Comments: Don't Make Presidents Like They Used To

obama's canned response is still a leg up from bush mumbling something about the dallas cowboys and peeing on himself.

Posted by puddy at November 26, 2009 12:55 PM

And then there was the FDR who remarked that it was less dangerous to be friendly with organized crime than with organized banking. (Madison Square Garden 1936)

Now there is a page from the FDR playbook that I wish Obama had read and taken to heart, before he ever appointed Bernanke and Geithner.

Posted by Elise Mattu at November 26, 2009 02:18 PM

Your want centralized power... this is centralized power. FDR would have put an extra hunk of fat in the gruel. Woohoo.

Posted by Marcus at November 26, 2009 04:20 PM

Do you mean "warm, mushy" or "audacious and hopeful"?

Posted by Aaron Datesman at November 26, 2009 04:39 PM

"His maternal grandfather Warren Delano II ... in 1860 returned to China and made a fortune in the notorious but highly profitable opium trade."

Can't find a dollar figure on FDR's net worth, but his was one of the wealthiest families in America. I guess he learned his lesson the hard way.

Noblesse oblige, baby, noblesse oblige.

Posted by Oarwell at November 26, 2009 04:47 PM

In both cases talk is cheap. Invocation of God is suspect, so this time the big O actually beats out FDR in my books. I very much doubt that in 1933 FDR had been much affected by any dark days, and notice he says "undue riches" which leaves him open to enjoy the riches that he felt were his due. Sorry, there's no point in trying to say one asshole is better/worse than another asshole based on the skills of his speechwriters.

Posted by Harpfool at November 26, 2009 06:27 PM

"FDR would have put an extra hunk of fat in the gruel."
You got gruel?! Many's the day I've longed for a nice bowl of gruel . . .

Posted by Murfyn at November 26, 2009 08:31 PM

"one of the wealthiest families in America"
Most any given person in the United States is a member of one of the wealthiest families in the world. Don't think that means anything, because it doesn't; it just means that most any given person in the United States is a member of one of the wealthiest families in the world.

Posted by Murfyn at November 26, 2009 08:40 PM

Oarwell

Yep, lots of money was made on the opium trade, and yep, FDR was all about noblesse oblige. FDR's family was wealthy, but nothing in the ballpark of the big fortunes. Cousin Teddy and the social standing of the family going way back to the 18th century made the Roosevelt name such a valuable brand, not their money.

Read Cornelius Vanderbilt's memoir, Man of the World: My Life on Five Continents (1959) if you want to get a feel for how much the rich and Wall Street hated FDR. They really hated him a lot. ("Corny" vanderbilt was a liberal journalist from the famous family and also a good friend of FDR.)

Posted by N E at November 26, 2009 09:14 PM

Whatever.

It seems from this remove that FDR was more genuine in sentiment and remained attached to his gonads in the face of adversity, did not pee himself and capitulate in the glare of plutocratic irk, or even ire. I can bear FDR's references to God, but not BHO's. Ever since he cut off Jeremiah Wright, any mention of divinity or fellowship or appreciation issuing from him just pisses me off.

Posted by 99 at November 26, 2009 09:36 PM

off topic -- look at this graphic of the unemployment in the USA


http://cohort11.americanobserver.net/latoyaegwuekwe/multimediafinal.html

Posted by Susan at November 26, 2009 10:34 PM

Obama did make his first pardon, of a turkey. No humans yet, only 2.3 million in the gulags. The Obomb thinks they all deserve to be locked in cages. He's fourth all time now in longest start to wearing the crown without pardoning a human, only Washington, Adams (the first), Clinton, and Bush (the second) held out longer, so far. The first two and the last two....

They don't make Presidents like they used to? We should be so lucky.


Posted by Marcus at November 26, 2009 11:08 PM

99

well gee, there is so much genuine religiosity among politicians.

If FDR had talked like BHO, people would have thrown rotten fruit and eggs at him, at least figuratively and maybe even literally.

Push the political debate to the left, or to use a term DavidByron introduced me to, move the Overton Window to the left, and the public rhetoric will change.

I'm very worried about the speech at West Point Tuesday. I have anticipatory depression.

Posted by N E at November 27, 2009 12:19 AM

99

well gee, there is so much genuine religiosity among politicians.

If FDR had talked like BHO, people would have thrown rotten fruit and eggs at him, at least figuratively and maybe even literally.

Push the political debate to the left, or to use a term DavidByron introduced me to, move the Overton Window to the left, and the public rhetoric will change.

I'm very worried about the speech at West Point Tuesday. I have anticipatory depression.

Posted by N E at November 27, 2009 12:19 AM

susan

that's a remarkable map, the most effective way to present data like that i've ever seen. it really packs a whallup.

Posted by N E at November 27, 2009 12:26 AM

Seems to me it would be easier for me to pick up North America and move it west a few feet, N E.

And, I was talking from the base assumption that no politicians have ever been sincere in their religiosity. I can take it from some, especially dead ones, and not from others.

I'm afraid, too, that my insides have started trading places whenever I hear this president's voice... just like with the last one... and so I try to miss as much of what he only says in favor of looking at what he does... which... pfeh... is a looooong slide from being thrilled by his 2004 speech... and bad enough.

Nevertheless, it's clear to me, from all the leaks of the depressing news impending, that your anticipatory reaction is grounded on enough already to grant it status as plain old realism. It seems the strategy has been to get all the worst bits out in advance of his speech to all of us most likely to explode on the spot so at least some of us will be relieved by whatever window dressing he's going to add to this shop of horrors. Maybe we won't go postal on him if he plays it that way, titrates it out so it doesn't just smack us in the kissers, ignite our fight or flight reflexes.

I'm sure he'd much rather be a good guy and do all kinds of wonderful things, if they weren't difficult and going to piss off too many plutocrats, but that actually makes me angrier. This clown is trying to make everything work out by use of his transcendental political sagacity alone! No sense of right and wrong inhering. We are Borg without a Queen. No one is manning the cube. Resistance is futile and you will be assimilated, but we don't know why or into what.

So. Carry on. Or. Well. Join the club.

Posted by 99 at November 27, 2009 01:22 AM

99

"It seems the strategy has been to get all the worst bits out in advance"

--that seems to be political best practice

My views haven't changed. I just hope against hope that this ramping up in Afghanistan doesn't happen.

Posted by N E at November 27, 2009 02:31 AM

"I just hope against hope that this ramping up in Afghanistan doesn't happen." But even if it does, what can Obama do? He's not really that powerful. If he doesn't send the troops to Afghanistan, he'll be assassinated! (Interesting that sending the troops to Afghanistan is not evidence of any power of his.) The Little Father cares about his people, but the Evil Boyars deceive him and lead him astray.

This reminds me of something that Paul Goodman wrote in the mid-1960s, in People and Personnel:

"But in the system we have been describing, the Executive also is not a governing person nor group of persons, any more than the baronial corporations are persons except as a fiction. During the activist Kennedy regime, frustration was continually expressed because, somehow, the Cabinet and the President himself were powerless. Just so the heads of giant corporations and of apparently autonomous universities claim that they are powerless to alter policies that they say they disapprove of. It is inherent in centralization that powerlessness spreads from the bottom to the top. There is certainly a structure of power in the country, but it seems to be a misnomer to call it a power elite."

Posted by Duncan at November 27, 2009 09:59 AM

Titration.

Indeed. Incremental acclimatization. Slow ascent or nitrogen narcosis occurs. Before we know it, dishes of melted butter will be placed next to our steamy halfed shells.

Doctor sez I need to drink more.

Posted by Oarwell at November 27, 2009 10:12 AM

"Doctor sez I need to drink more."

--Is your doctor accepting new patients?

Posted by N E at November 27, 2009 10:32 AM

Duncan

"It is inherent in centralization that powerlessness spreads from the bottom to the top."

--That observation is so sharp that I have checked out Goodman's book. I commonly find that somebody fifty years ago figured out something that everybody has proceeded to ignore or forget or never learn at all, so maybe Goodman will have other pearls of wisdom.

But I just ran across a quote by Will Rogers that contains a great question:

"If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?"

Posted by N E at November 27, 2009 11:02 AM

Sing us a little something, Elvis:

"Was it a millionaire
who said imagine no possessions"

Thank you.

Posted by laym at November 27, 2009 11:09 AM

They bury your dreams and dig up the worthless

Posted by N E at November 27, 2009 11:51 AM

I am the cheapest date in Northern California, but... I too would like to see Oarwell's doctor.... A friend and I have started a campaign for Single Payer Heroin Patches, so all this stops hurting, but that's probably going to go over like a lead balloon, so if there's a way to take so much pain out of too much booze, I am heavily in favor of it.

Posted by 99 at November 27, 2009 01:29 PM

Duncan

He may be the big head fronting for the man [men] behind the curtain, but he's both too powerful and not powerful enough. Because he does the bidding of monsters, to get by, to stay alive, whatever, he gets this slick escape hatch built in.

On the one hand, he's powerful enough, audacious enough, to come out and state that he's stopping torture -- whether that's true or not, or relatively true or not -- just as though it were his prerogative and not THE LAW, Constitutionally mandated law, and fight to strengthen the worst provisions of the PATRIOT Act, and make signing statements that say he's not going to obey laws, and make a tiered justice system, which is a hallmark of FASCISM, and chair a UN meeting on nonproliferation, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot... tried to proscribe Justice from even addressing the torture in the last administration.... And yet, on the other hand, he gets to hide behind this flimsy excuse that he's not powerful enough. Neat trick.

Posted by 99 at November 27, 2009 01:55 PM

I think it was some wag over at Calculated Risk (which Arthur Silber got me reading, of all people) who said we should let Canada take us over, at least then we'd all get free health care.

But barring the Maple Leaf being hoisted over the Pentagram, I like 99's idea: we should get at lesst SOME benefit from traducing Afsmackistan: at least give us each some poppy-aide.

Too bad NoCal is so far from Sarasota: we could pop some corks and watch Morpheus show Neo the Desert of the Real over and over and over.

"Do you think this is air you're breathing?"

Duncan: if there's no such thing as Absolute vodk I mean evil, how do you explain this? (not for the squeamish)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXFm3Fkgapg

Posted by Oarwell at November 27, 2009 04:06 PM

The commentary here is melting into post-apocalyptic surrealism. I like it.

I'll tip back an afternoon bottle of Argentine dollar wine in honor of my fellow ATR cranks.

Posted by Marcus at November 27, 2009 04:36 PM

How about pre-apocalyptic surrealism? I just got reminded of the existence of Dubai and I'm all depressed. The sooner that place shares the fate of Ozymandias, the better. I too could use a drink.

Posted by Cloud at November 28, 2009 12:52 AM

psychoactive substances

Speaking of opiates, after recently re-viewing the film "The Golden Compass", yesterday I began reading Philip Pullman's novel (which is NOT the same, even as to which person poisons the decanter of Tokay). Here's something Lyra observes while hiding in the wardrobe in the Retiring Room:

The Master lit the spirit lamp under the little silver chafing dish and heated some butter before cutting half a dozen poppy heads open and tossing them in. Poppy was always served after a feast: it clarified the mind and stimulated the tongue, and made for rich conversation. It was traditional for the Master to cook it himself.

[In the film, there is no feast, no poppy, no general conversation: Lord Azriel gets right to the point, showing the photograms he'd taken in the Far North of the Dust.]

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at November 28, 2009 10:08 AM

From Cloud's link - "This is a city built from nothing in just a few wild decades on credit and ecocide, suppression and slavery. Dubai is a living metal metaphor for the neo-liberal globalised world that may be crashing – at last – into history."

Reminds me of the city I lived in for four years before leaving the US.

Posted by Marcus at November 28, 2009 12:19 PM

That's an intense article, on Dubai.

"When I ask the British expats how they feel to not be in a democracy, their reaction is always the same. First, they look bemused. Then they look affronted. "It's the Arab way!" an Essex boy shouts at me in response, as he tries to put a pair of comedy antlers on his head while pouring some beer into the mouth of his friend, who is lying on his back on the floor, gurning."

It's almost like, to the landowners, "democracy" is just a word...

Posted by Marcus at November 28, 2009 03:27 PM

What a mean spirited post. Why denigrate the good wishes of a president? Apparently the writer does not understand, nor does he appreciate, the good will offered by Mr. Obama, and the value of that sentiment. Not all profound statements are scolds.

Posted by nellie at November 29, 2009 12:34 PM

Obama's "good wishes"? We've come to appreciate their meaning all too well, where've you been? Pull up a seat; we've got a lot to go over.

Anybody ready with the Litany of Sins for a holiday weekend?

Posted by Save the Oocytes at November 29, 2009 02:49 PM

"Good wishes" if you're a banker or weapons maker, or sycophant to power. I guess you aren't, StO, you poor bastard.

"gratitude for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own"

At least he's thanking the taxpayer for making himself and his cronies rich.

I mean what the hell, you like Bush? Or you're a racist. OR BOTH??

I guess you are getting an Obomb in your stocking this year. He knows who's been good or bad.

Posted by Marcus at November 29, 2009 03:48 PM

Mean spirited?

Bombing innocents out of their beds and into Kingdom Come for political a capital gain and talking smarmy bullshit while doing it isn't mean spirited?

Somebody slipped acid into my coffee again....

Posted by 99 at November 29, 2009 05:15 PM

Join the economic rebellion against companies that give money to conservatives in both parties.

http://WWW.DEMOCRATZ.ORG

Posted by www.democratz.org at November 29, 2009 07:15 PM

I think "mean-spirited" is too generous a term for Leader. It implies too much awareness.

Posted by Marcus at November 29, 2009 08:33 PM

Come on Marcus,
surely Obama is smart enough to know he's an evil motherfucker; maybe the problem is he's a bit too smart, as hubris and rationalization stave off fully acknowledging things. But if that's the case, it just makes him a fairly typical, bloodthirsty type-A imperialist.

"democratz", I'm not joining nuthin. shove off.

Posted by grimmy at November 30, 2009 04:04 AM

Come on Marcus,
surely Obama is smart enough to know he's an evil motherfucker; maybe the problem is he's a bit too smart, as hubris and rationalization stave off fully acknowledging things. But if that's the case, it just makes him a fairly typical, bloodthirsty type-A imperialist/careerist.

Posted by grimmy at November 30, 2009 04:07 AM

grimmy,

for a view that suggests that Obama thinks of himself as a well-intentioned person with the common good at heart, doing the best he can under the circumstances, see "The Moral State of Our Country", the posting just prior to this one.

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at November 30, 2009 07:01 AM

Ego can eclipse intelligence. It's happened to far smarter people than Obomba. It's not that he doesn't realize his policies are murderous, but that he doesn't consider the victims as anything comparable in worth to himself. Virtually no one, I believe, can empathize with people whom they have power over. That's what I meant by "awareness."

Posted by Marcus at November 30, 2009 08:31 AM

well, for what little it may be worth, I feel bad that I told "democratz" to shove off, although I still want nothing they're selling.

Marcus, Mistah Charley,
I don't know if we're wrestling over definitions here, but

1. I don't think Obama is off the hook in terms of culpability. He does what he does and behaves as if he thinks what he's doing is good primarily because he has a reasonable expectation of getting away with it. And the best way to sell murderous behavior is to behave as if it has a moral justification, which underscores our shared culpability.

2. I have to believe that even for a nut like GWB awareness seeps in; we generally assume(rightly or not) that BHO is more self-aware. If that's the case, does it make him even more culpable?

I don't know the answer, but as far as empathy goes, I think Marcus is wrong. To have empathy for the powerless and those you have power over, it helps if life has kicked the shit out of you before, although that's no guarantee you wont become an evil fucker yourself.

(And yes, I realize our system is designed to deselect such people from the topmost spots, in favor of those who've never had to seriously fear that they'd get the shit kicked out of them.)


Posted by grimmy at November 30, 2009 02:46 PM

grimmy-

How would considering other people's lives to be worth less than his own make him less culpable for his actions? I'm not apologizing for Obomber in the slightest, we have people here who are in charge of that.

Being delusional is not a compliment in my opinion. And Obomber's feeling aren't specifically of any interest to me, except as one example in understanding the destructiveness and depravity of power. And to me the evidence shows that most tyrants believe they are benevolent and just, and most believe that they have been chosen by their god to rule. And they are not nihilistic sociopaths. The difference is that by believing they are nihilistic sociopaths, the implication is that IF ONLY we could elect the good guys for once everything would be okay. Well, good guys don't want 10,000K nuclear bombs at their disposal. But if somehow they got the responsibility, what human psyche and ego could withstand that unnatural power. I say unnatural because having power over people one never meets is a new concept on the evolutionary road.

Like the post on ATR, in which Schwarz asserts that politicians say the same things in private that they say in public, because they really believe most of their own lies. Even "smart" ones like Obomber. Reading Jeff Sharlet's article on The Family is more of evidence the most greedy, violent Christians see no contradiction in themselves.

As for empathy, McCain was tortured, does he emphasize with the peasants, or the soldiers, or even people who are tortured? His actions don't imply so. Look at lottery winners or movie stars, or the waiter who gets promoted to assistant manager, how many people remember where they came from?

All right. I'm not going to check to see whether that's coherent. And I'd better stop writing before I surpass NE in volume, it would disrupt the space-time continuum.

I need a drink.

Posted by Marcus at November 30, 2009 11:45 PM

Marcus, your reaction is coherent, and I wasn't suggesting that I think that either of you were saying that Obama isn't culpable.

I don't know what else to say. Maybe I am both too dogmatic and too sentimental, and I want to believe that bad people know they're bad, deep down, no matter what they tell themselves or anybody else.

There are a lot of problems with that, like choosing who draws a line between bad and good people, because "they" do the same thing-- and undoubtedly for a host of other reasons as well.

Skol.

Posted by grimmy at December 1, 2009 12:07 AM

Politicians do not believe the lies they tell us.

They simply think they are valuable, while the rest of us are trash.

Obama knows he is ruining lives. He simply thinks those lives are irrelevant.

As to "The Family," I suppose denigrating a "conservative" cult with a small membership helps one feel good about fondly voting Democrat. It's just another way of boosting one's choice by slagging an "enemy," like the libtards and pwoggies who slag Palin and Beck instead of accepting that their beloved Donkeys are as inhumane and corrupt as the Evil Rethugs.

Posted by the anti-federalist at December 1, 2009 01:37 PM

anti-f-

I guess you are drunker than the rest of us because your last post makes no sense. If you had any reading comprehension ability you'd know that I don't support Dems or any other political party, or political office, in the slightest. So you're strangling straw men with your rhetoric.

You are preaching a trite urban liberal legend that politicians are all just cunning manipulators and not delusional. The sickness of this idea is that it compliments the system by implying that the people in control are at least pragmatic, and thus won't do anything too crazy.

The Family has Dem congressmen among its members, and counts Gore and Hillary as close associates. It's not small, but internationally influential. They promoted the new homosexual execution laws in Uganda.

Posted by Marcus at December 1, 2009 03:25 PM

Marcus, your last post is steaming with irony. As someone who grew up in DC in a politically connected and active family, I know precisely what The Family is. I surely don't need "education" from you on such things.

You can either point at the real problems, or you can scapegoat the "christianists" as if they have real power and are actually using religion to do something.

Meanwhile you might want to rethink your present apparent (mis-) understanding of religion, of Christianity, and of The Family.

As to drunkenness, I think those who are drunk with tribalism (in your case it seems to be an Us of atheists and a Them of Christians) are the ones worth disregarding. But I guess that's the flaw of knowing, as opposed to hypothesizing via hyperbolic reads on minute irrelevancies.

Posted by the anti-federalist at December 1, 2009 04:36 PM

If you were able to read and take in new information instead of making assumptions about others that allow you to repeat your standard know-it-all platitudes, you would have seen that I was using the Family article as one example of how people in power believe they are doing good. By your reasoning someone who criticizes Israel's government hates Jews.

But you are from a "politically connected family." Awesome. I mean I now take your secret wisdom and self-righteousness so seriously knowing this.

Posted by Marcus at December 2, 2009 02:21 AM

can't you guys at least swear at each other if you're going to bicker?


marcus

Gore and The Family? I know Hillary really loves the cinnamon roles those old perverts serve at their meetings at their creepy house, but have they all really been getting together to watch An Inconvenient Truth too? What with the scarcity of good mushrooms this time of year, that's among the weirdest mental visuals I've had lately.

Posted by N E at December 2, 2009 10:06 AM