Comments: The Obama They Elected

depressingly accurate

Posted by otto at September 8, 2011 01:50 PM

I voted for Obama. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

And speaking of "time":

Time Has Come Today

Chambers Brothers

long version with no cuts to song

'60s slide show

LOTS of cowbell

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

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at September 8, 2011 03:19 PM

John, I could take these posts seriously if I didn't know that you have X-ray future vision image-enhanced superpower eyes. Can't you spend your time better searching for trapped miners or something?

Posted by Aaron Datesman at September 8, 2011 04:47 PM

The eskimos know that there are really many different forms of snow. I wonder what people know that there are many different forms of blindness--I want to seek them out.

Mistah charley--who do you wish you had voted for?

Posted by N E at September 8, 2011 07:49 PM

How about the guy I voted for? You know... Nader?

Posted by Coldtype at September 8, 2011 09:39 PM

At LEAST with a vote for Nader one can look in the mirror every morning and say, " I didn't vote for these assholes OR the other assholes!"

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 8, 2011 11:08 PM

EXCELLENT!

Posted by tehranchik at September 9, 2011 02:48 AM

All I want for Christmas is a democrat who can talk real good and win Nobel and kill people. Beware deficit spending. Peace out.

Posted by awesome guy at September 9, 2011 03:30 AM

Israel can 'notify' U. S. all they want. Do you really think there would have been a different outcome if the new President said "No, I don't think it's a good idea to bomb the shit out of Gaza."?

Of course fucking not.

Get real.

Posted by Pat In Massachusetts at September 9, 2011 06:09 AM

yo Pat In Massachusetts- pick up a history book- israel has always needed tacit us political support, as well as economic and diplomatic- this is essential to answering the question w asked in bad faith viz a viz the arab world- why do they hate us?

Posted by frankenduf at September 9, 2011 09:05 AM

You have described what could be called "isolated denial", which if left untreated, becomes "Ruling Group Mind".

Once established they speak Group Speak and practice Group Think.

It has been diagnosed by behavioral scientists as a mental illness epidemic within our nation.

Posted by Dredd at September 9, 2011 11:33 AM

Dredd: This IS American politics as usual, nothing more or less. I AM surprized some study was needed to figure out WE're nuts.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 9, 2011 12:22 PM

There is nobody in the national security establishment who would accept anything other than full support of what Israel does within greater Israel. It is not within Obama's power to change that for there is simply zero institutional support for a different path. No advice he would get would possibly recommend any change vis a vis Israel and as these things to he is presented surely with a range of policy options but none of them would include anything but full support.

As the quasi revelation made public last week that the transition team was afraid of a revolt of sorts if Guantanamo was closed all these sorts of things display powerful institutional mechanisms which make deviation impossible. In that Guantanamo case where I think the word coup was used what was being referred to intense public opposition which would create such a political firestorm by all the vey serious people that paralysis of an administration would ensue.

It is a mistake to focus totally on Obama in this case or any, like justice in the banking financial fiasco. Every political decision needs a coalition to go along and carry out. There is none for anything you want.

Posted by rapier at September 10, 2011 08:19 AM

Nader has many of the right ideas, but couldn't administer a stamp club -- nearly as dysfunctional in an organization as Palin. He'd be a disastrous President. Ideas are important, but they're not the only thing.

Posted by joel hanes at September 10, 2011 10:52 AM

joel/rapier: Vote for him again. Hell, WE NEED GITMO and YOU can easily get along without Social Security or Medicare.

I see at this point, WE as Americans, are well able to rationalize reality into dust. Should have a "sold out" hanging on the Statue of Liberty.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 10, 2011 12:14 PM

Just a question: has anybody here actually, you know, visited Israel lately? Because the administration there hates Obama with a passion. I'm not sure how you can say Obama blindly follows Israel when he is really the first President since Eisenhower that has publicly criticized their policies and actions to any extent at all.

Posted by DS at September 10, 2011 12:24 PM

@rapier: Your first comment is false; your second is meaningless; and your third is a straw man. Yet your post manages to say something of substance, something deeply misguided.

1. Clinton, Taba 2001. Was the process derailed by AIPAC or any lack of institutional support? Neither.

2. Obama didn't push for Gitmo to avoid paralysis? Interesting. So he paralyzed himself in order to avoid paralysis. A kind preemptive paralysis strike: do nothing to prevent being forced to do nothing.

3. Yes it is a mistake to "focus totally on Obama" (your words, my emphasis), a mistake not a single human being I know has ever made.

4. Summary: it's not Obama, it's the system, so leave poor Obama alone. It's JP Morgan's fault so leave poor Jamie Dimon alone. It's Goldman Sachs' fault, so leave poor Lloyd Blankfein alone. It's a neat world in which systems are not not only broken but guilty, too. Not sure if corporations are people, but apparently they are moral agents. In fact systems take on all moral agency.

That's, to put it kindly, bullshit. We can discuss whether Obama has the power it takes to do X, Y, and Z. But we all know he has the power to try to do X, Y, and Z. To focus on Obama is not only right, but it's a democratic requirement. The system didn't drop the bomb on Hiroshima: Truman did. The system didn't surge in Afghanistan: Obama did. The whole point of giving just a few elected people so much responsibility is that they can be held responsible.


Posted by bobs at September 10, 2011 12:51 PM

Just putting this here, not because it's especially relevant, but because you all should read it:

"Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult" by Mike Lofgren
http://www.truth-out.org/goodbye-all-reflections-gop-operative-who-left-cult/1314907779

Posted by saurabh at September 10, 2011 01:57 PM

Summary: it's not Obama, it's the system, so leave poor Obama alone.

Bingo. Why didn't we hear this same "powerless president" rationalization when Bush was president, even though it obviously applied just as much? Because people knew Bush wasn't on their side. The fact that we hear it so often now shows that in the case of Obama (in particular, or any other Democrat in general) they want to believe, against all the available evidence, that they have an ally in the White House--someone who shares their values and goals but who's stymied by a system that prevents him from carrying them out. And it's exactly that desire that leads them to wait and see, to make excuses rather than assessing responsibility, to soften their criticisms and mute their protests.

In short, Republicans like Bush catalyze dissent but Democrats like Obama neutralize it. That's why this matters, and that's why I spend so much time citing the evidence that Obama is nothing more than a standard-issue imperial manager and corporate errand boy--just like Bush and Clinton before him. The irony is that it's Obama's admirers and defenders on the left who are not only focused on an individual, but so exquisitely focused on him that they're making it easier for his administration carry out policies that are antithetical to everything they claim to believe in.

Posted by John Caruso at September 10, 2011 02:33 PM

DS: ...he is really the first President since Eisenhower that has publicly criticized their policies and actions to any extent at all.

Obama not only isn't the "first President since Eisenhower that has publicly criticized" Israel, his criticisms are--if anything--weaker than previous presidents (like George H.W. Bush, who was savaged by the Israel lobby when he temporarily blocked loan guarantees to Israel to pressure it to stop building settlements). Even sticking just to rhetoric, George W. Bush offered public criticisms like this:

I think the wall is a problem [...]. It is very difficult to develop confidence between the Palestinians and the Israel -- Israel -- with a wall snaking through the West Bank.

And this:
The Palestinian people have suffered from decades of corruption and violence and the daily humiliation of occupation.

And this:
Israeli settlement activity in occupied territories must stop. And the occupation must end through withdrawal to secure and recognize boundaries consistent with United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338.

(Longtime ATR readers will recognize this as the short version of this posting.)

When Bush said these things we knew they were nothing more than pro forma criticisms with no conviction behind them--but in the case of Obama, people are unable and/or unwilling to look at mountains of evidence that shows that his criticisms have no more meaning than Bush's did (like the plain message of Obama's backing of the Israeli attack on Gaza). And you've taken it a step beyond by not only dismissing the concrete evidence that proves that Obama's rhetoric is meaningless, but claiming he's the first president in 50 years even to offer that kind of rhetoric.

That's the power of Obama's reality distortion field, and it's exactly why he's so dangerous.

Posted by John Caruso at September 10, 2011 03:46 PM

Obama neutered the center-left. The Dems won't walk out on him for the same reason abused wives don't walk out on their husbands. After each round of physical punishment, the battered wives (in this case, mostly of the male gender) will flagellate themselves for not servicing their leader with enough gusto ("If only more of us had voted in the midterms") and will gratefully bend down for more blows.

And finally, when the Romney-Perry ticket walks into the White House, the battered wives will ask for forgiveness for not moving to the right far and fast enough. Michael Berube will scold them for failing to transcend their neo-Gramscian manicheanism while clinging to an archaic purity complex. The battered wife won't understand the Gramsci-Shramsci reference but will dutifully concede that leftwing purity is bad and that, when it comes to servicing corporate power, sex is never dirty enough.

Posted by bobs at September 10, 2011 04:19 PM

saubabh

Lofgren's article is excellent. Thanks.

rapier

I basically liked your comment, and I thought bobs critique of it wasn't very astute or fair.

bobs

The most interesting and telling thing you wrote for me was: "The whole point of giving just a few elected people so much responsibility is that they can be held responsible." I agree completely that is how everything is set up to work, and this process allows everyone, with your approval, to focus on a few elected people instead of the way the system as a whole works and is set up to work, with the result that "a few elected people" regularly are changed and yet everything always keeps working just the same. I am curious how you explain that enormous fact of life in our political world, because given that is how everything works, it strikes me that all the emphasis on holding Obama or some other President responsible for everything is not just ineffective but insane according to Einstein's definition of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Posted by N E at September 10, 2011 08:03 PM

Glenn Greenwald did have a wait and see attitude to Obama. After waiting and seeing, he has provided strident ongoing criticism of Obama.

"And as much as I'd love to believe otherwise, I'm sure many of them will keep waiting to see the real Barack Obama—"the Obama we elected", as they often call him, as though their illusions still carry more weight than the unwelcome reality—right to the bitter end."

It is quite unfair to Glenn Greenwald to tack this on after criticizing him by name. He has done no such thing.

Posted by edwin at September 10, 2011 09:04 PM

NE: American Politics changes CONSTANTLY with NO two days or situations alike. (HINT; The President is black & there ustawas 91% TAX rate) Things change and are subject to change ALL the time. ALL this talk about nothing can be done 'cause it never changes is simple defeatizm. Don't want to fight, YET WE expect others to fight like vicious dogs FOR US. It may have worked well in the past, but things changed.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 10, 2011 11:03 PM

Concidering the occasion I MUST say, Obama got Bin Laden. That's one hell of a lot more then Deadeye and his pet goat, Codpiece ever did.

Posted by Mike Meyer at September 10, 2011 11:17 PM

I just learned that the reason we get shitty leaders is that we keep holding our presidents responsible for their crimes. (Yeah, why do we always have to imprison our former presidents anyway?)

In Part II of our new "Great Insights" series, N.E. de Tocqueville will explain how roosters do it to get the sun to rise in the morning. (Hint: Think CIA.)

Posted by bobs at September 10, 2011 11:50 PM

If the US presidency is so powerless, as Obama supporters claim, then it does not matter who wins the election for US President.

Posted by Susan at September 11, 2011 02:30 PM

This argument that Obama is too weak to do anything reminds me of the Washington Post in 2004....


the WAPO claimed that they "brought down a presidency" with their reporting on Nixon... but were totally, totally helpless to stop a war on Iraq with accurate reporting -- so the fact that their reporting on WMDs was totally false is of no consequence, since they could not have stopped the war even if they and the entire US corporate media had gotten it correct.

Yet they could bring down the Nixon presidency....

remarkable cognitive dissonance.

Posted by Susan at September 11, 2011 02:36 PM

I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater in this system vs. person argument. Why can't we criticize both the system and Obama as one of the awful, but still morally culpable, figures that the system throws up at the same time? One can certainly criticize Fascist Nationalisms and individual Nazis at the same time.

I, for one, was not fooled by Obama and voted McKinney and the Greens, although even that is perhaps a bit of lesser-evilism. I rationalize it by saying that at least McKinney speaks the truth on important issues and maybe some of it can get into the public sphere if she gets enough votes, even though I admit this is pretty wishful thinking. But, yes, at least I can say I didn't vote for that asshole. I leaned my lesson with Clinton (and should have learned it before that). As a great philosopher once said, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, sh... sh....., won't get fooled again!"

Posted by Rojo at September 11, 2011 05:07 PM

Oh, and thanks Mistah Charley for the Chambers Brothers, haven't heard that tune in years, but still love it!

Posted by Rojo at September 11, 2011 05:09 PM

Obama never lets me down. http://thecivillibertarian.blogspot.com/2011/09/obamas-jobs-dream-you-gotta-be-asleep.html

Posted by Frankenstein Government at September 12, 2011 12:21 PM

Some of this stems from the transference of the psychological needs of parental essences from a child's parents to the government upon adulthood.

Posted by Dredd at September 12, 2011 12:42 PM

I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater in this system vs. person argument. Why can't we criticize both the system and Obama as one of the awful, but still morally culpable, figures that the system throws up at the same time? One can certainly criticize Fascist Nationalisms and individual Nazis at the same time.


Well I agree with judgement....The argument is a false dichotomy since one has to internalize the values of the political economic elite-the system if you want-in order to even stand a chance of being elected....

To think that someone can climb to the top of a rigid authoritarian power structure while simultaneously being opposed to all that structures stands for is well,i don't know, naive at best.

So Obama is a standard neo-liberal new Democrat who is firmly committed to "Empire and Inequality"-Paul Street's accurate term, who works to protect,expand and enhance both.-Tony

Posted by tony at September 12, 2011 06:38 PM

BABY and BATHWATER

I heard this song on the Cream album Disraeli Gears (1967) - searching for the lyrics I found a somewhat fuller version credited to a different singer - who wrote it, and when, is not really clear. The themes of neglectfulness, and of extreme inequality, and of the avoidance of grief by rationalization ("your baby is perfik'ly 'appy") can be seen to have relevance to our own predicament, here in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

The tune is "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."

----------

YOUR BABY HAS GONE DOWN THE PLUGHOLE (A MOTHER'S LAMENT)
(Writer Unknown - London Music Hall Song)

Martin Carthy - 1964
Cream (vocal: Ginger Baker)- 1967

A mother was bathin' her baby one night
The youngest of ten, a poor little mite
The mother was fat and the baby was fin
T'was nawt but a skellington wrapped up in skin

The mother turned round for the soap from the rack
She weren't gone a minute, but when she got back
Her baby had gone, and in anguish she cried
"Oh, where is my baby?", and the angels replied

Your baby has gorn dahn the plug'ole
Your baby has gorn dahn the plug
The poor little thing was so skinny and thin
He shoulda been bathed in a jug

Your baby is perfik'ly happy
He won't need no bathin' no more
He's workin' his way through the sewers
Not lost, just gone on before

Your baby has gorn dahn the drainpipe
And the chlorine is bad for his eyes
He's havin' a swim, and it's healthy for him
He needed the exercise

Don't worry 'baht 'im, just be 'appy
For I know he is suff'rin' no pain
Your baby has gorn dahn the plug'ole
Let's hope he don't stop up the drain

ALTERNATE VERSE:

Your baby is perfik'ly 'appy
He won't need a bath any more
He's muckin' abaht with the angels above
Not lost but gone before

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at September 13, 2011 07:33 AM

"Glenn Greenwald did have a wait and see attitude to Obama. After waiting and seeing, he has provided strident ongoing criticism of Obama.

'And as much as I'd love to believe otherwise, I'm sure many of them will keep waiting to see the real Barack Obama—'the Obama we elected', as they often call him, as though their illusions still carry more weight than the unwelcome reality—right to the bitter end.'

It is quite unfair to Glenn Greenwald to tack this on after criticizing him by name. He has done no such thing.

Posted by: edwin at September 10, 2011 09:04 PM"

+1

Posted by Ryan at September 15, 2011 05:45 PM

It is quite unfair to Glenn Greenwald to tack this on after criticizing him by name.

That was a general statement that wasn't intended to apply to Greenwald, whom I've credited on multiple occasions for (eventually) being willing to criticize Obama just as harshly as he criticized Bush.

Posted by John Caruso at September 21, 2011 01:52 AM