for worse teachers and a worse overall outcome. Do the best you can, put in the daily work, look over many years. That's the only way good things happen.
posted by argybarg at 11:29 AM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ironmouth: Which events of the past few days are related to leftist infighting? I don't disagree it exists and that it's bad, I'm just not sure it's as important as Coakley being above campaigning and Kennedy deluding himself that fair elections aren't a compelling government interest.

See: Nancy fucking Pelosi announcing on national TV she didn't have the votes to pass the Senate bill.

they're fighting behind the scenes. Pelosi and the progressives are on crack right now and think that there is still time to make changes to HCR. The bill's got 39% support. Its done we gotta pass it. People want jobs to be #1.

As for the comments about the "right having to give" up above, HELLO GIGANTIC STIMULUS BILL NEARLY A TRILLION DOLLARS! Its like you don't even watch the news.

HELLO GOING TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO!

HELLO HARD ASSED REFORMS FOR BANKING INDUSTRY IN THIS POST.

HELLO TALKING TO IRAN NOT BOMBING IT

HELLO PUSHING ISRAEL HARDER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN PUSHED.

But the left doesn't want to see those as giving up anything. Totally unrealistic. And yes your policy would be great. IF THERE WERE VOTES FOR IT. This isn't a tit for tat game. It turns out that you have to have the votes to pass those things you love to have. And it turns out you don't. So you're going to scuttle the whole fucking thing now?

I'M LOOKING AT YOU RAUL GRIJALVA!
posted by Ironmouth at 11:31 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's given Khalid Shaikh Mohammad the gift of trial by a Manhattan jury -- just about assuring a more lenient sentence than a Texan would get for killing someone in a bar fight.

Yeah, because if anybody is going to let Al Qaeda off scott-free it's the people they actually attacked. More like a Texas jury on a case involving a black guy raping a (white) little miss princess if you ask me.

The four-for-one of Sonia Sotomayor (a single minority woman who is quickly showing herself to be 100% reliable for you all).

Because she's all four she's four times as liberal? Since when do any of her apparent qualifications (marital status, ethnicity, gender) make her politically left or right or "reliably" so?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:31 AM on January 22, 2010


Joe Beese: "I direct the attention of the "you can't have everything" people to this"

Yeah I threw up in my mouth a little when I read that. Something something, deserve neither.
posted by mullingitover at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


The foundational error of the Obama presidency has been to believe that we should -- or that we even can -- throw out the most basic operating principle of our democracy.

Please get this straight: Even if Obama were to try to take an oppositional approach, his own party has made it clear they will not go along with that.

And the point of post-partisanship was not to be more bipartisan, but to abandon the partisan commitments completely due to the enormity of the challenges we faced. He was right that we have to get to that point to address the toughest problems the nation faces. We should be abandoning all our partisan commitments and working together, but our compulsion to be assholes almost seems to trump our survival instincts these days.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


JohnFredra: "I gather that you see little difference between those two outcomes, but I do. Who would you have voted for instead, Joe?

After all the shit I talked about the counterproductivity of voting third party, there something to be said for not having any blood on your hands.
posted by mullingitover at 11:35 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


he has taken direct steps to do what they want

Cite, with links, the "direct steps" Obama has taken to do what they want. Really. Not just make it up.

Because Obama has been letting Congress step up and do their job. He realized early on that if they don't have the balls to do this, it will never get done. See: Hillary 1993 health care where the Prez tried to do all the heavy lifing and the GOP and the industry opened direct, withering fire on the plan and killed it.

Obama, by contrast, let Congress take the intiative, forced them to invest in the process and with so many proposals floating around, made it hard for the GOP to attack just one.

We were steps away when this hit. Clinton got nowhere near this point.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:35 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm all for any move away from Geithner and towards Volcker.
posted by diogenes at 11:36 AM on January 22, 2010


there something to be said for not having any blood on your hands.

There are two things to be said for it;

(1) The smug feeling of self-satisfaction.
(2) The relief of not having to take responsibility for the tough crappy thing that is real-life politics, not the movie Dave.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:37 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth: "There are two things to be said for it;"

You forgot (3) Not having any blood on your hands.
posted by mullingitover at 11:39 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


We live in a nation that is built on the backs of poor labor and war. We have blood on our hands every morning that we wake up in a warm house.
posted by JohnFredra at 11:42 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Cite, with links, the "direct steps" Obama has taken to do what they want. Really. Not just make it up.

that was the link I posted, if you didn't click it. I mean, there certainly is speculation in there, but for myself I see it as way more likely than the equally speculative claim that obama was roped into his concessions by Reid as though he were some congressional superman.
posted by shmegegge at 11:44 AM on January 22, 2010


I'm hoping that after the health care fiasco and the Brown victory he just snapped and decided fuck it, I'm gonna kick some banker ass! I admit that previously he hadn't shown much propensity towards banker ass kicking, but maybe that was some 3d chess to lull them into complacency.

I know, I'm dreaming, but one has to get one's face off the couch somehow...
posted by diogenes at 11:46 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


JohnFredra: "It's fine that that would have been a deal-breaker for you. It's not, and will continue not to be for me. Would I have been less excited to vote for Obama? Sure. But if it was a deal-breaker for all of us than McCain would be our president right now. I gather that you see little difference between those two outcomes, but I do. Who would you have voted for instead, Joe?"

So you're not excited about his institutionalizing the gulag, but it's not a deal breaker.

I see.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:46 AM on January 22, 2010


The bipartisanship should have been out of the window the moment that DeMint said they would oppose HCR purely to bring down Obama. Snowe and Liebermann should have been told in no uncertain terms that if HCR failed to pass they would be targeted with the entire fucking weight of the democratic machine as the people who sank it.

Whoever it was upthread who said that this proves that even with a supermajority the Dems are simply not strong enough to pass reform was absolutely right. Whatever political decisions anybody makes from now on must be colored by that fact. It is just not going to happen. Their only virtue is that they aren't the other party. Is that enough? You decide.
posted by unSane at 11:46 AM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh, and to answer your question: I would have voted for one of the anti-gulag candidates.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:47 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of all the things I have considered Obama, I never thought he'd pull such a transparent ploy as this one. If his pants were on fire to do this, why now, when he's lost the votes he needs to pass it.

Brilliant that he campaigned for Coakley, too, in order to cover his tracks, so that no one except for the rare extra-clever MeFite would suspect that he wanted to lose Senate seats, so that he could safely front legislative initiatives he knows he needs to look like he's behind but can never pass.

I don't buy that he's dissembling. There's certainly some element of publicity to this, but it doesn't make a lot of sense that he'd be holding his breath for the moment when his power would be diminished.

I do buy the criticism that he's more of a negotiator than a leader, and this is killing him in an environment where the opposition party is adamantly disciplined and almost completely adversarial, while a significant chunk of his own party apparently really did expect to get most of what they wanted and were apparently naively unaware of the party's composition and internal tensions.

This makes his critics and his pragmatic defenders in this thread both correct. Yeah, somebody needs to show stronger leadership and even bust some heads and break some eggs, preferably Obama, or the Democrats are going to accomplish little other than showing up to take the radioactive hot potato out of the Republican hands behind eight years of horrible governing. But on the other hand, a significant uncompromising attitude within the ranks, whether it comes from the left or the center, can derail the party's ability to act.

it's all the Left's fault for excessively criticizing the leader.

No, not all. But a part of it.

I'm sorry that we didn't have a public option (or single payer) too. I understand the frustration behind watching a handful of Senators on the fence hold HCR hostage, I understand the desire to see the whole HCR effort just fail if it can't look better than it does now. But I'm also responsible enough to admit that if I choose to be uncompromising there, to whatever extent my influence makes a difference, I'm going to be part of the reason things don't move forward.
posted by weston at 11:48 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


We were steps away when this hit.

Steps away from what? A proposal which is so watered down from what anyone wants that it essentially forces middle-class families to pad the pockets of private insurance organizations?

Thanks, guys! That's exactly what your Democratic electorate wants! To be forced to buy health care from the companies that are already screwing people over! The only decent parts of the remaining legislation are the consumer protections, which will have to be stripped out to "get the votes".
posted by muddgirl at 11:49 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and to answer your question: I would have voted for one of the anti-gulag candidates.

Gulag Ron Paul.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:49 AM on January 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


>> Oh, and to answer your question: I would have voted for one of the anti-gulag candidates.

Do they have a name?
posted by JohnFredra at 11:50 AM on January 22, 2010


You forgot (3) Not having any blood on your hands.

Voting Gore would've reduced the amount of actual gore that occurred in the 00s.
posted by mpbx at 11:50 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would have voted for one of the anti-gulag candidates

Yeah, but the pro-gulag candidate had such pretty yard signs.
posted by diogenes at 11:50 AM on January 22, 2010


Q: If you wanted to vote for someone who was against X, who would you have voted for?

A: I would have voted for one of the people who was against X.

Oh, it's all so simple!
posted by shakespeherian at 11:52 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: ...his own party has made it clear they will not go along with that.

I don't only blame Obama here -- the Dem leadership has been disastrously weak and ineffective all session. But I do blame him for that more than perhaps some people do. There is some actual evidence (the "give Leiberman everything" mentioned above) that the leadership has bent over backwards on his orders. And aside from that, the President is the overall leader of the party, assuming he takes up that mantle and uses it. LBJ and FDR faced significant opposition from their own parties, but they both enforced discipline, and they got an astonishing amount done. Rather than cater to Lieberman, he should have simply been stripped of all committee seats and voice within the caucus, and Snowe or Collins offered the moon and stars for their vote. That would have had two effects: demonstrating that there truly are repercussions for breaking Dem unity when it really matters, and also forcing cracks in the monolithic Republican bloc. I live in Maine, and I guarantee either Snowe or Collins, or both, could afford to burn some far-right goodwill and support a public option or even a full socialization of health insurance. It would almost certainly make re-election easier for either of them. If you're going to bend over for someone, make damn sure you get something out of it. Dancing to Joe's tune was an incredibly foolhardy tactic, and pretty much spelled the end of any real health care legislation.

He was right that we have to [abandon all our partisan commitments] to address the toughest problems the nation faces.

On that I couldn't disagree more. What makes some problems the toughest we face is that they have multiple possible solutions, there is no real way to be sure which solutions are right, and the solutions are inherently bound up in ideology. Partisan commitments are the very heart of how we decide what we should do, in the face of tough problems. They're our guiding principles. If you abandon them to deal with the toughest problems, you simply are left with no answers. You are just abdicating any attempt to deal with the problem.

Our toughest problems are where we most need to go back to the basic principles. Do you believe in individualism above all else, even at the cost that some people suffer and die because they cannot compete? Then socializing health insurance would be abhorrent to you. Do you believe that the point of an organized society is to spread out the pain among enough people that the strongest among us can take a little more than their share in order to spare the weakest? Then we must make our health insurance system more equitable, by a large degree. There are shades of gray in between, and all of politics is grappling with those shades, but if you set aside your partisan principles, you're left in the jungle with no map.

Pulling together sounds nice, but Terry Pratchett, I think, said it best: "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyrants. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
posted by rusty at 11:52 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, but the pro-gulag candidate had such pretty yard signs.

Who doesn't want to vacation in an archipelago?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:57 AM on January 22, 2010


Obama's administration has decided that liberty is not worth sacrifice. People will and do die for our freedom. Many do it proudly. The administration has chosen cowardice instead.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:57 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are two things to be said for it

You forgot (3)


Also (4), saving your energies for useful work instead of throwing them away on a party which sometimes seems designed specifically to absorb them with no effect. There are many useful things people can do outside of engaging in party politics, some of them arguably more productive.
posted by enn at 12:00 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I do hope this will be the kind of kick in the ass the Democrats really need right now - here the president is taking a bold step in the right direction. If they don't follow, I don't see how Obama's to blame.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:00 PM on January 22, 2010


PRAGMATISM: You're a whiner!
IDEALISM: You're a sellout!
[/thread]
posted by mpbx at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


YOU GOT YOUR PRAGMATISM IN MY IDEALISM! IT TASTES AWESOME!
posted by Mister_A at 12:03 PM on January 22, 2010


Oh, and to answer your question: I would have voted for one of the anti-gulag candidates.
posted by Joe Beese


Sometimes the things that would sound so righteous when arguing politics with buddies in a bar just look silly when committed to text.
posted by aught at 12:05 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


weston: Those are good points. Where I absolutely lose my shit is not so much over some specific policy point, as over the appearance that there is no line in the sand -- no point where Obama will dig in his heels and say "THIS is what we'll fight to the death for." I don't really even care what "this" is. I don't, truly, think it matters. The failure of the last year has been a failure of open-ended incrementalism, showing that there is no core to the policy program here. We'll apparently give up anything if we end up with something, even if it's just finally getting the Stupak amendment passed and further limiting abortion. I think that is basically the worst mistake you can make as an american political leader. The point is not what exactly you stand up for, but that you stand up.
posted by rusty at 12:05 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wait, I thought pragmatism was the one where you got things done.
posted by enn at 12:11 PM on January 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


JohnFredra: "Do they have a name?"

I walked up to the Diebold intending to touch the screen for Cynthia McKinney.

As I hesitated, I decided that my moral obligation was to act as if my vote was the one that would put that candidate in power. And even though Obama had already proven himself a sellout on telecom immunity, surely he'd be able to accomplish more in Washington than crazy polarizing Cynthia. So, with a grim expression on my face, I voted for Obama instead.

I envy Ironmouth for deriving, as he apparently does, a manly sense of satisfaction at being a stern enough realist to embrace the "hard compromises" of the Obama administration. [Though I wonder if he put gulags in that category when a Republican president was overseeing them.]

I confess: I lack the necessary hardness. If the Democratic Party is now in the gulag business, they can kindly go to Hell.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:14 PM on January 22, 2010


that depends doesn't it. you try the what seems to be the pragmatic approach playing the game by the conventional rules until you figure out that CW is just dominant logic. Its sounding more obvious and sillier everyday, anyone seen Newsweek's International issue date ending the 15th?
posted by infini at 12:15 PM on January 22, 2010


Wait, I thought pragmatism was the one where you got things done.

Yeah, but just the boring shit like doing the dishes or taking out the trash. Idealism is where I get to be a pirate!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:16 PM on January 22, 2010


Though I wonder if he put gulags in that category when a Republican president was overseeing them.

Doesn't that sort of obviate the definition of compromise, though? I mean, assuming Ironmouth puts gulags in the 'realist compromise' category, doesn't that mean that gulags is what the Republican president would want and what the Democratic president realistically has to do? I don't really understand what your question means.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:19 PM on January 22, 2010


shakespeherian: "[[ Though I wonder if he put gulags in that category when a Republican president was overseeing them. ]]

I don't really understand what your question means.
"

Glenn, again:

One of the most intense controversies of the Bush years was the administration's indefinite imprisoning of "War on Terror" detainees without charges of any kind. So absolute was the consensus among progressives and Democrats against this policy that a well-worn slogan was invented to object: a "legal black hole." Liberal editorial pages routinely cited the refusal to charge the detainees -- not the interrogation practices there -- in order to brand the camp a "dungeon," a "gulag," a "tropical purgatory," and a "black-hole embarrassment." As late as 2007, Democratic Senators like Pat Leahy, on the floor of the Senate, cited the due-process-free imprisonments to rail against Guantanamo as "a national disgrace, an international embarrassment to us and to our ideals, and a festering threat to our security," as well as "a legal black hole that dishonors our principles." ...

But all year along, Barack Obama -- even as he called for the closing of Guantanamo -- has been strongly implying that he will retain George Bush's due-process-free system by continuing to imprison detainees without charges of any kind. In his May "civil liberties" speech cynically delivered at the National Archives in front of the U.S. Constitution, Obama announced that he would seek from Congress a law authorizing and governing the President's power to imprison detainees indefinitely and without charges. But in September, the administration announced he changed his mind: rather than seek a law authorizing these detentions, he would instead simply claim that Congress already "implicitly" authorized these powers when it enacted the 2001 AUMF against Al Qaeda -- thereby, as The New York Times put it, "adopting one of the arguments advanced by the Bush administration in years of debates about detention policies."

... exactly that which very recently was condemned as "a dungeon, a gulag, a tropical purgatory, and a black-hole embarrassment" is now magically transformed into a beacon of sober pragmatism from a man -- a Constitutional Scholar -- solemnly devoted to restoring America's Standing and Values.


In short: I'm saying that people who didn't make the same excuses for Bush's gulag that they're now making for Obama's gulag care more about their tribal identity as Democrats than they do about gulags.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:31 PM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


In short: I'm saying that people who didn't make the same excuses for Bush's gulag that they're now making for Obama's gulag care more about their tribal identity as Democrats than they do about gulags.

Could be or there could be other issues that make them remain Democrats.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:39 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does it shield him from being Carter II to listen to Volcker? I like the plan, but, I hope he's not going to be unfairly tarnished by association.
posted by skepticallypleased at 12:41 PM on January 22, 2010


Pollomacho: "or there could be other issues that make them remain Democrats."

Let me guess. Their stauch commitment to women's reproductive freedom?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:44 PM on January 22, 2010


The Obameter: Tracking Obama's Campaign Promises

Promise Kept 91
Compromise 33
Promise Broken 15
Stalled 87
In the Works 275
Not yet rated 2
posted by dragonsi55 at 12:53 PM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Let me guess. Their stauch commitment to women's reproductive freedom?

...and The Gays (TM) getting married, let's not forget that one.

Seriously, I know Ralph Nader can't see them from the outside, but there are certainly HUGE differences in the ways that government actually operates internally between a Dem in the Whitehouse and a Rep. For instance: "No more big government" in reality means "more money for my friends and relatives that sit on the boards at contracting firms" and "no more surprizingly inexpensive (which could explain their aversion, less money to syphon) in the big picture programs that support dirty hippy issues like educating yungin's or feedin' poor people."
posted by Pollomacho at 12:54 PM on January 22, 2010


We were steps away when this hit.Steps away from what? A proposal which is so watered down from what anyone wants that it essentially forces middle-class families to pad the pockets of private insurance organizations.

It would cover many more millions who don't have coverage. And your proposal?

IT DOESN'T HAVE THE VOTES

That's the thing that pisses me off about the Left here. Their pie in the sky proposals don't have the votes, and have never had the votes to pass. When this is pointed out, they assert that it is everybody's responsibility but their own to come up with the votes. They never focus on the fucking whip count and just assume that if somebody other than them did the work, the votes would show up.

To them, single-payer is the starting point for negotiations, regardless of the fact that it doesn't have the votes and it never had the votes. So then they declare everything less than that a sellout. The problem really isn't with the people here, it is with the congressmen and women who don't pay attention to the votes.

And when all this is pointed out to them they make outlandish statements that we should let the GOP take over and run the place into the ground, and then they'll have the votes, this time for sure. Nope. If you didn't have the votes this time, after the GOP already ran it into the ground, how are we to believe you're gonna have the votes next time? Get healthcare passed, get this bank bill done.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:00 PM on January 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


dragonsi55: "The Obameter: Tracking Obama's Campaign Promises

Promise Kept 91
Compromise 33
Promise Broken 15
Stalled 87
In the Works 275
Not yet rated 2
"


Make greater investment in advanced military air technology : PROMISE KEPT

Expand access to places to hunt and fish : PROMISE KEPT

--------------

Tougher rules against revolving door for lobbyists and former officials : PROMISE BROKEN

Negotiate health care reform in public sessions televised on C-SPAN : PROMISE BROKEN
posted by Joe Beese at 1:08 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Does it shield him from being Carter II to listen to Volcker?

Huh? I thought Carter generally listened to Volcker; it was Reagan who (arguably) threw Volcker out once the painful steps had all been taken.

Volcker's legacy, as I have most often heard it, is as a guy who did the right thing even though it was incredibly painful and made him very unpopular at the time. I mean, this is the guy who didn't flinch when a bunch of farmers barricaded his office with their tractors to protest his policies. He was cut loose once the job was done, because (depending on who you talk to) nobody really wanted to be associated with him, and the Reagan administration wanted more deregulation than he was comfortable with.

So, yeah, there is a lot of Carter deja vu in Obama taking advice from Volcker, but of all the things he could choose to emulate Carter on ... probably one of the better choices.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:08 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


To them, single-payer is the starting point for negotiations, regardless of the fact that it doesn't have the votes and it never had the votes. So then they declare everything less than that a sellout.

I don't. Actually, I would be extremely happy with any kind of legislation that would allow my brother access to anti-psychotic medications and regular doctor visits. That would be fucking awesome. That's not a pie-in-the-sky proposal. It's a proposal that will allow him to lead something approaching a normal human life.

But we can't do it because gosh darn ol' Joe Lieberman is gonna save us from socialisms.
posted by Avenger at 1:10 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about linking to all the promises kept vs. promise broken, instead of the cherry-picking?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:11 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh ok he kept his promise to add another space shuttle flight and improve relations with Turkey.

Sadly he didn't keep his promises to do anything else of importance.
posted by Avenger at 1:13 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It would cover many more millions who don't have coverage

Why don't those people have coverage? (hint: it has to do with cost) What exact parts of the new bill, outside the mandate, will ensure that insurance is affordable enough?

Again, I am perfectly fine with the insurance regulations in the bill, which will theoretically ensure that insurance companies cannot refuse to cover whomever they want. But so far, it looks like even THOSE parts of the bill "don't have the votes".

Their pie in the sky proposals don't have the votes, and have never had the votes to pass.

My pie-in-the-sky proposal was universal health care. We "didn't have the votes" for that one a long time ago, so we compromised. Then we "didn't have the votes" for that one, so we compromised some more. Then we "didn't have the votes" for that compromise, either.

Where did all those votes go? Who are all these Democratic Party senators and representatives who refuse to vote with their party? What special interest groups are paying them to hold out until the bill is dead?

IT IS FRUSTRATING to be blamed for the failure of a bill that I don't like and that won't pass anyway. And yet doing so gives a free pass to the people who will most benefit from a watered-down bill or no bill at all.
posted by muddgirl at 1:15 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, I would be extremely happy with any kind of legislation that would allow my brother access to anti-psychotic medications and regular doctor visits. That would be fucking awesome. That's not a pie-in-the-sky proposal. It's a proposal that will allow him to lead something approaching a normal human life.

Yes, but doesn't the Senate bill do that?
posted by jonp72 at 1:15 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: IT IS FRUSTRATING to be blamed for the failure of a bill that I don't like and that won't pass anyway.

Don't forget being scolded for not compromising and wanting a unicorn!
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 1:23 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


In short: I'm saying that people who didn't make the same excuses for Bush's gulag that they're now making for Obama's gulag care more about their tribal identity as Democrats than they do about gulags.

Okay but you didn't read what I wrote. I understand that you are implying a double-standard, but what I said was that calling Obama's stance a 'compromise' and not calling Bush's stance a 'compromise' isn't a double-standard, because, at least in theory, one guy is in favor of the bad shit and the other guy has decided that the bad shit has to continue to be allowed in order to do other things. That isn't a double standard.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:24 PM on January 22, 2010


Also, while I understand that there are people who are very disappointed in Obama, blah blah blah, is it possible that we could have a single thread about anything even vaguely US federal government-related that doesn't devolve into arguing over whether Obama has kept campaign promises? I mean, shit, folks, that's not what this thread is about, and it's not what the last 84 Obama threads were about, and nobody is going to change anyone's mind about this so can we please just stay on-topic instead?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:31 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh ok he kept his promise to add another space shuttle flight and improve relations with Turkey.

Don't forget this one: No. 460: Ask people and businesses to conserve electricity
posted by smackfu at 1:32 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's the thing that pisses me off about the Left here. Their pie in the sky proposals don't have the votes, and have never had the votes to pass. When this is pointed out, they assert that it is everybody's responsibility but their own to come up with the votes. They never focus on the fucking whip count and just assume that if somebody other than them did the work, the votes would show up.

Somebody wasn't focusing on the whip count in the House when they bargained away the public option to please Joe Lieberman. But no, the Left gets to eat shit and get blamed while Lieberman defies the Senate leadership and yet somehow continues to sit at the head of the Homeland Security. If you want to talk about "party discipline", explain why the DINO fuckers in the Senate get to violate party discipline all they want and suffer no consequences. The incompetent congressional leadership is the problem, not the left. And if Obama said tonight to the House liberals, "I'm sorry shit got so fucked up, but I want you to pass the Senate bill as it is to get it on my desk as soon as possible, because it's for the greater good, and if you do that, I promise you we won't fuck you over quite so much in the future," they would roll over like puppies getting their bellies rubbed, even though they knew, deep down in their hearts, that they would get fucked over again. And yet, even though he was willing to give Lieberman everything he wanted, Obama has not done this.

And you want to complain about brinksmanship? It's way too late for that. Thanks to Reid's weak leadership, Nelson and Lieberman proved that brinksmanship works. The Left and anti-abortion factions in the House are just using the tactics that have been proven to work.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:35 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


shakespeherian: "...what I said was that calling Obama's stance a 'compromise' and not calling Bush's stance a 'compromise' isn't a double-standard, because, at least in theory, one guy is in favor of the bad shit and the other guy has decided that the bad shit has to continue to be allowed in order to do other things. That isn't a double standard."

"At least in theory"... What theory are you referring to?

The theory that Democratic politicians are, deep down in their hearts, at least somewhat less ignoble than Republican politicians? On what objective evidence could this "theory" of yours rest?

Allow me to suggest that "at least in theory" is just hero worship with a bachelor of arts degree.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:41 PM on January 22, 2010


Really, Joe, I was taking issue with the way that you are ignoring what people are saying in a rush to criticize Obama and people who still support him. I am only arguing with your rhetoric, and please stop saying idiotic things about what you, with your finger twisted oh-so-wryly into your cheek, assume I must deep down think.

Ironmouth said he understands the 'hard compromises' of the Obama administration. You said that if Obama has policy X, and Bush had policy X, then that makes Ironmouth a hypocrite. My point is, and has only ever been, that you are ignoring what 'compromise' means: It means that you do something you don't necessarily want to do because you think the larger situation is for the best. That means, by definition, that Obama may not want to have policy X, but he does anyway-- I am not arguing that this is the case, only that it is the substance of what Ironmouth said, and it is logically sound-- and therefore Ironmouth is not necessarily a sycophantic hypocrite, and I do not necessarily have an issue with hero worship, and you should calm the fuck down.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:48 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Allow me to suggest that "at least in theory" is just hero worship with a bachelor of arts degree.

Allow me to suggest that what you think is reasoned centrist discourse on your part right now is mostly hot air and casual dismissal without a whole lot to back it up. and this is coming from someone who is likewise disgusted with obama's guantanamo policy and chooses to hold it against him.
posted by shmegegge at 1:55 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


shmegegge: "Allow me to suggest that what you think is reasoned centrist discourse on your part right now is mostly hot air and casual dismissal without a whole lot to back it up."

"Reasoned centrist discourse" is what the administration is pursuing. In addition to the aforementioned gulag, it also appears to involve gutting Social Security:

Hope for lasting liberal change was washed away on Tuesday—not just with the loss of the Democrats' super-majority in the Senate, but with a closed-door deal that would lead to cuts in bedrock liberal programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. While Massachusetts voters were casting their ballots to install Republican Scott Brown in Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, President Obama was hammering out an agreement with Democratic leaders to support a commission on the deficit with the power to propose reductions to entitlement programs. This proposal represents a capitulation to conservatives in both parties, and leaves liberals surrendering not only on health care, but on the core achievements of the New Deal and the Great Society.

No, my discourse is that of an hysterical progressive. And yes, I've served you all a bellyful of it. Time for me to call it a thread.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:17 PM on January 22, 2010


I think, if nothing else, this thread drives home how deeply the Village conventional wisdom has been internalized by the nation. Strength is always, always, defined as forcing the left to capitulate. No one talks about forcing Lieberman and his friends to capitulate, that wouldn't be strong it'd be radical, or evil, or something, but it wouldn't be strong. No, strength is always shown by punching a hippie.

delmoi wrote Well, in this case it's "the left" and "the centrists" where "The centrists" get everything exactly as they want. The republicans are out of the picture, or were. But same thing.

The "center" is the right. The Republicans removed themselves from the equation completely by voting as a monolithic bloc and explicitly stating that they would do all in their power to kill HCR out of spite. The only right worth talking about in the HCR debate is the Democratic right.

Now, if Obama wanted to go for all out war with the Republicans (and I would be cheering if he did), and went after specific Republican Senators with threats of moneybombs, relocating military bases, killing their pork, you name it, to break the bloc and force a few Republican Senators to vote his way then the Republican Right would be in play. But since Obama won't do that the only right that matters is the Democratic right.

weston wrote Why would the left not want escalation in Afghanistan? Unlike Iraq, we went to war there for fairly solid reasons, and once the there the pottery barn rule applies for both moral and pragmatic reasons, so refocusing attention there after it was squandered by the previous presidency makes a lot of sense.

Didn't quote it, but yes, I'm well aware that Obama campaigned on a policy of escalating in Afghanistan, I voted for him anyway and in the hopes that saner heads would prevail. Just because he was open about it doesn't mean it isn't giving the right what it wants while telling the left to bugger off.

As for staying in Afghanistan, I think its a terrible idea for the USA to use military force to prop up theocracies, the instant Bush stupidly let them have an "Islamic Republic" (whatever that oxymoron is supposed to mean), is the instant we should have packed up and gone home.

More to the point what good can come of the US staying there? We inspire hatred by our mere presence. I could, very grudgingly, go along with giving Karzai air support in the event that the Taliban actually masses for attacks. Beyond that, I say toss a few hundred million in non-military aid that direction for the next few years and get out.
posted by sotonohito at 2:27 PM on January 22, 2010


Time for me to call it a thread

Wait, I just got here. I have pie ... Hello?
posted by freshundz at 2:27 PM on January 22, 2010


i don't want to read this (swore off all politics stories) but is this the reason all my stocks just tanked? i was up 10% for the day and suddenly i'm -5%.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:38 PM on January 22, 2010


Ironmouth wrote To them, single-payer is the starting point for negotiations, regardless of the fact that it doesn't have the votes and it never had the votes.

Well, it should be the starting point because you then negotiate down from there. You never start with your minimum, but always with your pie in the sky.

So then they declare everything less than that [single payer] a sellout.

I don't know anyone who did that, if so I'll say that they're wrong.

The problem with your narrative is that the left did compromise, over and over. It isn't that the left is wanting unicorns or is unwilling to compromise, it's that the other side refused to compromise until the bill was unacceptable to us.

It takes concessions from both sides for compromise, if one side gives all concessions and the other side gives nothing that isn't compromise.

What is left, after all the compromises the left accepted is now, finally, so unremittingly awful that we can't stomach it, and now, after we gave away goal after goal, after we surrendered point after point, after we even gave up on several principles, now that we've finally said "no, this is too far, we won't take it", now you want to blame us?

No. The fault lies with the right (Blue Dogs, "centrists", whatever you want to call them) for failing to compromise with us, not with us for an unwillingness to compromise with them. We gave up so much on this it infuriates me to see you and others, theoretically allies, claim that the left is somehow unreasonable, or unwilling to compromise.
posted by sotonohito at 2:41 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why don't those people have coverage? (hint: it has to do with cost) What exact parts of the new bill, outside the mandate, will ensure that insurance is affordable enough?

Well, in addition to the subsidies and some of the cost control measures, I can think of one way it might work.

Start by thinking about why a non-compulsory market doesn't end up yielding the results it does with, say, consumer electronics, restaurants, graphic designers, dry cleaning, whatever. In those markets, if you're dissatisfied with your choice, it's not all that hard for you to abandon your initial choice and look around for something you think will work better for you. With insurance, not so much. You can bounce around as much as you like while you don't really need it, but once you do, there's no more freedom to move around, because no insurer in their right mind will take you (specifically) on.

What kind of service does such a system incentivize? Well, the profitably lazy path is to focus on acquisition (market premiums, marketing dollars, and glossy promises) and efficiency (stingy service and a minefield of provisos). You don't have care as much about whether customers -- particularly costly customers -- are cranky about what you actually deliver. Where else are they going to go, particularly if they actually need you?

If you're like me, that's why you wanted the public option. Somewhere else to go.

But you can't be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition (and if, as was in the Senate bill the last time I checked, they can't rate you on said conditions)... well, you have all kinds of places to go, and somewhere in there, maybe somebody's found a way to negotiate with providers and manage their risk pool and investments well and in general operate efficiently while not screwing their customers. Or maybe even just screwing them less than we often get screwed now.

In short, a requirement to treat all comers equally might create a somewhat competitive marketplace that works for consumers.

There are some potential catches. One of which is that while an insurer has more incentive to compete, the path of least resistance is probably still trying to maximize the number of customers who are net assets and make life difficult enough for those who are net liabilities that they head elsewhere to sink some other company. A robust public option is probably the best hedge against this, but it might be possible to achieve some of the same results if the exchanges have even the teeth that some of the stronger state regulators do, and if they or somebody else operate as solid sources of information about who retains sick customers and who loses them (once you have choice, consumer information is a lot stronger force).

The other catch... some of the formulations of policy I've seen don't seem to allow for the kind of easy movement between insurers I've pictured here. I'm thinking particularly of some of the alleged requirements to take insurance your employer offers. I don't know if that's still in the House or Senate bill; if it is, I can see the state of affairs being unfortunately more like it is now, but on the other hand, a submarket of 30-50 million might be big enough that the employer-provided market could coexist without co-opting it, a premise which is at least partially supported by the fact that it exists however wretchedly now, sans-subsidy and community rating.

Definitely not perfect. But over the last few weeks I've become convinced that from a policy perspective it might be worth a shot. My biggest concern is the politics, more specifically, the anti-government intervention narrative that will probably get a lot of traction if it didn't work or even if it kindof did but costs continued to rise albeit at a more modest rate.
posted by weston at 2:42 PM on January 22, 2010


It's always the lib'ruls' fault. Even when it's actually Stupak and his cohort of anti-choice Democratic representatives who are threatening to kill the Senate HCR bill.
posted by mek at 3:22 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm well aware that Obama campaigned on a policy of escalating in Afghanistan... Just because he was open about it doesn't mean it isn't giving the right what it wants while telling the left to bugger off.

This is starting to sound like you think the right's viewpoint and maybe even a desire to give the left the finger had something to do with his choices, and I don't see a lot of evidence for that. And certainly he shouldn't have avoided any given course of action just because, coincidentally, certain segments of political opposition happened to agree with him. Reflexive recalcitrance isn't freedom any more than kowtowing is.

More to the point what good can come of the US staying there? We inspire hatred by our mere presence. I could, very grudgingly, go along with giving Karzai air support in the event that the Taliban actually masses for attacks.

You'd be right to be grudging. We've seen over the last 9 years what kind of drastic mistakes can happen with air support; in a lot of ways, if you're worried about inspiring hatred, you're worse off with air strikes than with boots on the ground, who at least have a human face and can be trained and even assigned to develop local relationships. The kind of arrangement you're describing would probably give us most of the exposure to increased animosity we've got now with greatly decreased direct operational and diplomatic capacity. Not to mention the fact that merely pulling out will reinforce a certain negative narrative triggered when those who are even tentative allies right now recognize a long pattern of foreign involvement.

I understand why you're skeptical about what we can accomplish there. It's a mess, and it's a bigger mess for not having been properly attended to since Iraq. I don't see any really great options, and at that point, leaving is certainly something to consider, but that has downsides too. The fact that Obama's choices do too doesn't mean that they aren't defensible as a good faith policy he might well see as the least bad among a number of unpleasant ones. And there's not much indication they have to do with any particular political spectrum; in fact, I'm skeptical that there's a point past which "the left" can be accurately characterized as homogenously opposed to direct invovement in Afghanistan unless it's pacifism.
posted by weston at 3:23 PM on January 22, 2010


First, he is what he always appeared to be, and campaigned as: plenty liberal, but no radical. He never said he was going to prosecute Cheney, or bring in single-payer, or let the Taliban back into Kabul. He has the short-comings that he always appeared to have: limited DC experience and no private sector experience whatever; a desire to get along to go along; a rather obvious lack of the common touch that he partially disguises with nifty oratory. It's not his fault you found it easier to read your hopes and dreams into him than into Hillary Clinton, or broke your habit of third party or stay-at-home voting in order to "make history."
What we didn't expect was failure. Honestly, for whatever political sheen he had he always seemed competent.

Oh well my main reason for voting for him was his non-vote on the Iraq war -- I was looking back and not forward. Plus, the fact that he seemed to be popular with people meant it would be easier for him to win, as opposed to Hillary. So he's already given me what I wanted: a president who's not a republican and wasn't an Iraq war supporter.

However, I still live in the U.S. and frankly I would prefer it not go down the shitter!
They barely have to say "Jimmy Carter, failure failure weakling failure" because Daily Kos (which has become a cesspit) and the Huffington Post and the gang here do all the heavy lifting for them.
Ah yes the all powerful daily kos. *rolls eyes*. Nevermind fox news, glenn beck, rush Limbaugh, the corporate funded Teabag parties, and on and on. It's all the powerful voice Markos and the Ariana Huffington who are driving public opinion. Of course. Makes total sense.

Plus I wonder, if someone disagrees with you where do you get the idea that "Fuck you you're an idiot agree with me or shut up and pretend you do so I can get what I want" is an effective way to build a coalition?
As for the comments about the "right having to give" up above, HELLO GIGANTIC STIMULUS BILL NEARLY A TRILLION DOLLARS! Its like you don't even watch the news.

HELLO GOING TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO!

HELLO HARD ASSED REFORMS FOR BANKING INDUSTRY IN THIS POST.

HELLO PUSHING ISRAEL HARDER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN PUSHED.
-- Ironmouth
Stimulus: way too small. The comparison with China's stimulus is embarrassing. Guantanamo: He's got 6 hours left on his self-imposed deadline, and he's still going to imprison people indefinitely without a trial. What's the value in "closing it" when he's still going to do the exact same thin in a different place? Isreal: Getting his ass whipped by Netanyahu.

Again, the "Fuck you do what I say, you're an idiot, how dare you complaining about what the 'centrists' are doing" attitude is moronic.
That's the thing that pisses me off about the Left here. Their pie in the sky proposals don't have the votes, and have never had the votes to pass. When this is pointed out, they assert that it is everybody's responsibility but their own to come up with the votes. They never focus on the fucking whip count and just assume that if somebody other than them did the work, the votes would show up. -- Ironmouth
Bullshit. They had more then 50 senate votes. They were too cowardly to try reconciliation. Decorum and bipartisanship were more important then passing the bill. In fact, we had sixty fucking democratic senators. Yes, I'm all for party loyalty in the house and senate, believe it or not. Twist some arms and get it done. But no, that's not what happened. Centrists who never wanted HCR in the first place moped around and said, "We don't have the votes (because I won't vote for it)" and watered it down.

Why don't you blame the people who actually killed the bill the ones who actually watered it down the ones who actually sold out to corporate interests and so on. But no, you hate "the left" so much you have to blame them. It's ridiculous.

---

As far as figuring out who to vote for if they didn't want a pro-indefinite-detainment-without-a-trial candidate, you remember we had a primary right? Obama wouldn't have won it if he had said he was going to keep doing it. Maybe Hillary would be pres and we could all see if she was going to keep her word. Who knows. Unlike Obama she did vote against retroactive telecom immunity when the primary was over. Oh well.

---

Also, If you're going to call yourself a "pragmatist" then you've got to, you know get shit done being all pragmatic and then failing at everything isn't exactly going to impress anyone.
The "center" is the right. The Republicans removed themselves from the equation completely by voting as a monolithic bloc and explicitly stating that they would do all in their power to kill HCR out of spite. The only right worth talking about in the HCR debate is the Democratic right. -- sotonohito
I'm calling them "the centrists" because that's what they call themselves. I realize they are right wing compared to, say, Canada. And hey, I'm using quotes here. But there needs to be a way to distinguish them from the republicans and the monolithinc, all powerful "left"
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nate Silver: Post Partisan Epic Fail. Silver is a smart guy but hardly a fire-breathing liberal. He considered himself a centrist pragmatist when he actually talked about policy and not just winning elections.
Back in 2008, the smart liberal spin on "post-partisanship" -- one which I frankly bought into -- is that it was in part an effort to put a popular, centrist sheen on a relatively liberal agenda. Instead, as Leonhardt points out, what Obama has wound up with is an unpopular, liberal sheen on a relatively centrist agenda.

It's not just on health care -- but let's talk about health care for a moment. The bill that the Senate Democrats passed did not substantially restructure the system of private insurance, nor the health care delivery system. It did not include a public option. It did, rather, about the minimum that you could do if you want to prevent people with pre-existing conditions from being denied health care. You can't require insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions unless you're willing to put a mandate into place (otherwise, everyone's premiums would rise substantially). And you can't put a mandate into place without having some reasonably generous subsidies (otherwise, a lot of folks would go broke.) The Senate's bill was about the least radical way to achieve something approaching universal coverage that can be imagined. It is nevertheless a bill that would do a tremendous amount of good for a tremendous number of people, and so I've advocated for its passage. But with the possible exception of Wyden-Bennett (which not identifiably left or right although much more radical than what the Congress is considering), virtually any attempt to achieve universal coverage would be further to the left of this bill.
(summarizing: Silver goes through the Stimulus, Cap and trade, Afghanistan, the Bailout, the hate crimes bill, the fair pay act, DADT, DOMA, Sotomayor, etc and looks at if they are Centrist or progressive or neither and if they got passed.)
What's more alarming still is that some of the policies which have become unpopular -- like the health care bill and arguably the stimulus (although the polling is more equivocal there) -- did not start out that way. With the exception of the bailouts -- a policy which the White House certainly wasn't pursing for political expediency -- virtually every policy that the Democrats have advanced polled reasonably well when it was first proposed. It did not always end up that way after it had been through the legislative meat grinder. The reflexive Republican opposition to virtually any policy that the Democrats advanced -- they've overwhelmingly opposed policies as benign as delaying the digital TV changeover date! -- has in retrospect been exceptionally effective.

This is not to suggest that the Democrats should say fuck it all and adopt an agenda that really is leftist -- it couldn't get the support of the Congress anyway -- although there are important exceptions where the liberal alternative (the public option being a good example) polls better than the centrist one.
...
But the Democrats do have the benefit of hindsight now -- and they ought to take advantage of it. For one thing, they need to be very careful about rewarding Republican nihilism. The best case is when you can simultaneously achieve both a policy and a political victory. More often, especially given the structural constraints imposed by the Congress, you'll have to settle for one or the other. But I would be very careful about any course of action which concedes victory to Republicans on both levels. Mistakes were made along the way to health care reform, but you've paid the political price for health care: now pass the fucking thing.
...
But henceforth the Democrats, from the White House on downward, have gotten a remarkably poor return on the investment of their political capital. The failures are more tactical than strategic. But to do what Democrats usually do, and crawl into a shell in the face of adversity, is not advisable.
posted by delmoi at 4:17 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I swear to god. Is it just me or is the peak of our civilization eerily symmetrical/repetitive?

---- 70's: US Oil Production peaks, causes all sorts of problems. Carter listens to Volcker, but Volcker and Carter get thrown out before they can finish the job of fixing the economy because of the effects of fixing the economy.

-------- 80's: After Reagan pulls all the stops out using the language of libertarianism to free foreign oil markets and vanishes the problem of peak oil for a while, George Bush Sr. starts war in Iraq but gets thrown out before he is able to finish it.

------------ 90's: Clinton ends that war and throws a two-term party, basking in the glow of cheap energy, but not really doing anything about the future.

-------- 00's: Bush finishes daddy's war. Real estate bubble pops. Global Oil Production peaks. Perfect economic shitstorm.

---- 10's: Obama (read Carter) has to fix the economy, brings in Volcker to finish the job he started in the 70's. History is mocking us if Obama only gets one term.

We just wasted 40 years pretending certain problems didn't exist. Meanwhile, the earth was warming and our dependence on oil growing. This decades gonna be fun times.
posted by symbollocks at 4:18 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, I wish they'd replace Bernanke with Krugman. Just turn on the free money spiggot and have a four year party. Obviously he would never get confirmed.
posted by delmoi at 4:24 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Harkin Reintroduces Filibuster Reform

The irony, the last time this was introduced the co-sponsor was.... Joe Lieberman.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


He’s spineless? He’s a black man who won the presidency against a war hero and a mother/whore archetype who’s taking on wealthy bankers. Lack of guts aren’t his problem. Bit too contemplative perhaps.

“The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release...”

Oh, yeah, that totally convinces me Obama should kick ass more and take a hardline unilateral approach in his presidency.
So what difference does it make - to financial sector reform - what he’s doing somewhere else?

I think it’s great things are in flux rather than frozen the way they were under Bush. There was no way to put real pressure on anyone over Gitmo, or anything else. Here, maybe. And maybe it can change with enough work.

“Who are all these Democratic Party senators and representatives who refuse to vote with their party?”
It is frustrating. And you’re right, the legislation shouldn’t have to be watered down. But as it is that's the practical reality because HCR, like many other things needing sweeping change, really require not unilateral acts by an executive or senators but grassroots support and mobilization.
Same thing that happened in 1918, that happened in 1949, happened in 1994 - the ball is being carried by politicians rather than popular activist organizations.
And most of the activists have focused on changing their own little corner of it rather than transformation of the whole system.
The teabaggers are shitheads but they can get out the vote and they work more to unify than separate their own support.
Diversity of opinion is a good thing, but you can’t deliver a social movement with a piecemeal and exclusive philosophy.

Why I would trust some politician over a guy down the street that has the same interests I have I don’t know. And I sure wouldn’t crap on the guy down the street if we both need health care to live, but no, he’s pro-life so I can’t associate with him?

“Well, it should be the starting point because you then negotiate down from there. You never start with your minimum, but always with your pie in the sky.”

That’s more business, less politics. And your starting point is contingent on your support and the security of your position. If the health care companies can demolish a lot of people’s political careers more handily than you can (and in many cases they can) than you have less leverage and you’re going to get laughed at.
If you’ve got a movement behind you, different story.

But too – one can argue your position as strategy. So, Obama says 'we will bust you up everywhere we can from local school board to seemingly secure senate seats from now on if we don’t get ‘X’,' yeah, that would have drawn more water. And yeah, I think he, and the Dems, have criticism coming for not doing that.
They would have been in a better position to demand, or at least bluff, with their pie in the sky. They could have started from there, in that case.
On the other hand, what do they have in their war chest?

It keeps coming back to ‘you’ and ‘me’. Grassroots. And there’s no reason there shouldn’t be mass movement exerting pressure on this. Granted, a lot of people with a lot of money oppose HCR and a lot of the things the Dems are doing, but there are far more people on the other side.
And they’re far more desperate. So any opposition really shouldn’t be winning.
The only real difference is cohesion, not passion. Most any organized outfit can take a mob regardless of the numbers.
Laying blame beforehand tho is looking for an excuse to fail.

This policy correction is going to keep the banks from screwing us over? Great. Deal with the other stuff when it comes up.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Again, the "Fuck you do what I say, you're an idiot, how dare you complaining about what the 'centrists' are doing" attitude is moronic.

Characterizing what I, or anyone else on this site, am saying in this way is not, in the slightest degree, an example of discussion in good faith. It goes beyond straw-man argumentation and into something very gruesome.

There are intelligent, committed people here, delmoi — not targets. There are people here who follow through on their thoughts, qualify their statements, read and reread, admit what they don't know, revise as needed. There's still an openness here on the Blue that takes a beating when you go at your perceived enemies with a stick this way.
posted by argybarg at 5:36 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the hell?

As for the comments about the "right having to give" up above, HELLO GIGANTIC STIMULUS BILL NEARLY A TRILLION DOLLARS! Its like you don't even watch the news.

Not a single Republican voted for the stimulus in the House and three Republican senators- three, one of whom later switched parties- voted for it AFTER it they extracted spending cuts from a bill that was already chastised for not being large enough.

HELLO GOING TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO!

The Senate voted 90-6 to block all funds dedicated to closing Gitmo. Every single Republican voted. Obama said we're "going" to pull out of Iraq and have a public option too.

HELLO TALKING TO IRAN NOT BOMBING IT

The Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces choosing not to go to war with a country is a "concession" from Republicans?

But the left doesn't want to see those as giving up anything.

Because you have failed- utterly- to point out what was "given up" by the right.

I have no idea what you are "seeing" here, IronMouth, but it is completely irrational. I don't use that lightly because it seems dismissive but it quite literally makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. You have claimed things the right has "given up on" in the form of legislation that is filled with concessions to the right that the GOP then DID NOT VOTE FOR, along with actions taken by the President completely devoid of the right's participation to begin with.

Are you quite seriously suggesting that Obama doing his job duties and being a Democrat is a "concession" from the right? I want an explanation how the right "gave up" on legislation that barely a single member of the Republican Party voted for, and the three who did, did only after Democrats "gave up" part of the bill to them. I understand you have a strong disagreement with a lot of people here but you are officially screaming at people and calling them idiots while looking like a hysterical lunatic who has no idea what he's talking about.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:41 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let me explain something. I don't like what the "centrist" Democrats in congress are doing. They're using centrism and bipartisan compromise as a dodge to shuck their responsibility for forcefully advocating for reforms. I don't dispute that. I see it clear as day.

What I dispute is that President Obama himself actually believes in "centrism" as anything more than a strategic posture to make a politically necessary appeal to those many, many Democrats in both chambers who strongly self-identify as bipartisan (when, in fact, they skew pro-military and conservative). The Democratic party is NOT a bastion of progressive ideals. Most of the machine Dems are just cogs in the party apparatus who ride the party platform as a matter of political expediency. The problem is, there are too many of these "moderates" and Blue Dogs not to include some of them in the legislative process. As a voting block, though, they're just as unreasonable and rightward leaning on many issues as the Republicans. That is a fact. It's also a fact that significant numbers of Justice Department staff are holdovers from the Bush era and before.

These are establishment politicians, the kind of Democrats (like Hillary Clinton) who were perfectly ready and willing to sign on to launch the Iraq War.

And the judiciary is stacked to the brim with Federalist Society and other radically right wing judicial appointees, even up to and including the supreme court, which can repeal any law Obama shepherds into law on a whim, if they see fit.

The situation is much more politically challenging than you're willing to face, despite the Democratic near supermajority. We've got to tear the shit out of the "moderate" Democrats
in Congress (but not replace them with Tea Baggers, which means it's all about winning primaries). And we've got to tear the shit out of the specific Republicans in Congress working aggressively to thwart reform efforts. And we've got to challenge the Supreme Court, as President Obama has advocated, over their recent (illegal, by some opinions, including Sen. Russ Feingold's) campaign finance reform ruling.

When I criticize "the left" over these issues, I don't mean hippies, or the actual political left. Hell, I'm pretty much a hippie myself (if a bald one). And these days, half out of spite for the Bush legacy, I'm probably a little to the left of Lenin.

No, I'm talking about those who self-identify as "leftists," who don't seem to remember anything about the long, painfully slow struggle to achieve basic civil rights, and who can't be bothered to follow the details of political issues very closely, but somehow find it impossible not to express the strongest, most vitriolic opinions on every issue other than the issue presently under discussion, which has the effect of establishing the appearance that support for a particular reform effort is already shaky at the start even among those in the electorate that the reforms should appeal to most.

These are good reforms he's proposing, people. At least spend some time acknowledging the necessity of these reforms, whether you personally like Obama or not. Otherwise, it looks like nobody wants to reform the financial sector now. And that's not meant as an excuse for the Democratic congressional leadership's spinelessness and impotence. It's just a restatement of what should be an obvious fact.

Why not spend less time attacking and undermining the political standing of those few in the system who are pursuing reforms, and instead focus on those who personally take part in the efforts to block reform, and at the same time, maybe actually argue for the specific reforms you'd like to see (and those reforms have to be a little more serious-minded and practical than "drag all the bankers out into the streets and gut 'em!" or "forget about congress and the courts and just declare it law already!" or "just get out of the way and let the solution to the problem self-organize while we snipe at each other!")
posted by saulgoodman at 6:18 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


It takes concessions from both sides for compromise, if one side gives all concessions and the other side gives nothing that isn't compromise.

"the other side gave nothing"

You wanna take a minute to think about what might have seemed like compromise to the other side, or you want me to embarrass you in front of the class?
posted by namespan at 6:32 PM on January 22, 2010


IF THERE WERE VOTES FOR IT.

NO. If the votes aren't there you go out and you fucking get the votes.

I mean, shit, you could have said the same thing about Obama's presidential bid. NO WAY a black man who's name sounds like a terrorist is ever gonna be president. THE VOTES AREN'T THERE. So what does Obama do? He campaigns. He goes to the fucking streets. He MAKES HIS FUCKING CASE AND GETS THE GODDAMNED VOTES.

Now, unless I've missed something, I don't recall seeing Obama on the television making his case with Health Care reform. I don't recall seeing Obama on TV telling the American people that a few rich old men wanted to STOP AMERICANS from getting the free health care they deserve and can afford to have. I must have missed the press conference where Obama called Lieberman a spineless sycophant. I must have been asleep for the Saturday Night Live when the PRESIDENT came on and personally mocked the Tea Baggers.

No, the president can't pass laws. But you know what the president could do? He could go on TV for an hour every day and publicly chastise and shame the members of his party that refuse to HELP AMERICA. He could issue a proclamation of WAR against a nice, abstract idea... but instead of TERRORISM, how about POVERTY? BE FUCKING CREATIVE. Peoples' lives are at stake, for fuck's sake.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:57 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now, unless I've missed something, I don't recall seeing Obama on the television making his case with Health Care reform.

WTF? He did a primetime special that aired on a major broadcast network (which everyone bitched about because it cut into their TV schedule) and appeared in an exclusive hour-long appearance on Conan O'Brien to pitch health care reform. He gave stirring, nationally televised speeches urging congress to pass reform and to do it in a way that gave everyone affordable health care.

One of his speeches alone increased popular support for HCR more than 10%, remember that? What did Congress do with that major bump in the polls? Jack. That's Obama's fault, for not pushing more aggressively for HCR. Holy shit.

He put in more TV time for HCR than any other recent President has in support of any issue I can remember. And yet, you don't recall seeing him on TV, and so obviously, he didn't really put in the effort. Just, wow.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:13 PM on January 22, 2010


Now, unless I've missed something, I don't recall seeing Obama on the television making his case with Health Care reform.

There was at least one prime time address. Remember, the one where he got in trouble over the Gates/Cambridge PD comment.

I must have missed the press conference where Obama called Lieberman a spineless sycophant.

Yes, this definitely would've gotten Lieberman to vote for the plan! Brilliant!

If the votes aren't there you go out and you fucking get the votes.

The way you get votes is compromise, not vitriolic street teaming. You want Bart Stupak's vote? Accept his amendment. Is that not palatable to you? Fine, but don't complain when he doesn't vote for your bill. You don't have anything else he wants and you have no leverage over him (or Lieberman for that matter) to intimidate him into voting for it.

Welcome to the reality-based community.
posted by mpbx at 7:16 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus fucking christ.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:19 PM on January 22, 2010


The idea that they don't have any other leverage over Bart Stupak is infantile.

There are a thousand ways of applying pressure to Stupak, none of them very nice. Caving to him is certainly one of them. Ensuring he will never be elected again is another.
posted by unSane at 7:31 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm all ears if you'd like to elaborate.
posted by mpbx at 7:47 PM on January 22, 2010


Well, to put it bluntly, the party whips (is that what you call them in the US?) should have enough shit on every single Representative to sink them if necessary. If someone won't toe the line you either threaten to unleash the shit or, at the very least, to withdraw all Party support from them at the next election and actively seek to have another candidate selected by the local party. This the 'dead to me' option which was absolutely used against left wing Dems to push through the Afghanistan appropriations stuff. It's party discipline 101 and the fact that the Dems have been unwilling or unable to use it is exactly why they have been losing.
posted by unSane at 7:55 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's all vague speculation, though. You're just assuming that there's some kind of dirt on Stupak that the party is unwilling to use, but that's just handwaving. Perhaps there isn't any. Or maybe he has dirt on those who would release his dirt, and they're at a stalemate. That's not a plan, it's a screenplay treatment.

And Stupak has been winning his elections pretty handily since 1993. Wikipedia says he won the last election in 2008 by a margin of 2 to 1 and that he votes with Democrats 96% of the time. I'm not sure he needs national or party support to win his district, the voters there seem to like him.

Are you willing to jeopardize a safe D seat by running a primary against him to possibly get someone who votes with Democrats 97% of the time instead of 96%? The risk you run is the one the Republicans took (and lost!) in NY-23. You might just end up with someone in that seat who votes with Democrats 0% of the time.
posted by mpbx at 8:06 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If someone won't toe the line you either threaten to unleash the shit or, at the very least, to withdraw all Party support from them at the next election and actively seek to have another candidate selected by the local party.

But when the party is controlled by a machine that skews toward the conservative side on many issues? There are 55 house representatives in the Blue Dog coalition. Meanwhile, the senate has always been and remains significantly more conservative in its policy-making than the house, and this remains acutely true even on the Democratic side of the aisle.

So it's not a matter of the party not having the political skills to whip its members into line (though they probably don't): it's that the Democratic party establishment is, by and large, centrist and prone to seeking bipartisan compromises with moderate Republicans.

We may not like it, but that's the issue. Senators like Bill Nelson and Representatives like Allen Boyd (to name just two conservative Florida legislators) are part of the congress on the Democratic side. And there are many conservative Democrats with seniority who chair powerful legislative committees. The deck is stacked heavily within the party, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:06 PM on January 22, 2010


unSane, I just clicked on your profile. I didn't know you were a screenwriter when I made that screenplay comment, I swear to god.
posted by mpbx at 8:11 PM on January 22, 2010


It doesn't matter if they have the dirt: the whips should be willing to use the dirtiest of dirty tricks to enforce party discipline. And yes, you have threaten the nuclear option of losing the seat. It's horrible but this is EXACTLY how you enforce discipline. No-one is indispensible.

saulgoodman has a good point but this again just speaks to the fact that the Dems just weren't into this legislation and Obama failed to imprint the necessity for it on them.

I am really convinced (and I'm sure many will disagree) that if Obama had decided that HCR was an existential issue for the Dems, they could have passed it. Instead they have acted as if it is a 'nice thing to have', and right now Obama is signalling by his emphasis switch to banks that, hey, HCR is no big deal. The GOP are much smarter and treated HCR as an existential issue from the beginning (and made no fucking secret of it, which is what boggles me). They will now treat the banks thing as an existential issue, and so on.

Well, it is what it is, but the fact remains that if a political party is unable to enact a central part of its platform despite having a supermajority and a massive mandate from the electorate -- when the other side managed to push through its agenda in similar or more often massively reduced circumstances -- they cannot possibly expect to retain credibility with the electorate.
posted by unSane at 8:17 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


when the other side managed to push through its agenda in similar or more often massively reduced circumstances

This isn't true, though. Otherwise we'd have Privatized Social Security right now, which we don't. The things they did accomplish they got by winning Democratic votes in the legislature. Like No Child Left Behind.
posted by mpbx at 8:22 PM on January 22, 2010


It doesn't matter if they have the dirt: the whips should be willing to use the dirtiest of dirty tricks to enforce party discipline. And yes, you have threaten the nuclear option of losing the seat. It's horrible but this is EXACTLY how you enforce discipline. No-one is indispensible.

I just don't think it's actually an option with Stupak. I don't think they could unseat him. He's popular in his district. You say this like they can just decide it or will it to happen. I'm sorry, but you don't sound like you have a very strong sense of the realities of American politics.

And I think the loss of Kennedy's seat proved that, yes, some people are indispensable.
posted by mpbx at 8:25 PM on January 22, 2010


[I know this is going to sound really, really weird, but I have been reading a lot about the rise of Hitler in the last few weeks and the thing that has leapt out of me is what incredibly adept and Machiavellian politicians the Nazis were. Their policies were not only repugnant but mostly incoherent or contradictory, but the ruthlessness of the political game they played following the humiliation of the Beer Hall Putsch should be required reading for any politician. The Teaparty/Beck/Fox wing of the right are right now following this plan almost exactly (unconsciously I'm sure) and the lesson of history is that Gentleman Jim bipartisan responses are the exact wrong way to deal with this. I apologize deeply for Godwinizing this thread -- and I am not making any comparison between the American right and the Nazis except in terms of their political tactics (as opposed to policies) - but the parallels are uncanny and deeply creepy.]
posted by unSane at 8:28 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Stupak is eyeing a gubernatorial run. There's plenty of leverage there.
posted by unSane at 8:33 PM on January 22, 2010


Somebody wasn't focusing on the whip count in the House when they bargained away the public option to please Joe Lieberman.

really? because everybody knew, from day 1, that since the beginning of the Senate, there was this thing called the FILIBUSTER. But its Obama's fault that there is a FILBUSTER. Even though it has been here since the beginning of the Republic. Even though Joe Lieberman has been here since Obama was 15 years old. It is obviously Obama's fault that the FILIBUSTER exists. If he was really for the people, Obama would have built a time machine years ago and gone back as a black man and convinced those founding fathers to drop the FILIBUSTER so that he could do everything you wanted.

Guess what. The fucking public option did not have the votes in the Senate! What does it take for you to comprehend that? Blanche Lincoln against the public option. Ben Nelson--against the public option.

But for you it was all Obama's fault. If only he had used his superpowers when he had the chance!

More fucking importantly, I have to give up the ENTIRE HEALTH CARE BILL because a program which would have applied to 2-5 million people, is going to be scrapped? Really? So it is more fucking important that a bill be passed that includes some dumbass program that barely applies to anyone than a bill that would let tens of millions of people who didn't have insurance get covered? Seriously, WHITEY, why are you fighting for this? The country has to give up 90% of the good stuff for your piece of shit program that covers almost anyone? Your CONSCIENCE demands this? Please learn to distinguish between things that are good for the country and things that make you feel like a hardass revolutionary.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:57 PM on January 22, 2010


NO. If the votes aren't there you go out and you fucking get the votes.

I mean, shit, you could have said the same thing about Obama's presidential bid. NO WAY a black man who's name sounds like a terrorist is ever gonna be president. THE VOTES AREN'T THERE. So what does Obama do? He campaigns. He goes to the fucking streets. He MAKES HIS FUCKING CASE AND GETS THE GODDAMNED VOTES.


You made my point. You DO NOT HAVE THE VOTES, and it is everyone's responsibility BUT YOURS to get the votes. Somehow, you know better than a guy who ACTUALLY WAS IN THE SENATE, how to get senators to vote for the the exact health care plan you want! PLEASE TELL US, EXACTLY, AND I MEAN EXACTLY, AS IN WHAT IS TO BE SAID AND DONE, HOW TO GET THE VOTES.


where are the votes in the Senate? Name names. Tell me how each and every senator is to be convinced.

You can't do it.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:02 PM on January 22, 2010


Civil_Disobedient: Do you actually watch TV?

The problem isn't that Obama didn't make the case, it's that he didn't make it in a populist way. He should have said "the insurance companies are screwing you!" That would have fit the national mood. Instead, he talked about bending the cost curve. Because that really gets the voters going.

He didn't want to get his hands dirty. Rather then leading congress, he let different factions fight it out publicly. Even senators, like Jim Webb criticized him for leading personally on HCR.

His whole "not fight" thing doesn't work very well when the other side does fight.
posted by delmoi at 9:03 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


where are the votes in the Senate? Name names. Tell me how each and every senator is to be convinced.

You can't do it.
Howcome you always ask other people for lists, rather then providing your own? Why don't you list the 50 senators who would vote against a reconciled, which is what Pelosi and others are talking about doing now.
posted by delmoi at 9:05 PM on January 22, 2010


what I may not have made clear enough in my first comment is that it's absolutely a major part of obama's job to foster that loyalty,

Exactly wrong. It is the job of the soldier to give the commander loyalty. Otherwise no army moves forward. So Obama's supposed to make people do the right thing? NO. It is the reps job to TOW THE LINE SO AT LEAST SOME GOOD SHIT GETS DONE.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:08 PM on January 22, 2010


Howcome you always ask other people for lists, rather then providing your own? Why don't you list the 50 senators who would vote against a reconciled, which is what Pelosi and others are talking about doing now.

because the motherfucking bill is already passed and ready to go! Nothing else needs to get done! You can try to wish away 59-41 all you want. BUT IT IS THE FACTS WE HAVE NOW.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:10 PM on January 22, 2010


It is the job of the soldier to give the commander loyalty.

A commander who cannot command loyalty is no commander.
posted by unSane at 9:15 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Howcome you always ask other people for lists, rather then providing your own? Why don't you list the 50 senators who would vote against a reconciled, which is what Pelosi and others are talking about doing now.

Specter--Against
Baucus--Against
Webb--Against
Conrad--Against
Landrieu--Against
Lincoln--Against
Lieberman--Against
Byrd--Against
Nelson--Against
Webb--Against
Bayh--Against

There's your 11.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:22 PM on January 22, 2010


A commander who cannot command loyalty is no commander.

I guess we ought to just let the GOP run things then? Whose your other President you can just put in there.

Christ, even Krugman says pass the fucking Senate bill and move on.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:23 PM on January 22, 2010


Who are your 50 who will vote for reconciliation?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:24 PM on January 22, 2010


I just don't think it's actually an option with Stupak. I don't think they could unseat him. He's popular in his district. You say this like they can just decide it or will it to happen. I'm sorry, but you don't sound like you have a very strong sense of the realities of American politics.

Anyone who thinks that Bart Stupak is just going to be pushed out of his district has not spent a single minute in Northern Michigan.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:26 PM on January 22, 2010


I guess we ought to just let the GOP run things then?

That's certainly the way it's headed.
posted by unSane at 9:26 PM on January 22, 2010


It doesn't matter if they have the dirt: the whips should be willing to use the dirtiest of dirty tricks to enforce party discipline. And yes, you have threaten the nuclear option of losing the seat. It's horrible but this is EXACTLY how you enforce discipline. No-one is indispensible.

What tricks are you talking about? Tell me the exact "trick."
posted by Ironmouth at 9:27 PM on January 22, 2010


I guess we ought to just let the GOP run things then?

That's certainly the way it's headed.


That, apparently, is exactly what you want.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:28 PM on January 22, 2010


But its Obama's fault that there is a FILBUSTER. Even though it has been here since the beginning of the Republic. Even though Joe Lieberman has been here since Obama was 15 years old. It is obviously Obama's fault that the FILIBUSTER exists. If he was really for the people, Obama would have built a time machine years ago and gone back as a black man and convinced those founding fathers to drop the FILIBUSTER so that he could do everything you wanted.

The filibuster has not existed since the beginning of the Republic. It was created in its first form in 1806, more by omission than intent, because Aaron Burr had an overdeveloped sense of minimalism and thought the previous question motion was redundant.

And Obama doesn't need a time machine to eliminate or revise Senate Rule 22. He needs 51 votes at the beginning of a session of Congress.
posted by enn at 9:28 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


There are a thousand ways of applying pressure to Stupak, none of them very nice.

Name ONE of your THOUSAND WAYS.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 PM on January 22, 2010


The glow started to fade from the Obama machine for me when, after his win, on his Change.gov site when he had the "what issues should we deal with" polls, he threw out the top ones - legalization and single payer health care and laughed about silly kids getting all up in his website.

Then, right out of the gate, he chose "the RIAA's favorite lawyer" Thomas J. Perrelli, for associate Attorney General and the appointment for the number two spot at Justice; David Ogden, who successfully defended extending the Copyright Act, and who fought tirelessly against the ACLU to implement the Child Online Protection Act.

After his decision to use a minister of hate for his inauguration, and his decision to load up on Wall Street ne'er-do-wells as right-hand men, I said this almost exactly a year ago today:

But I fear what will happen to this country if in the middle of this obscene financial meltdown, with unemployment going through the roof, and tent cities springing up all over the country, if the huge populist surge that put him in office becomes angry. And I think they will, if they feel like they've been tricked.

If "Change" only means that we changed Residents and not the direction of the country...I think things are going to be real ugly down on the street level of America.


I stand by the statement. He was swept in by a wave of populism, and he betrayed us.

He bailed on single payer without a whisper. Not only that, he bailed on "Negotiating health care reform in public sessions televised on C-SPAN" ...which had been on change.gov. His quote was: To achieve health care reform, "I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies -- they'll get a seat at the table, they just won't be able to buy every chair. But what we will do is, we'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies. And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process."

Yeah, that happened.

He handed out our money to people who least need and deserve it.

He continues the policy of imprisoning people without trials.

He's sending 40k more soldiers to fight in a country where we have no clear plan for winning or losing...or even an articulated policy of what the fuck we're doing there.

He bailed on his promises of "open" government.

He bailed on his promise of "will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days."

He bailed on the promise that "No political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration."

He bailed on his promise to increase after-school program funding.

He bailed on his promise to to end no-bid contracts.

He bailed on his change.gov promise to "Allow penalty-free hardship withdrawals from retirement accounts in 2008 and 2009".

He bailed on his promise to lobby aggressively for a provision that would "Allow bankruptcy judges to modify terms of a home mortgage".

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama pledged to "use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws." He has yet to do that, even when given the opportunity.

There's more...there's lots more. Damn right people are angry. And they're only going to get angrier. See, the problem is...lots of us actually BELIEVED him. People like me, we don't normally believe politicians...because frankly, if their mouths are open, the odds are that they are lying...but we believed Obama. And man, it's a crushing blow to realize that he was just a lying liar like the rest of them. We got taken in by a smooth talking man. And we're angry that we let ourselves get fooled, and we are unlikely to cut him any slack again.

I'll be thrilled if this stunt actually goes anywhere, but thus far, he hasn't stood up to the right wing on anything. To me, this just looks like more grandstanding and promises...and frankly, I'm tired of being promised bread and circuses.
posted by dejah420 at 9:29 PM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


if the huge populist surge that put him in office becomes angry. And I think they will, if they feel like they've been tricked.

52.9% of the vote does not a "huge populist surge" make.

This is the core of the ridiculous conceit of these arguments. Really? America is pissed that Obama has not used the bully pulpit to advance gay rights? Really?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:38 PM on January 22, 2010


I hope others will understand, although I'm sure Ironmouth won't, why I'm not going to engage with him. Night, everyone.

PS SHOUTING doesn't make your argument any STRONGER.
posted by unSane at 9:43 PM on January 22, 2010


He bailed on single payer without a whisper.

Never once, ever, did Barack Obama say he was for single payer. Ever. The only candidate who did was Kucinich.

He bailed on the promise that "No political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration."

Please support with linked facts.

he chose "the RIAA's favorite lawyer" Thomas J. Perrelli, for associate Attorney General and the appointment for the number two spot at Justice; David Ogden, who successfully defended extending the Copyright Act, and who fought tirelessly against the ACLU to implement the Child Online Protection Act.

I'm a lawyer. A lawyer's job is to represent clients. I don't get the choice of picking and choosing clients. I don't get the choice of saying, gee, I don't like what you do, so I'm not going to take the case. Indeed, if that were the case, most alleged criminals would never get representation.

Do you know who Tommy Corchran was? He wrote most of FDR's securities laws, the ones that made things way better. What did he do before he was in the "brain trust?" He was a corporate lawyer, of course. Who you represented in the past is totally immaterial to the job you are doing now.

He handed out our money to people who least need and deserve it.

To whom did he "hand out money to?" Bush did the bailout, people. Cite, with links, the people he "handed out money to."

He bailed on his promise to lobby aggressively for a provision that would "Allow bankruptcy judges to modify terms of a home mortgage".

Really? Because I watched this closely and it sure seemed like he fought for this provision in the stimulus bill. What did he do or not do here? Because I was watching really fucking closely.

He bailed on his promise to increase after-school program funding.

Really: So what was his $2 billion increase in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)? Please explain.

He bailed on his change.gov promise to "Allow penalty-free hardship withdrawals from retirement accounts in 2008

Really? That passed the Senate unanimously on 4/2/09.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 PM on January 22, 2010


I hope others will understand, although I'm sure Ironmouth won't, why I'm not going to engage with him.

I'm pretty sure they know exactly why you won't engage with me.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:02 PM on January 22, 2010


And Obama doesn't need a time machine to eliminate or revise Senate Rule 22. He needs 51 votes at the beginning of a session of Congress.

Obama's no longer a senator. He literally has no role in the Senate rules. The President of the United States can neither vote on, veto or affect in any way, the rules of the Senate, as the President is not a member of the Senate.

Please explain how Obama is supposed to make a 206-year old rule in the Senate go away.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:06 PM on January 22, 2010


No, he won't engage with you because you're trying to moderate the thread, and shout down anyone you disagree with. It's annoying, and I'm not going to play either.

For the record: here is the research and data behind the promises I quoted as broken...because obviously your google is broken.
posted by dejah420 at 10:08 PM on January 22, 2010


No, the tax free withdraw didn't happen in April of 2009.

The measure, which Obama proposed during the fall of 2008 as the economy was swooning, would have allowed workers to take money from their 401(k) retirement accounts before retirement, but without the usual penalty of 10 percent on top of regular taxes. The idea was to help cash-strapped workers get through hard times without having to absorb penalties for their bad fortune.

The potential downside to the idea is that money taken out now won't earn compounded growth later to build wealth. Also, early withdrawals lock in market losses that might turn around in time.

Penalty-free withdrawals weren't included in the economic stimulus bill that became the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Nor were they part of Obama's budget outline, which Congress approved on April 2, 2009. It doesn't appear that any member of Congress has introduced such a measure. Everyone we've asked about the idea says it's not going to happen.
posted by dejah420 at 10:11 PM on January 22, 2010


I linked to Paul Mason's blog earlier, on this specific issue. He also has a piece on Obama's political praxis ('Obama: From power analyser to prime minister of America') and its roots in Saul Alinsky's 'power analysis' method of social activism:
I once asked Neil Jameson, who runs the COF, what Mr Obama was actually doing in that photograph. Neil was trained by the same people who trained the US president, all those years ago.

Power analysis, he told me, involves three questions: Who can stop us? Who can help us? Who has the money?

Once you understand the self-interest of these groups, you can use it to try and either persuade or force them to do what you want them to do.

If we read the Obama presidency according to these questions, much of the last year becomes intelligible - though that does not change whether it becomes acceptable, either to that large minority of Americans that voted Republican, or to the disgruntled Democrat grassroots who wanted Mr Obama to go further.

We know what Mr Obama wants at the level of ideals: more social justice; a rebuilt social infrastructure; disengagement from no-win conflicts (or an alteration of their terms); a new multilateralism in international affairs; plus a US government and consumer that begins to act as if climate change was a reality rather than a myth stirred up by the nation's enemies.

Who can stop him? He knows that - First, the Republicans in Congress. Second the conservative grassroots who are mobilising in large numbers against every initiative. Third major corporations, such as the big Pharma and healthcare lobbies. Fourth, high finance.

That's virtually the same list of forces who, by 1937, were able to force FDR away from the more radical aspects of the New Deal and it is a list that goes a long way to explaining why Mr Obama's presidency looks nothing like FDR's.
There's more at the link - seemed like an insightful analysis to me.
posted by Abiezer at 11:16 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I teach in a public school. You think I don't know about frustration that way? The sheer immovable idiocy of the system is unbearable sometimes. But I've seen, believe me I've seen, teachers who give the idiocy a name, almost always the principal, and consume themselves in hatred over that person. It's not a fit way to live, and it makes for worse teachers and a worse overall outcome. Do the best you can, put in the daily work, look over many years. That's the only way good things happen.

well said, argybarg and here's something to back you up...listen to Bacevich tell Moyers that the American people have to change. We AND our leaders; that's the only way. It's not a one-way street any more. This is going to take time. And, if Obama can't do it (and he won't; he's just going to seriously dent the problem; we'll need follow up), then Americans must still live the change they want. This will not be easy, because we have been living in a post-WWII bubble of great structural advantage, for decades. That's over, so we're going to have to adapt, innovate, live our change; that will take courage.

All that said, I don't expect that this is going to happen right away. Americans, although we've been screwed on the health care front, and the financial front, for decades, still have had it pretty easy compared to the rest of the world. (This is not to deny the great suffering endured by those who live on the margins in America). We're going to continue to blame our politicians, until that habit wears out. Old habits die hard.

I expect that we're going to see many, many politicians thrown out for the next decade, at least. Old thinking and old habits die hard. WE, the people, are what this country is all about. WE, the people, got lazy and forgot that. We, the people are going get off our duffs and change the habits that we've been conned into believing are good for us (e.g. carrying loads of debt; eating Ding-Dongs for break at school; driving behemoth gas guzzlers; keeping all the lights on.

There are millions of people who get this, but we're way far away from a tipping point. Set an example (e.g. don't buy crappy food that poisons you and your children's bodies, there by inducing premature and expensive health care costs).

btw, I'm not preaching; I find change just as difficult as the next person. It's a struggle, but in this case - in the way I described - it's a good struggle.
posted by Vibrissae at 2:30 AM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Please explain how Obama is supposed to make a 206-year old rule in the Senate go away.

I don't think it's that old. The first senate filibuster didn't happen until 1837. It certainly wasn't an intended feature of the rules. And actually the 60 vote requirement was put in place in 1975, just 35 years ago. It's obviously not impossible to change.
posted by delmoi at 5:37 AM on January 23, 2010


Man, what a thread. Obama takes a step in the right direction (one of many, by the by, despite some of the sneering at a cherry-picked selection of his kept promises - the link's upthread, you can see them all for yourself), and this is the result. I really don't know what to say. It's just kinda depressing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:50 AM on January 23, 2010


Ironmouth: "Never once, ever, did Barack Obama say he was for single payer. Ever."

“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program."
posted by Joe Beese at 6:35 AM on January 23, 2010


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "Obama takes a step in the right direction..."

To "take a step" is to perform an action.

Saying "Big banks suck, amirite?" is talk.

Appointing a Goldman Sachs crony to be Treasury Secretary is an action.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:45 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, until the president becomes king, all he can do when it comes to legislation is talk, cajole, convince and urge. I just find this shit tiresome, that's all.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:43 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: " I just find this shit tiresome, that's all."

You're not alone. The previously-sane Al Giordano is seriously trying to blame the Massachusetts loss on liberal bloggers.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:05 AM on January 23, 2010


I'm pretty sure they know exactly why you won't engage with me.

Excuse me? You tantrumed out about ten comments, some essay-length, after immediately ignoring my request to clarify how Republicans "gave up" on a bill they voted against.

I understand exactly why people aren't engaging with you, because you are throwing a hissy fit. Your arguments are insanely over-emotional, and are leading to stunning examples of factual inaccuracy, which is ironic given your earlier rant about how "no one is reading the news." You called the filibuster a "208 year old rule" despite it being half that old and most recently modified only 30 years ago. You screamed that Obama was against single-payer despite video of him flat-out saying the opposite. Your comments have been an increasing series of defiant and juvenile "nuh-UHs!" and are completely arguing from emotion.

I imagine that's vastly different from what you "know" as to why people are having trouble engaging with you, but there's your answer, if you were really looking for one. Again, I understand your passion for this argument but for your own sake I really hope if you are back in this thread today it's after a good night's sleep because reading your stuff last night you desperately needed one.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:20 AM on January 23, 2010


Do you actually watch TV?

OK, you got me.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:57 AM on January 23, 2010


But for you it was all Obama's fault. If only he had used his superpowers when he had the chance!

You must have missed the dozen or so times I blamed this debacle on the incompetent congressional leadership. Let me reiterate: Harry Reid is incompetent, has been incompetent since he took the job in 2007, and continues to be incompetent. His job as majority leader is to ensure legislative success, so in the face of this LEGISLATIVE FAILURE in the Senate, he needs to face a vote of no-confidence.

But as for Obama's culpability in this mess, let me again reiterate that I think that if Obama were to apply some pressure to your Leftist allies (and remember, you and I, we're still allies. Me and Lieberman, not so much) who you are so bent out of shape over, that they would probably toe the line. But, you know, his plate is full right now.

Seriously, WHITEY, why are you fighting for this?

I don't know why you called me "whitey," but it sure looks like a direct insult to me, and I ask you to retract it, because it is inappropriate in this forum. And yes, I am white.

The country has to give up 90% of the good stuff for your piece of shit program that covers almost anyone? Your CONSCIENCE demands this? Please learn to distinguish between things that are good for the country and things that make you feel like a hardass revolutionary.

Now I know you are insulting me, and I ask for an apology. My arguments may have been emotional and forceful, but I did not insult you. And yes, I have a conscience. What's wrong with that? It's the reason I didn't go to law school.

Once again, neither me nor anyone else is asking that Obama use his "superpowers." I'm asking that Reid display the same level of competence that Tom Delay did. I'm saying that he and the rest of the democratic leadership have been unwilling to use the necessary force in the endgame. Case in point: Lieberman still has the Homeland Security chair, despite the facts that he just torpedoed the central plank in the President's agenda, and that he's not even a member of the president's party any more. I certainly think that Reid and the president could find someone who still self-identifies as a Democrat and who was supportive of the President's health care agenda who can perform that task. Don't you? As you can see from Nelson's sweetheart deal for Nebraska (which turned out to be a big-assed disaster), they were willing to use the carrot, but there must be judicial use of the stick as well.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:09 AM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


And to try to get this thread back on some semblance of track, I fully support the President in his new initiative to reform the banking and financial sectors. I hope he will fight for it.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:33 AM on January 23, 2010


“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program."

"But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately"
posted by weston at 9:41 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


More (on topic) incompetence from Reid:

"While I will vote for his confirmation, my support is not unconditional. I know Chairman Bernanke is committed to transparency and accountability, and that is why I will hold him to the highest standards of both. The Senate will continue to demand visible and responsible results for the people we represent," Reid said.

Reid said he met with Bernanke yesterday to discuss the chairman's second term. "I made it clear that to merit confirmation, Chairman Bernanke must redouble his efforts," Reid said. "He has assured me he will soon outline plans for making that happen, and I eagerly await them."


Sure he will, Harry. Sure he will.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:57 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


... and this is the result. I really don't know what to say. It's just kinda depressing.

Rule 0 in politics: when there's a success, the politician is a genius. When there are hints of failure, everyone becomes a pundit offering free suggestions or despair. The Internet hasn't changed that rule at all, instead it has acted as a force-multiplier.

Been a tough three weeks for liberalism now. Just let some legislative victories float in, and things will change. But yes, the agenda needs to go on and yes, there needs to be some results before November.
posted by the cydonian at 8:50 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could be worse, you could have President John Edwards.
posted by Artw at 9:17 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could be worse, you could have President John Edwards.

Are you begging for a FTFY?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:21 PM on January 23, 2010


Heh.

Now if Obama really wanted to boost his popularity by making people think about alternatives he'd have John McCain whacked and make it look like a heart attack, that'd get people thinking.
posted by Artw at 10:15 PM on January 23, 2010


What? John McCain's still alive?
posted by philip-random at 10:49 PM on January 23, 2010


weston wrote You'd be right to be grudging. We've seen over the last 9 years what kind of drastic mistakes can happen with air support; in a lot of ways, if you're worried about inspiring hatred, you're worse off with air strikes than with boots on the ground

Actually, I meant "air strikes at actual massed Taliban troop columns marching to take various cities", not "airstrikes on any little thing".

Got a couple hundred Taliban soldiers marching on Kabul, airstrike. Anything else, not so much.

But my main point is that the US presence in Afghanistan isn't doing anything worthwhile, and Karzai's government isn't worth supporting even if our presence were doing anything. Let the theocratic misogynist fucker fall, let the theocratic misogynist constitution Bush supported fall, "friends" like that we don't need.

Despite all his macho posturing Bush lacked the necessary military and political will to do what was really necessary and institute a Middle Eastern Marshall Plan, including a non-theocratic constitution forced on an unwilling nation. You think Japan wanted to give up all military force? You think Japan wanted to have a constitution that mandated equal rights for women? You think Japan wanted a constitution that explicitly stated the Emperor was fully human and not partly divine?

Trick questions: the answers are "we don't know". It's quite possible that, after all the years of war, the Japanese people would have taken that willingly. But we don't know because no one asked them, MacArthur's people wrote a new constitution for Japan, and MacArthur forced it on the nation willing or no [1].

But since Bush lacked the will to do what was necessary and right, we've got Afghanistan set up as yet another theocratic hellhole with sham elections and a brutal religious police force. That ain't worth spending one single American life to protect.

[1] Ok, so it's more complex than that. Basically the Diet was so terrified of what MacArthur might do that it "voluntarily" implemented his "suggested" constitution. Since there was no actual government in Afghanistan you'd think Bush would have had an easier time setting up a constitution worth fighting for there, but no, despite having what amounted to tabula rasa Bush still managed to set up Afghanistan as a theocratic hellhole.
posted by sotonohito at 4:17 AM on January 24, 2010


"...as well as imposing stiff new capital requirements, and restrictions designed to prevent banks from becoming too big to fail." Oh lol on that.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 6:28 PM on January 24, 2010


Joe Beese: Ironmouth: Ironmouth: "Never once, ever, did Barack Obama say he was for single payer. Ever."

“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program."


Are you kidding me? Are you seriously going to be this dishonest? I really don't believe you didn't also hear "But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately".

Obama, never, never, said he would push for single-payer if elected. At this point I'm starting to wonder if you're a Republican plant.
posted by spaltavian at 3:40 PM on January 27, 2010


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