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You’re so cute when your angry

James Buchanan

Gail Collins has an editorial in the NYTimes this morning about how those of us who see the Obama years as a colossal failure are wrong.  Apparently, there was some poll commissioned that revealed that many people think Obama is the worst president since WWII.  I personally don’t think this is true.  No, I think he might rank right up there with Buchanan. So, that predates the Civil War.  And the reason I think this is because under Obama, the plutocrats have gained so much ground that we average working people will have to replay the entire twentieth century to gain it back.

I’m getting pretty tired of hearing from serious and semi-serious people (I’m looking at you Paul Krugman), that those of us who desperately wanted a true Democrat in 2008 are now closet Republicans and racists because we aren’t sufficiently supportive of Obama’s many subtle “achievements”.  I guess you just have to be a poor schlub to really

Warren Harding, he’s so dreamy

understand what has been lost.  It does not help their cause when they tell us we have no right to be angry at the positively shitty job Obama has done since he was elected.  He’s made stupid excuses for his fecklessness ever since he took office and his chorus line has been saying “It’s not his fauuuuult.  He inherited all this crap from the Bushies!” since before the inauguration.  If he didn’t think he could handle the job, he shouldn’t have run.  He should have stepped aside for more qualified candidates.

The NYTimes also has a short article on internal and instrumental motivations.  It turns out that internal motivations, like liking what you are doing, having an interest in it and striving to be the best, are more important to success than instrumental motivations like fame, fortune and promotions.  In Obama, we see a perfect example of internal versus instrumental motivations.  He may have gotten the fame and renown, but as a president interested in using politics to govern well and carry out his vision, he sucks.

Please stop trying to tell us he’s not that bad.  He is.  The fact that we are even debating whether his legacy is in the same league as Warren Harding is telling and if the ACA gets cemented in place, there will be many future generations who will curse his name for hooking them up like cash cows to the insurance industry.

Thank god it will all be over by 2016 and we can look at the smoking ruins and start to rebuild.

Well, of course he’s going to meet with the suits

I’ve read posts by Charles Pierce, Digby and Atrios lamenting how Obama has decided to hold a “leadership” meeting with the big bank ceos who got us into this mess to discuss the details of the Grand Bargain.

It sounds a lot like crocodile tears.

Look, you guys KNEW when you were cheering for him (or cheering against Mitt Romney) last year that he kisses the bankers’ collective asses.

What I can’t understand is how it is that such a bunch of smart people could only see two possible options last year.  You didn’t even try to challenge Obama and put the fear of God into him.  So, stop your “shock!” and righteous indignation or pointless navel gazing about why the “culture of smartness” does what it does and cuts ordinary people out of directing their own fates. You’re either useful idiots doing the party’s work or you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.

There are always multiple solutions to the problem.  You need to think outside the box, possibly take the long view and stop being such whiny ass titty baby cowards about what is happening to your formerly safe spot in the Democratic party.

They moved your fucking cheese.  Get on with it.

O-care

Paul Krugman’s latest column is about the mess of our national health care system.  He makes a good point about how social insurance programs make us freer people, allowing us to change jobs and start new enterprises without the fear of economic catastrophe.  But I’m not sure the so-called “jahb creators” care about economic catastrophes that happen to ordinary people.  To them, the only thing that counts is success.

I’ve got to admire Paul’s sunny optimism about Obamacare but, frankly, I think it’s a pretty fricking bad piece of legislation that didn’t rein in health care costs, locked us into a decidedly UN-free marketplace  with zero competition, and was only achieved by throwing women’s right to an abortion under a bus.  So, you know, there’s that.  I don’t particularly like Obama’s method of getting universal healthcare.

It beats me why he didn’t take his own state of Hawaii as a model for healthcare where employers can choose from several tiers of coverage for their employees, from basic coverage to more swank.  Oh, wait, that sounds more like what Hillary proposed during the 90s.  You know, the system that everyone whined was too complicated?

At this point, I would take even a basic plan.  My COBRA coverage runs out at the end of this month. I can’t complain about my insurance provider, except for the outrageous premium, even with group rates.  The coverage was superb. That’s what my French company negotiated for us. But getting insurance on the open market is fairly terrifying.  I will be looking into CHIP programs for the kid.  It’s going to be an adventure.  Spending hours and days trying to justify my need after the decades I spent as a hard-working taxpayer is not how I want to spend my time.

But you already knew that

crocusesMy new house, and some other stuff, has been consuming all of my attention lately.  You really feel the price of gas when you have to make long and/or repetitive trips.  The good news is that work is getting done on the new house.  I was there last Saturday, the birds were a-chirpin’ and the crocuses were a-bloomin’ and from my front porch, I can see for miles and miles almost down to the Allegheny River.

Anyway.

I followed some links from this post at Corrente to a James K. Galbraith piece at a German site that spells it out for the terminally slow (or in this case, the Europeans) out there in case they didn’t pick up on it during the 2008 election.  Galbraith boils down my five years of panic and alarm ringing succinctly:

Obama is no progressive


The debt deal will make things clear. The President is not a progressive – he is not what Americans still call a “liberal.” He is a willful player in an epic drama of faux-politics, an operative for the money power, whose job is to neutralize the left with fear and distraction and then to pivot rightward and deliver a conservative result.

What Barack Obama got from the debt deal was exactly what his sponsors have wanted: a long-term lock-in of domestic spending cuts, and a path toward severe cuts in the core New Deal and Great Society insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And, of course, no tax increases at all.

To see the arc of political strategy, recall that from the beginning Obama handed economic policy to retainers recruited from the stables of Robert Rubin. From the beginning, he touted “fiscal responsibility” and played up the (economically non-existent) “problem” of the budget deficit. From the beginning his team sabotaged economic recovery with optimistic forecasts and inadequate programs – in the clear interest of protecting the banking system from reform.

[…]

For European observers, one key to understanding how such things can happen in America is to remember that our presidencies are short. The professors who joined Obama for his opening act have already gone home. The advisers who remain face dreary futures in think-tanks funded by the likes of Michael Milken, our premier financial ex-felon.

Maybe, if they are especially loyal to their true masters, then like the former budget director Peter Orszag they can go to work for a bank. This surely accounts in part for their present actions.

And the President too is a young man. Unlike say Lyndon B. Johnson or Jimmy Carter, when his term ends he won’t be able simply to go home. He’ll need a big house in a gated suburb, with high walls and rich friends. And a good income, too, from book deals and lecture fees. He may be thinking about that now.

The good news is: it won’t save him. For if and when he ventures out, for the rest of his life, the eyes of all those, whose hopes he once raised will follow him. The old, the poor, the jobless, the homeless: their eyes will follow him wherever he goes.

I think that last sentence is true.  Barack Obama will go down in history as the worst president we’ve ever had, a true Sheriff of Nottingham.  Not only that but I fear he has set back the progress that African Americans have made in the past 50 years.  How ironic is that?  He’s certainly done a number on women.  But don’t fret too much for him.  I’m sure his post-presidency money will make up for that.

In the comments of that Corrente post, I found a link to this CounterPunch article that shows how the faux progressive movement works.  Once again, the author has the benefit of five years to finally put the pieces together.  Some minds work faster than others, but because we documented it in real time, people didn’t take us seriously.  Either that or the progressive meme that we were racists scared decent people away- just as it was intended to do.  From the article, The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats, we get this nugget from Patrick Barrett at the University of Wisconsin:

“What gets lost in all this faux movement politics,” said Barrett,  “is any real challenge to the growing imbalance of social, political and economic power. Quite the contrary, the ultimate impact of their actions is to reproduce if not  aggravate that imbalance. What we’ve got here is a deeply symbiotic relationship between a pseudo-movement that derives its raison d’etre and financial vitality from a vilification of the right, which it has helped to create and without which it would have no reason for existence. Indeed, the more extreme the right becomes, the better it is for them, since they live off of fear-mongering. To oppose the right in a meaningful sense would put them out of business. That isn’t to say that there is nothing to be feared in the right or that some of these folks don’t think they’re fighting the good fight, but rather that the two work in tandem, much like a good-cop-bad-cop team. As the right becomes ever more extreme, this Democratic Party cum non-profit industrial complex moves further and further to the right itself, thereby giving the Republicans and their ilk ever greater leash and making it easier to frighten the “progressive” masses.”

Barrett concluded, “Lest anyone think that this is some kind of conspiracy theory, it’s important to emphasize that this is primarily a function of social and economic structures and political institutions that create a market for these sorts of pseudo-movement leaders, who will flourish if the conditions are right. That’s why we need to focus our attention on altering those conditions, something these people have little or no interest in doing.”

If anyone has spent the last five years wondering what happened to DailyKos, Josh Marshall and Digby, there’s your answer right there.  And if you’re wondering what happened to all the liberals in the Democratic party, well, we’re still in exile.

I’m voting for “they don’t know what they’re doing”

In case I wasn’t clear yesterday on why Obama is not a people person, allow me to explain by giving an example of how things have worked in the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to picking corporate CEOs.

Jeffrey Kindler was a Harvard educated lawyer who ran McDonald’s partner brands (Boston Market? Chipotle Grill?) before someone recruited him to be a chief council at Pfizer.  He worked his way up to CEO and continued the rampage of buying and merging that his predecessor started.  By 2010, the bloated behemoth that was Pfizer, and all that it had swallowed, had lost 35% of its stock value.  All of my former colleagues at Wyeth were laid off in one fell swoop in 2009 and only a handful were hired back.  That was 19,000 people at Wyeth alone.  It was brutal and indiscriminate.  There were dedicated and excellent scientists who lost their careers in the middle of the Great Recession.  They did nothing wrong.  They were simply in the wrong place when a former McDonald’s executive decided to perform a little exploitative profit mining by absorbing the Wyeth pipeline, but, ehhhh, not all the research people who, you know, did all the work.

The pharmaceutical industry is full of stories like that.  There are many executives who know next to nothing about the industry they are managing. Their minions have the idea that the research staff are like day laborers whose jobs can be broken down into a series of burger flipping tasks, taking all of the curiosity and spontaneity out of the experimental process in order to save money.  It’s short sighted, destructive and shows a profound lack of understanding of the scientific method. But that’s not why the big executives were recruited.  They were recruited to make the shareholders money and right now, monetary incentives are not in the area of investing in science and research, which can be expensive and unpredictable.  Incentives run towards “get rich quick” schemes and extraction of value.

The damage has been done to many pharmas but the extraction will continue to the point of no return because the executives who are running these businesses don’t really understand the nature of the companies they run.  But that’s not why they were hired.  If they were hired to run research organizations, it wouldn’t be done this way. And the people that are hired to be executives are really not that much different than the people who run Wall Street.  They have an academic pedigree. These people are snobs.  It’s like an aristocracy.  There’s a level of ass-kissing but probably not as much as you think.  It’s more cutthroat than that.  More dog-eat-dog.  It’s a lot less glad handing than back room deals and “strike first” maneuvers.  What’s missing in all of the power grabbing is good management.

This is the world that Barack Obama comes from or could fit into easily.  He’s got the right pedigree, the right degree of ruthlessness and he’s more interested in “winning” by striking the right deal than driven by well-crafted policy.  The fact that he was African American was just icing on the cake to his recruiter.  It made for good theater and it gave them a hefty cudgel of racism to bash anyone who dared to criticize him.

This is not a world that values good management.  Day to day management and good stewardship gets in the way of the power game and winning.  Just look at the way Obama’s administration is planning to roll out the PR offensive for 2014.  It’s going to be about issues the administration’s brain trusts think will distract the Republicans.  It’s not about jobs or the economy.  It’s going to be about gun control.  Granted, gun control is important but it’s not going to put food on the table or fix what ails the economy.  And it could be a giant miscalculation.  But mostly, it’s game playing that is disconnected from the boring tasks associated with serving the people and governing well.

This is what the MBA/bonus/corporate lawyer class has been up to.  Given the disaster that the pharmaceutical industry is in, with layoffs a constant feature, a permanently underemployed research sector, perpetual restructuring and concentration of projects in cancer and orphan drugs to the exclusion of almost everything else, I’d have to say that they don’t know what they are doing.    These are not very imaginative people.  They’re not creative.  They follow trends and do what all their friends do just like brainless lemmings and I don’t mean to offend lemmings. Once they get it into their heads to extract a wealth, they have to come up with an excuse for doing it.  Then they decorate that excuse with biz speak and hypnotic memes so that before long, everyone is repeating the same damn things without any clue what it all means.

They can’t be trusted with their own checkbooks much less running big organizations or branches of government.  And in this environment, where crafting deals behind closed doors is where the real work takes place, glad handling and cultivating political relationships is a tedious, boring process done for show.  Pretty soon, we won’t need politicians at all.

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

I found this while I was searching for more Tony Robinson’s documentaries on youtube.  This sums up 5 years of anger and frustration.  I couldn’t have said it better myself:

Obama not a people person

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama wants to screw us out of our Social Insurance accounts. Also, water is wet.

No shit, Digby.

Do you remember how you spent the last year of your life making a big f^&*ing deal about Mitt Romney’s hijinks in prep school?  How about how mean he was to the family dog?

And what did you do to make Obama feel uncomfortable?  Nothing.  That’s right.  You did nothing.  No, that’s not quite right.  You did WORSE than nothing because you wouldn’t even entertain challenging the party hierarchy.

So, now you’re mad that the dude is in the White House and he’s ready to cut the net out from under you after all those decades of Social Security, Medicare and surplus payments all we tail end babyboomers made “because we are too menny”.  NOW, you’re livid.

I hope you finally understand what has been pissing ME off since 2008 when it was perfectly clear that the Democrats were electing an MBA Bonus Class Corporate Ladder Climbing Stooge as a president.

There was no talking to you people but now, now that the actuality is upon you, now, you’re mad.  Not only are you mad but you actually seem surprised that they are using the sequester as an excuse to cut our social insurance policies.  It’s like they LIED to you and you didn’t even realize it.

Really, Digby?  Did you really not see this coming? At all??  I find that hard to believe but maybe it’s because I’ve actually worked in a ruthless, cutthroat corporate environment and I’ve seen that there’s nothing they won’t do to enhance shareholder value at your expense.  They’ll ruin their own brand and productivity just to make sure they have no obligation to you.  Obama reeks of that environment.

You carried his water and now he’s going to screw you and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it unless you get on the horn with your congressperson (count yourself lucky if you don’t live in a gerrymandered district like I do) and complain.  It’s got to be loud and vociferous and constant until he/she gets the point.

Then, you need to get the band back together on the left and stop looking down your noses at those of us who saw this coming five years ago.  There needs to be a solid voting bloc to push back against this either in Tea Party format or as a separate entity.

You can get mad or you can get even.

I’d get even.

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