The Case for Obama
October 15, 2010 11:30 AM   Subscribe

During his campaign, skeptics warned that Barack Obama was nothing but a "beautiful loser," a progressive purist whose uncompromising idealism would derail his program for change. But as president, Obama has proved to be just the opposite — an ugly winner. Over and over, he has shown himself willing to strike unpalatable political bargains to secure progress, even at the cost of alienating his core supporters. This bloodless, if effective, approach to governance has created a perilous disconnect: By any rational measure, Obama is the most accomplished and progressive president in decades, yet the only Americans fired up by the changes he has delivered are Republicans and Tea Partiers hellbent on reversing them. Heading into the November elections, Obama's approval ratings are mired in the mid-40s, and polls reflect a stark enthusiasm gap: Half of all Republicans are "very" excited about voting this fall, compared to just a quarter of Democrats. But if the passions of Obama's base have been deflated by the compromises he made to secure historic gains like the Recovery Act, health care reform and Wall Street regulation, that gloom cannot obscure the essential point: This president has delivered more sweeping, progressive change in 20 months than the previous two Democratic administrations did in 12 years. The Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson argues The Case for Obama.

Dickinson identifies eight key areas in which President Obama has made significant progress:

1 | Averting a Depression: "According to a study by economists from Princeton and Moody's, more than 16 million jobs would have been lost without the interventions of TARP, the Recovery Act and the Federal Reserve — double the damage actually suffered. Unemployment would have spiked to 16.5 percent, and next year's federal deficit would have more than doubled, to $2.6 trillion. [...] Obama played a pivotal role in the economic interventions that staved off disaster. He renominated Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve, backing the central bank's use of record-low interest rates to prop up the banking system. He demanded unprecedented transparency of both the Fed and Wall Street in administering 'stress tests' that restored the confidence of panicked investors, allowing 'zombie banks' to return to the living without resorting to nationalization. Thanks to such stewardship, the Treasury now estimates, the price tag for the TARP bailout has dropped from $700 billion (the equivalent of the Pentagon's annual budget) to $29 billion (about one-fourth the spending on veterans). Above all, the president drove the passage of the Recovery Act, which the Princeton-Moody's study concludes has created nearly 2.7 million jobs."

2 | Sparking Recovery: "The [stimulus package] included the most progressive middle-class tax cut ever enacted — delivering benefits to 95 percent of working families. It invested $94 billion in clean energy and $100 billion in education — unprecedented levels of commitment in both areas. It also devoted $128 billion to health care and $70 billion to mending America's safety net — including direct cash payments to the elderly, the disabled and impoverished parents, as well as billions invested in low-income housing, food stamps and child care. [...] The stimulus alone represents a strikingly progressive presidential legacy — rivaling the biggest reforms of the Clinton presidency. And it passed on Obama's 24th day in office."

3 | Saving Detroit: "It's difficult to overstate how effective and efficient the government's intervention has been. By risking $60 billion, Obama saved a third as many jobs as the entire stimulus package, which cost 13 times more. In fact, the auto industry has not only survived, it has roared back to life. GM is profitable and preparing to go public in an IPO that could allow the government to recoup its investment. Ford is prospering, edging out Japanese rivals for quality. Even Chrysler is expanding its market share. 'The bailout of the auto industry protected against absolute devastation in the economies of the Midwest,' says Ornstein. 'And it is now turning out to be a huge financial boon for taxpayers.'"

4 | Reforming Health Care: "Obama's $1 trillion reform is neither simple nor elegant. But over the next decade, it will extend health coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans — the equivalent of New York and Illinois combined — by expanding eligibility for Medicaid and subsidizing insurance for low- and middle-income citizens. By the end of this decade, 95 percent of Americans will have health insurance. The law also establishes a new bill of rights for patients: Starting in 2014, insurance giants will be banned from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions and from imposing annual caps on benefit payouts. Other rights have already kicked in. As of September, insurance companies can no longer arbitrarily revoke coverage for those who get sick. Children with existing illnesses can no longer be denied insurance. Younger Americans can stay on their parents' policies until they're 26. And 1 million elderly citizens are receiving checks for $250 to fill the gap in Medicare's coverage of prescription drugs. Most striking of all, the law accomplishes all this while extending the solvency of Medicare by a dozen years and cutting the deficit by $143 billion over the next decade."

5 | Cutting Corporate Welfare: "The president's Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which piggybacked to victory as an add-on to health care, kicked private banks out of the federal lending game. The unalloyed victory over corporate lobbyists will cut lending costs by more than $60 billion over the next decade — $36 billion of which is being reinvested to expand federal grants for low-income and middle-class students. The law also makes unprecedented investments in historically black schools and community colleges, caps student-loan repayment at 10 percent of a borrower's income and pays for a program to forgive the debts of students who make their careers in public service."

6 | Restoring America's Reputation: "As president, Obama has stuck to the timetable he laid out, withdrawing nearly 100,000 troops from Iraq [...] Despite the continuing loss of NATO troops [in Afghanistan], U.S. approval ratings in western Europe have soared into the 60s and 70s — far higher than during the unilateralism of the Bush era. U.S. approval is up more than 10 points in Poland and Russia, 20 points in China, and 30 points in Indonesia, France and Germany. Overall, global confidence in America's leadership has leaped from 21 percent in 2007 to 64 percent today."

7 | Protecting Consumers: "The Federal Reserve and the FDIC now have the power to seize and dismantle firms like AIG and Lehman Brothers and to force the financial industry to pony up the costs of their liquidation. Banks can no longer gamble federally insured deposits on high-risk investments, and they are required to risk a portion of their own assets in the dubious investments they sell — a move designed to prevent firms like Goldman Sachs from profiting off of 'shitty deals.' But the most significant facet of the legislation is the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For the first time, a single regulatory authority will have the power to protect consumers from bad loans and credit deals, the same way the FDA protects patients from dangerous drugs. Armed with an annual budget of $500 million — exempt from congressional cost- cutting — the agency will police everything from payday loans to jumbo mortgages. [...] Another measure pushed by Obama — the Credit CARD Act — has already forced Visa, MasterCard and American Express to include a box on your statement spelling out how long it will take to pay off your debt making only the minimum payment. It also bans credit-card companies from jacking up your rate without warning, and places stiff restrictions on luring college kids into mountains of debt with easy credit."

8 | Launching a Clean-Energy MoonShot: "Consider that the stimulus targeted $94 billion for clean energy — making unprecedented investments in everything from weatherizing federal buildings to building solar thermal plants in the Mojave. Roughly half of the money involves direct federal spending. But the administration structured the other half — $46 billion — as matching funds and loan guarantees that are realized only when the private sector steps up with capital of its own. According to a report from the president's Council of Economic Advisers, every dollar of federal co-investment is attracting more than $2 in private capital. Add it all up, and the Recovery Act is driving more than $200 billion in public and private investment in clean energy — $20 billion more than the Apollo program would have cost in today's dollars. [...] What is the country getting for this moonshot? The investment is on track to double the nation's renewable-energy generating capacity by 2012 — bringing enough clean energy online to power New York around the clock. It will also double the nation's manufacturing capacity for wind turbines and solar panels, driving down the cost of clean energy so it can compete with fossil fuels [...] By executive order, all federal agencies are now required to reduce their carbon pollution by 28 percent in the next decade. That act alone is enough to scrub 101 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere — as much climate-heating pollution as Ireland and Hungary generate combined."

Related: Obama in Command: The Rolling Stone Interview (discussed previously)
posted by Rhaomi (177 comments total) 84 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jobs.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:34 AM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


IMO, Obama's problem is the the Democrats in Congress collectively have less balls than my neutered cat.
posted by exogenous at 11:35 AM on October 15, 2010 [76 favorites]


I wish Obama had a little more fight in him, but I really don't see most of this as his fault. In the future text The Fall of the American Republic, the first chapter will be titled "The U.S. Senate."
posted by Palquito at 11:39 AM on October 15, 2010 [12 favorites]


Good news doesn't sell, bad news sells. So Obama could hand out free pizza and beer, but because someone can't drink, Obama is da Evull.

And 100% with exogenous here. The Dems could mess up a wet dream, and I speak as a former Repub turn Dem by BushCo.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:39 AM on October 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


I for one am very happy with Obama's performance as President and urge all my fellow liberals to get out of vote for a Democrat this fall, whether you're "excited" about the election or not.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:40 AM on October 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


vote for a Democrat this fall, whether you're "excited" about the election or not.

Especially as the GOP platform -- their only stated mission -- is to undo every single one of Obama's accomplishments.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on October 15, 2010 [34 favorites]


While I don't think all of Obama's problems begin and end there, exogenous is on to something, I think.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:42 AM on October 15, 2010


Jobs.

So a bunch of Republican candidates said in debates that the government can't create jobs, so why beat up the president for not creating them?
posted by GuyZero at 11:43 AM on October 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: "Jobs."

How do this and this compare with historical records of job loss/growth? Honest question. It looks like the overall arc of recovery is sharper now than in the early '90s and early '00s on the latter chart, but it doesn't go back any further than 1990.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:44 AM on October 15, 2010


I'm still inspired by Obama. And the legislature is limp, but at least they're going along with most of what he's trying to lead. Sometimes. Maybe.

The group I'm getting frustrated with is the Democrat base, because they seem so dangerously fed up with Obama. This is a great article, and I hope a lot of people read it.
posted by gurple at 11:44 AM on October 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


Ubran Dictionary has Elephantzheimers that is relevant.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:46 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


President Obama is out of touch with the American people.

Because for the most part, Americans really are just looking out for themselves, where he's trying to do right by the country.

If nobody's happy, that means you struck a fair deal. President Obama is not only making sure nobody's happy, he's doing his level best to make sure those deals stick. Good for him. And good for us, whether we realize it or not.

The Clinton years featured an administration that wanted to please everybody, instead of doing the right thing. Not bad, but we could have done better.

The Bush years featured an administration that wanted to please a select few. Terrible - and we could have done a lot better.

Now we have a president who's trying to do the right thing, poll numbers be damned. THAT is fucking ballsy. Our self-centered and self-interested electorate doesn't deserve a president this good, and are working hard to make sure we get one that's more our speed.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:46 AM on October 15, 2010 [85 favorites]


The group I'm getting frustrated with is the Democrat base, because they seem so dangerously fed up with Obama.

I think Obama knows that a lot of this is his fault -- that he failed to communicate to the American public, failed to be his own PR agent, and let conservatives and disgruntled liberals control the message. Frankly, I think this story and the New Yorker story posted recently represent spin control on the part of the White House. They may not have written the stories, but Obama certainly made the "It's a failure of communication, but look at what I have accomplished," the agenda for the New Yorker piece.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:47 AM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


IMO, Obama's problem is the the Democrats in Congress collectively have less balls than my neutered cat.

Nah, he needs more Democrats in the Senate. Well, needed.
posted by nomadicink at 11:47 AM on October 15, 2010


But how will all the liberal politcal cartoonist be able to angrily froth about how horrible a President Obama is and blame him for the Democrats losing in elections?
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:47 AM on October 15, 2010


So a bunch of Republican candidates said in debates that the government can't create jobs, so why beat up the president for not creating them?

Wouldn't that require taking words of said Republican candidates on face value? It doesn't seem like criticism of the President's job performance should require adopting every political view of his professional opponents.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:47 AM on October 15, 2010


What it boils down to is that 50% of the way through his first term, Obama still hasn't accomplished 100% of what he promised he would do. Progressives are rightfully disappointed.
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:49 AM on October 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think there's no question Obama has done about as well as practically possible at fixing the economic mess he was left by his predecessor. And it's important to remember that, and to look at his entire role rather than just at the areas in which he has been a huge disappointment, namely, his war crimes and abuses of power in the name of security, and civil rights for gays. Ironically, a constitutional lawyer has performed the worst in the areas in which he would reasonably have been expected to shine.
posted by orange swan at 11:49 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


If nobody's happy, that means you struck a fair deal.

I could probably think of a few situations that would invalidate this maxim.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:52 AM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


0cFCAF, that doesn't make any sense. Half the promises in half the time would seem to be a pretty good rate to me, knowing that compromise and the political process keep any president, or human being, for that matter, from fulfilling 100% of his promises.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:53 AM on October 15, 2010


Pretty sure he was joking, Aizkolari.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:56 AM on October 15, 2010


*hands Aizkolari a Sarcasm Decoder Ring*
posted by gurple at 11:59 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


0xFCAF: "What it boils down to is that 50% of the way through his first term, Obama still hasn't accomplished 100% of what he promised he would do. Progressives are rightfully disappointed."

It's better/worse than that -- according to PolitiFact's Obameter (my benchmark of choice for keeping track of the administration's progress on campaign pledges), he's fulfilled 24% of his 500+ promises, less than 22% of the way through a full eight-year term. That's not counting the ones he's fulfilled with a compromise (8%), or that are currently "in the works" (46%). And those numbers are more or less the same when you look only at the Top 25 Promises, to avoid charges of cherry-picking.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:59 AM on October 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


My apologies. It's Friday afternoon and I desperately need a coffee and the HAMBURGER tag.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2010


What it boils down to is, there are still progressives without ponies.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


The law...caps student-loan repayment at 10 percent of a borrower's income.

For anyone getting their hopes up, that provision only applies to new borrowers after 2014.
posted by jedicus at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


No. What it really boils down to, and I'm seriously not kidding when I say this, is that too many people have seen the movie Dave too many times.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:09 PM on October 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


*hands Aizkolari a Sarcasm Decoder Ring*
"Be sure to drink your Ovaltine. Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!"
posted by ericb at 12:12 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unemployment is 10%, and Obama's legislative strategy has been "ok, all you voters sit back and keep quiet-- I'll negotiate a bunch of deals for you." That's why people are unhappy, and that's why his base is upset.

That, and the fact that Detroit is stabilized and the economy hasn't headed into an all-out depression means that some people might feel like it's "safe" to vote for a Republican. A lot of the very popular programs, including consumer protections, have been passed. That means that the wide swath of voters has nothing left that Obama can promise them to get them to vote for Democrats. So many will say, "X, Y, and Z have been delivered. I'd like A, B, and C to change, and maybe voting Republican is a good way to do that." Lots of people supported what George H. W. Bush did with the Iraq war, but once it was over and the recession was in full effect, voters' reaction was, "well thanks for that whole liberating Kuwait thing, but I kind of like what this Clinton guy is saying about my problems right now." Heck, unemployment was low in 2000, and plenty of voters thought, "yes, the democrats did a good job, but I want something different."

Trying to run on a platform of "look at what I did for you!" isn't a formula for success, and never has been. It's all about what they're going to do.
posted by deanc at 12:13 PM on October 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


Wait, you mean we didn't elect Obama the Last Airbender who will magically fix everything and restore the balance?
posted by yeloson at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2010


IMO, Obama's problem is the the Democrats in Congress collectively have less balls than my neutered cat.

Amen.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unemployment is 10%, and Obama's legislative strategy has been "ok, all you voters sit back and keep quiet-- I'll negotiate a bunch of deals for you."

From bullet point one:

Unemployment would have spiked to 16.5 percent

I am curious as to what you think he could have done differently, in regards to the voters. Negotiating deals on our behalf? That's how a representative democracy works. If people are upset by that, they need to retake civics.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


A representative example of the article's accuracy:

The universal health care that Obama won may not contain a public alternative to for-profit insurance, but...

The CBO's analysis of the revised Senate bill calculates the number of uninsured in 2019 as 24,000,000. (page 11, table 3)
posted by Joe Beese at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


How do this and this compare with historical records of job loss/growth?

Not good.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 12:18 PM on October 15, 2010


It's all about what they're going to do.

That's why republicans are careful to never ever actually deliver on what they promise. They don't really want to ban gay marriage, stop abortions, deport mexicans or cut the size of government, the just want to yell about those things. How are they going to get their crazy base all fired up if they can't run against those issues?
posted by octothorpe at 12:19 PM on October 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


I am curious as to what you think he could have done differently, in regards to the voters. Negotiating deals on our behalf? That's how a representative democracy works.

We can see that it doesn't actually work that way: what happens is that you create a bunch of media events at town hall to scare the bejeesus out of legislators to get them to do your bidding and make the rest of the country think that most people think like you do.

Electing someone and having him close the door behind him while he tells you "wait here, I'll take care of it" doesn't actually work that well, because your supporters have to remain constantly engaged-- for example, the Department of Commerce didn't leave it up to the Republicans to do what they could to defeat Health Care Reform: they spend tens of millions of dollars a month in lobbying and ad campaigns to do it.
posted by deanc at 12:20 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


What it boils down to is that 50% of the way through his first term, Obama still hasn't accomplished 100% of what he promised he would do. Progressives are rightfully disappointed

Wow. I hope this is sarcasm. In 600 days, he hasn't done everything he promised and you're disappointed?

Good lord. Even if he was fucking dictator he couldn't accomplish 100% of what he said he would do in 600 days. Congress runs the country, check the Constitution. They have to pass the laws, he just gets a yay or nay. That applies to all of it DADT, health care, financial reform, you name it. It is really a weak presidential system that the media treats as a strong presidential system.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:21 PM on October 15, 2010


At least I wasn't the only one to miss it.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:22 PM on October 15, 2010 [19 favorites]


We can see that it doesn't actually work that way: what happens is that you create a bunch of media events at town hall to scare the bejeesus out of legislators to get them to do your bidding and make the rest of the country think that most people think like you do.

That's never worked. Ever. See: Bush's social security reform. Bush only got Medicare Part D passed by twisting GOP arms hard and actually violating the rules of the House.

You craft deals and compromise. That is how it has been done since day 1 of the Republic. Even dictators compromise amongst their very small constituency.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:23 PM on October 15, 2010


A representative example of the article's accuracy:

The universal health care that Obama won may not contain a public alternative to for-profit insurance, but...

The CBO's analysis of the revised Senate bill calculates the number of uninsured in 2019 as 24,000,000. (page 11, table 3)


This is correct. Universal Health care was not promised.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2010


What it boils down to is that 50% of the way through his first term, Obama still hasn't accomplished 100% of what he promised he would do. Progressives are rightfully disappointed.

For other kinds of supporters, being lied to about a very substantial promise made during the campaign was disappointing. Maybe if there was less sarcasm about these issues, President Obama wouldn't have needed to work with Rolling Stone to write a promotional piece before an election.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The article's accuracy, Ironmouth. The article right there in the quote cited claims it's universal health care.
posted by kipmanley at 12:31 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd like to make a futile effort here before this gets going: Ironmouth, Joe Beese, others who do this every time: Please don't do this again.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:31 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joe Beese: "A representative example of the article's accuracy:

The universal health care that Obama won may not contain a public alternative to for-profit insurance, but...

The CBO's analysis of the revised Senate bill calculates the number of uninsured in 2019 as 24,000,000. (page 11, table 3)
"

PolitiFact explained this number awhile back:
So who are those 24 million who would be left uninsured?

About a third of them are illegal immigrants, the CBO report states.

So who are the other two-thirds (16 million) left uninsured?

We asked three health care experts: John Holahan at the Urban Institute; Leighton Ku, a professor of health policy at George Washington University; and Kathleen D. Stoll, director of Health Policy at Families USA. They said those people mostly fall into several main categories:

• People who are deemed able to afford health insurance but simply decide the tax penalties are not high enough to persuade them to buy it. Some young, healthy people, for example, may decide it's cheaper to simply pay the tax penalty rather than purchase insurance, Stoll said. The same is true for some wealthy people who are self-insured.

"These are basically people who say, 'It's not worth it to me,' " Ku said.

• People exempt from tax penalties because the cost of health insurance comes to more than 8 percent of their income, even if they are getting federal subsidies. These are generally people with a lower income, but not so low as to qualify for Medicaid. Without a penalty, many of those people may decide to continue not to buy insurance.

"These are people on the lower end of the income scale, but not the poorest of the poor," Ku said, generally people who make anywhere from 133 percent to 300 percent of the poverty level.

• People who are eligible for Medicaid, but simply don't sign up. Some people just think it's a hassle to sign up for insurance, even when it's free, Ku said.

About 60 percent of people eligible for Medicaid today simply don't sign up, Holahan said. "People with very low incomes don't always know how to navigate a lot of things in life. People don't necessarily value health care, and they don't take the time to fill out the necessary paperwork."

• Then there are those who are in transitional stages of life -- perhaps a job change -- and don't take steps to close the insurance gaps between jobs.

The CBO report found that the Senate bill was less effective in reducing the number of uninsured compared to the version of the health care bill that passed the House. While the Senate version was estimated to reduce the number of uninsured by 31 million (leaving 24 million uninsured), the House plan was estimated to reduce the number of uninsured by about 36 million, leaving about 18 million uninsured.

That's largely because the House tax penalty for not getting insurance is a lot harsher. Under the House bill, people who refuse to purchase health insurance will be hit with a tax penalty equivalent to 2.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. The Senate plan calls for a tax penalty of $95 in 2014, going up to $350 in 2015, $750 in 2016, and graduated up in ensuing years based on inflation adjustments.
Boehner's plan, on the other hand, would have left 31 million uninsured.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


When you're arguing it's often more effective to treat your opponent as a foil to ensure that the room agrees with you. As I see it Obama is arguing to the history books and he doesn't much care about the current tribulations of the Democratic party. He wants a solid set of legislative achievements that will stand the test of time.

I don't agree with 100% of his positions or the tradeoffs he makes to get them but I have enormous respect for even trying to take a long-term view of things.
posted by Skorgu at 12:34 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's never worked. Ever.

Actually, those media fiascos/bourgeois riots at townhall events in summer 2009 worked pretty well. Attempts to compromise behind closed doors over health care reform just gave the republicans a chance to drag things out for as long as possible and then come close to tanking the whole project for lack of support. Why wasn't Obama using his campaign mailing list to have his own supporters harass HCR opponents, first?

Social Security reform failed because there was no constituency for it outside of money managers.
posted by deanc at 12:37 PM on October 15, 2010


I feel the need to state this in every thread: Please don't instruct (or "urge") anyone on how to vote in any election. (a) We are all adults here, or close enough, and (b) you in general don't know the specific political situation of every district occupied by someone on Metafilter. Please use "I" statements, like "I will be voting for every Democrat on the ticket" or "I will be voting Republican for the national seats and Green for the local seats."
posted by muddgirl at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Complaining about how an elected official has "broken" campaign promises is a bit ridiculous. First, it reveals a misunderstanding of the word "promise." Second, who seriously believes that someone can promise a certain outcome in the future?
posted by Pacheco at 12:43 PM on October 15, 2010


I can urge people to vote Democrat if I like. I don't really understand your objection to it in every thread. Adults often make miserably bad decisions, and the stakes are high enough that sometimes we need to call them on it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


Forty-plus comments in and I haven't seen anyone but orange swan addressing Foreign Policy, War (we're still fighting one-and-a-half), Homeland Security (going down the same dismal path as Bush), DADT and that promise to close Guantanamo within a year that is now officially broken? It's not ALL the Economy (at least if you're not Stupid). And it has to be discouraging to people who want there to be a difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.

And I think there are a lot of people (like myself) who are between suspecting and believing that he has not saved the American economy, just postponed its eventual collapse.

Then, of course, earning the title "Most Progressive American President in Decades" is like (I know I'll get grief for this analogy) winning in the Special Olympics. He's still far short of the standard set by FDR eight decades ago.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Half of the Country governors nowadays are Repugnicans and all those states (specially California with the Clown Governator) is one of the worse. Why those states are in the same shape than all others? It's not true that Texas is doing well, they are doing well in covering the real truth!!. The Repugs state that removing the tax exemption for capital gains will prevent for creating jobs. They are not paying tax now!..Why don't they create jobs now that they are enjoying the exemption? Sounds like that Black woman from Alabama menacing with the WMD & mushroom cloud!
posted by CRESTA at 12:48 PM on October 15, 2010


kipmanley: "The article's accuracy, Ironmouth. The article right there in the quote cited claims it's universal health care."

The same article says the bill expands coverage to 95% of Americans, a figure corroborated by the CBO report. I think it's clear Dickinson didn't intend "universal healthcare" to mean 100% coverage but rather 100% eligibility. Most of the 24 million uninsured by 2019 as described by that PolitiFact piece are people unwilling, not unable, to purchase insurance.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:48 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The problem with Congress isn't that the Democrats don't have any stones, it's that the Democratic hold on the Senate is so slim that a few Democrats with too many stones can hold legislation hostage to get sweetheart deals. Ben Nelson is a prime example.

If that majority gets slimmer, then we'll see even less effective action from Congress. If it gets larger, then the leverage that one Senator can wield will be reduced.

I hope that all the crazy the Tea Party is bringing to the table will scare sufficient independents over to the Democrat side.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Especially as the GOP platform -- their only stated mission -- is to undo every single one of Obama's accomplishments.

Isn't it just though? I think I'd like to see the Dems characterize them more as such: maybe a poster with a cranky toddler in the throes of a tantrum with the caption "We aren't getting our way so we wanna smash it all - Republicans 2010"

But then I realize that I'm tired of the divisiveness. On the left you have people arguing all sides of an issue, trying to come to middle grounds and sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, coming up against a uniform block of "No." from the right. It's a fucking stupid way to try to fix a country.

I keep hoping that at some point an unexpected bout of reasonableness will break out and infect everyone.
posted by quin at 12:50 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Complaining about how an elected official has "broken" campaign promises is a bit ridiculous.

Maybe. Perhaps it depends on the scale and importance of the promise being made, who it is made to, and why it is being made.

Not to mention that the how and why of it being broken calls into question all the other compromises that get made.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:51 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Universal Health care was not promised.

I was in fact only discussing the article.

But since you mention it...

In the 2008 campaign, affordable, universal health care for every single American must not be a question of whether, it must be a question of how.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:51 PM on October 15, 2010


Sounds like that Black woman from Alabama menacing with the WMD & mushroom cloud!

I don't know who you're talking about! Tell me more about this Black woman!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:52 PM on October 15, 2010


I can urge people to vote Democrat if I like. I don't really understand your objection to it in every thread. Adults often make miserably bad decisions, and the stakes are high enough that sometimes we need to call them on it.

I'm not the President. You know I can't actually enforce anything, right?

I object to it for the same reason I object to any language that infantilizes a group of people solely because they don't agree. I don't have a problem with stating the reasons why you have chosen to vote the way you do, but I DO have a problem when others tell me that my choices are dumb, or that I'm too stupid to understand politics simply because I disagree. I also have a problem with people who assume that their own local political situation is at all analogous to my own - that they know more about what's going on in my own district than I do.
posted by muddgirl at 12:54 PM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I keep hoping that at some point an unexpected bout of reasonableness will break out and infect everyone.

It did once. It was called The Era of Good Feelings. It lasted between 1816-182.

What happened? The Federalists fell apart, leaving only one party: The Democratic-Republican Party.

What were the viewpoints of the Federalists? Wikipedia sums it up: They believed that liberty is inseparable from union, that men are essentially unequal, that vox populi [voice of the people] is seldom if ever vox Dei [the voice of God], and that sinister outside influences are busy undermining American integrity.

Sound familiar? we could end partisanship, but it would mean ending the party that thinks some men are more equal than others, favors letting religious beliefs become law, and combines ultra-nationalism with xenophobia. If only there was a party nowadays that fit that description ...
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:56 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


muddgirl: "(b) you in general don't know the specific political situation of every district occupied by someone on Metafilter. Please use "I" statements, like "I will be voting for every Democrat on the ticket" or "I will be voting Republican for the national seats and Green for the local seats.""

Favorited like the fist of an angry god. You can be as pissed off as you want about Obama - your local elections are still local. I'm about as pissed about Obama as Joe, but I'm sure as hell voting for Marcy Kaptur because that's a local decision.

Don't forget about the county auditors, BOE and local dog catcher. Save for the senate seats, it's all local, folks. (Yes, even the House.)
posted by charred husk at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obama has done more than I thought he would have been able and has done everything without relying on scaring the american people.

Of course he compromised since that is what a consensus requires.

People like Joe Beese will only see the negative of whoever had been voted for president. Sometimes I agree with him in that we shouldn't be okay with some of the things that Obama has kept from the Bush Administration, but other times you have to realize that the President is not a dictator and cannot change everything at day one.

I don't think Obama has done enough for gay rights, but he has done more than any other president in recent memory. I have little doubt that homosexuals be able to openly able to serve in the military by the end of the Obama administration.
posted by Allan Gordon at 12:58 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I DO have a problem when others tell me that my choices are dumb, or that I'm too stupid to understand politics simply because I disagree.

Well, I don't know what to say. You make choices, others have every right to judge them. You may actually be making dumb choices, and you are in no position to tell people they cannot have or express an opinion on that, especially when your choices affect them.

It's not infantilizing somebody to tell them they're wrong. It is, however, sort of immature to claim that nobody has the right to question your choices.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:59 PM on October 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


but I DO have a problem when others tell me that my choices are dumb, or that I'm too stupid to understand politics simply because I disagree.

But what if it's true? I don't mean you specifically, but I see nothing wrong with doing what you object. It's not like the person is being forced to vote a certain way, or someone is pointing a gun to their head when they're pressing buttons. If someone, even an adult or especially an adult is voting for dumb reason, there's nothing wrong with challenging their reasons. Browbeating, no. Challenging and pointing out errors, yes.
posted by nomadicink at 12:59 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]



So a bunch of Republican candidates said in debates that the government can't create jobs, so why beat up the president for not creating them.

How do this and this compare with historical records of job loss/growth? Honest question. It looks like the overall arc of recovery is sharper now than in the early '90s and early '00s on the latter chart, but it doesn't go back any further than 1990.


It doesn't matter, unemployment is too high for people to expect to be reelected or be popular. It isn't fair, there probably isn't anything they could have done, tough shit.

Unemployment is above the nightmare number they originally predicted if there was no stimulus. It's bad, it's really bad. I'm still voting for Democrats of course, but there is zero mystery as to why they are unpopular.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:00 PM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


The group I'm getting frustrated with is the Democrat base, because they seem so dangerously fed up with Obama.

That's because we're fucking retarded, remember?
posted by eriko at 1:01 PM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's because we're fucking retarded, remember?

He's not with the administration before, wasn't speaking on Obama's behalf, and has apologized, remember?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:02 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The 50% comment was 100% HAMBURGER. Apologies if that was too subtle.

In all seriousness, though, the article misses the mark on why so many progressives are getting disillusioned about Obama's performance thus far - it's not the things he has done, and it's not the things he hasn't done yet, it's the things he could do but doesn't. The smoking gun here is Don't Ask Don't Tell. With the latest ruling from the federal court, Obama could instruct the Justice Department to not appeal the ruling. He [allegedly?] could also have issued an executive order stopping all discharges under the policy. There are probably other avenues he could have pursued to end this policy right now - gay servicemembers are being discharged as we speak - but he hasn't. The gap between his repeated insistence that he wants to end DADT and his complete deference to an incompetent and uncooperative legislative branch is wide and yawning.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:03 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's not with the administration anymore, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:03 PM on October 15, 2010


I don't think Obama has done enough for gay rights, but he has done more than any other president in recent memory. I have little doubt that homosexuals be able to openly able to serve in the military by the end of the Obama administration.

I use to say the same thing, but I'm not so sure these days. If any particular group has a reason to be really be pissed at Obama, I'd say it's homosexuals. I think things will work out for the best in the end, because of Obama, but it sucks that people have to wait.

And there's still the matter of marriage, not civil unions, which Obama hasn't shown himself to really be in favor of.
posted by nomadicink at 1:05 PM on October 15, 2010


Only congress can repeal DADT. Not really sure why people think that Obama can just get rid of it on his own.
posted by Allan Gordon at 1:05 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: "Unemployment is above the nightmare number they originally predicted if there was no stimulus. "

A lot of the angst over unemployment -- and most of the GOP's attacks on Obama's job-creation record -- are based on the overshoot of this supposedly promised ceiling. Trouble is, that's hardly what happened:
[W]e could find no instance of anyone in the administration directly making such a public pledge. Rather, it comes via a Jan. 9, 2009, report called "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" from Christina Romer, chairwoman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, the vice president's top economic adviser.

Their report projected that the stimulus plan proposed by Obama would create 3 million to 4 million jobs by the end of 2010. The report also included a chart predicting unemployment rates with and without the stimulus. Without the stimulus (the baseline), unemployment was projected to hit about 8.5 percent in 2009 and then continue rising to a peak of about 9 percent in 2010. With the stimulus, they predicted the unemployment rate would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009.

[...]

But what we saw from the administration in January 2009 was a projection, not a promise. And it was a projection that came with heavy disclaimers.

"It should be understood that all of the estimates presented in this memo are subject to significant margins of error," the report states. "There is the more fundamental uncertainty that comes with any estimate of the effects of a program. Our estimates of economic relationships and rules of thumb are derived from historical experience and so will not apply exactly in any given episode. Furthermore, the uncertainty is surely higher than normal now because the current recession is unusual both in its fundamental causes and its severity."

There's also a footnote that goes along with the chart that states: "Forecasts of the unemployment rate without the recovery plan vary substantially. Some private forecasters anticipate unemployment rates as high as 11% in the absence of action."
And so a heavily-disclaimered projection in a single economic report has been transformed into an ironclad promise that has been brazenly broken.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:07 PM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Muddgirl, why can't AZ urge people to vote in a particular way and you either disregard his urging or tell us about what's up in your district or why you disagree with his urging? I don't think he's suggesting the rest of us are idiots.

Then again, when I see a political ad --I venture to guess that all of us are being inundated with them, heavily Republican due to the obscene amounts of money the Rs are now pouring in -- I either fast forward through it, tell my husband why it's stupid, or say rude things to the TV/radio.

As long as I'm venting, I like Obama so much I get irked with my hero, Jon Stewart, for his occasional pokes at him. I appreciate this article and the careful, well crafted post about it.
posted by bearwife at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2010


SANTA BARBARA, CA, May 11, 2009 – A study released today by a team of military law experts shows that the president has the legal authority to end gay discharges with a single order

Maybe he can't, but he could have at least tried and stopped the bleeding while the order made its way through the court system to give Congress more time (and cover) to pass a bill.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The nation's top federal law enforcement official said the Obama administration would "vigorously enforce" drug laws against people who grow, distribute or sell marijuana for recreational use even if California voters pass a measure to legalize it.

"Why doesn't the left like us?" the Democrats ask.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2010 [12 favorites]


I don't think people are idiots at all. But they do sometimes vote in an idiotic way. Sarah Palin has a lot of support in this country, and there's no way to be polite about just how stupid that is.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:10 PM on October 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


ess than 22% of the way through a full eight-year term.

Say what now?
posted by madajb at 1:11 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


OxFCAF you have to know the fallout of what will happen if he does that. People will rightly think he's ignoring congress and if you thought the tea party was bad so far, well, they'd be much worse if they had actually had something on Obama to rally against.

The president alone should not be able to get around something that congress has decreed. I think DADT is retarded, but I realize that it's going to take congress to get rid of it.

We want to make sure that it sticks instead of having Obama lose next election to a republican candidate who will then reverse his executive order and then every soldier who came out during the mean time will be sol.
posted by Allan Gordon at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]



A lot of the angst over unemployment -- and most of the GOP's attacks on Obama's job-creation record -- are based on the overshoot of this supposedly promised ceiling.


Who said it was a promise? It was a projection of the worst case and we are worse than that. Again, it doesn't matter that there may have been nothing they could do about it, they get the shit sandwich and they have to eat it.

Unemployment is too high, so people are going to vote for a change. It doesn't matter that they are going to change after two years to the people who had eight to cause the problem, politics isn't logic.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


madajb: "Say what now?"

Er, I know a presidential term is four years -- I just assume that 100% fulfillment of all 506 documented pledges are predicated on re-election and two full terms.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:19 PM on October 15, 2010


[[ less than 22% of the way through a full eight-year term.]]

Say what now?


.

What does "orderly" mean? No one is saying it should be chaotic. And if, as he says, the ban can only end by changing the law and not by any executive stop-loss order, how can he also simply state that the ban "will end on my watch"? He does not control the Congress now, and even less next year. So he cannot mean by the end of his two terms, can he?  

Can he?

posted by Joe Beese at 1:32 PM on October 15, 2010


The nation's top federal law enforcement official said the Obama administration would "vigorously enforce" drug laws against people who grow, distribute or sell marijuana for recreational use even if California voters pass a measure to legalize it.

You might not recall, but that whole states rights argument caused a lot of trouble awhile back, so we generally don't go for local legislation that contravenes federal law.
posted by electroboy at 1:54 PM on October 15, 2010


You're morally equating cannabis use with slave ownership?

I'm just asking. Because it sounds like that's what you're saying.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:56 PM on October 15, 2010


I recall Obama refusing to enforce pot law against medical marijuana patients. There is no legal distinction between refusing to enforce the law in that case and in the case of recreational use. The only difference is moral.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:57 PM on October 15, 2010


I think he's saying if you support state's rights for pot, you're going to have a hard time arguing against state's rights for slavery.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:59 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


This administration has done a lousy job of informing the public, IMO. I don't understand why Obama isn't doing a slick 3m YouTube address every week.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The nation's top federal law enforcement official said the Obama administration would "vigorously enforce" drug laws against people who grow, distribute or sell marijuana for recreational use even if California voters pass a measure to legalize it.

The interesting thing will be to see what, if anything, is done to step up federal enforcement in CA when already local law enforcement in that state generally isn't really pursuing marijuana as a crime and the Feds have already made it extralegal policy to not go after medical marijuana patients and providers. Will they send in a state-wide Federal DEA enforcement squad which will pursue offenders themselves? Will they only target the really big operations but leave "the little guy" alone? The Feds already can't count on local or state law enforcement in CA to make drug busts and then hand them over for federal prosecution. So how will "the vigorous" be enacted on the state with the largest population and 3rd largest land mass in the union?
posted by hippybear at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2010


And similarly, if you argue for state's rights for freebasing oranges you would have a hard time arguing against the right to inject apple juice.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why Obama isn't doing a slick 3m YouTube address every week.

What makes you think he isn't? (He's been doing these since before his inauguration.)
posted by hippybear at 2:02 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just cut my leg and rub the citrus right in. I learned it in prison.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:04 PM on October 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


And for those who are rss inclined, here are the video and audio rss feeds for his weekly address.
posted by hippybear at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I keep forgetting the full expression is "states rights for things that I approve of, federalism for things that I don't". My bad.
posted by electroboy at 2:06 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


What makes you think he isn't? (He's been doing these since before his inauguration.)

It's even available on iTunes, if that's your cup of tea.
posted by electroboy at 2:08 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]



I keep forgetting the full expression is "states rights for things that I approve of, federalism for things that I don't". My bad.


Yes, that accurately describes the administration position on this.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:09 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think he's saying if you support state's rights for pot, you're going to have a hard time arguing against state's rights for slavery.

OK. I see what you mean.

But there's a difference between telling a state "You have to arrest, prosecute, and imprison people found with a plant" and telling that state "You are not allowed to enslave people".

The first is an order and the second is a prohibition. I assume the law makes a distinction between those.

In any case, does the Department of Justice really have nothing more important to do than harrass a state making a common sense move to keep from plunging further into bankruptcy?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:14 PM on October 15, 2010


But there's a difference between telling a state "You have to arrest, prosecute, and imprison people found with a plant" and telling that state "You are not allowed to enslave people".

Well inasmuch as the state itself doesn't enslave people, but rather the citizens of that state, isn't each a case of legal prohibition for citizens and an order to the state body to arrest citizens violating that prohibition?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:16 PM on October 15, 2010


Total slow-clap for Rhaomi being awesome and respectful and hitting points with sources.
posted by klangklangston at 2:19 PM on October 15, 2010


Well inasmuch as the state itself doesn't enslave people, but rather the citizens of that state, isn't each a case of legal prohibition for citizens and an order to the state body to arrest citizens violating that prohibition?

Actually, just as there are private employes and state employers, there could be private slaveowners and state slaveowners. But you're right about all the rest.

OK, so if we need to have cannabis decriminalized on the federal level, what would that require? (I know "a miracle". Just curious about the legal specifics.)
posted by Joe Beese at 2:26 PM on October 15, 2010


Look, state's rights is a red herring, especially the slavery thing. Or can someone explain why the administration saw no state's rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal law in the case of medical pot?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:30 PM on October 15, 2010


... can someone explain why the administration saw no state's rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal law in the case of medical pot?

Youthful indiscretion?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2010


*clap*
posted by Aizkolari at 2:40 PM on October 15, 2010


Only congress can repeal DADT. Not really sure why people think that Obama can just get rid of it on his own.

Obama can issue an Executive Order to integrate gays and lesbians into the military, in the same way that Truman issued his own Executive Order to desegregate the armed forces in 1948.

Now, it might be politically risky to issue such an Order. It might even take several years or decades to accomplish full and transparent integration within the organizational mechanics of the military, as was the case for blacks and women who served after Truman's order yet still suffered harassment and other mistreatment. But it can be done.

If Obama is opposed to this particular expression of discrimination against gays and lesbians, it has certainly been within his power to do something decisive about it, in the face of a Democratic-majority Congress that has also chosen not to act.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:43 PM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's now clear that we're looking at a failed presidency.--Paul Rosenberg, Open Left.

"Why don't the Democrats like us?" the Left asks.
posted by No Robots at 2:56 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


In any case, does the Department of Justice really have nothing more important to do than harrass a state making a common sense move to keep from plunging further into bankruptcy?

If you're trying to keep a prison-industrial complex going, as well as show you're tough on drugs to middle-of-the-road voters, then it makes sense to make right-wing social policy a priority for the administration and its cabinets.

Not looking at drug abuse as a public health issue might be at odds with the pro-science image that the administration projects, but a mid-term election is coming up and the Tea Party looks mean and hungry, and ready to win at any cost.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:57 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]



"Why don't the Democrats like us?" the Left asks.


No, we know why, it's because we have different policy goals.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:04 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, we know why, it's because we have different policy goals.

So, then, the Left should maybe stop whining that when the Democrats reject the Left's policies they are "turning on their own supporters." With friends like these....
posted by No Robots at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess if the question is, has Obama accomplished good things during his Administration to date, then yeah, hooray Obama. But I can't imagine anyone arguing that he's turned out to be the transformative president his campaign promised with all those "Change You Can Believe In" posters. Which hardly makes for a failed presidency, but if you're looking for the "enthusiasm gap," there it is.
posted by Pants McCracky at 3:19 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rhaomi> How do this and this compare with historical records of job loss/growth?

Combustible Edison Lighthouse> Not good.

Not everyone agrees on this: here is Hale Stewart arguing that the recovery, as measured from the NBER end of recession, is actually stronger than in the past 2 recessions.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 3:25 PM on October 15, 2010


The change I believed in was a black Harvard grad from Chicago winning the White House. He can sit on his ass for all I care now (I can say that because I know that's one thing he won't do).
posted by No Robots at 3:28 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Obama should be doing more but an executive order isn't the solution.

The thing with executive orders is that they can easily be undone by a later president while with legislation that's much harder to do.

I really don't want to see Obama end the DADT via executive order and then have it undone by a later president and then all the soldiers who came out would be fucked.
posted by Allan Gordon at 3:29 PM on October 15, 2010



No, we know why, it's because we have different policy goals.

So, then, the Left should maybe stop whining that when the Democrats reject the Left's policies they are "turning on their own supporters." With friends like these....


Why? That is what happened. Who else is their supporters? The center? That's fine, the center will reelect them, don't need the liberals.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:31 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama can issue an Executive Order to integrate gays and lesbians into the military, in the same way that Truman issued his own Executive Order to desegregate the armed forces in 1948.

Well, see... I'm not sure it's that simple. Was there a Congressionally passed law in place segregating the military in Truman's time? Obama doesn't seem to think so, and he's trying to make sure the move away from DADT is legal and long-standing. (watch video -- scroll down)
posted by hippybear at 3:32 PM on October 15, 2010


ack. direct YouTube link to the video embedded in my previous comment link.
posted by hippybear at 3:34 PM on October 15, 2010


Obama should be doing more but an executive order isn't the solution.

There are reasonable arguments both ways. But what no one can say is that Obama has his hands tied by Congress. DADT has been ruled unconstitutional. That part of the issue was decided by the judicial branch.

Obama, a constitutional scholar, can decide to sic the DoJ on an appeal, or make a decisive civil rights statement, one which his position gives him the power to make.

It's up to him, at this point, how he wants to follow up on a campaign promise, whether he wants to show solidarity with another minority group, or preserve the discriminatory status quo.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:37 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's fine, the center will reelect them, don't need the liberals.

Liberals are the center. It is the Left that the Democrats don't need, particularly the professional (gag) Left. In fact, the Democrats should run against the Left, and position themselves as the representatives of the broad middle. No need to even comment on the crazies on the Right with anything more than a shake of the head.
posted by No Robots at 3:38 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not looking at drug abuse as a public health issue might be at odds with the pro-science image that the administration projects, but a mid-term election is coming up and the Tea Party looks mean and hungry, and ready to win at any cost.

digby:

As for the practical effect, [the Tea Party agenda] will be seen as "the future" of the Republican party. It's where the energy is and they (the grown ups?) are not going to be able to contain that as they go into a presidential cycle. There is simply no doubt that they are putting the already radical GOP on steroids and for at least the next two years they will be driving the train.

Now, normally I might go along with the idea that they will eventually reveal themselves as kooks and be rejected or that they will fall on their own engorged hubris. But these aren't normal times. This country is in the midst of a much bigger economic crisis than we even realize from within the eye of the storm. And that's when radicals have an opening.

It's tempting to dismiss these people. But they are on the verge of taking over one of the two major political parties of the United States of America. That's real power. And everyone should be more concerned about that happening, in this environment, than they are.

posted by Joe Beese at 3:44 PM on October 15, 2010


furiousxgeorge> ... can someone explain why the administration saw no state's rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal law in the case of medical pot?

Joe Beese> Youthful indiscretion?

Here is what Mark Kleiman, the "professor of public policy at UCLA and the editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis" has to say in answer to that question:
True, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. has announced that the Justice Department will not prosecute people who are selling medical marijuana in compliance with California's law. But that's an entirely different matter. The attorney general could cite good legal and constitutional reasons for that policy, because the regulation of medical practice is a state and not a federal responsibility. And if the medical justification for most of the pot sold through dispensaries is sketchy at best? Well, that too is a state problem. The international treaties that require their signatories, including the United States, to ban the production and sale of cannabis have an exception for medical use.

Most important, the feds can afford to take a laid-back attitude toward California's medical marijuana trade because it's unlikely to cause much of a trafficking problem in the rest of the country. Because dispensaries' prices are just as high as those for black-market marijuana, there's not much temptation to buy the "medical" sort in California and resell it out of state.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 3:47 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


To step back a bit, sure, there always have been and will be campaign promises, but some of us felt like Obama clearly and substantially went beyond their normal realm, promised a transformation, comprehensive, uh, change.

As Rolling Stone has related in its pages, there are substantive reasons for reasonable people to have been disappointed with the health care legislation, financial reform and other things of significance--and with Obama's efforts in those regards.

If a chef tells people s/he is going to prepare the best meal they've ever eaten and it turns out to be pretty good, not the best meal they've ever eaten, it is not unreasonable that some people will have feelings of disappointment.
posted by ambient2 at 3:52 PM on October 15, 2010


The attorney general could cite good legal and constitutional reasons for that policy, because the regulation of medical practice is a state and not a federal responsibility.

I don't buy it. We are talking about writing prescriptions for a drug without FDA approval that the federal government has placed in Schedule I, declaring that it has no accepted medical use in the US and has high potential for abuse. Is there really an argument to be made that a state can determine if they follow that or not? Would Holder argue that in court? No fucking chance.


Liberals are the center. It is the Left that the Democrats don't need, particularly the professional (gag) Left.


wat
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:55 PM on October 15, 2010


Who else is their supporters? The center? That's fine, the center will reelect them, don't need the liberals.

And they already have their post-election priorities in place:

Democrats close to the Administration say the White House wants to make amends and will make its relationship with business a priority after the midterm elections. "I have every expectation as we go through the next several months that we are going to see a greater involvement with business than we have seen in some time," says Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader and an Obama ally.

The changes could include Obama's backing of proposals to cut payroll taxes temporarily, which could save companies billions, according to company executives, economic advisers, and White House aides. If his deficit commission in December recommends a debt-shrinking package of spending cuts and tax code changes, including corporate tax reform, Obama may support it, the people say. The White House may also consider naming a CEO to a Cabinet job if one opens up or may give someone business finds credible the role of counselor, with a wide-ranging portfolio, they say.

posted by Joe Beese at 3:56 PM on October 15, 2010


I'll add that Gonzales v. Raich already determined state's rights don't mean shit when it comes to medical pot. Obama stopped federal enforcement anyway. He opposes legalization, I understand that, tell me that, don't hide behind a state's rights smokescreen.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:01 PM on October 15, 2010


furiousxgeorge> Would Holder argue that in court? No fucking chance.

Whom would he be arguing against? In the case of actual legalization/regulation/taxation, he could conceivably have to argue the case, due to the "international treaties that require their signatories, including the United States, to ban the production and sale of cannabis". In the case of medical marijuana, he doesn't.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:10 PM on October 15, 2010


So he would have to argue to enforce treaties but not to enforce federal law? This isn't making any sense to me.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:20 PM on October 15, 2010


What if he just decided not to enforce treaties since they are treated by the constitution as federal law and he doesn't have to enforce that?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:24 PM on October 15, 2010


As I recall, the author of the Rolling Stone article had generally positive things to say about Obama's handling of the wars. Was he aware that Petraeus wants to expand the ground war into Pakistan?

U.S. military officials racing to make progress in Afghanistan are pressing new tactics to choke off the flow of Taliban fighters and bomb-making materials from Pakistan into key battlefields of the south, with some even advocating cross-border attacks, according to several U.S. civilian and military officials.
First, of course, there will be the usual push to make the Pakistani military kill massive amounts of their own people. This will, as always, inflame the situation, exacerbate extremism and violent reaction, thus nicely setting the stage for American troops to step in -- oh, as a last resort, of course! -- and take control of the "deteriorating situation."

Obviously, given what happened to Stanley McChrystal when he let his aides wag their tongues a bit too much in Paris bistros, Pentagon staffers are not about to be caught "off message" these days. So the dispatch of anonymous briefers in this case can only be seen as a planned reconnaissance in force to "prepare the battlefield." Not the actual fields in Central Asia where Petraeus is now killing civilians (and throwing away American lives) at a rising clip, of course; no, we mean the battlegrounds of the Beltway, where the Pentagon bureaucrats like Winless Davy do their real fighting. 

The move is being sold as a way to "show improvement" in the the war before Obama's re-election, but that's all a sham. Obama surely knows what is painfully obvious to any sentient being: an expansion of the ground war into Pakistan will result in a maelstrom of blood and hate that will extend and deepen the Central Asian quagmire for years, decades.

But of course, that is precisely what our war-profiteering, empire-addicted militarists want. As court stenographer Bob Woodward duly recorded, Petraeus himself told Obama: "You have to recognize also that I don't think you win this war. I think you keep fighting ... You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives."

This the mindset that rules Washington now. From all the evidence, Obama fully shares this vision. Those who think otherwise must cling to the spin that Obama's aides propagated through the obliging stovepipe of Woodward: that the president is a limp rag who can easily be rolled by the boys in Hell's Bottom. (It is astounding that Obama's people, who have praised the book, think this is some kind of positive image of their boss.) But even in the highly unlikely case that Obama is some kind of "prisoner" of the Pentagon, with his peace-loving hands are tied by military meanies, it doesn't matter. Prisoner or willing participant, the result is the same: the militarists are in charge, and they will not stop, no matter how much death and ruin they wreak around the world -- and at home.


Just by way of saying: Stick with "The Republicans are worse."
posted by Joe Beese at 4:30 PM on October 15, 2010


Wonderful post, thank you Rhaomi.
posted by nickyskye at 4:32 PM on October 15, 2010


furiousxgeorge> So he would have to argue to enforce treaties but not to enforce federal law? This isn't making any sense to me.

For one, you're the one who's arguing that, contra Kleiman, Holder is obligated to step in to override California's authority over the regulation of medical practice. If you have some reason, or cited to applicable case law, to show why Mark's reasoning is unsound, let's hear it.

What I was saying, in response to your rhetorical question "Is there really an argument to be made that a state can determine if they follow that or not? Would Holder argue that in court?", is that no party exists with any standing to force Holder to defend the lack of prosecutions of marijuana dispensaries and their patients. No one can possibly force Holder to make that argument in court.

furiousxgeorge> What if he just decided not to enforce treaties since they are treated by the constitution as federal law and he doesn't have to enforce that?

The second half of that is that there do exist parties with standing to take the United States to court (whether they would actually do it is another question) if we decide to allow the production and sale of marijuana in a non-medical context.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:48 PM on October 15, 2010


If you have some reason, or cited to applicable case law, to show why Mark's reasoning is unsound, let's hear it.

That should be "cite", not "cited".
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 5:11 PM on October 15, 2010


Argh. Like the mega-post yesterday (or Wed?), this too is a GYOFB FPP. No hate - just seriously - if you can't keep things relatively concise, then...well, then there's no hope.
posted by davidmsc at 5:29 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


we're looking at a failed presidency

What exactly are the hopefuls among you expecting to happen in the remaining years of Obama's term?

[Singular. Assume a second term for him if you like. But no one has cast a vote for his re-election yet.]

After the House is taken back by the Republicans (even Obama isn't pretending otherwise), now even further right-wing than they were during the Bush years, how do you expect legislation with even the tiniest scrap of decency to get past Congress?  

 "Education of a President":

... the next two years will be mostly about cementing what Obama did in his first two years... As a senior adviser put it, "There's going to be very little incentive for big things over the next two years unless there's some sort of crisis."

Get it? He's switching to defense. Now that he'll have an opposition Congress to blame for not accomplishing anything, he doesn't have to put up the appearance of an effort. The only bills he's going to sign are "bipartisan" ones like cutting Social Security - which his hand-picked Catfood Commission is going to recommend in their report due, by sheer coincidence, right after the election.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:34 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]



For one, you're the one who's arguing that, contra Kleiman, Holder is obligated to step in to override California's authority over the regulation of medical practice. If you have some reason, or cited to applicable case law, to show why Mark's reasoning is unsound, let's hear it.


I am only arguing that IF there is a requirement to intervene for recreational there is also a requirement to do so with medical. If we are talking cites, would you like to cite for me case law that says state law can allow drugs or other products the FDA has explicitly banned?


The second half of that is that there do exist parties with standing to take the United States to court (whether they would actually do it is another question) if we decide to allow the production and sale of marijuana in a non-medical context.


The California system is in violation of the treaties already. This is my whole fucking point here, if there was any chance of this kind of thing happening it ALREADY WOULD HAVE HAPPENED. The only place you can get legal cannabis in the US is from the federal government's National Institute on Drug Abuse under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

So I ask again, why is all of this suddenly a concern with Prop 19 when we already decided the federal government can choose not to enforce our federal law and treaty obligations?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:35 PM on October 15, 2010


Oh, and about that historic health bill...

The dirty little secret about Obama’s preferred HCR plan (besides the part where he sold the public out on the public option, then went before Congress and lied about it still being on the table) is that much of the expansion in coverage doesn’t come from the vaunted (and largely useless, massively overpriced) Exchanges, but through an expansion in Medicaid. ...

First of all, many doctors won’t touch Medicaid with a ten foot pole, because it pays so little. Nor is there any legal requirement to accept it.

Secondly, however: Medicaid is a jointly funded operation, part federal, part state… and the states are broke.

So for the first few years, the expansion is paid for entirely by the Feds, to make sure it actually happens; then in 2017, the Feds cut the subsidy back dramatically, and the states are expected to pick up the tab. ...

What happens if they don’t, or even can’t, pick it up? And keep in mind, the boosted subsidies only apply to the ‘newly eligible’. So what if they cut the overall program to the bone?

Like, say, they’re considering now in Washington...

States can, and will, slash Medicaid to plug holes in their budget, and something as simple as a basic prescription drug benefit for adults is on the table.

So, much like in the exchanges, people will be given a lousy service, full of holes and light on doctors, that they can’t effectively utilize, and lo, it will be called ‘health care reform’ by Obama’s wide-eyed and incredibly gullible followers.

posted by Joe Beese at 6:04 PM on October 15, 2010


furiousxgeorge> I am only arguing that IF there is a requirement to intervene for recreational there is also a requirement to do so with medical. If we are talking cites, would you like to cite for me case law that says state law can allow drugs or other products the FDA has explicitly banned?

Granted, mine is an appeal to authority, but given Kleiman's knowledge about drug laws, I'm willing to take his argument at face value when he draws a distinction between medical and non-medical use and states that Holder has a constitutional and legal case for non-intervention. I asked for a reason or a cite, and so far you've given us a reiteration of the point that marijuana is a Schedule I drug. As for "I am only arguing that IF there is a requirement to intervene for recreational there is also a requirement to do so with medical", that seems to me to fly in the face of your (I'm guessing rhetorical) question: "can someone explain why the administration saw no state's rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal law in the case of medical pot?"

The part of the Kleiman quote that hasn't been discussed so far points out, fairly convincingly, that there isn't an interstate commerce concern when it comes to medical marijuana, as the prices are roughly the same as black market prices. When it comes to actual legalization or even partial decriminalization, that argument no longer holds, and you'll be getting out-of-state visitors creating an export business.

The other part of this is that the administration saw no states' rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal drug laws when it came to dispensaries because there are no states' rights concerns when it comes to allowing a state to do something. You can argue it's bad policy, but your question doesn't make any sense as stated.

furiousxgeorge> The California system is in violation of the treaties already. This is my whole fucking point here [emphasis mine], if there was any chance of this kind of thing happening it ALREADY WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

I've now read every single comment you've made in this thread, and this is the first time you've actually made this claim, so I don't see how you can say that this is your whole point. Here's my cite: a professor of public policy and recognized expert in drug laws says that medical marijuana in California is not a violation of international treaties.

I myself am not an expert in international treaties involving marijuana, so if you can explain to me why California law has already put the U.S. in violation of those treaties, I'll be glad to retract that part of the argument. Unfortunately, it would not change the fact that legalization/decriminalization for non-medical uses actually would be a federal concern due to the significant possibility of export out of state, and that concern is one that doesn't exist now, due to medical marijuana being roughly as expensive as black market marijuana. And that makes the administration's stances completely consistent with one another.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 6:09 PM on October 15, 2010


I asked for a reason or a cite, and so far you've given us a reiteration of the point that marijuana is a Schedule I drug.

Yes, I have made that point an am eagerly awaiting, still, a counterpoint.


As for "I am only arguing that IF there is a requirement to intervene for recreational there is also a requirement to do so with medical", that seems to me to fly in the face of your (I'm guessing rhetorical) question: "can someone explain why the administration saw no state's rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal law in the case of medical pot?"


I have literally no idea what you are trying to say here. My point on both of those quotes is that there is zero distinction in federal law between medical and recreational pot. If you would like to explain the distinction, explain it.


The other part of this is that the administration saw no states' rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal drug laws when it came to dispensaries because there are no states' rights concerns when it comes to allowing a state to do something.


Uhh, like allowing them to have recreational dispensaries?


I've now read every single comment you've made in this thread, and this is the first time you've actually made this claim, so I don't see how you can say that this is your whole point.


Again, the point is that the medical marijuana system in Cali already runs counter to treaties and already runs counter to federal law. Any nightmare scenario you can imagine...it could happen right now with no changes to the law. The treaty is with the federal goverment, they are the ones empowered to run a medical pot system. It's 1.5 acres at the University of Mississippi. California's system is not authorized by the government under the treaty. My garage in Pennsylvania would not be authorized by that system. It's not authorized just by saying the magic words, "It is for medical use."


it would not change the fact that legalization/decriminalization for non-medical uses actually would be a federal concern due to the significant possibility of export out of state, and that concern is one that doesn't exist now, due to medical marijuana being roughly as expensive as black market marijuana. And that makes the administration's stances completely consistent with one another.


Uhh yeah, it would suck if we had an interstate pot black market develop. Anyway, that is irrelevant. There is interstate commerce authority to shut down medical pot too, it was a choice not to.

Here is my appeal to authority. Ok so we are even.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:38 PM on October 15, 2010


Wait, TARP wasn't passed by Obama, it was passed by Bush. The very first paragraph of the Wikipedia article on TARP even covers that..

So, Bush saved the economy!

But really, the problem with TARP and the other solutions to the economic crisis are that they rewarded risky behavior. As I've seen mentioned on here before, It's "Privatize the profits, socialize the losses." We could have pumped money into the economy and prosecuted those responsible for the situation. That didn't happen.
posted by formless at 7:28 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge> Yes, I have made that point an am eagerly awaiting, still, a counterpoint.

Okay, so here's your argument: "And similarly, if you argue for state's rights for freebasing oranges you would have a hard time arguing against the right to inject apple juice." The Obama administration is not banning medical marijuana use, despite it being a Schedule I drug. And therefore, you're arguing (as best as I can make out) that because they are turning a blind eye to California treating marijuana as a de facto Schedule II drug, they have no right to intervene if California decides to decriminalize marijuana possession.

There is (I'm guessing) inconsistency between their treatment of marijuana and other Schedule I drugs. But there's absolutely no inconsistency between not raiding dispensaries and intervening to stop non-medical decriminalization.

UrineSoakedRube> The other part of this is that the administration saw no states' rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal drug laws when it came to dispensaries because there are no states' rights concerns when it comes to allowing a state to do something.

furiousxgeorge> Uhh, like allowing them to have recreational dispensaries?

And because there was no need to assert states' rights in this instance, Holder did not justify his decision not to enforce existing drug law in this case by invoking states' rights. So when you ask, "can someone explain why the administration saw no state's rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal law in the case of medical pot?" The answer is, "talking about states' rights concerns in this context makes absolutely no sense."

furiousxgeorge> Again, the point is that the medical marijuana system in Cali already runs counter to treaties and already runs counter to federal law.... The treaty is with the federal goverment [emphasis mine], they are the ones empowered to run a medical pot system.

This is not what I'm talking about, and not what Mark Kleiman is talking about. Again, he says:
The international [emphasis mine] treaties that require their signatories, including the United States, to ban the production and sale of cannabis have an exception for medical use.
And this is the other distinction between medical marijuana and non-medical decriminalization as far as Holder and the Department of Justice is concerned, and one that you did not address, despite the claim that it was your "whole point", and still haven't even after I pointed it out to you.

furiousxgeorge> Uhh yeah, it would suck if we had an interstate pot black market develop. Anyway, that is irrelevant. There is interstate commerce authority to shut down medical pot too, it was a choice not to.

All right, I'm pretty sure everyone got my point, but let me state it explicitly: although an interstate black market in marijuana does currently exist, medical marijuana does not feed the interstate marijuana black market in any significant way, because dispensary prices are roughly at parity with black market prices.

As for the authority granted under Gonzalez vs. Raich, that's a red herring. For one, it granted the authority to the federal government to ban medical marijuana use, but it did not demand that they do so. Leaving aside the international treaty issue, Holder has clearly stated that the current Department of Justice policy will be to step in to stop drug trafficking but not to prosecute patients or caregivers for marijuana possession or use. You seem to want to turn that distinction into an "aha!" moment, where because Holder uses his authority and discretion not to use precious resources to punish use of marijuana in one context, he has completely ceded his right to do so in all others. This isn't the Obama DOJ being hypocritical, no matter how dearly you want it to be so.

As a practical and legal matter, should Proposition 19 pass (a possibility) and the Obama DOJ take California to court (a certainty if it passes), Holder's hands would not be tied in arguing a violation of commerce clause just because he didn't raid dispensaries because governmental entities make distinctions and use their discretion all the time.

furiousxgeorge> Here is my appeal to authority. Ok so we are even.

My linking and quoting Mark Kleiman had to do with the specific question of why Holder could turn a blind eye to medical marijuana, intervene if Proposition 19 passes, and not be legally or logically inconsistent. That link has nothing whatsoever to do with those arguments, so why bother even linking to anything involving Proposition 19 or even marijuana? You could have linked to an article about carbon nanotubes and it would have been just as relevant to the point at hand.

I gotta go eat dinner, so I'll leave the last word to you. Have a good night.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 8:34 PM on October 15, 2010


What exactly are the hopefuls among you expecting to happen in the remaining years of Obama's term?

The normalization of social democracy as part of American political discourse.
posted by No Robots at 8:48 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


IMO, Obama's problem is the the Democrats in Congress collectively have less balls than my neutered cat.

As Jon Stewart noted, "it's not the Democrats fault. All they had was a larger majority in the Senate than the Republicans ever did during the Bush years, when he did whatever the fuck he wanted."

I sorta think Obama might be better off if the Republicans control Congress.
posted by dry white toast at 9:11 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama's lowered popularity is due to the fact that he was primarily supported by the religiously bent supply-side left who imagined he was a political savior with a golden pen. These were the same voters who hated the Clinton's from day one and were proud of it. The right wing strategists called this one perfectly. They figured they could stonewall Obama and cause the great disappointment among this base. It's hindsight to say we should've gone with Hillary for the implied revenge platform, because Obama is just getting around to blaming his problems on Bush. Instead we fell for the guy who wants to be loved, but expected a radical. If his original supporters feel like they can abandon this election out of a sense of personal betrayal then I can't despise them enough.
posted by Brian B. at 10:07 PM on October 15, 2010


Oh yeah, we would've never seen any ugliness with Hillary around, so much legislation would've been passed. Are you remotely serious? Holy crap.
posted by raysmj at 10:24 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obama's lowered popularity is due to the fact that he was primarily supported by the religiously bent supply-side left who imagined he was a political savior with a golden pen.

This is completely counter-factual. Obama's approval ratings remain extremely high among liberals. There has been minor erosion, of course, as there always is when someone enjoys stratospheric approval among a broad group. But his numbers are still very high among his base.

Where his numbers have collapsed is among moderate to center-right white dudes. Well, and right wingers. But there was never any chance he would have decent approval among right wingers and his decent numbers in that demographic were nothing but a post-election mirage. He really has taken a nosedive among center to center right white dudes, though, for mostly stupid reasons.

Don't get me wrong; there are actual reasons one might be upset with Obama. But those reasons are not the reasons his numbers have taken a nosedive.
posted by Justinian at 5:02 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm starting to hate these political stroke articles. Obama shouldn't need his press officers to go around telling people that he's not so bad, really, if you'd just give him a chance. He has the bully pulpit. If he can't inspire people directly then, hell, he really is that bad.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:23 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brian B. Actually, other than the miserable failure of "Health Care Reform", my disappointment with Obama is entirely due to things that the Republicans couldn't change if they wanted to.

1) Unconstitutional imprisonment with neither charges nor trials. Note for the hard of thinking, this is not the same as saying that Obama failed to close the physical facility at Guantanamo, it is rather that he has embraced and extended the **MENTALITY** behind that physical facility. I don't give a damn if the people being held in cages with neither trials nor charges are physically located in Cuba or California, the problem isn't the location of the unconstitutional detention facility but the idea that the government can put people in cages anywhere with neither trials nor charges.

Obama campaigned hard against unconstitutional detention, and the instant he was in office he fought tooth and nail to keep it and expand it.

2) Torture. By refusing to even consider charging those responsible for turning America into a nation that tortures by official policy Obama has guaranteed that during the next Republican administration torture will resume and presumably be worse than it was during Bush jr's reign. By vigorously prosecuting the whistleblowers who exposed Bush jr's torture regime Obama as all but guaranteed that no future whistleblowers will come forward.

3) Assassination of US citizens by presidential decree. Even Bush jr. didn't claim to have the power and authority to order CIA hits on people he didn't like.

4) Illegal wiretapping. Obama campaigned against it, but once he came into office his position completely reversed, he now seeks not to prohibit illegal wiretapping but rather to legalize it.

****

None of those are whining complaints about things Obama isn't doing fast enough. None of those are things that the mean old Republicans have prevented a Good but Not A Dictator Obama from accomplishing. All of them are areas where Obama has, of his own volition, gone to the side of evil.

I'm also on the side of "just issue a fucking Executive Order on DADT you asshole!" Especially now that we are, absolutely 100%, guaranteed to have less than even the nominal sixty vote majority we had in the Senate. There is no way in the next two years that there will ever be sixty votes in the Senate to overturn DADT, much less DOMA.

Obama pissed away the only possible time when it could have happened, and his claims that he doesn't want to issue an Executive Order because that would violate his precious feelings on constitutional authority ring really damn hollow considering his willing and eager embrace of unconstitutional detention, torture, and the assassination of people on presidential whim.

He's still better than Palin, but that's a damn low bar.
posted by sotonohito at 6:08 AM on October 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


The Obama administration is not banning medical marijuana use, despite it being a Schedule I drug. And therefore, you're arguing (as best as I can make out) that because they are turning a blind eye to California treating marijuana as a de facto Schedule II drug, they have no right to intervene if California decides to decriminalize marijuana possession.

No. I am saying there is nothing in federal law that REQUIRES them to treat them differently.


And because there was no need to assert states' rights in this instance, Holder did not justify his decision not to enforce existing drug law in this case by invoking states' rights. So when you ask, "can someone explain why the administration saw no state's rights concerns with halting enforcement of federal law in the case of medical pot?" The answer is, "talking about states' rights concerns in this context makes absolutely no sense."


We agree, this sidetrack began when someone suggested Holder was opposing this because of slavery.

This is not what I'm talking about, and not what Mark Kleiman is talking about. Again, he says:

The international [emphasis mine] treaties that require their signatories, including the United States, to ban the production and sale of cannabis have an exception for medical use.

And this is the other distinction between medical marijuana and non-medical decriminalization as far as Holder and the Department of Justice is concerned, and one that you did not address, despite the claim that it was your "whole point", and still haven't even after I pointed it out to you.


No, it is exactly what you are talking about. As I clearly addressed, the medical exception is not a general exception, it is an allowance for a program under the supervision of the government that signed the treaty. We have that program, it is 1.5 acres in Mississippi. The California medical system is not allowed by that treaty, so it is in violation just as much as recreational would be.

Just because we have legal medical pot in Cali doesn't mean you can just set up shop in your garage and start selling medical pot out of it, you have to follow the laws and regulations surrounding medical pot or you are still breaking the law. Again, you can't just say the magic words, "But it is medical!" and get off the hook, you have to actually follow the law.

The same thing goes with the treaty, it is not a general "medical pot is ok" clause, it sets out a process. Some country could *gasp*, RIGHT NOW, take us to court to enforce our treaty requirements.

Again, THE WHOLE POINT, there is no legal difference at the federal level between legal recreational and legal medical.


You seem to want to turn that distinction into an "aha!" moment, where because Holder uses his authority and discretion not to use precious resources to punish use of marijuana in one context, he has completely ceded his right to do so in all others.


No. I am saying there is no legal distinction and if they are allowed to make the choice to stop enforcement on medical pot they also can make that choice for recreational.

The ONLY point you have actually made to try and address that is the treaty thing which, as I understand it, Kleinman is wrong about. I think we are more agreeing than disagreeing aside from that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:47 AM on October 16, 2010


My linking and quoting Mark Kleiman had to do with the specific question of why Holder could turn a blind eye to medical marijuana, intervene if Proposition 19 passes, and not be legally or logically inconsistent. That link has nothing whatsoever to do with those arguments, so why bother even linking to anything involving Proposition 19 or even marijuana?

I think we can safely assume that law professors who support prop 19 don't think it is in violation of treaties and unenforceable.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:50 AM on October 16, 2010


Since when has the USA given a good goddamn about upholding international treaties?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:20 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's hindsight to say we should've gone with Hillary...

The Hillary supporters were right about Obama. That doesn't mean they were right about Hillary.

After another year of 16% real unemployment, she is going to start to think very seriously about pulling a Ted Kennedy to challenge Obama in the 2012 primaries. So the faithful may have another chance to give her their support.

All of them are areas where Obama has, of his own volition, gone to the side of evil.

Domestic spying. Imprisonment without charge. Torture. Assassination.

This is where the Democrat mumbles something about "disappointment in Obama's civil rights record". Or as the RS flack says in passing as he sweeps these human rights atrocities under the rug: "troubling".

When Bush did these things, you did not call them "disappointing". You called them impeachable offenses. And if you are not willing to call them that now, you are a partisan hypocrite.

"But the Republicans are worse!" Well, if you feel that way, vote for Democrats. But please spare us this bullshit about Obama's "progressive accomplishments".
posted by Joe Beese at 9:17 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hate to say it, but I agree with what Joe Beese just put up.

Obama's the lesser of evils. I will likely hold my nose and vote for him again, but only because the alternatives will likely be much worse. Yes, he has had accomplishments.

He has wrung his hands helplessly about torture. At best, this is all I've seen from him. We have people imprisoned without charge, and he's cool with that. Some of those people may actually be charged, and may even be acquitted, but there's still open talk of "holding" them indefinitely regardless, and this President has failed to come out and say that won't happen.

How can all of these other "accomplishments" mean anything in light of that?

To say he's been a good President, or even a passable President in light of that is to throw away any pretense of decency with regards to this country. He is little more than slightly better than the last reprehensible retard.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:54 AM on October 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


He is little more than slightly better than the last reprehensible retard.

Then you are either unaware of or have somehow forgotten just how bad the last guy was.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:44 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


"But the Republicans are worse!" Well, if you feel that way, vote for Democrats. But please spare us this bullshit about Obama's "progressive accomplishments".

This is a strange way to describe someone's accomplishments where the lack of accomplishment was due to Republican rejection. I don't think there is an honest choice to be made here. Their goals aren't the same and haven't been for a long time. Voting for people who want to teach creationism in schools, and who deny major environmental problems, or who preach personal freedom and forced pregnancy simultaneously, is an intelligence test for the insane.
posted by Brian B. at 10:57 AM on October 16, 2010


The US has started blowing up nukes again, too. I can't imagine there's a whole lot of real need for that. I suspect it's a dick-measuring move, probably for Iran.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:10 AM on October 16, 2010


Domestic spying. Imprisonment without charge. Torture. Assassination. Ongoing wars without clear goals.

These are the deal killers for me. I won't vote Republican, but I can not consider Obama a good president, or a good man, because of where his administration has been on these issues. Neither the "but he makes the trains run on time, kinda!", nor the "politics is hard!", or even the "he's not as bad as the last guy, or the potential next guy/gal" arguments have changed my mind on this.
posted by moonbiter at 11:11 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a strange way to describe someone's accomplishments where the lack of accomplishment was due to Republican rejection.

Ian Welsh:

Sometimes the world doesn’t grade us on a curve. ... You’re in a fight, and the other guy wins, and you wind up on the ground and he puts the boots to you and you’re crippled for life. You tried “your best”, but you lost and you’re going to pay the price for losing for the rest of your life. Maybe you lost because he fought dirty, and you’d rather take a chance of being crippled for life than kick someone in the balls. Maybe you lost because he trained harder than you, and you’d rather go have a drink with your friends.

Or maybe you needed to pay for health care, and you didn’t have the money, and someone you loved died. And they died because you didn’t have the money, and because your country didn’t have universal health care. And maybe you always worked as hard as you could, and you campaigned for health care with all your heart. It doesn’t matter, your child, your wife, your husband—they’re still dead. Your best wasn’t good enough.

Now this is where America is. This is the real world.

posted by Joe Beese at 11:13 AM on October 16, 2010


The US has started blowing up nukes again, too. I can't imagine there's a whole lot of real need for that. I suspect it's a dick-measuring move, probably for Iran.

Uhhh, link?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:18 AM on October 16, 2010


furiousxgeorge, it didn't make a lot of headlines because it was subcritical. http://www.rttnews.com/Content/GeneralNews.aspx?Id=1446085&SM=1
posted by sotonohito at 12:32 PM on October 16, 2010


Maybe it would be helpful to compare Obama to Tony Blair. Blair did get the UK into Iran on specious grounds, and that counts strongly against him. On the other hand, he got the Tories out of office, and freed Labour from the militant Left. It is fine for people to criticize Blair and Obama. However, in the building of social democracy, it is essential to look beyond the current leadership to the next step. Where does the American Left see itself in 10 years? Who do you want as the Democratic nominee? Is a third party the solution?
posted by No Robots at 12:42 PM on October 16, 2010


So a test with no actual nuclear yield? I don't think that is very good for dick measuring.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:43 PM on October 16, 2010


Sorry... Iraq.
posted by No Robots at 12:46 PM on October 16, 2010


Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba shot off a letter to Obama in which he expressed outrage for "trampling on the expectations and hopes of the A-bomb survivors and the vast majority of Earth's inhabitants."

Akiba said a sub-critical nuclear test leading to the development of new nuclear weapons "runs counter to the spirit of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which you are working to ratify."


What is he worried about? That we would use our nuclear weapons against civilians? Who does he think we are? Iran?

Where would he get a crazy idea like that?

... it is essential to look beyond the current leadership...

Which is why the bovine complacency of the left over Al-Awlaki drives me to my much-deplored harangues.

If they're so scared of a President Palin, why the fuck aren't they upset that Obama is giving her the power to kill anyone she declares an enemy of the United States?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:53 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge, it didn't make a lot of headlines because it was subcritical. http://www.rttnews.com/Content/GeneralNews.aspx?Id=1446085&SM=1

I think the Nobel Committee should issue a War Prize to sitting Presidents. Maybe some reverse psychology will help.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:21 PM on October 16, 2010


But there was never any chance he would have decent approval among right wingers and his decent numbers in that demographic were nothing but a post-election mirage.

Except that a lot of even conservative people shuddered at the thought of a continuation of the Bush years. Bush sucked so bad that I'm surprised the Democrats aren't tying that millstone around the Republican's necks. His administration's mismanagement drowned a major city. No one even tries to defend them on that anymore. And yet the Tea Party looks exactly like Bush: The Movement.

We've already seen what a Palin administration would look like! Why the hell aren't people noticing that?
posted by JHarris at 1:29 PM on October 16, 2010


Bush: The Movement

*wipe* *flush*
posted by hippybear at 2:21 PM on October 16, 2010


The US has started blowing up nukes again, too. I can't imagine there's a whole lot of real need for that. I suspect it's a dick-measuring move, probably for Iran.

see...this is why so much criticism of Obama is suspect. So despite all evidence to the contrary , his seeming dedication to nuclear arms reduction is really some sort of smokescreen to hide his true agenda, which is...what? re-nuking Hiroshima? And this is based on what the very article linked as damning evidence says was "believed to be a routine test to verify the reliability and safety, in storage, of its atomic arsenal."
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:54 PM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


They had to blow it up to prove that it could be stored safely.

Sounds, um, perfectly reasonable. ?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:02 PM on October 16, 2010


Liberals are the center. It is the Left that the Democrats don't need, particularly the professional (gag) left.

Fuck yes x 1000. I am so sick of a tiny fringe insisting they're 'the base' or equating themselves with 'we the people.' The fringe is a dysfunctional liability, an embarrassment. Please, stay home or cast a protest vote for the revolutionary Communist party or whatever. It'll be worth the very minor electoral disadvantage not to have to put up with two more years of emotional blackmail.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:35 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


anigbrowl So, just to clarify, Liberals are 100% behind torture, 100% behind holding people in cages, forever, with neither trials nor charges, 100% behind solving the illegal wiretapping problem by legalizing the illegal wiretaps, 100% behind the notion that the president can order the CIA to assassinate a troublesome American citizen?

Only the crazy, fringe, "professional Left" objects to such things?

If that's the case hat then do these Liberals you claim to stand for believe in and what differentiates them from Republicans?

If the Liberals you represent don't support all of the stuff in the first paragraph, and I really doubt they do, why the hell are you attacking the "Left"? When did punching hippies become so necessary that even avowed Liberals such as yourself feel the need to do so?
posted by sotonohito at 5:39 AM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


When did punching hippies become so necessary that even avowed Liberals such as yourself feel the need to do so?

Don't take it personally. In a two front war, it is best to go after the weaker adversary first. This will encourage your own supporters, and demoralize your main opponent.
posted by No Robots at 7:08 AM on October 17, 2010


hey, stop punching me. I said quit it. MOM!!!!
posted by hippybear at 8:32 AM on October 17, 2010


Liberals are the center. It is the Left that the Democrats don't need, particularly the professional (gag) left.

You mean the Catholic clergy? I won't go there, but there's all kinds of ways to plug into liberalism, mainly through reproductive and civil rights issues, environmental issues, and labor/health/education issues. I hesitate to include gun control, amnesty immigration and cash welfare because they are most often derived from cultural sentiments apart from equal rights for all citizens (yet so many people identify the latter with liberalism by way of conservative caricature). That's not to say there isn't a liberal way of dealing with gun crime, immigration or welfare, but not simply because of popular identification. For example, banning guns is strictly a conservative method in some countries.
posted by Brian B. at 12:42 PM on October 17, 2010


Sotonohito, this liberal is 100% against using false equivalences and other rhetorical fallacies to hijack debate.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:33 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Domestic spying. Imprisonment without charge. Torture. Assassination.

Sotonohito and Joe Beese nailed it. In light of this list, it doesn't matter what else he's accomplished: the man is a god damned fascist, and he can burn in hell for all I care.

I'll vote for him in 2012 without hesitation, but I'll feel a little sick when I do it.

For those who enthusiastically support Obama, and I mean this as a sincere question: how can you like him, in light of all that? I get supporting his presidency, I really do, since it seems like we're completely fucked and have no better alternative. But I see people who seem to still be really excited about Obama, and I'd like to know how to do that.
posted by moss at 3:44 PM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dunno, maybe that's too harsh.
posted by moss at 4:01 PM on October 17, 2010


anigbrowl I see no false equivilancy or other rhetorical fallacies involved. The Left you so castigate mainly criticizes Obama on the areas I mentioned, plus some head scratching/griping about some of his more bizarre political maneuvers (ie: Holder deciding, apparently apropos of nothing, to announce that the DoJ has nothing better to do than show those Dirty Fucking Hippies in California where they can put their legalization of marijuana [1]).

Therefore your declaration that the Left is an enemy to be crushed rather than allies to be fought alongside seems rooted in an embrace of the various human rights violations of Obama. As I said, I'm pretty sure that isn't what you meant, but I can't figure out what you do mean. You really have a mad on against "the Left", but I can't figure out why, or what specific complaints they have about Obama that you believe to be so bad.

Can you enlighten me please?

[1] This "Leftist" would like to know why Holder isn't allocating those resources to combating human trafficking, just to name one vastly more pressing need.
posted by sotonohito at 5:35 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sotonohito and Joe Beese nailed it. In light of this list, it doesn't matter what else he's accomplished: the man is a god damned fascist, and he can burn in hell for all I care.

Based on this analysis the current US system is set up to let you vote for which fascist you like more because it's not like the other party will do anything different.

The monthly payments are easy when you're the lessor of two evils.

that's not quite it, is it?
posted by GuyZero at 9:34 PM on October 17, 2010


So, just to clarify, Liberals are 100% behind torture, 100% behind holding people in cages, forever, with neither trials nor charges, 100% behind solving the illegal wiretapping problem by legalizing the illegal wiretaps, 100% behind the notion that the president can order the CIA to assassinate a troublesome American citizen?

Liberals aren't. Democrats are. (When a Democrat is in the Oval Office.)
posted by Joe Beese at 8:49 AM on October 18, 2010


Supreme Court to decide civil liberties suit against John Ashcroft: The former attorney general is accused of misusing the law to arrest terrorism suspects under false pretenses. The Obama administration is appealing, saying that allowing such a case to go to trial would 'severely damage law enforcement.'
posted by homunculus at 11:20 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Now we have a president who's trying to do the right thing, poll numbers be damned. THAT is fucking ballsy. Our self-centered and self-interested electorate doesn't deserve a president this good, and are working hard to make sure we get one that's more our speed.

I realize I'm really late with this, but that sentence sounds exactly like what I heard from people I knew working in the Bush administration all the time for 8 years. I voted for Obama and I'll vote for him again. But to pretend that (a) he's unique in "trying to do the right thing" and (b) he's not beholden to the interests of a bunch of people who paid his bills and now determine his agenda is either ridiculously naive or indicative of an unbelievably short memory.
posted by The World Famous at 11:28 AM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Olbermann and Jonathan Turley on Prosecuting John Ashcroft.
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on October 19, 2010


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