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Saturday Morning News and Views: Populist Uprising Edition

Good Morning Conflucians!!!

President Obama was in Ohio yesterday trying to impersonate a populist.

“I won’t stop fighting for you,” he thundered in a campaign-style speech in economically sagging northeastern Ohio, remarks that provided a likely preview of the themes in his first State of the Union speech next Wednesday.

Trying to shore up public support, Obama urged people to “stand by me, even during these tough times.”

Like you stood by us Mr. President? When did you fight for us anyway?

Obama acknowledged that the healthcare overhaul — suddenly in limbo on Capitol Hill — had run into a political “buzz saw.” He dismissed concerns that his lengthy focus on healthcare meant he had taken his eye off the economy, the country’s No. 1 problem.

“Let me dispel this notion that we were somehow focused on that (healthcare) and so as a consequence not focused on the economy. First of all, all I think about is how are we going to create jobs in this area,” Obama said in Elyria, Ohio.

The president’s switch to a more populist tone followed his own admission in an ABC News interview earlier this week that he had lost a direct connection with everyday Americans.

I’m not so sure he ever had a connection with “everyday Americans”–those gun-toting bitter knitters? And those uppity women who don’t know their place? No, I don’t think so.

If Mr. Obama wants to make a “direct connection” with “everyday Americans,” he is going to have to give them more than “just words.” He is going to have to pretty much do a complete about face and become as “transformational” as he pretended to be when he was campaigning. He is going to have to stop impersonating Herbert Hoover and start impersonating Franklin Roosevelt. I’m really not sure if he is capable of that, but if he manages to do it, I’ll be the first to cheer him on.

From the Toledo Blade:

A defiant President Obama assured Ohioans yesterday that he will continue to fight for health care, banking, and energy reform despite recent political setbacks that some argue have endangered his agenda.

He made the promises at Lorain County Community College even as Ohio announced its unemployment rate had hit 10.9 percent in December, up from 10.6 percent the month before. The national jobless rate is 10 percent.

“I did not run for President to turn away from these challenges,” he told a town-hall meeting of about 1,300 people.

“I didn’t run for President to kick them down the road. I ran for President to confront them once and for all. I ran for this office to rebuild our economy so it works not just for the fortunate few, but for everybody who’s willing to work hard in this country,” he said.

Uh huh. Talk is cheap, Mr. President. Now lets see some action.

Here’s the ugly truth about Ohio’s economic condition:

Obama White House Main Street Tour arrives in Ohio amid rises in unemployment, poverty rates

News released from Ohio’s Dept. of Job and Family Services Friday showed job losses in the services segment has not raised the state’s unemployment rate from 10.6 percent in November to 10.9 percent a month later, which when added to the loss of over 300,000 jobs during Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s first three years on the job, is just more salt in its already gaping wounds. Ohio’s jobless rate is worse than the national rate of 10 percent.

If you’re jobless in Ohio, you may be ripe to enter the growing ranks of Ohio’s poor, as U.S. Census Bureau statistics analyzed by the Brookings Institutiion showed this past Wednesday. In its report of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, Midwestern cities and suburbs led the nation in increased poverty rates over the period between 2000 and 2008, driven by “troubles in the automobile manufacturing industry,” according to published reports on the study showing residents living below the poverty level – $21,834 for a family of four – rose 25 percent to about 12.5 million.

For Ohio, poverty in the state’s capital, Columbus, spiked past the major metros’ average to hit 20.1 percent. The 2008 poverty rate in Cleveland and suburbs is 30.5 and 9.1 percent, respectively; for Cincinnati, these figures are 25.1 and 9.1 percent; for Dayton, 29.2 and 9.5 percent; for Toledo, 24.7 and 8.9 percent; for Youngstown, 33.5 and 13.6 percent.

This blog post at The Atlantic quotes a lot more of Obama’s populist rhetoric from his tour of Ohio. I really can’t face repeating it here. To my skeptical ear it just sounds like bullsh*t. My advice to Mr. Obama is as follows: “action speaks louder than words.”

The big question following the massacre in Massachusetts is what will happen to the insurance company bailout bill? While the President was visiting Ohio, Sherrod Brown had a chance to discuss the issue with him. This is what Brown told Brian Beutler of TPMDC:

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is engaged with House progressives, trying to tease out a solution to the health care reform impasse–but he says that at the highest levels of the Senate and the White House, there’s still no plan, and he doubts whether President Obama will insert himself forcefully into the process….

“I’ve talked to Reid, I’ve talked to Obama. Unclear yet what the strategy is, but clear interest, strong interest in getting as strong a bill as we can get.”


Brown says he is in regular contact with House progressives–he held three meetings just this week. But though he’ll be stepping up those meetings, they aren’t part of a broader Senate strategy, as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said this week.

Based on his conversations with House progressives, Brown says the mood right now is fairly dour.

“They’re very unhappy,” Brown admits. “Their viewpoint is it can’t be just the Senate version because, first of all, it’s not what they want in terms of the substance, and second it really writes them out of having any impact.”

Nevertheless, he doesn’t imagine the President will lay out a way forward in his State of the Union address next week, and he won’t push any buttons in the Senate.

“I doubt if he does, I don’t think he’ll do a procedural thing. I don’t think he will engage in process,” Brown said of State of the Union.

It doesn’t sound like Obama’s “populism” is going to be translated into action, does it? It sounds like he will continue to be utterly passive, waiting around for someone else to take care of all the problems he doesn’t know how to solve.


TPMDC has been talking to Democrats in the House also. It seems they don’t trust the White House or the Senate on health care reform.

more than half of House Democrats don’t want to pass the Senate version of the bill with the promise that the bigger differences they’ve already been hammering out would be fixed with a second bill.

The bottom line is that many members feel betrayed by the White House and Senate and just don’t trust that a fix would pass. If their fears pan out, members would be left with a more conservative bill than they passed last fall, and none of the compromises they negotiated with union leaders on how to pay for health care.

Members feel President Obama showed deference to his old colleagues in the Senate from the beginning of the health care discussions and the House was rolled each step in the way.

“Everyone in the house feels like the White House bent over backwards to engage the Senate and they didn’t get anything for it anyway,” one leadership aide told TPMDC….

“They are frustrated the White House fell for all the talk in the Senate that they thought they could make [their bill] bipartisan,” the aide said. “Members don’t trust the Senate, they definitely don’t trust the White House to come back and fix any of this.”

And what about the President’s promises to rein in the banksters? The Boston Globe isn’t impressed.

President Barack Obama’s latest broadside against big banks may have more bark than bite.
Obama’s plan to limit banks’ size and risky trading has spooked investors, but analysts say it would have only marginal effect on institutions like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup — and would be hard to enforce. And it’s not clear the rules would reduce taxpayers’ risk of having to bail out another big bank.

Of course no one really knows what the President’s “plan” is yet. Does he really have one?

The White House has yet to provide details of the plan outlined Thursday. But attention has centered on Obama’s effort to bar the biggest banks from doing what’s called proprietary trading. That’s when banks use their own money to make high-risk bets. If those bets go bad and a bank goes under, taxpayers could be on the hook.


The proposed overhaul marked Obama’s latest effort to more tightly police the nation’s largest banks. Last week, the president proposed a tax on banks to recoup billions in bailout money that was handed out at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

The moves come as banks face increasingly hostile rhetoric from Obama. The president has called bankers “fat cats” and vowed to defeat the banking industry’s lobbying efforts against financial reforms.

Oooooooh! “Fat cats?” That’s telling ’em, Mr. President–NOT! Actually, it sounds like pretty weak tea to me….

Besides, Mr. Obama told his audience in Elyria, Ohio that he’s afraid that regulators might have gotten “too tough” on the banksters. WTF?!!!

“The banks feel as if regulators are looking over their shoulder, discouraging them from lending,” Obama told a town-hall style meeting during a trip to promote his jobs and healthcare policies.

Obama said it was not his intention to interfere with bank supervision. But he had told Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to make sure that the country has not “seen the pendulum swing too far”, with regulators now being too tough after being too slack in the past.

This guy may even be weaker than I thought originally. What a putz!

And then there’s this article posted at Zero Hedge yesterday. The author, Albert Edwards, is “a chief strategist for a major international bank,” according to Tyler Durden, proprietor of Zero Hedge.

The US and UK have seen a huge rise in inequality over the last two decades, as growth in national income has been diverted almost exclusively to the top income earners (see chart below). The middle classes have seen median real incomes stagnate over that period and, as a consequence, corporate margins and profits have boomed.

Some recent reading has got me thinking as to whether the US and UK central banks were actively complicit in an aggressive re-distributive policy benefiting the very rich. Indeed, it has been amazing how little political backlash there has been against the stagnation of ordinary people?s earnings in the US and UK. Did central banks, in creating housing bubbles, help distract middle class attention from this re-distributive policy by allowing them to keep consuming via equity extraction? The emergence of extreme inequality might never otherwise have been tolerated by the electorate (see chart below). And now the bubbles have burst, along with central banks? credibility, what now?

After reading Ben Bernanke?s speech, once again denying culpability for the bubble, I really didn?t know whether to laugh or cry (remember that Ben Bernanke, like Tim Geithner, was a key member of the Greenspan Fed). I feel like Peter Finch in the film Network, sticking my head out of the window and shouting “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”


In a sharp turn from all this populist rage, I want to mention some literary news that may have been drowned out by all the excitement of of the Massachusetts Massacre.

A great writer of detective fiction, Robert B. Parker, died this week. He brought Boston and Cambridge to life in his books about Spenser the hard boiled but sensitive detective who liked to cook and stayed true to one woman. Fittingly, Parker died at his desk, while working on his latest Spenser novel.

Another Boston writer, Dennis Lehane wrote about Parker:

Bob was as he wrote – not a passive-aggressive bone in his body, very witty, very smart, a little caustic, no patience for fools. I liked him immensely.

What’s lost in his massive success and prodigious output is how revolutionary those early Spenser books were. He lifted the genre out of the ham-fisted macho ’50s ethos it had been mostly mired in for two decades (Ross Macdonald and a few other notables notwithstanding, of course) and brought it into the ’70s, all sly and sexy and edgy-funny.

Another writer identified with the Boston area, Eric Segal, died this week too. I have never read Love Story, haven’t seen the movie either. I’m not that big on sentimentality, but I kind of picked up the story by osmosis. There’s even a connection to politics–remember when Gore was gored for saying he and his wife were the models for Segal’s novel of Harvard?

…”Love Story,” which gave us the pairing of two Ivy Leaguers, Oliver Barrett IV and Jenny Cavilleri (played by Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw in the 1970 film), and has been the source of his lasting fame.

For generations of readers, that novel/film has been synonymous with two words: “romance” and “tragedy.” (I can well remember my own relatives sitting around the kitchen table, asking one another, “Have you read it yet?” and then sighing deeply and clutching their chests as they talked about it.)

January 19 was the anniversary of the death of Edgar Allen Poe. For 60 years now, a mysterious visitor has arrived at Poe’s grade on that day to leave roses and cognac by the writer’s headstone. This year, he or she didn’t show up, and no one knows why? Did the mysterious visitor die too?

Well, this post is getting really long. I’d better wrap it up. Add your own choice links in the comments.


156 Responses

  1. “All I think about is how to create jobs in this area”? Yes, that’s very…convincing…

  2. If I were a Democratic congress critter, I would run, not walk, away from the health care reform mess. There is no way they will have the votes to fix the Senate mess and if they pass that unaltered, they pass all the bad deals too. If they continue to muck around in it, floundering and posturing, they will only remind people how hopeless they are. They continue to be tone death as is this president. They should have one focus and one focus only—JOBS. The banks, Bernanke—it is all theater which means nothing to unemployed Americans. If they can not fix jobs, they will self destruct. They have lost an entire year.

    • I wonder if the most recent “man of the people” turn is simply Obama positioning himself to run against Congress.

    • Either way, they are going to look bad, but it would probably be easier to deal with walking away from a bad bill then forcing one on unwilling voters.

    • Actually, as part of a jobs program, it’s imperative that the issue of mortgage financing be addressed. In the past, people have been fairly free to move to where the jobs are because they were able to sell their home and buy a new one elsewhere. Now, even people with excellent credit are finding it nearly impossible to obtain a mortgage. The housing market is critical to economic recovery.

      • A true jobs program will have to address lending to mainstreet and to everyday Americans. They are the ones who need 0 interest rates and liquidity—they will use that access to buy stuff. An 8000 credit to new buyers will not unlock the markets and most new buyers are not homeowners now because they just can not make it work. There is a new wave of lost jobs coming as state and local governments have to pass new budgets with drastic cuts in revenue from property taxes and increased costs for social net programs.

  3. he’s a predator, he is forced to externalize his emotional experience with his fan base thinking they haven’t completed the koolaid detox, clueless that he waited to long and that they have already internalized their shattered expectations, and peeked at their empty wallets living the dream of his fake promises…

    • And, he’s a liar.

      This bears a striking resemblance to the NAFTA debate comments that abruptly became a wiff of news when he was reported to have called the Canadian officials to assure them it was nothing more than campaign talk. No, no, no that was Hillary who contacted the Canadians…not Teh One.

      He told us who he was during the primaries and the general campaigns. I believed him. Ohio was another big, fat lie intended to coverup the horror of Tuesday. He hasn’t fought for anyone outside his zone.

      • If you look under the bus, it would appear he has not fought for anyone in the zone either.

        • I’m pretty sure his staff was busy notifying the bankers, health insurance folk, etc. that his screaming he would fight against them was nothing more than a speech to gain the cooperation of the little people in feeding their uncontrolled appetites for money and power.

          • Yes they were;

            And simultaneously reported in the non US media UK Reuters this:

            A sources, speaking anonymously LEAKS THAT U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has expressed some skepticism behind closed doors about the broad bank limits proposed on Thursday by his boss, President Barack Obama, according to financial industry sources.

      • I believed him too. And will never, ever vote for him.

  4. Whatever Obama’s words, they continue to lack substance. Hillary had a plan during the primary, Obama’s still “thinking” about it.

    • He never seems to have a real plan. Just words.

      • That’s really the problem, isn’t it? Your quote from Sherrod Brown seems to back that up. Most presidents develop a plan and then use their speechmaking to sell that plan to the public. Obama only seems concerned about selling *himself* to the public, not any particular plan for recovery.

        • Ok, that’s two spot- on insightful comments already in this short thread (cf. mortgage mess=no moving for jobs).

          What do you put in your coffee??

          I want some.

        • I agree with the remarks by Salmonrising. Very insightful remarks. Imagine a person actually developing a plan to deal with HealthCare, the economy, the war etc. BEFORE running for President! Instead he is busy giving thousands of speeches about him and his life story. What a fraud! He is corrupt.

          • I don’t have to imagine that person, I saw her in action, her name was Hillary Clinton. He mocked her for saying she would be ready on day one, then stole that line for the general. At dinner an 0 fan friend of mine said she wishes people would give him more time. It was all I could do not to comment that after he mocked Hillary for being ready “on day one” and then claimed he was, we have every right to expect him to be productive and competent in his first year.

  5. also concerning to me, is his and now B. Franks Wall Street – Freddie Fannie rants happening the day after the Mass voter rejection…..

    -which have greatly contributed to the fear of a second dip recession, not to mention placed 401k, ira’s, and home values back in the red..

    it just feels like Indy Bank part II, raising the fear for sure

    • I think we’ll see the Wall Street drops until people stop “investing” in 401k’s. And when the players on Wall Street don’t have enough there to take, they will go after the annuities, IRA’s and bonds.

  6. Trying to shore up public support, Obama urged people to “stand by me, even during these tough times.”

    Like you stood by us Mr. President? When did you fight for us anyway?

    This from President Obama that took the Public Option OFF the table, that had more loop holes in the PRE-EXISTING CONDITION CLAUSE (my brother told me about that one and HE VOTED FOR OBAMA!…Yup, his BASE IS PIS@ED OFF BIG TIME), and WHO didn’t fight for the Medicare for 55 to 62 Buy In for the group who is more likely to die without coverage, those at greater risk for loosing insurance and those who pay the highest premiums.

    Seems more like a Wall Street Poor Millionaire Tarp Lover, that a Fighter for the working folks and DID I MENTION he SOLD WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE OUT! Yup, some fighter alright! 😦

    • BB,

      I guess the ‘YES WE CAN’ was really a chant for the Wall Street Poor Millionaires, those GREEDOS who have their hand out for a second TARP.

      • And when Axelrod revised the chant “Together We Can!” from the first Hope+Change(TM) campaign for Deval Patrick, to the more succinct one, even Obama thought it was lame. But words, just words. We hold no truths seems to be the mantra of Daley’s PR man Axelrod.

  7. I remember watching the series “Spencer for Hire.” Never read the novels but the series was enjoyable.

    • *Spenser

      • The series was a pale imitation of Parker’s books.

        • There was a time (in the early & mid 80s) when Robert B. Parker was one of my favorite authors. I still like his writing but, I had to stop reading the Spenser books when it seemed like Spenser & Hawk were more like serial killers than heros.

          I’m heartbroken that Parker died this week.

          • I stopped reading him when I went back to school in the ’90s. I just didn’t have time for light reading then.

  8. Obama needs to get a truck…

    • Obama needs to get a clue.

      He can’t run “against the MAN” if he IS “the man.”

      God Almighty, he’s childish to the extreme.

      • look at his CV – it is a bit late in life to start getting a clue – even if you are a late bloomer!!

    • I think he needs a laugh track.

  9. The GOPers solution for job creation is “tax cuts.” The argument is that jobs are going to other countries because of taxes. There have been tax cuts since Reagan and the jobs have gone overseas. The logic escapes me.

    • jobs are going overseas because of low wages, poor working conditions are allowed, polluting is allowed, and if they need educated workers they can go to canada and europe and get them cheaper because they don’t have to pay health care benefits.

      Republicans are incredibly disingenuous about this.

      • jobs in europe are surely not cheaper – health care cost are also a huge issue and with the over-ageing of the population not to go away anytime soon

      • Unrestricted outsourcing is killing the goose that lays the golden egg — the US economy. I don’t mind competing where competition is fair — but there must be safeguards (for the environment, the treatment of workers, etc.) in place.

        I remember Sen. Kerry saying there were safeguards in the “free trade” legislation but that the Bush administration was not enforcing them. Is this administration doing any better?

        Difficult to address safeguards when China owns so much of our debt. I never thought I would start feeling like the isolationists had a point, but …


        • Not to worry. Although the American economy is mostly consumption, the big
          multi-nationals have the masses in China and India as their next consumer
          base. We need about four more earths to supply the raw material (and extra planets to dump the trash).

          We aren’t even needed as “consumers” any more. Better to create communities and
          find what exactly is “enough”–how much stuff do I need? Beyond the fulfillment curve, more is emptiness.

          Better to have healthy bodies, live in real communities, have leisure time, feel free from the tyranny of
          a government sold to the highest bidder, have some sort of security from the insurance industries and financial schemers who suck away at one’s “retirement” funds.

      • Workers are also imported en masse. High-tech executives tell our local rep that they can’t find enough Americans for the jobs so outsourcing happens from within. More H1B visas must be had!

        Local rep is clueless. One of the first to jump on the Obama bandwagon before the CA primary. Actually supported a candidate prior to the primary (a first). Best friends with Pelosi (“Obama is a gift from God”).

        Because the imported labor is cheaper (and beholding to the company for 6 years (indentured)), jobs are less available to Americans. Parents in the industry advise their children to go elsewhere because there aren’t jobs for them (and an endless supply of cheaper, more employer docile, imported workers). A vicious circle. These companies also have off-shore development teams but need some workers at the “factory.”

  10. I think of winning the lottery all the time, it dont make it happen

  11. Well, forget about Obama, we’re moving onto much, much bigger and better things from the looks of these links just found in the inbox:



  12. That doesn’t sound like Favreau. I wonder if BO has a new speechwriter.

    More importantly: the poverty levels in urban, industrial Ohio are approaching those in rural South Texas colonias, which typically run 30% and above. I wonder how long it will take the pols to recognize that we’re well into the first stages of a systemic economic and social breakdown.

    • He’s channeling Clinton. That line “I’ll never stop fighting for you” is what she said during the Indiana primary.

      • He also said that they ran into a bit of a “buzz saw” last weekend. Hillary described her experience with health care in ’93 that way, and argued that that was the reason an experienced fighter was essential to the presidency at this time. How’s that buzz saw feel Bambi?

      • Yes she did. But Hillary meant it. Obama, as usual, is just mouthing someone else’s words.

      • Isn’t he one of the guys who was caught fondling the Hillary cutout? I think so. He isn’t new.

        • they’re letting him write more speeches starting with the Nobel prize since there’s been criticism that the POTUS still sounds like he’s campaigning and not governing.

        • Maybe just new to being the “featured” speecher.

          I wish to Goddess BO were channeling Clinton. Either Clinton. Until he back it up with action ( the 12th of Never?) using her words is just plagiarism.

          • unfortunately he is only plagiarizing them and not actually channeling them. If he were channeling Hillary he might be a better president.
            He only says it, he doesn’t mean it and he certainly won’t do it.

            BTW, over at the big orange cheeto someone is all excited that David Plouffe is back because he ran such a good campaign and now he is going to be running ALL the congressional campaigns for Obama.
            Funny, I thought local people had something to say about those campaigns. I didn’t know that Cogress served at the pleasure of the president.

  13. Lets be real—Obama isn’t really capable of selling himself as a populist. He’d be better off just telling those Ohioans to stop clinging to their antipathy.

    • He reminds me of King Arthur’s “people tour” in Twain’s Connecticut Yankee, trying to pass himself off as a farmer: “For the onion is but an unripe berry when plucked untimely from the tree.”

  14. When I went to the National Equality March last October, people were divided, some saying we needed to heed Obama’s call for LGBT to “push him” to uphold his promises. And I just thought, WTF? It’s our fault you caved? Not that I ever believed him, but so many did. What does he do all day? I see no evidence of actual work. He is letting Congress flounder. I am no fan of Pelosi, but she would have delivered him anything he asked for, and he never took the reins. He is too scared of being blamed for anything that he will be blamed for everything–rightly so. The country is collapsing, people are raging mad, not just “uneasy” as the media keeps saying, and he sits on his ass while others write ludicrous speeches for him. End of rant.

  15. Have been snared by the spamster, I think

  16. I think Obama’s presidency so far can be summed up in one word: Present.

    We all knew he was wrong for the job, didn’t care about any of this, didn’t really want to be president, and was an empty suite puppet. But I think he is turning out to be even worse than we imagined. And we imagined a pretty horrible president. Congratulations Mr. Obama, you suck worse than we thought you would.

    And to everyone who pushed him on us all and thought he would be something more than present, you suck even worse than he does. Next time you people have an idea, do us all a favor and just keep it to yourselves.

    Just had to get that off my chest.

    • ABSENT would be the word I’d choose for him.

      If I went to an event where my POTUS wanted to TALK to the people, and found him reading from a teleprompter, I’d leave. He was using Ohio as a backdrop…he didn’t have any idea what he might have had to say to the people there.

    • Present but detached.

  17. Late last night I saw a headline that a dairy farmer had killed his herd of 30 cows and then shot himself.

    I just could not go read that, but it sure sounds like desperation to me. All farming tends to be boom/bust, but as I learned from my cousins in dairy farming , it’s even worse for them

    Ffor months now there are almost nightly stories too about whole herds of animals being taken over by humane societies…horses the latest here. Not to mention all the puppy mill owners who just walk away.

    And we have an administration focused on the financial sector.

    Obama gives a “powerful speech”. More likely as the bard said: “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.’

    • Oh no. That is so sad. If reminds me of the stories my parents have told me about the Great Depression.

    • I read that story and just sat sobbing for about 10 minutes. I live next to farm country, attend the county fair every year just to see the animals up close and chat with the farmers–they’re such fantastic people, and they work so hard. It really upsets me that nothing is being done to help small farmers. My heart just broke for that poor man and his animals.

    • On the dirt road I live on there are mostly people with enough land to farm at least a bit. Everyone seems to have several broken down horses with ribs showing.
      This summer my S.O. and I tried to talk one family in to tethering their horses in one of our fields so they could fatten up. They never did it. But I am tempted to go buy oats and feed their horses some every few days. On the other hand I am tempted to call the humane society because some of those animals are really suffering.

      There are still a lot of small farmers around her. They tend to grow corn, soy and to raise beef cows not milk. Running a Milk farm is very hard work and not very profitable anymore.

      Imagine though that many of these people voted for Obama because the republicans they had supported all their lives abandoned them since 2000. And what did they get…just more real reasons to continue to hate democrats.
      Had Hillary been the nominee as she should have been, things would be so different and the farmers might have come back to the democratic party.

  18. As usual, Obama has nothing useful or practical to say, but is determined to say it anyway.He still hasn’t copped to the fact that governing is not the same thing as campaigning.

    From what I watched of that townhall, he’s panicked, and has no clue how to fix the very real, very huge problems facing this country. So his solution was to take off his tie, loosen his collar, grab a pitchfork, and rush out to try to join the angry mob at the gates of the Whitehouse. He’s such an idiot that he doesn’t even see the disconnect in that.

    Railing against “the Man” works when you are a community organizer. It does not work when you are now the Man. Obama has no clue, and no solutions. All he ever knew how to do his entire life was agitate, then wait for his political sugar daddies to hand him an “accomplishment” to attach his name to. Once that template for office-climbing collapsed. he’s got nothin’ There is no “next rung” he can escape to.

    Obama’s problem is that for the first time in his life, Obama is in a job where he is expected to perform – not talk, not campaign. And he has absolutely no freaking clue how to do that.

    • This is the “fairy tale” Bill Clinton was talking about.

    • The only thing transparent about Obama’s governing style is his lame attempt(s) to pander to his current audience. It’s so obvious it’s embarrassing. Now, suddenly, he’s a fighting populist?

    • You’re right – and how does he get out of it – in the past he just moved on – can he just get up one day and say – “I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m resigning and looking for a community leader position”?

      I think WMCB I remember you saying in an earlier thread that this is about the time he has left other positions. I agree that

      • oops, “with that”

        I also remember your saying that if they had just extended Medicare and not put all that junk in the bill we’d have better healthcare by now.

        But nooooo, they had to put all their pork into it and mess with the basic concept. 😡

    • Agitate? That would be too active for him. He’s a contemplative man. His navel is his favorite subject. Even as a paid community “activist” he was not much of a doer. What he did claim was the work of others.

  19. “Nevertheless, he doesn’t imagine the President will lay out a way forward in his State of the Union address next week, and he won’t push any buttons in the Senate.

    “I doubt if he does, I don’t think he’ll do a procedural thing. I don’t think he will engage in process,” Brown said of State of the Union.”
    I don’t get the meme that hasn’t/isn’t been involved in HCR. I strongly suspect that the direction of “reform” was negotiated during the primary and finalized in the secret WH meetings in Jan-April. After the deals were exposed, and there was discontent with the sell-out by a few people in congress, Obama said that legislation that deviated from his “deals” wasn’t acceptable.

    Anything that adversely affected the corps. was defeated, ie drug negotiation and re-importation. The annual cap on what an insurance pays for illness was inserted in the Senate bill after meeting with the WH.

    I guess the “Progressives” feel better about themselves when they say that Obama “isn’t engaged” rather than that they supported a Corrupt, sociopathic, fraud who raised close to 1 billion campaign $$$ by making deals with “big money” and is now paying it back.

  20. Robert Reich expresses how I feel so much more eloquently than I could…..


    • wasn’t he all over the talk shows during the primaries mocking Hillary Clinton’s White House experience and endorsing obama? Screw him.

  21. China slams Clinton for speech promoting Internet freedom worldwide:
    This quote from China is a riot: “China’s constitution protects the right of citizens to free speech…” I think they mean they don’t charge you for the speech they give you to say.

  22. Yaowza!!!

    BB, what a spectacular news compendium. You and SoD have to stop lying to me: You guys have some ginormous staff working for you.

    RD, if I don’t get a budget for my own staff, I’m staying on strike.

    Speaking of “popular uprising”: Populist Surge on Hill Eases the Support for Bernanke

    Ben Bernanke faced ebbing support for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman as more senators adopted a populist, antibank stance even as the White House launched a public push to defend his candidacy.

    The erosion of support crossed party lines. Two Democratic senators facing re-election in November, Barbara Boxer of California and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, on Friday joined two Democrats and an independent who previously announced their opposition.

    I’m sure DKat is not very happy about that.

    Btw, I can’t say often enough how on fire TC has been lately. Each time I access the blog, I have smoke coming out my screen.

    TC rules!

    • Yeah, I don’t think any replacement would be any better, frankly. Ben’s not perfect but I really think he’s the best we could do at the moment and at least he’s not a Wall Street insider. He’s likely to get replaced by some one less academic.

    • Well, if you can find time, we’d love to see a post from you on the front page again. It could even be a short update on what’s happening in Europe.

    • replacement would probably crash the markets – exactely what we would not need right now – a renewed rise of volatitly and uncertainity – it would look like the US having totally lost the plot

      • Baseline Scenario wants Krugman in the post and argues that wouldn’t destabilize markets.


        • Very intriguing proposal from Simon Johnson.

          The confirmation would be so much fun because Krugman drives some people bunkers although he’s been proven right over and over and over again.

      • Part of what markets want is continuity when it comes to central bankers. Being removed by the dysfunctional US political system (anybody looking from the outside how congress and senate work just is amazed) would be hardly trust inspiring.

        In addition, probably what you would NOT want in a central banker is an attention seeking streak – PK is probably not the man then.

        And the assessement that mkts will not take it badly – that is surely possible but I would not want to take the risk cz despite recovery of markets the world is still a pretty bleak place and markets could easily tumble.

  23. 2009 was the second warmest year on record and the 00’s was the warmest decade on record:
    From the article:

    According to NASA’s methods, the warmest year on record was 2005, and 2009 shares the second-warmest title with 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007. No surprise, then, that the past decade was also the warmest record, a finding that’s far more indicative of climate change than any given year’s results.

    The article has a nice chart and links to keep you singing about the end of the world for some time. So cheer up and always look on the bright side of life.

  24. When I read his speech to Ohio, I too thought he was taking a line from Hillary, “I’ll never stop fighting for you”. We coulda had a fighter. We got a speechifier. I’m loving the Progressive blogs. I even took a spin over to Taylor Marsh’s site after seeing her in the blogroll of Glenn Greenwald. Puleeze! Where is The Confluence’s link? How come nobody will link to this site? The one site that has been 100% accurate and informative.

  25. There was chatter on CNBC yesterday about dumping Bernanke and appointing Volker to head the Fed even though he is in his 80’s. Volker has been there all along but they have not listened to him until now. I am wondering if Krugman’s kool-aid drafts have anything to do with his job possibilities at the WH. IMHO it is not Bernanke who needs to go—at least he is not tainted by a GS heritage. It is Geitner and Summers.

    The O economic team looks hefty on paper but when you look below the cv’s there is no plan for coherent economic system action. That O team is all academic and in my view you need academics but you also need people who are actually from key sectors in the economy—including consumers.

    • I suspected PK’s koolaid talk may well be that he’d heard of his own possibilities, too. He’d never get confirmed.

    • yup, that is exactly what I thought too, they have promised something to Paul. Otherwise his current koolaid brain filter makes no sense.

  26. Reminds me of some sound wisdom from my father, many years ago. He said, “Never believe what people say, only what they do.” It’s advice which has served me well.

    The fact that Obama is now “sounding” like a populist is meaningless to me. I want a real populist in charge.

    • Words? Just words?

      • And even that a shadow of words. Axelrod wrote “Words, just words” first for Deval Patrick to read during his first Hope+Change(TM) campaign.
        Obama’s reading of it was a rerun.

  27. Shaking my head.

    I can not believe the Dems are still toying with their hc mess. Did they not get that the MA voters told them in the loudest possible terms that bill is crap and they pass it at their peril? Do they not read any of the polls on voter approval/disapproval of their hc efforts?

    This is more than stupidity. They are insane.

    • New Rasmussen out says that 61% of the country wants them to scrap the whole thing and move on the creating some damn jobs. As much as I’d like to see a return to the drawing board on healthcare, the Dems are committing political suicide if they press on.

      • They need to address both issues. That’s what Congress has committees for.

        Jobs are imperative. Unless there’s a mandate that every worker receive employer-supported quality health care, though, the health care issue is equally important. A parent can’t work and stay at home with a sick child at the same time. A worker who can’t afford not to report in when s/he has the flu (and can’t afford to go to the doctor, either) is a liability, not an asset.

        Look at the range of social issues LBJ addressed in his first two years. It can be done–but it takes a working President and a Congress that doesn’t jump at its own shadow.

        • I wasn’t speaking of what I thought was the best course. Just pointing out that if they try to continue, they will get massacred in November. That’s the reality. Obama is no LBJ, and does not have ANY political capital left with the public. He squandered it all.

          • Of course they’ll get massacred in November if they continue on their present course. They’re already getting massacred in the polls as well as in Mass.. Rasmussen has BO at -19 today, with clear majorities of Democrats and Indies disapproving of him and his policies.

            The sad fact is that he and the party have delivered on exactly nothing on the traditional Democratic to-do list. LBJ delivered, and delivered mightily. I wasn’t suggesting a comparison between them but a contrast. Of course, LBJ was a multiple-term Senator, with lots of personal as well as political capital and no hestitation to twist an arm or call in a favor for legislation he was backing. Now, Obama understands arm-twisting in a rather crude Chicago way, and he does it obviously and badly. But the idea of helping a colleague’s program with an eye to future help on his own escapes him. He sees the exchange as a one-way transaction only, with all benefits accruing to him.

          • Obama and LBJ shouldn’t be spoken in the same breath. One was
            a hard-working, masterful politician who transformed this nation (more
            than just an image, LBJ carried the water to enact civil rights).

            The other was bored by policy before a single year in the Senate. It’s
            hard being a rock star!

      • Actually, I think they are screwed either way.

        They just wasted a year AND taxpayer money on HC without producing anything (except some of them putting their names on some serious crap legislation) plus the mess in jobs and mortgages.

        They missed the chance to make healthcare all about taking care of unemployed workers, they didn’t own the message because they were waiting around for the “Loafer in Chief” to set the tone, meanwhile they allowed the right to frame the message to be any HC reform is “too expensive”.

        Nope, they are screwed – it won’t matter what they do now because it won’t be enough. They know it – look for more hail-Mary’s coming from BO and all of Congress.

  28. The Show Premieres Wed 1-27-10 @ 8PM: “The first Tavis Smiley Reports focuses on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”: PBS.org – http://bit.ly/7nwHTf (If outside USA, go to website link above to watch show)

  29. Does anyone here have professional knowledge about what happens to the narcissist who comes face to face with loss of approval on a grandiose scale?

    • Paging Dr. Boomer!

    • I had the same question when, during the primary, things got stressful, Obama went on vacation. He is responding the same way now but it won’t work, when a person is POTUS, there is no place to hide.

      A tipping point has/is being reached and the media sharks are starting to smell blood in the water. What happens to a pathological narcissist/sociopath when they are pushed into a psychological corner?? Not a pleasant thought when that person is POTUS.

    • They go a bit loopy. I’m ready for my closeup Mr. Demille.

      • They can be dangerous:

        More than a week after President Barack Obama’s cold-blooded killing of a local couple, members of the American news media admitted Tuesday that they were still trying to find the best angle for covering the gruesome crime.

  30. Here’s the NY Times version of OH:

    Ooh…what a brave strong leader! He’s out there fighting for us little people, and he’s “gonna take his lumps!” I’m verklempt. Does everyone have their new talking points?

    Obama, With Defiant Tone, Vows to Push Agenda

    Mr. Obama came to this Cleveland suburb for the second stop on his White House to Main Street Tour to spread the word that his administration is about jobs, jobs, jobs.

    Mr. Obama vowed to “never stop fighting for policies that will help restore home values.” [Except he’s done virtually nothing for the housing crisis.]
    He promised that he was “not going to stop fighting to give our kids the best education possible.” He pledged he would not “stop fighting to give every American a fair shake,” to continue fighting for a new Consumer Protection Agency and for openness in government. And of course, Mr. Obama pledged to fight for jobs. [Openness in government?! Is he still pushing that tired old line?]

    “So long as I have some breath in me, so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I will not stop fighting for you,” Mr. Obama said. “I will take my lumps. But I won’t stop fighting to bring back jobs here.”


  31. Oops, Axelrove got busted:

    Obama has suspicious number of letter-writing fans named ‘Ellie Light’

    Ellie Light sure gets around.

    In recent weeks, Light has published virtually identical “Letters to the Editor” in support of President Barack Obama in more than a dozen newspapers.Every letter claimed a different residence for Light that happened to be in the newspaper’s circulation area.


  32. White House nightmare persists

    In short, Mr Obama’s nightmare January could easily slip into a nightmare February. “Unless and until the president changes the way his White House, works, things are going to continue to go badly for him,” says the head of a Democratic think-tank. “Heads still have to roll.”


  33. lol—this is original revenge:

    Scorned Mistress of Married Obama Adviser Posts Billboards Nationwide


  34. Helicopter Harold is now comparing himself to Robert Kennedy, & Bill & Hillary. He’s also trying to capitalize on the Scott Brown populist wave. Another transparent, lying panderer.

    Ford’s Focus: Don’t Allow a Bay State Repeat
    The centrist Democrat thinks that his party needs to take a page from Bill Clinton’s playbook.


  35. *bangs head* The NooDems and their media lapdogs will never learn. Please repeat slowly after me: “Insulting and denigrating voters is a bad idea. Insulting and denigrating voters is a BAD idea.”

    Guess who’s under the bus now? Why, it’s INDEPENDENTS!!

    a disturbing catch of a segment on CNN letting us know just what they think of Independent voters. Apparently, indies are like “feathers in the wind” and are simply starved for attention. Does anyone else find it odd that a “journalist” would make such comments about the voter group which decides pretty much every election, is growing faster than any registered party, and will without question determine how the chips fall in the 2010 mid-terms across pretty much the entire nation?


    Hotair had this to say about the sudden change of opinion on Independents, (who were cool and bi-partisan when they went to Obama in large numbers):

    Suddenly, independents are “feathers in the breeze,” drama queens with a constant need for attention fixes, people who have no idea what they want and can’t articulate any principles at all.

    • Obama is an independent?

    • That was a Black CNN anchor–can’t remember his name. Bit of an airhead, very Obama-is-the-new-Messiah type guy.

      Kinda like Donna Brazille in the “we don’t need you, we have a NEW coalition.”

      Well, all right then.

    • Maybe she wants Reproductive Rights and believes women can think for themselves and can makes proper decisions about their bodies, including access to contraceptives! A Free Spirit! YEA!

  36. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/7053448/Obama-Is-his-presidency-close-to-crisis.html

    I read this last night in work but could not link it. It looks like the bloom is off the rose for backtrack in other countries too.



    • The Torygraph never was very BO friendly and been having a go at him for a while – love it!!

  37. Obama’s Cross of Arugula

    So today we got a glimpse of the new, populist Obama. He feels our pain. He will fight for us until his very last breath (even if he’s fighting to pass policies the public doesn’t like, apparently). He is going to get every dime of our money back from those evil banks on Wall Street (even though most have already paid back what they owe.)

    The White House seems to think a pivot to populism will help the President politically. But it probably won’t. Here’s why: Obama isn’t a “man of the people.” Never has been. That isn’t the image he ran on during the campaign, and it isn’t why people voted for him. Even more to the point, it certainly wasn’t how he governed during his first year in office.

    Politicians try to reinvent themselves all the time, and some find success. But it only works if there’s some credibility behind the shift – some truth in advertising, if you will. That’s why its’ hard to see the public buying into Obama’s impersonation of William Jennings Bryan. It’s simply not who he is.


  38. With Krugman now merely a shill for Obama, Bob Herbert seems to have found his voice again lately.

    They Still Don’t Get It

    How loud do the alarms have to get? There is an economic emergency in the country with millions upon millions of Americans riddled with fear and anxiety as they struggle with long-term joblessness, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and dwindling opportunities for themselves and their children.

    The door is being slammed on the American dream and the politicians, including the president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many.

    While the nation was suffering through the worst economy since the Depression, the Democrats wasted a year squabbling like unruly toddlers over health insurance legislation. No one in his or her right mind could have believed that a workable, efficient, cost-effective system could come out of the monstrously ugly plan that finally emerged from the Senate after long months of shady alliances, disgraceful back-room deals, outlandish payoffs and abject capitulation to the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits.

    The public interest? Forget about it.

    It just gets better from there. I hope he stays off the kool-aid now as I have admired him for a long time.

  39. Why is he disrespecting seniors? and what’s with the no-tie look?

  40. Is there something in the US constitution that a sitting president can call new elections before his time runs out? In many European countries it is possible to call elections if the PM does not have enough supprt anymore.

  41. No. We do not have a parliamentary form of government.

  42. With Obama is all about “tactics, ” and the story or “fairy tale” about his political ascension out of nowhere has revolved around saying whatever is necessary to get approval and support from the people he may need at the moment. People are just objects, chips to move around and use if they are usable for his purposes.

    If we could hear Obama’s inner thoughts, they would sound something like: “So now I need to sound populist” or “I need to attack Wall Street” or “I have to sound magnanimous about forgiving Harry Reid or Hillary for racist-sounding comments, and not forget to touch them in the arm for the photo op” and “always smile, smile, smile, it makes people feel good…gosh, I need to redo the teeth-bleaching, it’s fading.. away….” Okay, now ….how can I get republicans to support me? Well, I need to channel Reagan, transformative figure, more than Clinton, blah, blah, blah….Ok, done!!.” . etc., etc.

    Someone in this thread was asking about how a narcissist comes face to face with massive disapproval. Usually people with a narcissistic personality have a low tolerance for disappointment whenever they can’t maintain the illusion of grandiosity. In some instances they may become severely depressed. In the case of Obama, I can see something big bringing him down completely, something from his past, all those things that happened but he was never vetted on during the primaries. I am sure he has some big skeletons ready to come out if things go really bad, and they will, I think.

    • Like the internal monologue above..sounds like Anthony Perkins in that final scene in “Psycho.”

  43. Obama, here is my advice to you F**king stop talking and DO something. That is it. Do something, anything for The People not for Corporate America.

  44. I’m tired of people saying Obama is going to have to change. He’s NOT GOING TO. What you see is what you get! Barack’s not weak, he’s not stupid – he’s evil. He gives money to big corporations, he doesn’t give a $#!t about the environment, he hires the worst possible people for cabinet and czar positions, and he, like George Bush, as apparently NO CONSCIENCE AT ALL.

    He’s not going to change. Stop hoping for that!

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