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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.

27 Responses

  1. ‎(giggling) In the department of no surprises: Harry Reid explains why he killed filibuster reform. “Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have come to a deal on filibuster reform. The deal is this: The filibuster will not be reformed. In an exclusive interview, Reid explains his thinking.”

  2. Totally agree with this post. “Words and deeds”, indeed.

    We must continue to point out the mismatch of these words and deeds.

    Fight on, RD!

  3. Great post. Much needed cold water on some of the post-inaugural euphoria we’re reading.

    Obama is who he is. No one should be under any illusion that he’ll make any difference except at the margins. He squandered bullet-proof majorities in 2009-2010 and he always, always takes the path of least resistance. At a time when we needed bold leadership, we got timid leadership. Unfortunately, he’s a product of a very broken and corrupt system.

    The country’s problems are far from solved, but we’ve settled into a sort of low level equilibrium. What the Obama presidency has done is massively lower everyone’s expectations. His soaring rhetoric is completely opposite of the policies he chooses to pursue. His economic policy shop is run out of Wall Street and that won’t change with the departure of Timothy Geithner.

    But know this; the system is frail. Obama’s re-election may have bought some more time for the banker oligarchy, but cracks and fissures are showing up everywhere. We should be thinking and organizing on how we want society to look given the chance to improve it.

    Riverdaughter, continue posting on matters of reform whether it be the drug industry, the banking sector, health care, etc. All of us have an opinion and all of us will be part of the solution when the next opportunity comes.

    • He didn’t squander anything. He, and the Dem congressional leadership, are staunch neoliberals. The policies we got were the policies they wanted.

      They never threatened the nuclear option against the Senate filibuster, unlike the Republican congress that preceded them, because the Republican minority mostly filibustered stuff the Dem leaders didn’t actually want to see pass.

    • The states may still be “laboratories of democracy”. That could mean that if improvement-seekers can take commanding command in one or another particular state, they may be able to forcibly force the legislation of particular improvements. For example, doesn’t every state have the State’s Right to create a North Dakota-style State Bank within the borders of that state?

      Imagine a Norkota State Bank of New Jersey. Or a Norkota State Bank of Michigan. Or indeed 50 separate Norkota State Banks in the 50 Separate States.

  4. Did Frontline really piss off the White House? I’d like to hear more about that!!! I will definitely be watching that – as soon as I’m caught up on my backlog of Breaking Bad (which among other things is a searing indictment of our “healthcare” system).

  5. Sometimes I have a little flicker of Hope(TM) but then I remember the baby-killing drone war crimes. Not much Obama will be able to do to redeem himself for that.

  6. PBS has got to have the slowest servers on the planet – and they must be streaming those videos from paper tape. I neglected to record Frontline this week (was out of town), and I just spent 3 hours “streaming” this 53 minute program.

  7. Here is a photocartoon about the relationship between Obama and the Republican-Catfood Democrat Coalition. This photocartoon also shows what the loyal Obamasheeple think of people who point that relationship out.

  8. Because this never gets old…

  9. Man, that was a disheartening piece. It’s commentary like this makes me pessimistic of the Left’s ability to actually accomplish anything. This piece dripped with the cynicism & glossy retrospective of a fringe observer. Now the author is obviously one who cares for liberal causes and I don’t doubt his/her passion for a better world. But to spend the time & effort to produce such a piece and neglect to mention any concrete/tangible platforms for action sheds light on the reason recent reforms (e.g. healthcare, etc.) so lack any progressive input.

    Yes, Obama came into office naive & his first them was frought with misguided action, but the issues keeping the liberal agenda from implementation are much greater than the policy choices of a Democrat president. Massive, unchecked corporate power, citizens united, gerrymandered districts, the anti-labor movement, and the electoral college all contribute to a nation-wide undermining of Progress. Don’t get me wrong, he does deserves plenty of blame for the current status of the liberal agenda. But to aim your ire at just the president makes for unproductive anger.

    • Oh, I don’t save my ire for *just* the president. I blame the entire Democratic party for this fiasco.
      BTW, you haven’t been here long enough to know me so I think you should go back and read the archives. I might be fringe but I’m not the fringe you think I am.
      And my fringe is growing.

      • If it would be that simple.

        The Shanghai Cooperation Council will fade away if US hegemony fades. China and Russia are competitors and partners at the same time.

        China has sealed a pact with the devil and it became the manufacturing center of the world by poisoning the environment. The Chinese population will pay a steep price for that tradeoff.

        And there are still 5,000 nuclear warheads in the US arsenal with some 20,000 on the shelf.

        The USA may over time lose the ability to command a quarter of the world’s energy supplies and a third of its natural resources and industrial product (with 4.6 percent of the population), but it is unlikely that if will be a smooth transition.

        Don’t forget climate change, resource depletion, mass extinction of species, and chemical as well as radiological contamination.

        The picture will radically change in the next decades and any imperial ambitions could become just a side note in humanities fight for survival on an increasingly hostile planet.

        • You are right about the issues that require urgent attention. But I would be very surprised if you and I agreed on all of the possible solutions. For example, I’m an FDR new deal style democrat, follow Krugman. But I also see a role for corporations provided all stakeholders benefit. I don’t approve of nuclear weapons but I’m not opposed to nuclear energy. I am in favor of partnerships between industry and government in the pharmaceutical industry. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with pharmaceuticals or GMO technology. I am in favor of ginormous investments in public infrastructure, public transportation and high speed Internet. I think obamacare was a stupid idea but I’m in favor of universal healthcare and healthcare policies based on best principles. Medicare for all is probably ideal and I’d be happy with tricare but if we ended up with a German or Swiss model, that would work for me too.

          • Sorry that I misplaced my first reply, it was directed at r u reddy.
            This here is the answer @ riverdaughter:

            You forgot gun culture, religion, specicism (our relation to fellow creatures), industrial agriculture and industrial food production as possible issues of discontent.

            I’m not against organizing a business in form of a corporation, if it is publicly owned. I’m not against nuclear energy if it can be operated and maintained by the local neighborhood committee and science finds a way to store the radioactive waste safely for 20,000 years. I’m not against large scale infrastructure projects if they are more beneficial than the collective outcome of many small local investments. I’m wary of GMOs, synthetic (especially chlororganic) compounds, emitters of electromagnetic radiation (especially cellphones), but to talk that out would need a protracted and probably exhausting discussion.

            Social, political, economic systems are a combination of compromises between the following ideals on sliding scales from left to right:

            The social paradigm

            Cooperation versus Competition
Equality versus inequality
Solidarity (pursuing the common good) versus individual ambition, egoism, greed

            Public property, the commons, nature versus private property (wealth) via inheritance and accumulation (by exploitation and deceit)
Co-ops, community-owned companies versus private businesses, corporations

            Exploitation of other species and nature versus harmonious integration into the natural environment

            The resulting ideals

            For the powerful:

            Social responsibility versus individual freedom
            For the powerless:

            Social protection (freedom from exploitation) versus enslavement, exploitation

            Laws, rules, regulations versus freedom and Social Darwinism (dog-eat-dog, cutthroat capitalism)

            Laws, rules, regulations versus mafia rituals and codes of conduct, lawlessness, anarchy, chaos

            Who establishes the rules:

            Local assemblies, democratic elections versus representatives (politicians), dictators, technocrats, ruling elites

            Who enforces the rules:

            Democratically installed courts (judiciary), versus autocratic decisions (decrees, dictates) and tribunals

            Law enforcement, neighborhood militias versus private security, private militias, private armies

            Social organization:
Direct democracy, meritocracy versus plutocracy, theocracy, dictatorship, feudalism, representative democracy

            Public (democratic) institutions versus private, religious, authoritarian institutions

            Public (democratic) institutions:

            Neighborhood committees, local councils

            (municipalities, towns, districts)

            Regional and state governments

            Judiciary, democratically controlled law enforcement

            Private religious, authoritarian institutions:

            Banks, insurance companies, NGOs, guilds, fraternities,
lobby groups, religious organizations, charities,
privatized services, private security (private armies)

            This is a work in progress and it will always be imperfect and fragmentary. I intend to create a graphic diagram which will of course also be imperfect because it would need a multidimensional presentation to display all cross dependencies.
            This could be integrated in a text that I started long ago and that I maybe (if ever) publish under the title: “US-Capitalism in a nutshell.”

    • Obama did not come into office naive. Obama came into office as a false-flag Republican in Democratic disguise. Obama came into office as a Judas Horse whose mission is to lead as many Democrats as possible into the Upper Class Corral. Next stop: horseburger.
      What is a “Judas Horse”? A “Judas Horse” is a trained horse tasked with mingling with wild horses who have been targeted for capture. It gains their confidence and heads into the corral with the wild horses following it into the corral. I would have offered a link but the link I once found has been removed.

    • Oh, and . . . I think you yourself are an undercover Republican operative, tasked with preserving our loyalty for your Judas Horse President. Why would I think that? What is the giveaway “tell”?

      It resides in this phrase of yours . . . ” the policy choices of a Democrat president” . . . “Democrat” president, Mr. Sydster? Members of the DemocratIC Party refer to their Party as the “DemocratIC” Party, and they refer to their elected officeholders
      as DemocratIC officeholders. So that would be “a DemocratIC president”, Mr. Sydster. Not “Democrat” president, Mr. Sydster. “Democrat” Party is how members of the Repuglan Party refer to the DemocratIC Party, Mr. Sydster.

  10. Sydster, your scolding has become tiresome. You may NOT touch my monkey. 😛


    • Well! You don’t seem to like us very much, do you? Well cheer up!
      We are declining and losing power by the year, even as Russia restores its internal cohesion and coherency and China goes from strength to strength. When China and Russia and their lesser Shanghai Cooperation Council Partners get fully organized and integrated, they will be the New Hegemon upon your continent. And the rising ChinaRussian SCO Hegemony may be a better hegemony to live under than the American hegemony you resent so much. Better hope so, because you will get to find out within your own lifetime.

      Aren’t you the lucky lad!

      • I wouldn’t count the Yoo Ess Ay out too quickly, folks. The Roman Empire showed its flaws early, but still took centuries to fall. Indeed, it lasted over a millennium, if you count the Byzantine successor state.

        • Several years ago AdBusters Magazine was good enough to publish a demurral to the general thrust of their message. That demurral from a detractor was titled My Plan For Peace. I bought that issue of the magazine and have it somewhere in my papers.

          I don’t remember a lot of the specifics but one thing did grab my memory so strongly I still remember it.

          “Cancel all foreign aid. Use the money to send every American to Charm School and Beauty School. Et Voila’ !
          No more Ugly Americans.”

          Hah! he he.

  11. I saw Big And Chiral back in 2007. They played on a triple bill with the Aromatic Ketones and the Frisky Perchlorates. :mrgreen:

  12. Riverdaughter and others might find this provisionally inspiring . . . a case in Switzerland of an “upper middle” or maybe a “lowest upper” turning against the “upper uppers”.

  13. […] October http://www.creators.com/opinion/david-sirota/in-defense-of-the-undecided-voter.html Related Stuff about the inaugural speech Brilliant, don’t miss the comments […]

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