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        Prosperity is two things: 1) How much you can produce with your technology and social organization; 2) Who gets how much.   The second is determined by a number of factors, but the simplest is the structure of violence.  Those who aren’t good at fighting, don’t get as much of the surplus created by [...]
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Obama not a people person

Digby speculates on whether Washington establishment types are just being peevish or whether Obama really doesn’t think he personally needs to interact with politicians.

There is a third possibility.  He was hired for his looks.  Yep.  He’s got the right credentials for his employers.  The right academic pedigree, the right insane ambition, the lack of any partisanship whatsoever.  But the fact that he was an attractive African American candidate made him seem unbeatable to the scouts. He didn’t need to be a gifted politician.  In the political skills department, he has about as much as George W. Bush has. He just needed some clever speechwriter to craft some aspirational shit that liberals would eat up about being a transcendent figure who would unite the country.

It doesn’t really matter what he does now that he’s in office.  He’s just a figurehead.  His employers bought off the right people and they’re the ones who are actually running the show.  He doesn’t have to be nice to people or shake hands and it’s not really important that he crafts policy or anything like that.

Obama could decide to take the rest of the term off and the executive branch would continue to function just fine.  The policies that are going to be implemented could happen whether or not he shows up or takes the day off and golfs with Tiger Woods.  His meteoric rise to instant stardom didn’t require him to assemble a coalition of political friends and assets nor did it require him to do any heavy lifting in the policy department.  He was protected zealously in the campaign arena and the only person to challenge him was Hillary Clinton.  After that, he decided to run against Sarah Palin.  Piece of cake.

So, if he’s not a people person, does it matter?

I thought the Bush years were long but with as much damage as the last 5 years have inflicted on me personally, the Obama years just seem interminable.

Stuff about the inaugural speech

This will be quick since I’ve only seen snippets and read the cautiously optimistic reactions to it on various and sundry sites. I’m going to talk about the reactions to it from the left.

I’m not surprised that there are so many people in the left blogosphere who were hopeful about Obama’s turn towards liberalism.  His forays into the left side of liberalism reminds me of one of those papers that groups put out where they discuss “progress towards the synthesis of some impossibly big and chiral natural product that will save the world from toe fungus” or something like that.  I get the feeling that those authors are hoping that the project will be dropped before they have to write on it again.

Now, I realize that there are still skeptics among the hopeful but I don’t think they’re skeptical enough.  What’s a little surprising is how quickly they forget that Obama started his first term with solid majorities in both houses and a filibuster proof majority in one of them and that public sentiment at the time was running so high against the banks that he could have pushed anything he wanted with the public’s blessing.  Oh sure, the right would have called him a socialist but the right would have done that anyway, no matter what he did.  When you’re leader of the free world with so much power and public urgency to do something, there are only a couple of reasons I can think of as to why you might do relatively nothing.  The first reason is that you don’t know what the heck you’re doing and are therefore susceptible to bad advice.  The second is that you think “liberalism” is a dirty word and don’t want to hurt the people who put you in office.  The third possibility is that both are true.

But whatever you think went wrong with the first term, here is the thing: for many of us who were affected, the lack of action to serve the vast majority of Americans, the astonishing squandering of two years of Democratic majorities, is insurmountable.  It has caused irreversible damage to our personal fortunes and those of our children.  Don’t get me wrong, many of us will survive this and go on to lead productive lives again, though never again as securely and prosperously as before.  But the pain and the sacrifice that we have had to endure for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the houses that were lost, the careers that have been blighted either at the beginning or the middle, the harshness of the society that we now live in, all that has lead to an America that is vastly different now than it was four years ago.  This America has lost its shine.  It’s living with what will soon be third world infrastructure.  We have given exploitation and extraction of wealth of average Americans the official stamp of approval.  We will now be guests at major scientific projects around the world instead of leaders.  We have trashed our educational system by making it almost impossible for some of our most talented students to be able to afford it and we have jeopardized our public health system by making research a private endeavor optimized for maximum profit.

Four years ago, there was a golden opportunity to set things right and it was lost.  Obama would have to be superhuman and extraordinarily motivated to turn this around.  And even if his heart is in the right place, and I see no evidence of that, he still needs to develop the political skills to get around a gerrymandered House.

Now, this doesn’t mean that some people in this country will not succeed.  I think there are still opportunities available for success in this country.  But it’s going to be more of a Dickensian country in the future and that puts the teachable moment about race in its proper perspective for me.  Besides, any “liberal” or “progressive” who thinks that only one group of disadvantaged people can be served at one time and that symbols are more important than actually, you know, getting things done, is a fool and a mark for psychological manipulators in future election cycles.

I don’t want to depress my side of the blogosphere or tell them all is lost or that all efforts are wasted.  I’d just like for them to be realistic and evaluate the evidence and stop living in a dream world where the good guys triumph.  Obama has shown you who he is.  He was the wrong guy at the wrong time.  He doesn’t have it in him to make it better and he doesn’t have the resources to make it work anymore.  This is the guy who was elected- twice- when there were other, better choices available.  Pining for Hillary to take over in 2016 doesn’t help those of us who needed a better choice back in 2008 and by 2016, it will be too late to make a difference.

These are the parameters you are working with in the next four years.  In other words, you can’t rely on the White House.  His speech was “just words”.  Anyone can read those carefully crafted, committee synthesized words on a teleprompter.  Believing them and acting on them are quite different things and we have seen with this president that he has a habit of getting the hopes up of various Americans, making them think he’s going to take action in their favor and then delivering extremely dilute solutions of eau de tea.  He has very little integrity, he’s surrounded by advisors who calculate exactly how much or little effort to expend on your behalf and the trust is gone.

That’s what we’re working with.

************************

And here is Frontline’s most recent episode on the fallout from the financial collapse of 2008 called The Untouchables.  Apparently, Frontline hit a nerve with the White House.

The Democrats are going to run on “results” in November??

Bart Stupak, poster boy for the "party of results"

I know, I know.  It took me awhile to stop giggling too.  They can’t possibly be serious.  But that’s what PoliticalTicker is claiming.   Swallow your coffee before you read it:

Washington (CNN) – When voters head to the polls in November, the Democratic National Committee would like them to remember Democrats with one word: results.

On Wednesday at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, chairman Tim Kaine revealed his party’s new message and strategy months ahead of the midterm elections. Kaine talked about the efforts with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King in an interview that aired on John King, USA.

Kaine told King that Democrats hope to convince voters they are the party of results. Part of their new strategy will involve pushing that message, helping local candidates, and convincing many of the new voters – that voted for President Barack Obama in the last election – to support Democrats in the midterms.

The DNC chairman said that while the economy still needs improvements, it’s moved from recession to recovery.

Kaine said, “I think the improvement will be noticed by our voters and we’ll be able to make the case to them, do you want to keep climbing or do you want to hand the keys back to the guys who put us into the ditch?”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s what they will be thinking as they head out the door today with their complimentary cardboard box for their stuff and their three month severance packages.

Actually, that’s not what I’ve been witnessing here in the heart of middle class suburbia.  What is happening is that the Republicans in NJ are stirring up an anti-tax rebellion and directing it against hapless teachers.  Why should THEY be getting decent bennies and a steady paycheck when the people footing the bill with their ridiculous property taxes are seeing their industries disappearing and their own lives on the brink of disaster?

Tim Kaine and the Democrats are utterly clueless.  They have no idea what is really going on out here.  Results?  What results?

Was the stimulus package big enough to stave off these drastic cuts in our school districts?

Did Democrats end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Did the Democrats fight hard for the entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the capital they need to start new ventures so people would have jobs?

Did the Democrats soak the rich bankers within an inch of their lives so that they would learn a valuable lesson and the financial catastrophe they brought upon us wouldn’t happen again?

Did Democrats put together an adequate bailout and mortgage restructuring package for strapped homeowners so they wouldn’t throw in the towel and walk away from their obligations?  Did they make it easier for mortgage owners to keep money flowing to the banks to keep them solvent?

Did the Democrats impose some emergency regulations so that bankers would stop gambling away our futures?

Have the Democrat done ANYTHING so far to make sure that no one touches Social Security and that we get our Trust Fund money back from the thieves who took it?

Did the Democrats give us actual health care reform that’s truly universal, affordable, with competition?

Did the Democrats protect womens’ rights and autonomy of her own body?

Did the Democrats fix gender paycheck inequalities for real or did they simply pass a law with no teeth?

Did the Democrats try to protect American workers’ jobs?

I haven’t seen any results.  I’ve seen them turn their backs on their own voters in 2008 in order to elect their lightbringer, an easy win for them.  All they had to do was change the roolz in the middle of the game and cudgel frantic American voters with false accusations of racism to guilt them into voting for one of the most unprepared but nakedly ambitious presidents since George W. Bush.  But it wasn’t enough to make him president.  No, the world had to give him a Nobel prize as well.  What’s next?  A MacArthur genius grant for curing cancer?  Where does he find the time??  The awards must be piling up on his little display etegere, like a bunch of 3rd place martial arts trophies.  Everyone who participates gets a prize for trying.

And the whining.  I can’t stand it.  We are now supposed to believe that a minority party, the Republicans, are responsible for all that has gone wrong.  They stand in the way.  They say no to everything.  Even when Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, the Republicans were responsible.  How can that be??  I am trying hard to wrap my head around this concept.  Here’s what I’ve got: 1.) Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the senate.  2.)Republicans got what they wanted anyway.  3.) Soooo, maybe the problem is actually *in* the Democratic party.   Three names come to mind immediately: Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak.  You can throw Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu in there as well but at least they can be leaned on.  Who leaned on Nelson, Lieberman and Stupak?  Those three swaggered all over Congress and Stupak in particular got whatever the hell he wanted.  It was Bart Stupak vs the majority of voters in the USA and Bart won.  BART won.  The Democrats allowed Bart and Obama to screw millions of women out of their personal autonomy and Democrats have the nerve to blame Republicans?

I don’t think Democrats understand the impact of their cowardice.  Women are not a special interest.  Workers have to work to pay taxes.  The financial investment industry is out of control and wrecking havoc around the world.  Our current wars are pointless wastes of lives and money.  Sick children should never have to pass through a gauntlet to get affordable health care.  And we need teachers, even the mean ones who can’t be bothered to address the needs of the gifted.  If they do a good job with the other 98% of the students in their classes, we will have gotten more than our money’s worth.

You want to know what I want to see in the results category?  I want to see real passion on the Floor.  I want to see yelling and screaming.  I want to see the progressives and liberals eat some red meat and throw a fit until the Bart Stupaks in their own party back down.  I want to see eggs thrown and smoke bombs and bloody noses.  I want to see incivility.  I want to see so much fighting in Congress by Democratic representatives on behalf of Americans not in the bonus class that the editorial page of the New York Times faints before it can reach the smelling salts.  I don’t want two Republican parties.  I want to see Democrats actually ACT like Democrats. 

Shove your “party of results” meme until you have some results.  I own my vote.  I don’t give it away for social promotion purposes.  You can’t scare me with the Republican boogie man anymore.  I voted for downticket Dems in 2008 but they haven’t pulled their weight.  If Republicans win this fall, Democrats have themselves to blame and no one else.  It was their responsibility to get things done and they blew it.  They coasted.   This fall, I’m not voting for either party.  I’m voting for a party to be designated later.

And stop calling me for money.

Defined By A Vote?

Are We All Racists Now?

Are We All Racists Now?

For me, this election season has been a continuous cycle of smacks in the face. The Democrats have compounded their disastrously poor performance (no impeachment, no ending of the war) in Congress by selecting, not electing, a Chicago machine nominee who is as corrupt as any Bush Republican and as authoritarian and narcissistic as Bush himself. In a year when any Dem candidate should be winning in a landslide, November looks like it will be another nail-biter, with possible election fraud on both sides. 

But the worst thing, by far, that has come out of this election has been the race-baiting and sexism by Obama’s campaign, his media enablers and his mindless followers. Even a civil rights luminary like John Lewis has started perpetrating the same myths – that it is McCain who is dividing this country and inciting people to violence because ZOMG They’re All Racists!

Oh really? What does Representative Lewis think Barack Obama meant when he told his supporters to “get in peoples’ faces?” Does he think this type of violence and misogyny is fine, because it comes from people who support Obama? If Obama himself does not approve of the behavior of his supporters, which has been out of control for quite some time, then why does he not say so?

Look, there is a lot of ignorance in this country. We all know that. But can we really judge all people by the way they vote? Can we really call them racists because of the way they pull the lever on Election Day?

In that case, how do we describe the 97% of African Americans who plan to vote for Barack Obama? If they are defined by their votes, then they must be voting for Obama because he is black. Right? And because of that, they must be racist. After all, if it’s racist to vote for a white person because of skin color, it’s also racist to vote for a black person because of skin color. (Note: I don’t blame AA’s for voting for Obama. Part of the reason I still support Hillary is because she’s a woman, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.)

Or perhaps a person’s vote doesn’t define him or her. Is that possible for anyone to acknowledge this year? Or has everyone in the fauxgressive Obamasphere gone stark raving nuts?

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