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Barack Obama: The Vacillation of Now

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As I write this, it’s nearly midnight on Tuesday, November 3, 2009, the end of a day during which elections were held in several states around America (including New York, New Jersey and Virginia), largely for governors and mayors and other local officials, an off-year election – not to be confused with mid-term races held half-way through a President’s term and, as a rule, it’s senators and Congressional representatives whose careers are on the line.

In today’s elections, the Democrats won some, the Republicans won some, and the media and press pundits are already blathering about what it all means: was this a referendum on President Obama and is he winning or losing?, what does this posit for 2010 and 2012?, all the political horse race shit that has nothing to do with people’s real lives, and which, for decades, has pushed millions out of the arena of civic and political concern.

But tonight was also the debut of HBO’s new documentary, By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, about his historic campaign for the presidency and his election as the first African-American President in 2008. Although, I’m sad to say, it doesn’t tell us anything about him that we don’t already know, it is a well-crafted, important reminder of the sense of energy, faith, optimism, racial dignity, Liberal decency, and immeasurable enthusiasm that accompanied Obama’s campaign and its milestone victory.

With a combination of old-school, beat-the-bushes campaigning and an unprecedentedly sophisticated use of new and established media, Barack Obama succeeded in bringing millions of previously disenchanted, disinterested youth into the political fold, and he gave aging Lefties a sense of we-the-people-déjà vu that we had long ago stopped waiting for.

Of course, the campaign nearly exploded the heads of numerous Republicans, Conservatives, and Vehemently White Americans (you’ll notice I didn’t say racist, because heaven forbid that I or anyone should imply that race was an issue in the campaign and continues to be an issue in Mr. Obama’s presidency…). But Obama’s campaign battle cries: “Change You Can Believe In,” “Yes We Can,” “The Audacity of Hope,” “We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For” and, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., “The Urgency of Now,” drowned out the Doubting Bubbas, as well as the frightened, the reserved, the complacent. He won. And those of us who supported him believed that he and we would change the world. So how did we go from “hepped up and ready to go” to hemmed in and not doing much?

Before I say any more, I want to state that right up until Hillary Clinton conceded the Democratic nomination to Obama and gave him her full-throated support, she was my candidate. I didn’t adore her. She didn’t inspire me. I believed she was a true politician (with many of the negative implications that word often carries) who knew how to play with the Big Boys on their turf and give them a run for their money. I believed her balls were as big as theirs, and that her moxie, that “woman element” which set her apart from the pack, added the thrill of another kind of history-making election to what was an essentially pragmatic choice.

I didn’t want to believe in Barack Obama. I had had my political heart broken too many times already. I didn’t want to hope, didn’t want to join The Movement, didn’t want to drink the joy-laced kool aid. I felt I knew what I could expect from Hillary: competent governance, follow-through on a few core issues, a particular dedication to women’s rights, and the frequently-sage private counsel of her husband, the former President.


But it wasn’t to be.  Because a huge population of disparate people, many of them leading hard lives, believed they had found a man who could and would change the world – for the radically, differently better. And in the time between the Democratic Convention and Election Day, I found myself caught up in the hope and excitement. Even when the greedy cowards of Wall Street and the financial industry sent the country (and much of the world) tumbling down the economic rabbit hole, I kept faith with Obama.

He was cool. He was commanding. He seemed ready, willing and able to take on awesome problems that hadn’t even been on the table until the last days of the campaign. I thought he was trying to make peace with an intractable enemy and that this was a good thing. I thought he was getting a raw, hateful deal from the opposition. I thought the President was splendid during his first 100 days, and I still had hope. And I thought a lot of his problems were coming from the Democrats, who were (and still are) doing an unfortunately effective imitation of Monty Python’s "Ministry of Silly Walks."

But now it’s a year since the election and just a few months short of that since Obama took office. And while I like some of the things he’s said and done, I’m rocked and shocked by his overall performance and stunned that nobody around him seems to be reminding him that when you’ve got the power you should USE IT!

Former President Lyndon Johnson, who, it turns out, was one of the best, most innovative and truly socially-caring presidents of the 20th century along with FDR, was completely tainted by the Vietnam War, which basically killed Johnson’s Great Society along with hundreds of thousands of people. I fear Afghanistan can do the same thing to Obama – except that what Obama’s ultimate legacy will be is now a mondo question mark, because he’s not behaving like the Nouveau President we were sure he would be.

I know the Right genuinely believe he’s a Socialist, but to those of us who thought he would be a come-out-fighting Liberal, he’s behaving like a Centrist wimp. He’s made a mess of health care reform, allowing Congress to craft a sloppy 1,900-page bill that, among other things, betrays women, and which is not likely to provide the service and security we as a nation were promised. I don’t know what the hell he’s doing about the economy except giving aid and comfort to the enemy (Wall Street and the banks) while millions of ordinary people are losing jobs and homes faster than a middle-aged man shedding hair. He’s talked a good game to the LGBT community, but he hasn’t actually done squat.

Indeed, all of the messes and injustices and expenses that Bush left him have only been exacerbated; he can’t control his own party; and he’s spent immeasurable political capital trying to achieve bipartisanship with people who hate him at the expense of real change and genuine relief for the people who still love and support him, even though we’re deeply distraught, confused and disappointed.

As was said about the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz, who was revealed to be a fake, “he’s not a bad man, he’s just a very poor wizard.” Maybe Obama sincerely wanted the change he inspired us to believe in and just doesn’t know how to do it. Maybe he conned us. At this point, we can’t tell. Emotionally, I would prefer incompetence to deception, but only the future will tell.

Mr. President, my advice, my request, my heartfelt plea, is that you stop playing nice and start playing hardball. Use your power, throw your weight around, and force those fractious Dems to get in line. Be a great one-term President rather than a mediocre two-termer. Remember who your friends are. During the campaign, you told us it wasn’t about you, it was about us. Well, now it is about you. So, whataya gonna do about it? And when. Because we really are in the midst of the Urgency of Now.

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About Jeanne Browne

  • I didn’t like Obama. I had read about him in Jan. 2008 and realized that he was bad news. Really bad news. But as the months rolled on I realized that this bad news was the inevitable, and I sought to take advantage of it. So I supported this man. My support turned solid, when Sarah Palin, whom I had some hope in, uttered what for me was ananthema, the words, “two-state solution”. Those words mean homelessness for me and 300,000 other Israelis.

    Better a real enemy than a phony friend.

    I’m glad to see that you are finally waking up to this guy. That is good news.

  • Hindsight is so convenient isn’t? It’s like saying I knew back in 2007 that the stock market was going to crash as hard as it did, making me look like a great sage.

  • Ruvy & Jet — Alas, you remind me that no matter how clearly one tries to express an idea, people will read into it whatever they please. I am not “waking up” to Obama and hindsight isn’t even an issue. I’m expressing disappointment that things aren’t nearly shaping up as promised, asking why, and imploring our president to be as forceful and fresh as he was in the campaign. I’m not abandoning him, I’m voicing concern, and displeasure, as any citizen has the right to do. As for your comments, as the kids say: “Whatever…”

  • Whatever… Jeanne, Obama will not get better. You saw his “best”, as you phrase it, in those first 100 days. Those days are gone. The “big mo” is gone. Now he is just another politician with a stale drink of Kool-aid to serve you.

    Remember “Frosty the Snowman?” back 50 years ago when Jimmy Durante narrated the tale? The evil (and incompetent) magician lost his hat to Frosty. That’s what has happened here. An evil (and incompetent) magician has lost his hat – to History.

  • Arch Conservative

    “Emotionally, I would prefer incompetence to deception, but only the future will tell.”

    Wow those are sure two great choices Jeanne.

    What did you think would happen? Obama would give a few speeches from the magic teleprompter and suddenly everyone that opposed him prior to his election would capitulate to his every whim and desire?

    After years of the left comparing Bush to Hitler and blaming him for everything under the sun including Katrina you’re feelings are now hurt that some aren’t kissing Obama’s ass and rolling over so that he may have his way with the nation?

    You’re genuinely surprised that this media created political animal has neither the balls nor the brains to get anything done?

    In Nov 2009 you were niave Jeanne. A year later you’re just foolish.

    Go on beleiving in your false messiah. Those of us that hated him then hate him even more so now and there’s nothing in this world that would make us let up. This is as good as it’s ever going to get for Big Barry. If he can’t cope now it’ really going to get ugly after the midterm elections.

    It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that Barry is far too narcissistic and far to think skinned to ever become a good, let alone great president.

    When it’s all said and done Obama will have made Jimmy Carter look like Abraham Lincoln…..or at least Rutherford B. Hayes

  • Magic teleprompter, media created political animal, false messiah, Big Barry… in your rush (excuse the pun) to empty your phrase book how on earth did you forget moonbat?

    It astonishes me just how many ways you can use and rearrange those phrases in a comment without getting boring!

    Next you’ll be saying Obama isn’t your cup of tea?

  • Baronius

    Jeanne, what in the man’s past gave you the idea that he could succeed? Mind you, I think he’s going to accomplish some things that you’ll like over the next three years, maybe enough for you to consider him a success. But what I’m really getting to is what assumptions you made in supporting him.

    Despite what Jet says, a lot of us were 100% unimpressed with Obama from the start. (Ruvy’s opinion of Obama has been well-documented on this site.) I’ve never been able to figure out what was so inspiring about him. At the height of his popularity, I asked the question and could never make sense of the answer. So now, at what may be his nadir, I have to throw the question out again: what’s his appeal?

  • Clavos

    Tea isn’t my cup of tea…

  • Tea isn’t my cup of tea…

    haha 🙂

  • Now IMHO here’s something amazing. While working on some artwork this came over my headphones and I couldn’t believe it was written in 1970

    I changed only one word – record to CD

    Ball of Confusion As performed by The Temptations

    People movin’ out
    People movin’ in
    Why, because of the color of their skin
    Run, run, run, but you sho’ can’t hide
    An eye for an eye A tooth for a tooth
    Vote for me, and I’ll set you free
    Rap on brother, rap on

    Well, the only person talkin’
    ‘Bout love thy brother is the preacher
    And it seems,
    Nobody is interested in learnin’
    But the teacher

    Segregation, determination, demonstration,
    Integration, aggravation,
    Humiliation, obligation to our nation

    Ball of Confusion
    That’s what the world is today

    The sale of pills are at an all time high
    Young folks walk around with their heads in the sky
    Cities aflame in the summer time

    And, the beat goes on

    Air pollution, revolution, gun control,
    Sound of soul
    Shootin’ rockets to the moon
    Kids growin’ up too soon

    Politicians say more taxes will solve everything
    And the band played on

    So round ‘n’ round ‘n’ round we go
    Where the world’s headed, nobody knows

    Just a Ball of Confusion

    Oh yea, that’s what the wold is today

    Fear in the air, tension everywhere
    Unemployment rising fast,
    The Beatles’ new CD’s a gas

    And the only safe place to live is
    On an indian reservation

    And the band played on

    Eve of destruction, tax deduction
    City inspectors, bill collectors
    Mod clothes in demand,
    Population out of hand
    Suicide, too many bills, hippies movin’
    To the hills
    People all over the world, are shoutin’
    End the war
    And the band played on.

  • When I was a child and misbehaved, my mother would look at me sternly and say “I’m very displeased with you.” She didn’t stop loving me or liking me or believing in me; she was simply unhappy about something I’d done and let me know it.

    I hasten to add, for the benefit of those who take everything literally, that I am not pretending that the President is a child and I’m his parent. My article is more in keeping with something Bill Maher often says to his heavily pro-Obama studio audience: “He’s not your boyfriend, he’s the President, and it’s more important to be loyal to principles, rather than personalities.”

    I want to add, to the Obama-haters who’ve already commented here as well as those who may also add their two cents, that I have not gone from loving the President to hating him, or from supporting him to not supporting him. I am merely expressing my surprise and displeasure about some of his actions and non-actions. I’m asking him to do more, to do better, and to straighten up and fly LEFT.

    You don’t agree with me? You continue to hate Obama and hope for his failure at the expense of the best interest of the nation? You’d rather see us go down the toilet than ever concede that improvements could be made by Liberals? Go right ahead, that’s you’re prerogative.

    But don’t for a minute confuse my speaking truth to power with “seeing the light” and joining your point of view. As far as I’m concerned you’re a big part of our big problems and bring nothing to the table of solutions than your venom and ill will. And, as far as I can see, you don’t read, you just shout your unchanging opinion anytime you see a pro-Obama post. And, like a robot shorting-out, can’t comprehend the concept of someone supporting the President and criticizing him at the same time.

    It’s infuriating and discouraging. I’m very displeased…

  • Arch Conservative

    “You don’t agree with me? You continue to hate Obama and hope for his failure at the expense of the best interest of the nation?”

    That’s not the way I see it Jeanne. To my way of thinking…..what’s bad for Obama and his agenda is good for the nation. I don’t see socialized medicine and as much government control over our lives as a good thing.

  • zingzing

    the government controls your life, archie? how, exactly? the only way the government really gets to me is through public transportation. i really never feel any gov’t control. ever. life doesn’t change when one politician or party goes out and another comes in.

    it’s very strange that right wingers feel so controlled all the time. they’ve never really bothered to explain it, because i doubt they have any clue what they’re talking about.

  • Mark

    i really never feel any gov’t control. ever.

    …a pleasant delusion

  • zingzing

    well. then how is the government controlling your life?

    i really want to know. if i’m being controlled, i’d like to know how.

  • Mark

    Simple example — I have to pay the gov’t for permission to practice my trade.

  • Mark

    Slightly more complex example — the gov’t dictates how I interact with my customers by putting me in the position of tax collector.

  • zingzing

    everyone has to pay the government to practice their trade. it’s called income tax for most people. and people have bitched about taxes for 4,000 years. but that’s not really “control” though, is it? if you don’t like it, do something else.

  • Mark

    Quite true. Each of us will die alone. No one is the boss of me.

  • zingzing

    so i guess that was the best you could do to illustrate the national terror that is government control… taxation… one of the facts of life…

  • Baronius

    Jeanne, I hope my question didn’t offend you. I’m just trying to understand. According to your article, you thought that Clinton was the best chance for the implementation of your principles. In Obama, you saw the potential for something more than that, so much more you dared not hope for it. So let’s start there.

    What made you think that Obama would be able to implement your principles? And what was the “more” you saw in him? (I’m trying to ask fair, non-leading questions.)

  • Mark

    Zing, you can identify gov’t ‘control’ in education, social security, defense, etc. that impact us and the ways that we interact individually and collectively. Other ‘controlling’ factors can be specified — religion and capitalist relations of production for examples.

    You are propounding a naive individualism.

  • zingzing

    i’m no longer in school, i’m not on social security–i’ll probably never see it, the way things are going–and i have yet to see an impact of the military upon my life, i’m not religious and capitalism impacts me the same as it always has, no matter who or what party is in office.

    that said, i am of draft age, and did have some fear of being thrust into a stupid war when bush was in office and coming up with new wars every year or two.

    but it must be said that i, as an individual, have rarely felt any influence over my life from the federal government. local issues hold far more sway, but still, those are pretty few and far between. my biggest grudge with the government, at any level, was when kings county (brooklyn) decided they were going to reopen a community pool as a pool, rather than as the staging ground for free concerts as it had been. that pissed me off.

    the federal gov’t just doesn’t affect me that much, one way or another. so, yes, i can pretty well say that it is me who is in control of my life, not the government. i don’t blame them when things go wrong, and i don’t expect them to make my life better in any measurable way.

    of course, that could change, i’ll admit.

  • how is the govt controlling your life????

    zing you are kidding me right?

    *do you pay taxes? sales tax, income tax?

    *you cannot have a job without a social security card

    *you can’t have a pet (used to be dog, now cats in some places) without a license and some pets are arbitrarily not allowed based on someone else’s opinions about how things should be–so if you have 1 acre you can have a horse but if you have .97 acres you cannot.

    *you cannot legally sleep anywhere if you don’t own or rent property–in Key West (for one place) but, you can’t really do it anyplace unless you hide or else you are loitering (tent homes have been taken down by govts)

    *you cannot have any business without a govt filing

    *you cannot inhabit any building anywhere without a C.O. (you or someone else got this permission)

    *you cannot build anything on or modify your property without permission from the govt and if they allow you everything must conform to what someone else decides–even if it is safe. you cannot have a pool, a shed, etc without permission.

    *you cannot use your property the way you see fit. you must conform to zoning regulations, so you cannot have people dropping by to get a massage or have you do their bookkeeping without breaking the law.

    i was forced to pay to cement up my old lower flowing well, which was safe because i built a new well.

    i illegally vented my gas water heater according to the older code as the newer code would have cost me thousands of dollars more. the gas company approved the safety of the installation (which conformed to the previous codes).

    and like what mark said, i not only have to pay if i want a massage ‘permission slip’ to do what i do, but when i go to florida, they don’t just accept a nj permission slip (even if i did get one) so i would have to pay a school there to rubber stamp my education and be on probation to practice something i am trained for.

    *how you express yourself in a public place is controlled:

    example (a) – two people were recently arrested for simple 30 second banner drops–one banner said ‘afghanistan’ the other said ‘enough’–they were handcuffed and taken to jail for this!

    example (b) – you have no right to peaceful protest, you can and will be bullied, or attacked with teargas, sound cannons, horse-trampling, shoving, arrests by police at their discretion–no prosecutors will hold the police accountable

    example (c) – you can’t draw with chalk on a sidewalk or you can be arrested for defacing property

    example (d) – you may not loiter anywhere. so if you do not own or rent property you really have no right to be anywhere

    *you must have a certificate saying you were born or you died

    *you may or may not be able to get married depending on who or where you are

    *you must attend school

    *you can have your children taken away from you because of what you believe in (hope you don’t get caught smoking pot as a parent, best stick to drinking) alternately, if you die or are arrested, the govt will intervene in your family matters and may take the family children away from relatives who are not seen as having any rights over the govt

    *smoking marijuana is illegal, making your own alcohol may be illegal (don’t forget all those other drugs)

    *selling your own home baked goods, wine, beer, etc is illegal

    *you can gamble when and where the govt says so–meaning you can gamble if the govt makes a lot of money (big casinos or lotteries)

    *you had better have govt issued id of some kind

    *you cannot take more than 10k out of the country without permission

    *you cannot transact more than 10k in/out of a bank account in cash without reporting it to the govt

    *the govt will tell you where you can and cannot go, whether you can photograph or film.

    *the govt may decide you are a terrorist and search and seize your property for exercising your freedom of speech

    *god help you if you are a kid in school–you are a govt prisoner subject to the whims of some pretty fucked up authority addicts

    this libertarian makes a lot of good points in a piece called: Libertarianism 101: Who owns you?

    okay, i’ll stop, not because i can’t go on though…

    and the band played on…

  • so i guess that was the best you could do to illustrate the national terror that is government control… taxation… one of the facts of life…

    protesters are being labeled as terrorists…but i guess if they stayed home and watched cartoons the govt wouldn’t bother them either.

  • zingzing

    cindy, somehow, i’ve avoided most of the things you speak of. other than being born, i suppose. and carrying an id.

    and i’ve been to several protests and haven’t been labeled a terrorist. or been bothered in any way by the cops. that said, i was in a lovely riot in london about 10 years ago and had to run from the cops there. that was fun.

    a friend of mine did get arrested the other day for defacing property… but… you know… he was putting up graffiti all over brooklyn, so he had it coming, i suppose. he accepts it as a hazard. and really, if you owned that property, you’d be pissed. the things we do for art. (all that said, he did a painting of a friend of mine on what happened to be the front door of a gay bar, and while the bar took down almost all the other graffiti around, they left my friend’s face on their door…)

    i guess that maybe i’ve escaped government control, other than little things that really don’t matter to me. maybe i’m lucky. maybe you are making mountains out of molehills.

    and yes, there are lots of things that i (might) do that are illegal. but… i went jaywalking with a cop the other day. he went, so i went. i wouldn’t normally jaywalk right in front of a cop, but i’m starting to get over it. and you can’t legally lay out in the grass at the park with a bigass beer, but you can if you don’t act a fool or shove it in a cop’s face.

    it’s all a matter of degrees. i’m sure that if i lived a vastly different life, the federal government might have more to say. but i pretty well exist under their radar.

    like i said, local government has a FAR larger impact on my life.

  • zingzing

    “but i guess if they stayed home and watched cartoons the govt wouldn’t bother them either.”

    nice. wrong side of the bed this morning?

  • Mark

    like i said, local government has a FAR larger impact on my life.

    …didn’t realize that we were drawing this distinction. I’ll argue that it’s all the same shit.

  • zingzing

    heh. well, i already told you what my largest gripe with the local gov’t is. bastards. they did eventually move the concerts over to the waterfront, but that’s a state park. so… they had to set up a 21+ area, but it was way over to the left side of the stage, so the sound was all distorted. there was no real way to enjoy 1) live music and 2) beer at the same time. that is a travesty. it was much better at the pool. that said, the view of manhattan was pretty cool at the waterfront.

    i do suppose that, in a way, government is government. but if rightwingers want to say that the leftwing fed gov’t is trying to control their lives, i call bs. if they are, you’re letting them. or making it all up.

  • Mark

    I’m more interested in focusing on the way that ‘government is government’, as you say, than on the Con’s propagandistic partisan poofery, I guess.

  • zing,

    not at all…i wasn’t being completely sarcastic (i didn’t even feel mad, just being impactful, probably another bad idea i had)…but you have to understand i’m a bit shocked at hearing this from you. and it gets to me because sometimes i see too much of it. so, i’m just saying that if you aren’t involved then you aren’t affected (or effected…i never get that right). but i would expect that you would see that. just because you are not personally starving you wouldn’t say it isn’t a problem, would you?

    no i’m not making mountains out of molehills. aside from other things, i think maybe you don’t realize the extent that bush changed things with the patriot act (obama’s kept it too).

    you do realize that all of london is on camera complete surveillance–how long do you think it will be before every more is under watch here too? “The LAPD has just released a new Orwellian commercial for iWatch, a program that encourages residents to spy on each other and report any ‘suspicious behavior’ (whatever that means) to the authorities, who we’re assured will sort everything out.” at least watch the iwatch ad video itself if you don’t read that story.

    the police have been militarized, they are being equipped with military weapons. if you do not follow this then you cannot be aware of it. i can give you 42 more videos (of actual events, not suppositions) or you can follow me around on twitter and facebook and you’ll see that i’m not pulling things out of the air or exaggerating. in fact i’m understating. but you’d have to follow me to see that i deal with just these issues every day. in fact there are so many that i cannot attend to them all. if you don’t do the same, do you think it’s possible you might be missing something? do you think things might have changed since you were active?

    two twitterers were just arrested in PA, because they posted the location of the police which they got from the police scanner on twitter to aid the G20 PA protesters. aiding a riot, from the computer! the charges are dropped now, with PA saying they think it would be unwise to forge ahead. one former innocent prisoner is a social worker…they took all his protected files about his clients. a judge decided that they can look through the evidence. the search wasn’t illegal just because the charges seem to be based on free speech violations. so, the evidence??? now that they have not been charged with a crime…why is there evidence??? the govt will do whatever the hell it wants or can get away with.

    Mentally ill Chasse died from internal injuries in 2006 while in police custody. [H]e suffered 16 broken ribs, a punctured lung and at least 19 blows to the head from police officers who claimed he was urinating in the street. After 3 years all but 1 officer is cleared of wrong doing.

    three men, acquitted of all charges, are shown here being gang kicked by police. a jury (indoctrinated by the govt to think it protects them from what the govt actually creates) decided this was part of their training and was okay for police to crowd around potential suspects and repeatedly kick them while they lie on the ground. look at this video.

    protesters at the RNC were arrested as terrorists BEFORE they did anything. my guess is that the law will change to make the twitter activism illegal first, they do not want to test the case as they will lose. once they make a new law that covers it, then it’ll be easier to take away speech.

    i am not making mountains out of molehills. i couldn’t possibly catalog let alone write effectively about what i see every day.

    and i find it hard to believe that you would say just because you are not affected personally that govt control is okay. what if you had no children and other people’s children were being drafted? would you say the govt doesn’t control you?

    if you say that zing, i’ll love you anyhow, but i thought you were past that particular bit of indoctrination.

    so, i forgot a couple big ones. the govt has started wars, built torture chambers and engaged in torture in your name; it is locking up immigrants who it allowed in and who built lives and became good community members–it is raiding them in the night and dragging them to prison in front of their children–because the Fed will give the state gov money…they are now budget items–this is done with your taxes. does that affect* you personally–that you are paying murderers and torturers and psychopaths?

    *effect? clav help! maybe you can tell me the difference–though, be warned–others have tried.

  • Liberals are never satisfied. Ever.

    Not that this is a bad thing.

    The stimulus bill [which did pass] and healthcare reform and climate change laws [which will probably pass in some form], to name three, are all centrist compromises, crafted to reassure nervous moderate Democrats from red-state districts.

    Yet they have all been wildly caricatured by the Dick Armey/Glenn Beck crowd as radical power grabs by the federal government.

    While liberals moan and groan: “Not enough, too timid, we’re all doomed.” Paul Krugman’s latest piece along these lines ran this morning.

    The problem is that some independent voters, having heard the Armey/Beck distortions repeated ad nauseam, are starting to believe they’re true.

    But I think Obama’s moderate, pragmatic, left-centrist approach is the only sane way to go. He’s just got to sell it better.

  • zingzing

    cindy, governments do bad shit, etc, i understand. i’m not condoning the things they do whatsoever. obviously, i’m against many things the government has done in the past. but the point is that in my personal life, the government doesn’t change it one way or another. strictly speaking ME, nothing else. that’s all i’m talking about. it’s very narcissistic, i know, but whatever.

    the idea is more that rightwingers bitch and moan about the government controlling their lives when it’s simply not true, excepting some extreme cases, i guess. they worry about fascist takeover and death camps and killing grandma and all that junk, but they really can’t point to any one specific symptom of the things they describe. it’s just a bunch of malarkey.

    that’s all i’m trying to point out. i’ve said as much in the past, and until/unless something changes, i’ll have to honestly say the same again, i’m sure.

    just to use one of your points… “the govt has started wars, built torture chambers and engaged in torture in your name; it is locking up immigrants who it allowed in and who built lives and became good community members–it is raiding them in the night and dragging them to prison in front of their children–because the Fed will give the state gov money…they are now budget items–this is done with your taxes. does that affect* you personally–that you are paying murderers and torturers and psychopaths?”

    honestly, no. does it upset me? sure. i don’t want those things happening. but, in view of the argument i’m trying to make, i don’t know those people, i haven’t seen a bit of this war or the torture going on, and i didn’t see where my money went. it’s easy to go about my daily life without for one second thinking about it. (understand the angle i’m coming from when i say that.)

    you know where i stand politically. but this isn’t really about politics. politics is a game that rich white men play, and they’re terrible at it. our foreign policy has been terrible. but my life? it’s good.

  • this is a generalization, but, here goes: the right-wingers, it seems to me, often claim they have a problem with govt control. but where i sit, mostly they seem to approve of it. they just like everything to be the way they want it. they only seem to disapprove a whole bunch when they have to outlay cash or when govt fails to control people exactly the way they want them controlled.

    they generally support police, imprisonment, wars, military, school indoctrination programs, law, often torture, always property theft. some of them then claim they are about liberty, pffft…

  • Baronius #21 — What I came to see in Obama was courage, vision, genuineness, straight-yet-eloquent talk, and, as in the 60s, a non-jaded determination to transform “the system” and make it work for people, instead of institutions of power. I saw leadership and decency and, as a biracial person myself, I saw in him that unique capacity to see and understand people & issues on both sides of the racial divide that comes from being a person with a foot in both worlds. I saw hope and a call to action.

    What I didn’t see was bullshit and phony patriotism and playing to the lowest common denominator of fear and stupidity among the citizenry.

    I also saw someone who hadn’t lived a life of economic and social privilege and therefore didn’t have a “let them eat cake” indifference to the real lives and real troubles of real people.

    I reclaimed my old willingness to hope that things really could change for the better and that we might at last have a President who would sincerely work for that change and involve us in the effort. And I saw him inspire and motivate people, young and old, who previously had no interest, yet alone faith, in the political process. I saw a combination of MLKing-style wisdom and Capraesque optimism.

    In Hillary, I saw the ability to more than hold her own in the old-style smoke-filled-back-rooms of politics, but with Obama, I let myself believe we at last had someone who would break down the doors to those rooms and fling open the windows for light and air. I never thought he was a miracle-worker or a saint, but I did think he was a true agent for progressive change.

    Now, I’m not sure what to think, because I hear him often saying the right new things, but doing the same old things — and I don’t know if I’m being impatient/unrealistic, or he doesn’t know how to do what he said he wanted to and would do, or if we the people have once again been duped by a sweet-talking politician.

    That was the whole point of the article: to ask what’s happened to the vision, the urgency, the fire? I understand that the economic collapse created new problems and limitations, but still… So, I am disappointed and confused, but remain hopeful that what I saw was real and true and ultimately will out.

    I hope that answers your question, which I did not find offensive. The only thing I find offensive is drooling vitriol. Conservativism I dislike and disagree with; hatefulness I…hate.

  • Handyguy #32 — Thank you. I’d still prefer something a bit more Left-leaning in the President’s policies, but I appreciate your take on the situation and that you clearly both read and understood the points I tried to make in my article. I don’t mind when people disagree with me (I’m used to that…); what I find troubling is the sense that someone isn’t hearing what I’m saying, but is instead just listening to the voice inside their own head. Disagreement is healthy; deaf-eared polarization is useless and potentially dangerous.

  • Baronius

    Jeanne, let me just take the first two traits you mention, courage and vision. Now, I’m not calling President Obama a coward, but I can’t think of a single act of courage of his. School, law school, low-pressure jobs, state legislature, the Chicago machine, those are all safe decisions. He made a couple of big political gambles since 2004, but nothing that would have cost him any prestige if he failed. As for vision, there’s nothing he articulated that strays from the standard liberal Democratic platform. There wasn’t much difference between him and Clinton, except that he took a stronger anti-war position.

  • zingzing

    “Now, I’m not calling President Obama a coward, but I can’t think of a single act of courage of his.”

    going out in public with 30 death threats PER DAY hanging over his head.

  • Baronius

    Zing, I should have written “Barack Obama” instead of “President Obama”, because I was referring to the candidate who so inspired Jeanne. However, I felt the need to convey respect and used his current title.

  • Arch Conservative

    “Liberals are never satisfied. Ever.”

    That’s not true handy. I have witnessed with my own eyes, countless times, liberals who were completely satisfied at the opportunity to blame someone else for their problems or receive something that someone else had paid for/provided.
    “Now, I’m not calling President Obama a coward, but I can’t think of a single act of courage of his.”

    going out in public with 30 death threats PER DAY hanging over his head.”

    That’s more reflective of his narcissisim than his courage.

    That’s why he has to get his mug on TV every five seconds.

  • zingzing

    baronius, he’s still the same person.

    archie: “That’s more reflective of his narcissisim than his courage.”

    every president is a narcissist. what kind of an ego does it take want the job?

    “That’s why he has to get his mug on TV every five seconds.”

    again. he’s the president. the president is often on television.

    and as a liberal, i can tell you that i have been satisfied before. your mother
    and i think you should go to summer camp.

  • Baronius et al — I won’t debate my opinions about Obama point-by-point. But I will say that this thread reminds me of the Ronald Reagan phenomenon. Millions of Americans were drawn to him, including millions of long-time Democrats. They called him the Great Communicator. They believed he was the cowboy-spirt of America at long last brought to office. They loved and revered him, and many still do.

    I, on the other hand, just didn’t see it, get it, feel it. I thought he was…well, let’s just maintain the nice civil tone we’ve got going now and suffice it to say I deeply disliked him and still do.

    Moral of this story: politico sympatico, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Baronius

    Jeanne, I know, I get it. It’s just that…I don’t get it. 🙂

    At least they didn’t call you a racist for it.

  • Baronius, No, they called me an aging hippie and a communist. 😉 And don’t forget, what we liberals think is: not everyone who opposes Obama is a racist, but, everyone who is [truly] a racist opposes Obama. We really do know the difference.

  • zingzing

    jeanne, you are a socialist, a communist and a fascist.

    baronius, you are a racist.

    welcome to modern politics.

  • Zinnnnnnnng? You forgot to call me a whining hysterics-laden fag… I’m hurt!

  • zingzing

    don’t make me church you, jet. god knows god will god your godding god god and god you to god god godding god! god! if you step on foot in this godding place, i’ll god you so god you godding will god god god it! talk to me when you stop godding god god gods. god god. god. god! go god some other god!

  • zingzing


  • zingzing — LOL…I’m also a witch, bitch, and uppity-big-mouth-broad…and you’re a scream. I sure hope the humor was intentional…

  • zingzing

    of course it was. always tis, tis always tis. tissing.

  • zingzing — I like your style; how very Gertrude Stein of you!

  • zingzing

    there are three r’s, three r’s, three r’s: repetition, repetition, repetition.

    it’s all mark e. smith.

    gertrude could sit on me and tell me to get her a drink.

  • Robin Williams once said that if you look up redundant in the dictionary, it says “see redundant”

  • Arch Conservative

    “Baronius, No, they called me an aging hippie and a communist. ”

    Well then Jeanne, you probably shouldn’t have spit on all those soldiers when the were returning from Vietnam.

    Oh and I feel the same way you felt about Reagan about Obama. Obama is so bad that he gives me a newfound appreciation for Bill Clinton. If Barack Obama’s presidency were a rock band it would be Nickleback…(oh yeah I went there)

  • Baronius

    “everyone who is [truly] a racist opposes Obama”


  • Arch C — I’m proud to say that during the anti-Vietnam War period, I NEVER spit on a soldier, called soldiers babykillers, or called cops pigs. I felt that was wrong then and I still do. Then as now, not everyone, Left or Right, felt it was necessary to be rude, abusive, or paint everyone on the opposite side with a broad brush. And BTW, I KNOW you feel about Obama the way I felt/feel about Reagan; that was my point: I understand how it feels to see millions of people go ga-ga over a President that you personally think is a radical danger. I don’t mind telling you: you sure do live up to your user-name, and you consistently do it in a very ugly way. I wonder if you’d make the same intensity of nasty comments if you were using your real name (as I am) and if your user-name were attached to links for your own writer’s bio or personal blog. I take it you don’t actually write anything or go public, you just save your energy to take nasty swipes at those who attempt to express themselves in a civil manner. How very…conservative of you!

  • Baronius — You know of racists who SUPPORT Obama?? Now that’s what I call LIBERAL!

    I can understand why you feel insulted at being called a racist simply because you haven’t jumped on the Obama bandwagon; that’s inaccurate, unfair, and an example of the Left being just as uncivil as the Right.

    But if you can’t see that in a country where racial prejudice is still a reality that some people balk at Obama largely because he’s a black man in the White House, then I suggest you are unrealistic, unobservant…or just white, and therefore don’t get it about the nature of racism, period.

    Of course, this is all conjecture, since, like Arch Conservative, you stay “hidden” and I have no way of learning more about you through the links you don’t provide.

  • Arch Conservative

    I don’t mind telling you: you sure do live up to your user-name, and you consistently do it in a very ugly way.”

    Well Jeane you have been very civil in yur dealings on this site with those who disagree with you. That cannot be denied. However you must remember that even though I am no great admirer of our last president, I have had had to listen to unhinged loony moonbat liberals compare be as uncivil and ugly as they possible could to him and anyone who opposed their ultra left wing views. So I think I’m entitled to to repay the favor in kin. Since you’ve been so respectful I will refrain from grouping you in with the aforementioned moonbats. Although I will most likely find it difficult as I’m immediately suspicious of anyone who claims to have seen courage and vision in Barry H. Obama, a man I see as nothing more than a media created hack with dreams of turning this nation into some idealized moonbat socialist utopia at the expense of personal freedom and individuality.

  • Arch — You’re correct about the Left’s treatment of GWBush; even I, I must admit, said awful, insulting things about him on my personal blog because I was beyond appalled by everything he said and did. I felt and spoke the same way about Sarah Palin. But such venomous speech is not my approved expression of choice, and now, having seen/heard the Right’s reaction to Obama, I regret indulging my outrage about Bush in a boorish way. It certainly didn’t help matters then, anymore than it’s helping matters now.

    I find it ironic that your concern is for the protection of personal freedom and individuality, since that’s my concern too — but we obviously differ greatly in what we view as the dangers to personal freedom and individuality.

    However, it’s encouraging that despite our polar opposition, our central core concerns and desires are the same. Perhaps that should give all of us, Left and Right, an incentive to recognize the values we DO share, and try, in a civil way, to find a route to the protection of those liberties we all care about.

    Needless to say, I wish Obama actually WAS working to create a socialist utopia; I see him moving in quite the opposite direction, but that’s just another example of our different interpretations of the same facts.

    But let me offer this example of where Left and Right could and should be in accord right now. I think we can all agree that the 1,900-page health care reform bill is a monstrosity. I don’t know what the hell it promises or mandates or advocates: who does? Who can get through 1,900 pages? And how can a massive, sloppy piece of work like that be implemented or enforced?

    I don’t know what the average length of a legislative bill is, but as I’ve said before (I don’t think on Blogcritics, I can’t recall), the writer/editor in me knows that a decent, comprehensive bill should be able to be written in 100 pages (200 tops, but I still think that’s too long), preceded by a 20-page Executive Summary that anyone and everyone can read and understand.

    I THINK everyone agrees that there’s something wrong with the high cost of American health care and health insurance, as well as poor implementation of health services. If, at the start, there could have been basic, bipartisan agreement on those essential facts, and if the Republicans/Conservatives had cooperated in the crafting of a rational bill of sensible length, we might be in a very different place now.

    I’m not an optimist by nature. Indeed, in my heart-of-hearts, what I really believe is that all this political hoopla we’re going through amounts to re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I think we’re screwed (as a nation and a planet) whether we go Left or Right.

    But, corny as it sounds, the picture might actually seem brighter if we could all calm down and work together. Is that really impossible? Because if it is, we’re doomed for sure.

  • Jeanne,

    Please don’t take this the wrong way. You are doomed for sure. Not because you and others have differences of opinion – but rather because your government is broke. When that fact becomes unavoidable, it will get very ugly in your country. And frankly, even if Obama were a saint, which he most certainly is not, he still couldn’t pull you out of the toilet your country is in.

    That is the real problem you face. This minor disillusionment, or call to action, or whatever you prefer to call this article, is the least of your problems.

  • … god will god your godding god god and god you to god god godding god! god! if you step on foot in this godding place, i’ll god you so god you godding will god god god it! talk to me when you stop godding god god gods. god god. god. god! go god some other god!…

    What happened to Buddha, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh and Ronald, Zing?

    I THINK everyone agrees that there’s something wrong with the high cost of American health care and health insurance, as well as poor implementation of health services.

    Even in a capitalist society there are things that should NOT be for profit and that starts with health care. The best hospitalization I ever received were back in the days when the Catholic Church operated hospitals. When the tithes stopped rolling in, the capitalists paid the Church big bucks only to end up in the hands of the victims of pastoral pedophilia.

  • Could you imagine us wiping out the national debt instantly by continuing the break small local churches get and taxing the prophet/profits of the multi-million dollar mega-church corporations?

  • Ruvy, Silas and Jet — Thanks very much for these much-needed reality checks.

    I believe wholeheartedly that health care should not be a profit-making business, which is why I think the U.S. should have some form of [gasp!] UNIVERSAL SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!

    I also think we could solve a good deal of our financial disaster if indeed we ended certain kinds of church tax breaks.

    But we would benefit more substantially (financially and otherwise) if we faced the reality of adult behavior and LEGALIZED, MONITORED/CONTROLLED AND TAXED both marijuana and prostitution.

    Legalizing and taxing marijuana would make it harder for kids to get their hands on it (just as it takes quite a bit of effort and ingenuity for them to get their hands on legally sold and taxed booze). And legalizing/taxing prostitution would not only be socially profitable and healthier for both hookers and their customers, it would put a real dent in child prostitution.

    Both new laws would give government the teeth, funds, focus and manpower to tackle truly dangerous hard drugs and the exploitative subculture of prostitution.

    In addition, if we got fully out of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as removed our military from parts of Europe and Asia where they’ve been since before the end of WWII, we’d save a whole lot of money, which would be better spent on mental/physical/therapeutic health care, housing, and education for veterans and their families.

    Last but not least, businesses who employ Americans right here at home should get substantial tax breaks and other benefits, while those who outsource jobs to cheap labor beyond our borders should be taxed and punished to the hilt. This would not only get America working again, it would lessen the exploitation of foreign workers (including child labor).

    If we as a nation were willing to tackle some of our most vexing problems in grown-up, radical ways, our situation would be very different and we might not necessarily be doomed. But the likelihood of any of this being done, ever, let alone anytime soon, is virtually non-existent.

    So yeah, we’re screwed.

  • I agree about legalization of marijuana and prostitution. I also believe that we should take the dollars we spend on the war on pot and invest them in a war on opium focused on Afghanistan. By legalizing pot we neutralize the Mexican pot cartels. By investing in fighting opium growth in Afghanistan we cut off plenty of cash going to the Taliban among others. Billions have been spent fighting a silly little weed while opium has been left unfettered thereby making Afghan war lords rich and Russians richer.

    The problem is that those on the far right just don’t understand that regulation is preferred over prohibition. And the best argument I can make is what happened during our own years of Prohibition.

  • Agreed, Silas, on all counts.

  • Baronius

    Jeanne – You’d sign off on tax breaks for big corporations?

  • Baronius — Yes, I have no problem with big companies being rewarded with tax breaks so long as they employ Americans on American shores and treat them fairly regarding wages and benefits. My problem is with American companies outsourcing jobs, to the point that we manufacture practically nothing in this country, and, with companies that hire illegals and pay them sweatshop wages, or that punish loyal legal employees with unwarranted layoffs and/or decreases in wages/benefits because their greedy stockholders believe profits should go up every quarter, year after year no matter what, and consider stability a failure. I’m not against business, I’m against exploitation and greed.

  • As (perhaps) a final comment, to come full circle back to my article, I’m filled with outrage and hopelessness today, because the Dems in Congress managed to squeak through their bloated health care reform bill, but, ONCE AGAIN, so-called progress was made at the expense of women’s health and rights. If the President is taking pleasure in this “victory,” I’m speechless. As both a leader and the father of two young girls, he’s permitted his party to make dangerous compromises on the backs of women, especially poor women. How could you allow this?! Are we now to believe the Senate will make it right? I’m not holding my breath. Will the President speak out against this outrage? Yeah, when pigs fly. As the bumper-sticker says: “If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one.” But what about those of us with different beliefs? Why do we continue to be hog-tied by the pseudo-religious Right/self-righteous? Too many women already have limited access to contraception; now we’ll have even less access to abortion? Now the insurance companies can have something else they won’t cover? Now more doctors from coast to coast will be even more reticent about providing abortions? This is just more puritanical punishment of women for daring to be sexual beings. All you folks who commented earlier on this post about how you don’t personally feel the impact of government control in your life: what the hell do you call this?! Mr. Obama, you’re failing the nation and you’re contributing to the decreasing rights of women. Thanks for worse-than-nothing!

  • You’re right Obama is failing the nation but not for the reasons you give, Jeanne. I watched the documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama produced by Edward Norton last night. It’s a fair and balanced look at Barack Obama and his family. Until last night I really never experienced any real emotion coming from him. I thought of him as rather reserved, hyper-intelligent and lacking passion. I felt that way through most of the film until a speech he gave in North Carolina on Nov 3, 3008. I won’t get into the dynamics of the speech except to say that I came away from it realizing that here is a man who has the weight of many worlds upon him. He’s the first “Black” President. He’s got the weight of decades of slavery and the Civil War upon him. He has to prove to “White” America that a Black man can be President. He inherited a colossal mess which we perceive as a result of the Dubya Presidency. Some of it is, but a good portion of this entire disaster has its roots in the Clinton, Bush I and Reagan Administrations. Like it or not, the last President we had who was genuinely honest with us was James Earl Carter. And like it or not, I’m beginning to think that President Obama should get Carter into the Oval Office and take his queues accordingly. If this nation survives another century I think historians will be far kinder to the forty-tird President than we. And that kindness can only be manifest if we start having truth in education. No revisionist history, just plain cold, hard facts. That’s the least we can do for the next generations.

  • That’s Nov 3, 2008. I guess I’m obsessed with the future and the fact that I won’t be here to see it.

  • Clavos

    Cindy #24:


    Well done!

    [A little belated, I know]

  • Clavos

    health care should not be a profit-making business

    Good. Let’s start by limiting physician remuneration to no more than $100K a year, making medical school tuition-free, and limiting malpractice awards, attorney compensation for them, and obligating losers of lawsuits to pay all costs.

  • Clavos, I am in FULL agreement except for the $100K part. I’d allow more depending upon patient load. But this is not only about physicians. Nurses are the catalyst between patient and doctor. They carry double the load and get crap for pay. I know were it not for the nurses I have had over the years I would be dead today. They’re the most disenfranchised within the medical profession and no one seems to give a damn.

    I gave a eulogy a couple of weeks ago for a lady I’ve known most of my life. She was a nurse who worked in pediatrics and emergency room. While I was giving the eulogy, I crumbled up my paper and talked from the heart. I spoke about the thousands of lives which had been touched by her in 30+ years of nursing. I asked everyone present to just think of the impact this one woman had on so many lives. She comforted sick children, reassured grieving parents and provided the information critical to helping a physician make an informed diagnosis. On that day we put her in the ground I argued that thousands of people were alive and somehow their lives made better by this one individual. Ironically, this woman was a Mayflower descendant. So, were it not for the Mayflower and its’ passengers’ desire for religious freedom, she may not have been born here. Isn’t that what it’s all about in the end? In the entire scheme of things if we took a second to really appreciate how one person and their works can affect so many we could achieve such great things. We need to look at our past and grow from it thereby securing a promising future for those who come after.

  • STM

    Yeah, Clav, I agree with all that too. But let ’em earn a bit more. $200k for non-specialists, and no limit on specialists, as long as they’re truthful about their before-tax earnings.

    It should be non-profit in terms of the industry generally, but doctors actually treating patients and those engaged in life-saving medical research should expect to earn a wage commensurate with their skills.

  • zingzing

    clavos #71–look at #34 when you say that.

  • Clavos

    Sorry, Silas and Stan, but I think the docs do need to be limited, too.

    During the past few years, when I was employing up to a dozen docs at a time for my wife, I found out a couple of interesting things, the chief one being that already, most primary care physicians in this country rarely earn more than $150-175K, while some specialists go as high as $500K +. Such a disparity will inevitably result (and to a degree already is) in far more neurosurgeons than we need, and not enough PCPs.

    So, I’ll say that maybe $100K is too little, but I definitely think the gap should be narrowed and a cap of no more than $200K should be imposed on all, irrespective of specialty.

    The only problem with that idea is its constitutionality…:-)

  • OK, I might go along with that. However, I do think we need to take a serious look at nurses and the money they earn.

  • Clavos

    I completely agree with you, Silas, although here in SOFLA, where we have a shortage of nurses, supply and demand results not only in fairly decent salaries, but multi-thousand-dollar sign-up bonuses, as well.

    I’m still in favor of boosting their salaries, however, so we can demand and attract higher quality people; down here, many of them leave a lot to be desired (I know from experience).

  • I have to say I’m grateful for the nurses I had in the hospital a few weeks ago. They were absolutely amazing from the E.R. staff to the folks on my floor. I always make a point of thanking every nurse and this time I had a Nurse’s Aide assigned to me who was so amazing that I wrote the Chairman of the Board of the hospital about him. This kid is planning on becoming a nurse and I’ll tell you, Clav, if this is typical of kids fresh out of college I am hopeful. We need to remember that the population is aging and we’re going to need all the nurses we can get.