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    • The Torture Culture
      Ok, here’s the deal.  Torture does not work to get information.  Period.  You do not torture people to get information, you torture people to send information, or rather, to send a message. What is that message? (Originally from Dec 16, 2010, but it seems worth re-upping for a new generation of readers – Ian.) We […]
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I can’t get past the suckiness

I’m trying to ‘get’ the Obama thing. Why are so many people ready to vote for a guy who seems pretty conservative to me. More like an 80s Republican than any Democrat I’ve ever known. So why do so many of my old Democratic buddies love this guy so much?  I won’t kid you — I can’t see myself voting for a Robot Drone Bomber.  But, many people do. So, I spent part of today trying to figure it out.

Frankly, I’m not getting very far.

There’s this post over at FireDogLake, Obama, The Not-So-Great Debate, Austerity and the Election. David Dayen is talking about this story over at Time —  What He Knows Now: Obama on Popularity, Partisanship and Getting Things Done in Washington (which is also discussed by Digby here)

After this, he improbably says that the election is “going to give voters a very clear choice.” There’s a discontinuity there, part of which can be absorbed by the realities of what the Romney campaign has proposed on paper – massive tax cuts, spending slashes on Medicaid and the poor that would cut to the bone. But Obama explains that his goal would be merely to cut those programs, just not all the way back that nobody could benefit from them.

My message to Democrats is the same message I’ve got to Republicans and independents, and that is, I want a balanced approach to deficit reduction that combines additional revenue, particularly from folks like me who can afford it, with prudent cuts on both the discretionary side and the mandatory side but that still allows us to make investments in the things we need to grow.

And that means I’m prepared to look at reforms in Medicaid. I’m prepared to look at smart reforms on Medicare. But there are things I won’t do, and this is part of the debate we’re having in this election. I do not think it is a good idea to set up Medicare as a voucher system in which seniors are spending up to $6,000 more out of pocket. That was the original proposal Congressman Ryan put forward. And there is still a strong impulse I think among some Republicans for that kind of approach.

I’m not going to slash Medicaid to the point where disabled kids or seniors who are in nursing homes are basically uncared for. We’re not going to violate the basic bargain that Social Security represents.

This is what passes for a great debate in American politics circa 2012. Sadder still, it IS a debate, just on a scale that leaves out the perspective of a substantial chunk, perhaps the majority, of the country.

And it’s funny because (I swear, I’m trying to figure out his appeal) then I came to this from Glenn Greenwald:

Election 2012 and the media: a vast rightwing conspiracy of stupid

Strong and rational though it may be, the temptation to ignore entirely the election year spectacle should be resisted. Despite its shallow and manipulative qualities – or, more accurately, because of them – this process has some serious repercussions for American political life.

The election process is where American politicians go to be venerated and glorified, all based on trivial personality attributes that have zero relationship to what they do with their power, but which, by design, convinces Americans that they’re blessed to be led by people with such noble and sterling character, no matter how much those political figures shaft them. (Wednesday, President Obama, during his highly-touted “Ask Me Anything” appearance on Reddit, predictably ignored the question from Mother Jones’s Nick Baumann about Obama’s killing of the American teenager Abdulrahman Awlaki, in favor of answering questions about the White House beer recipe and his favorite basketball player.)

The election process is where each political party spends hundreds of millions of dollars exploiting the same trivial personality attributes to demonize the other party’s politicians as culturally foreign, all to keep their followers in a high state of fear and thus lock-step loyalty.

So I don’t know what to think. I mean none of this is getting me any closer to voting for +8% to +20% unemployment and a Robot Drone Bomber or a Robot (HaHaHa) I mean Romney.

But, I’ll tell you this – I kind of expect crap from Republicans.  I don’t mean I accept it but, I live in Kansas and am surrounded by their logic so I expect it.  I get it. I get them.  But I never expected to live with this shit from Democrats everyday for a year or more!

Obamobedience

“So, who are you voting for?” an Obama follower asked me prior to the event.  I was holding posters with 12 friends and handing out hundreds of flyers that looked like Obama material until you read them. (PDF).

The posters objected to the tripling of weapons sales to foreign dictators last year, Obama’s willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare, the kill list, imprisonment without trial, warrantless spying, corporate trade agreements, the continued so-called “Bush” tax cuts, the war on Afghanistan, the drone wars, the increased military budget, the murder of Tariq Aziz and of Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the weak auto efficiency standards in the news that day, the refusal to prosecute torturers, Obama’s sabotaging of agreements to counter global warming, etc.

“So, who are you going to vote for?”

“Well,” I said, “you know, you can vote for someone good like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, or you can vote for Obama, but today is not election day.  If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that’s great.  Knock yourself out.  But that does not begin to produce an argument for being his apologist and cheerleader throughout the year.  If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil.  One guy wants to trash Social Security, and the other guy brags about his willingness to make huge compromises with that agenda — that is, to partially trash Social Security.  So, is your job to demand that not a dime be cut (regardless of how you vote), or is your job to cheer for the partially trash it guy, thereby guaranteeing that he and the other guy both get even worse?”

“Yeah, I see, but I’m trying to understand who you think we should vote for.”

“Let me try again.  Take Obama’s kill list for . . . ”

“His what?”

“President Obama keeps a list of the people he wants to kill.  It was a frontpage New York Times story three months ago that made a lot of news but was carefully avoided by Democrats even more assiduously than you would have sought it out and trumpeted your outrage were the president a Republican.  Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children.  Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it?  I don’t mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen.  What are you supposed to do in such a case?”

“Well what’s the alternative?”

“The alternative to murdering people?  Well, I don’t know how to put this.  The alternative is essentially not murdering people.”

“No, what’s the alternative to Obama? Isn’t the other guy worse?”

“I’m not sure I’m being very clear here.  70% of the country wants the war in Afghanistan ended.  Neither candidate is willing to end it.  Obama pretends he’s ending it.  Romney doesn’t mention it.  Should 70% of the country keep quiet while large numbers of people are killed?  Or should we approach both branches of our government, the two parties, with our just and moral demand until we’re satisfied — regardless of who we’re going to vote for?”

All bolding by me. (also referenced by Lambert in an earlier comment)

And that’s that.  I still don’t get it.

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These photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational.

Oh, no — THESE photos weren’t important at all:

Rape is Rape … Except When You’re a Female Detainee
When Obama Whitewashed Rape

The court order stipulated the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs taken from Abu Ghraib and six other prisons across Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Major General Antonio Taguba, who led the formal inquiry into prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, the photographs in question depict “torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.”

Explaining his decision to ignore the order, President Obama argued, “The most direct consequence of releasing [the photographs], I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

I think I found the perfect keynote speaker for your college’s next Take Back the Night rally!

President Obama went on to add, apparently with no sense of shame whatsoever, “I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational.”

And as a precautionary measure against the possibility that rape is actually “sensational” — especially when perpetrated (and gleefully documented) by the U.S military — the Pentagon’s official position on this matter is that the photographs in question do not even exist. Indeed, it’s unlikely that any of this “rape” stuff even happened. There’s certainly no evidence to support such wild claims.

But what about the video Major General Taguba obtained during his investigation, which shows “a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee“? Don’t worry, that’s not “particularly sensational.” No need to fret! Move along! Also: that video doesn’t exist, and that never happened.

How about the photograph that depicts “an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner”? Or the photograph that shows “a male translator raping a male detainee”? Or the countless photographs which are said to document “sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube”? How about the photo that shows “a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts”?

That’s just a long list of “not particularly sensational”, misinformed speculation. Please try to remember: these photographs don’t even exist, according to the Obama Administration.

You could go read the whole thing but, it will probably make you sick. And then you wouldn’t want to know this:

Justice Department Ends Investigation Into Bush-Era Torture, With No Charges

Well, that’s that.

What Does Cardinal Timothy Dolan think about UNEMPLOYMENT?

Hey, did you hear the one about the Catholic bishop who is going to give a closing prayer at BOTH party conventions this year?*

Ladies? How do you feel about this? Remember back in 2008 when you climbed aboard the Obama bandwagon because he made you feel so creative and young and hot?

What has he done for you lately? Did he banish the Bush Conscience Rule or merely attenuate it? Did he stand up for your rights in the health care bill or capitulate to the Bart Stupaks because a *win* for him was more important that a loss for you?

Did he do anything about your unemployment problem in the he-covery? You know, the one where he thought it jobs should be manly man jobs so a guy could feel good about himself? Remember this blurb from Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men about where the pathetically inadequate stimulus money for jobs would go?:

That was where the jobs would be: nurse’s aides, companions to infirm seniors, hospital orderlies. The group bandied about ideas for how to channel job-seeking men into this growth industry. A need in one area filling a need in another. Interlocking problems, interlocking solutions. The Holy Grail of systemic change.

But Obama shook his head.

“Look, these are guys,” he said. “A lot of them see health care, being nurse’s aides, as women’s work. They need to do something that fits with how they define themselves as men.”

As the room chewed over the non-PC phrase “women’s work,” trying to square the senator’s point with their analytical models, [Alan] Krueger—who was chief economist at the Department of Labor in the mid-1990s at the tender age of thirty-four—sat there silently, thinking that in all his years ofstudying men and muscle, he had never used that term. But Obama was right. Krueger wondered how his latest research on happiness and well-being might take into account what Obama had put his finger on: that work is identity, that men like to build, to have something to show for their sweat and toil.

“Infrastructure,” he blurted out. “Rebuilding infrastructure.”

Obama nodded and smiled, seeing it instantly. “Now we’re talking. . . . Okay, let’s think about how that would work as a real centerpiece…. Don’t even get me started about potholed highways and collapsing bridges,” Obama said….

And just like that, a policy to repair the nation’s infrastructure was born. The federal government, in partnership with the private sector, would call upon the underemployed men of America to rebuild the country, and in doing so restore their pride.

;

Did he pay any attention to the women in his inner circle who told him to ask for more money in the stimulus and at least $100 billion for a jobs program? Did he care about YOUR pride? Economic needs? Kids you need to support?

No, he did not. By the way, read Confidence Men if you have a chance. If the last 4 years haven’t turned you off your kibble with Obama, that book will definitely do it.

Having Cardinal Dolan at the convention is what I would call a swift kick in the teeth. You’ve already decided that the Democrats are going to save you from the Republicans draconian crackdown on reproductive rights so Obama’s campaign has now written you off the list of voters he has to work for. Jeez, did you get ANYTHING in exchange for your vote or did they just scare the pants off you?

So, now that Obama has you in his win column, he can ignore you and go for the anti-abortion Catholics. Do you think they’re just going to give him their votes for nothing? They’re not stupid, you know.

Next time you have a chance to vote for a competent woman, give it more than a few seconds thought before some dude talks you out of it.

*Um, are we also going to get a moment of encouragement from the non-believers or don’t they count?  What about it, Democrats?  Are non-believers citizens who also deserve respect or is it just politically expedient to stuff them in a closet and tell them to be quiet?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is putting up this billboard in two places in Charlotte as well as one place in Tampa:

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

In the meantime, I’ve got other things to do. And here’s something a little bit different. Misschievous, a Canadian-Swiss youtuber, now living in Switzerland, has lost a lot of weight in the past year by cutting out almost all carbs from her diet. Here she presents three different lunches, lower in carbs but not carb free, that look delicious. If you want even fewer carbs, leave out the wrap and honey. Enjoy:

Peacnicks for Obama

….. (thinking)

I’ve got nothing.

UNEMPLOYMENT

UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT.

That’s all I want to hear from either party for the next 10 weeks: How are they going to deal with unemployment and restore the middle class.  No other topic deserves any attention whatsoever. Solve the unemployment problem and you solve a lot of the other problems.  Got a problem with the deficit?  Put people back to work and they’ll pay taxes.  Not enough money in the Social Security kitty after 4 years of an artificially induced crisis?  Put people back to work and the trust fund will start to grow again.  Too many people losing their houses or going bankrupt because of health care costs?  Put them back to work earning money and many of those problems will go away.

This is not rocket science. Fixing the employment problem FIRST will have a domino effect on the other problems. The parties will try valiantly to talk about the deficit and abortion.  We shouldn’t let them.  Any time  their attention starts to wander, we should pull them up by the short hairs and ask them what they intend to do about UNEMPLOYMENT.

I challenge other blogs to do the same.  Don’t let the parties control the conversation.

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

Katiebird informs me that the Obama trolls are out throwing Sticks and Stones comments at people who suggest that there are other Democrats besides Obama/Biden that would make better presidential candidates.

Here’s how it goes: If you do not unquestioningly agree to vote for Obama/Biden, you *must* be a Romney/Ryan voter.

The Democrats have dangerously tottered over to authoritarian black/white thinking if this is what they are saying.  If you are a Democrat, are you allowed to do your own thinking anymore?

Here’s how you might think about this if you are a Democrat:

1.) Obama is only the *presumptive* nominee.  He’s not officially the nominee until the balloons drop in Charlotte.

2.) The Democrats at the convention could change their minds.  Please don’t tell us that the delegates/superdelegates can’t be persuaded or make up their own minds to do whatever they like at the convention.  We know the rules.  In other words, there are no rules.  It’s all up to the leadership and from what I can see, the leaders from 2008 have a lot less credibility this time around.

3.) By putting Obama on the ticket this time, you are saying that you accept poor performance, high unemployment, a grand bargain, foreclosures, retirement in penury and loss of our national infrastructure and leadership in industries and research where Americans once dominated, indefinite detention without trials, brutal suppression of protest movements and kill lists.  All of those things are Ok with you.  How about it, Digby?  Are all of those things ok with you?  Atrios?  I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.  Speak up and defend the party.  I’m not interested in what Romney did or is doing.  I’m not a conservative.  I’m a liberal.  So, tell me why a liberal should prefer Obama to some other Democrat.  I’ll wait.

4.) By forcing Obama on the rest of us, you are saying that there is no other Democrat that would be a.) more appealing to more Americans b.) more competent c.) more respectful of Democratic values than Obama.  You are saying that as far as the Democratic party goes, it simply doesn’t get more Democraticky than Obama.  He is the most perfect embodiment of the Democratic party than any other possible politician the Democrats have.  That’s what you’re saying.  Are you sure you want to say this?  Because that is the basis upon which people make their decisions at the polls.  That’s what motivates them to go to the polls in the first place.  You are asking them to make a choice for four years and you’d better give them the best possible reason for getting into their cars and standing in line to vote.  Otherwise, they’ll assume that you aren’t serious about your party values or your candidate.  You will discourage your voters if you don’t give them a reason to vote for you.

Now, some of us have looked at Obama’s performance for the past four years and we do not approve.  We would like to vote for a REAL Democrat this year.  That’s why we keep bringing up replacing Obama at the top of the ticket with Hillary Clinton.  You can have your own opinions about Hillary but if you are a Democrat and you don’t like her, you are part of a teensy tiny minority of Democrats.  Minute.  No one outside of your little club cares about what you think.  You don’t like Obama either at this point but you refuse to throw your support behind Hillary.  That’s weird because four years ago, you were having a fricking fit over those of us who didn’t think Obama was such a good choice to begin with.  We turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong so, you know, why should we care what you think?  Your record isn’t exactly stellar.  And don’t even go there with the Howard Dean thing.  No one outside of your little clique knows who he is and if they did, they wouldn’t like him.  You’ll have to trust me on this. He has a pheromone that appeals to a vanishingly small subset of Democrats.  To the rest of us, he’s the last guy we’d want to take on a Mystery Date.

In other words, those of you who hate Obama now but won’t consider Hillary and those of you who are party loyalists in the online enforcement brigade have absolutely no control over us.  You can’t make us vote for this dude.  We want a real Democrat.  And calling us names and secret supporters of Romney/Ryan or racists or stupid does not endear us to your point of view.  Do you want to know why??

It’s because you are nothing more than little black pixels on a display.  You can not hurt us.

That is the magick of the internet!  You can’t get in our faces and if you intend to hurt our feelings, we can close your tabs.  In fact, you can’t hurt our feelings.  So what if you call us names?  You only prove over and over again that our votes are important to you and you will use meanness and name calling to get what you want.  But you will also prove yourselves to be incredibly stupid for trying to use online bullying tactics because we don’t have to put up with it.

I suppose you could show up at our doors and threaten us to vote for your guy but then, you sure as hell wouldn’t be anything like the old Democratic party, would you?  Besides, we know who we are and what we believe and we have dignity that a bunch of online trolls can’t take away from us.

You might also try reason and persuasion but let’s face it, if you weren’t being paid, there’s no way in hell you could defend the Obama administration.  He’s bent over backwards to kiss the asses of the banking and insurance industry, he’s way too accommodating to the Republicans’ agenda and he’s let the rest of the country swing in the wind, especially the unemployed and women.  In short, you are selling out everything you say you believe in order to collect a paycheck.  We have words for that kind of person but we don’t want to hurt your feelings.

As for letting Romney/Ryan win and it being worse, how could it get any worse?? With Obama/Biden we still have two DUDES who have no interest in helping the unemployed and are more than willing to cut a grand bargain that will irreparably hurt those of us who have to work until the age of 67 to collect the measly payments we were forced to prepay for decades.

So, you know, shove it with your rationalizations.  You’re only bullies who think you can strongarm us (Ha!) into submission so you can cross this group of stubborn voters off your list and never have to kowtow to us again. You have no intention of giving up power and don’t give a rat’s ass about the rest of us.  But we’re NOT voting for any of the current two major party candidates until we get a Democratic candidate worth voting for.  If we don’t vote for your ticket, we’re not losing much, but you will lose plenty.  There goes your power for a four year time out.  Suck on that for awhile.

The one where Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins do a jitterbug

Edward Villella in Prodigal Son

Suzanne Farrell was one of George Balanchine’s last muses.  He had a habit of finding some little quirky thing about his female dancers and then fixating on it- and them.  Balanchine was a bit of a stalker in that regard.  When he found something about the dancer he liked, he choreographed for her.  It was almost always a her.  Even Mikail Baryshnikov couldn’t get Balanchine to choreograph a piece for him, although it should be noted that Balanchine liked athletic male dancers.  My first impressions of the NYCB was that the dancers were really elite athletes.  There was nothing sissy about Edward Villela jumping defiantly with his fists over his head in Prodigal Son.  And all of the female dancers defied the laws of gravity, extension and precision.  They were grace with muscles of steel.

So, anyway, Farrell got on George’s obsession list.  He loved her.  No, literally, he LOVED her.  He married several of his ballerinas but Farrell played hard to get.  She had no problems making love to him in dance but she wasn’t going to sleep with him.  The more he worshipped her and the more beautiful the dance they made together, the more insistent he got.  Finally, Farrell married soloist Paul Mejia, and they escaped to France for a few years until Balanchine cooled his jets.  A few years later, Farrell moved back to the NYCB and they picked up where they left off.  George was a little more tempered by then.  He did have other muses but Farrell seemed to read his thoughts like no other dancer.  I think this is because she had a gifted musicality and Balanchine understood music like few other choreographers.  His father was a composer and during the Russian Revolution when the ballet schools were closed, Balanchine made his living as a pianist. Balanchine’s musical choices for his non-story ballets brought out the conductor in him.  His choreography picked out musical lines, his pairs became parts of fugues.  You can almost see him waving a baton at them.

This ballet, Chaconne, showcases Balanchine and Farrell’s musicality beautifully, with Peter Martins dancing as Balanchine’s surrogate.  Something about this ballet reminds me of the opening piece of Disney’s Fantasia, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,  where each musical instrument appears to create waves of sound in colorful vibrations.  It’s synesthetic. But there’s also a whimsical easter egg in it.  It’s in part 2 at the 2:00 minute mark.

Peter Martins took over as artistic director of NYCB after Balanchine’s death.  He’s been a faithful steward of the ballets but not necessarily a gifted choreographer.  Martins is also a student of the Bournonville school of dance and some of this past life is still evident in the ease of his footwork and light jumping.  He’s elegant, refined and buff as all get out.

Part 1

Part 2

Melange:A World of Woo, tribal belief, willful self-delusion and Jane Mayer

There are a lot of interesting nuggets in the intertoobz these days.  Some of these things go together and show the lengths we will go to delude ourselves or cling to tribal beliefs.

Let’s start with a podcast.  So, you’ve given up the Judeo-Christian belief system for God 2.0 or no god at all.  Some of us would call this progress.  Giving up bronze age superstition and tradition for something more modern and relevant is quite a bold step.  So, why are so many of you turning to woo?  Woo is defined as “ideas considered irrational or based on extremely flimsy evidence or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers”. Woo includes the belief in astrology, auras, energy fields, homeopathy, accupuncture, chiropracty and vaccination phobia.  Seth Andrews of the Thinking Atheist interviews various professionals who debunk these woos and tries to explain why otherwise rational people are attracted to them. Let’s put it this way, if you’re into woo, it’s hard to take anything you say seriously. You’d might as well be a nutcase fundy eschatologist.   Check out Seth’s recent podcast here.

Jay Ackroyd tries to lead Digby to the light when it comes to Obama’s commitment to a Grand Bargain on Social Security and Medicare.  First, go read the piece from Digby where she actually sounds like she’s blown right on past where Conflucians are sitting straight into the arms of the former Democrats who are so angry they’ve started to identify with the Tea Party.  Wow.  That’s quite a leap.  I know the party will reel her back in and, to be honest, we don’t really need more Tea Partiers in Congress, thank you very much.  But, yeah, Digby.  Jay’s right.  The Obama contingent are not liberals.  However, Jay is not right that they’re centrists.  The Obama contingent is definitely on the right side of center.  Nooooo doubt about it.  The only way that they are centrists is if you consider moderate republicanism centrist.  That would make Bill Clinton a flaming commie.  No, no, don’t go there, Jay.  We have seen the studies.  There’s no way in hell that Bill Clinton is a centrist in the same way that Obama is a “centrist”.  The center moved in the past 12 years.  You guys have got to accept this because your irrational belief that Clinton is an evil Republican dude compared to Obama, is what got Obama elected in the first place.  You’ve been done in by your tribe’s woo.  I mean, think about it: your group is asking us to believe that Bill Clinton is, was and always will be more conservative than Barack Obama.  Step back and think about that and ask yourselves if that’s rational given everything you now know.  If YOU can’t swallow it, why are you asking US to believe it?

As for Digby, I really like her and I’ve found her recent evolution to be promising, if only temporary in the lead up to the election.  I expect her to chicken out even though her “Hey! We’re eating grass!” moments are fun to read.  There is a place for left of center Democrats who don’t have our minds so wide open that our brains have fallen out.  We just need to create it.  It probably won’t happen this election cycle unless the Obama half of the party is defeated by the Clinton half of the party.  That’s where we are now.  You may not think the Clinton half is sufficiently liberal but the American people do.  In any case, they’ll drag the party back leftwards like an earthquake in Japan.  It could be a true realignment on the way back to sanity.  And remember, Wall Street rejected the Clinton half last time.  So, you know, how much more proof do you need??  Besides, there is no hope for Howard Dean.  Most people don’t know who he is and wouldn’t like him if they did.  We need to be realistic and work with what we’ve got.  And as far as I can tell, Americans would be ecstatic to return to the Clinton years, even if they were supervised by his wife. A woman in charge would be very good for women in general, wouldn’t you agree?  Especially when that woman is a passionate defender of women’s reproductive rights?  I mean, can women really trust Obama after they way he dragged his feet on the conscience rule, betrayed us in the healthcare law and kept Plan B behind a counter?

As far as everyone having “skin in the game”, Obama’s term for sacrificing in the upcoming Grand Bargain, um, I’ve seen my industry devastated by Wall Street grasshoppers and I’ve lost a very good living, permanently.  So, you know, I’ve already been flayed.  Not only that but I’m in the age cohort who has to wait until I’m 67 before I get the Social Security I prepaid for decades.  I’m not sacrificing anymore skin.  No, do not even ask.  Don’t make us come down there to Washington to make your lives miserable.  You do not want crowds from the size of my graduating class on the mall.  No, you do not.  I suggest that Congress go hunt people with an excess of skin, ie wealthy people.  Give them a good reason to whine.

The last bit is an interview of Jane Mayer on Fresh Air with Terry Gross entitled “Obama in Impossible Bind Over Donors”.  The Impossible Bind is that he wants and needs money from the wealthy and Wall Street but he doesn’t want average voters to know how indebted he is to his big donors so he has to blow the donors off in public.  It’s a sad, sad situation.  Terry, to her credit, seems to have come around after being such an insufferable Obama fangirl in 2008.  Jane Mayer valiantly tries to make Obama look good when it comes to fundraising.  You can almost hear Jane pleading with the audience to understand what Obama is up against but I found her extreme earnestness irritating.  It’s a cruel world out there.  Poor Obama, forced to accept SuperPAC money and trying to make it look like he doesn’t like it.  It’s all the fault of the mean Republicans that he’s sucking up all the money he said he didn’t want.  And while Romney is appearing at the SuperPAC soirees, Mitt has a deputy actually ask for the money, while Obama goes to the soirees and the money just mysteriously appears for him but he doesn’t suck up to anyone to get it.  I find the distinction indistinct.

Oh, but Obama isn’t giving away the Lincoln Bedroom!  So, you know, there’s that.  And that’s presumably why the donors are complaining.  They get nothing from Obama.  Not even a tote bag.  He won’t even take pictures with his donors so they can use that to name drop. It sounds like Obama got too much of a reputation as a schmoozer in 2008 and he’s desperate to squash that meme this year but that doesn’t mean he’ll be turning the filthy lucre down.  He just doesn’t want to have to thank anyone publicly for it.

But the funniest part of the interview is when Mayer is forced to debunk the idea that Obama made the bulk of his campaign money from millions of teensy contributions.  I know, you’re probably thinking that small contributions mean less than $100 because that’s what the Obama campaign lead us to believe in 2008.  We were all under the impression that millions and millions of working class Joes were mailing $20 to him in gratitude with a little note saying, “Bless you, Barack!  Save the Republic.  We’ve been waiting all our lives for you!”  Right?  Intellectually, you know it’s not true because the sheer size of the amount of money he collected, plus all of the contributions from wealthy Wall Street contributors, is public information. But the meme kinda slipped into the chinks of the gray matter and created it’s own woo.  It just *had* to be true because so many people repeated it.  It’s sort of like that woo we debunked about Obama running a fabulous campaign.  Um, no he didn’t, unless you consider gaming the caucuses and paying off the superdelegates and DNC fabulous, and we can prove it but myths die hard.

Anyway, it turns out that the definition of small depends on who is using it.  Small donations to you and me would be less than $100.  Small donations to the Obama campaign means maxing out at $5000.  See the difference?  One is $4900 more than the other. What working class stiff has $5000 to stuff into an envelope for a guy who had less than two years of national political experience before he decided to run for president?  And inadvertently, Mayer exposes what the Obama campaign thinks of the people who gave less than $5K.  They’re not even on the campaign’s radar.

But the final bit of silliness from Mayer is when she contrasts Bill Clinton’s extroversion against Obama’s intellectualism.  That’s got to be a first.  Whatever you might think of Bill Clinton,  making the guy who went to Georgetown, Yale Law School and was a Rhodes Scholar sound like a high school dropout car salesman next to Obama doesn’t really work too well.  What she’s really trying to say is that Clinton is a gregarious politician who likes politics and can carry on an intelligent conversation with anyone, even his enemies, but that the Obama contingent doesn’t like politics and getting hands dirty and actually doing the stuff that gets things done.  I know that she didn’t mean to say that but that’s essentially what she said.  If you were a big money donor, whose campaign would you rather give $5 million to?  (George Soros, call me!)

Once the bloom is off of Obama’s rose, you can’t listen to this stuff without laughing at all of the holes in the arguments.  The woo is gone.