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May 29, 2010

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of course the people who are disappointed in Obama are not all small-govt conservatives.

but i guess it's more fun to just pretend disappointed liberals are just delusional or expect too much. more jokes that way. don't have to acknowledge the political effects of having a detached non-leader at the helm while all of these things are going on. hell, leadership itself is a myth. all the great so-called leaders of history: mere passive facilitators. nobody was ever inspired by a speech. mere words. so what if polling shows Obama's supporters are disappointed in him six months before an election? it's not like the leader of the party has any influence. so what if congressmen are asking Obama to stay away? pshaw.

no, we need more calm, detached, un-inspiring non-leadership.

you people are giggling past the polling place.

Why anyone takes Noonan even remotely seriously is utterly beyond me. She has demonstrated time and again that she has neither a modicum of decency nor good faith.

"Hitler AND Stalin"

Well, you forgot Osama Bin Laden, Chamberlain, whichever Black Panther gives us the willys, and for Cleek's sake, Jimmy Carter.

African witch doctor, Step N Fetch It, Pol Pot, Jane Fonda, Abby Hoffman, Goebbels, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar, Brutus, Hamlet, Mephistopheles, Pangloss, Jane Eyre, Famous Amos, Amos and Andy, Leopold Bloom, Al Jardine, Santa Anna, Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln, Beelzebub, Marion Berry, Mao-Tse-Tung, Ho Chi Minh, Wilt Chamberlain, Moe Lane, Alex Keaton, Oz, Sachel Paige, and Cantinflas.

President Obama is a like a hailstone -- he's never the size of himself.

Poor America. Reality has failed us again.

Poor disappointed us.

If Obama holds BP accountable for the cleanup, stops or slows other drilling until safeguards are in place, and quietly cleans up the captured regulatory department, I will consider him a great leader on this issue. There have been signs of progress in all three of these areas, but the actions take some time.

In the meantime, drilling and leasing have been curtailed and the head of the regulatory department has resigned. Real progress to my thinking. I seriously doubt that BP will be required, or even able, to pay the damages, but that remains to be seen.

What else do we want from him? Rhetoric? Wetsuits? War on beaches?

I'm assuming this thread is more about Obama's response to the BP screw up and not really about Peggy Noonan. The later isn't worth discussing.

What else do we want from him?

i wanted rhetoric, 5 weeks ago. i wanted him to take control and not let BP drive, 5 weeks ago. i wanted to know that he wasn't going to sit back and let BP dodge and bob and weave and duck and parry, 5 weeks ago.

because, it seemed obvious that BP was going to try to cheap its way out of doing everything it can. and they have. but no. Mr Patient Facilitator is all about letting other people do what they're gonna do, while he sighs and accepts whatever it is they come up with.

YMMV

How, exactly, would he "take control"? Realistically, do you think he could get away with nationalizing BP? Really? Rhetoric five weeks ago, OK, but to what effect? Letting a major corporation bob and weave ( and duck, parry, dodge, limbo, whatever)? That's also not really under his control. How does he "not let" them do what they always do?

I would love to have a true liberal leader, too, but be realistic. Can you describe anything short of nationalizing BP that would accomplish what you are asking?

@ cleek

Most times I agree with you.
But this: i wanted him to take control and not let BP drive, 5 weeks ago. has no real-world meaning.

Was he going to send the National Guard a mile down in the gulf? Send the nuclear sub fleet from Groton to do... what, exactly? Rent or appropriate oil-well-leak-stopping equipment that hasn't been invented yet? Nationalize Red Adair's company, which only works on land?

Yes, I suppose he and Michelle could have visited the Gulf states an extra time or two, gone up in the chopper and looked all concerned, or gotten all "we're not going to stand for this" on BP's ass once or twice more. To what purpose and effect?

All of the real actions he could have taken are pretty much retrospective, hopefully to prevent another disaster like this. And he has taken them.

You surely remember how we got all over Saint Ronnie for his "empty symbolic gesture of the week" campaigns. Obama is not that, never has been, and I think never will be.

He is playing the hand he was dealt. Just because *you* buy the idiot meme that there is something else he could have done [which, by the way, surprises me a great, great deal], doesn't make it so.

Thullen, as always, is exactly right. And funny besides.

Hey Eric!!

Don't you think it may be about time to add "Obama" to the spell-checker? I hate the little red squiggles under his name.

@ John Thullen

This: African witch doctor, Step N Fetch It, Pol Pot, Jane Fonda, Abby Hoffman, Goebbels, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar, Brutus, Hamlet, Mephistopheles, Pangloss, Jane Eyre, Famous Amos, Amos and Andy, Leopold Bloom, Al Jardine, Santa Anna, Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln, Beelzebub, Marion Berry, Mao-Tse-Tung, Ho Chi Minh, Wilt Chamberlain, Moe Lane, Alex Keaton, Oz, Sachel Paige, and Cantinflas. is even more brilliant than usual.

"but i guess it's more fun to just pretend disappointed liberals are just delusional or expect too much."

Who's pretending? Disappointed liberals ARE delusional and expect too much.

I can guarantee cleek that it's not at all fun to watch the disloyalty and lack of support from the left for someone who's done about all he could do, given the constraints of our political system, to try to mitigate the disaster of the previous 8 years. It's sickening, in fact.

Don't you think it may be about time to add "Obama" to the spell-checker? I hate the little red squiggles under his name.

Alas, the spell checker is part of your web browser and has nothing to do with Obsidian Wings. The next time you see it, try putting the cursor on Obama and right click your mouse. In the resulting menu, select "add to dictionary" or somesuch and it should not bother you in the future.

Unfortunately, he is all too often “in sync with the center,” by which I mean the Washington centrists’ center, and that means accommodation and support for entrenched and powerful interests. It is largely because of his instinct to accommodate that he finds himself in this mess.

Or, to put it more pithily, he's Bill Clinton 2.0. Which anyone paying the slightest attention could have figured out before he was even elected.

And Thullen is, of course, brilliant, but I'm deducting points for his leaving out Al Sharpton, Che Guevara, and Mumia. Attention must be paid.

Malcolm X also. Too.

What we really need is President Aquaman.

Noonan isn't an incoherent ideologue. She's a partisan party-loyalist. Just like several people who exasperate me, Eric Martin.

The exasperating thing with certain kinds of loyalists is that they don't always care if they're right, and they often cannot be persuaded even if they see they are wrong, which vision is rare.

Oh, and by the way, Obama didn't spill the oil, and tankers can spill quite a lot, also. Just ask Exxon.

The libertarians, by the way, say the whole incident proves their point, since it shows how industries invariably capture their regulators when the public isn't watching. And the public is rarely watching.

And if the oil wells were socialized, there wouldn't be accidents, right? (Chernobyl).

A comment I just left at the 'Katrina' thread is even more relevant here.

The uneasiness and dissatisfaction with the Obama administration's response to the disaster among liberals, left-wingers, and Democrats has too often been mischaracterized as a desire for the federal government to take charge of the actual effort to stop the oil and gas spewing from the leak site(s). That's not what most of us want, and it's not what making us cringe (or seethe, depending on temperament).

David Waldman [aka Kagro X] had an excellent corrective to that mischaracterization in a front-page post at Daily Kos that went under-noticed due to being put up on Friday evening of a holiday weekend. It remains true and deserves wider distribution. An excerpt:

What’s killing the White House image here is the notion that BP is able to use its money, power and influence in Louisiana to walk all over ordinary Americans and the government in dealing with a disaster of their own creation. That’s what stings the most. And there’s a real opportunity for the White House to grab the reins here and stake out territory where it really can assert leadership, and that’s in putting an end to this feudal-style nonsense that’s going on down there. Transparency in this situation has no enemies worth noting, and the reported extent of corporate usurpation of governmental powers is a shocking embarrassment.

President Obama doesn’t need to come up with some magic trick for stopping the leak himself. He needs to put an end to the perception that the ridiculous shenanigans that appear to be surrounding the disaster are in any way acceptable or will be allowed to continue.


For those unwilling to follow the link, Waldman is referring to things like BP stopping planes from taking off because they contain members of the press, the FAA's complete closure at the Coast Guard's request of the airspace below 3000 feet over a huge area -- the spill-plus, etc. I'm not going to get into an argument about any of these specifics now or later -- I'm off to the drive-in to make sno-cones. (Veterans admitted free this weekend.)

But I'm with cleek most of the way: the message Obama and company have sent from day one until yesterday was one of passivity -- or worse, complicity. They let BP establish the absurdly lowball flow rate from the time of the explosion until just yesterday. They continued to allow dozens of exemptions for drilling after saying there'd been a halt. They did next to nothing to clean up MMS until this week (and Obama appeared not to have known about the firing of the director even at his press conference).

Worst of all is the over-arching political and policy gaffe with which the debacle began, the gratuitous and idiotic decision to back expanded offshore drilling. The inner WH circle yet again chose a hippie-punching and winger-pleasing move over sound policy backed by a big majority of their own base (not to mention the activist base that is necessary to hold ground in the fall elections).

It blew up in their faces, and they compounded the damage by apparent passivity for the first two weeks of the disaster. I was delusional, all right, sapient: I never believed a Democratic president would trash his own electoral base so completely in so short a time. Impressive, and clarifying.

Good luck mobilizing 18-28 y.o. voters this fall!

"do you think he could get away with nationalizing BP?"

Not unless we capture England, and abolish their legal system -- it's a British Corporation. And as a multinational, it does exploration and production in Angola, Azerbaijan, Canada, Egypt, the Russian Federation, Trinidad and Tobago, Norway, the United Kingdom, the Asia Pacific, Latin America, North Africa, and the Middle East, etc etc etc -- so it's going to take a lot of international legal wrangling to nationalize those interests as well. In other words -- not!

And personally I'm not at all 'disappointed' in O'Bama -- he's turned out to be exactly the kind of blah blah president I predicted he would be - that's 'blah' as in blather, as well as 'blah' in boringly annoying: I bet if they could trace the number of TV watchers who hit the mute button when he's on air nowadays it would be astronomic.

During the last presidential primary season we warned all you dizzy-with-adulation O'Barry Obsidian Wing-nuts you were making a mistake backing him and abandoning Hillary...
Now you got the kinda prez you deserve -- lotsa talk and little effective action. You better get used to it -- it takes more than a valedictorian's vocabulary to make a nation work -- you got what you voted for: President Persiflage...


Are we blessed with a return of Jay Jerome?! Dare I hope?

@J.J.

You make the case that he can't do what Cleek (and the other critics here) want him to do and blame it on his great vocabulary?

Consider the alternative. WWJMcD?

What’s killing the White House image here is the notion that BP is able to use its money, power and influence in Louisiana to walk all over ordinary Americans and the government in dealing with a disaster of their own creation.

Right the f*** on. Thank you.

you got what you voted for: President Persiflage

After eight years of President "I Wish I Was A Real Cowboy" and Vice President Darth Freaking Vader, and with the available alternative having been President Aneurysm and Vice President "I Shoot Wolves From Helicopters", President Persiflage will do quite nicely, thank you very much.

So let me understand this correctly - the failure of the Republican policy of blindly trusting industry coupled with "starving the beast" and thus denying government the resources needed to be prepared for such situations shows a failure of leadership for Obama?

I realize that the Republican party is an intellectually and morality-impaired collection of pathological liars - but Peggy Noonan's position is unusually repulsive.

Nell,

Waldman's points are well taken, but I doubt that the attitudes illustrated by the anecdotes he refers to were immediately obvious to Obama, or whether Obama's first instinct should have been to manage the "image". Obama has admitted mistakes. And let's face it - at the beginning, when there might have been some hope that the disaster could be contained, it probably didn't seem to be in the public interest to present a worst case scenario, to cause people to cancel their vacation plans to the region, etc. Obviously, transparency is always good, etc., except that the more complicated a situation is, the less reliable the journalism. (Speaking of which, I'd like to hear more from journalists about what ideas independent scientists have about how to stop the leak, and what clean-up efforts are feasible. Rather than dwelling on what Obama should be doing to manage the "image", they might be discussing what should be done differently to manage the problem.)

"the gratuitous and idiotic decision to back expanded offshore drilling'

Obama's position on off-shore drilling was, no doubt, a concession he was willing to make in order to get the rest of his energy legislation passed (a policy that promotes building alternative energy sources and weaning ourselves from fossil fuels). And like most other people before this disaster, he probably didn't fully understand the risks. But more importantly, he can't just decree progressivism - he has to deal with Lindsay Graham, Joe Lieberman, Jim Webb, etc. Besides, what do you suggest we do between now and the time we can rely on wind or solar power? Some of us manage to live off the grid, but not many - we still need oil, although some of us are hoping to build a different future. How soon do you think we can eliminate our need for oil, and where do you suggest we get it in the meantime?

"Good luck mobilizing 18-28 y.o. voters this fall!"

Well, maybe now that your thoughts have been "clarified" you won't be helping out with mobilizing voters for your Democratic candidates. Good luck with Teaparty Tim as your local Congressional Representative!

I already have a Teaparty Tim as my local Congressional Representative, and no amount of voter mobilizing on my part will change that. I'm also done with electoral work for a good while.

But in districts more winnable than mine, it's just crazy to kill base enthusiasm the way Obama and his administration have done. Environment, climate change, and energy are galvanizing issues for the young voters who worked so hard last time and turned out in such critical numbers.

Obama's energy policy includes support for mythical "clean coal" and new nuclear plants. Backing expanded offshore drilling made it a trifecta, with the Deepwater Horizon debacle a gushing exclamation mark.

He's a trimmer and deal-cutter, not any kind of real change agent. He won't seriously challenge our financial, oil, or military overlords (and that's putting it generously; on financial, war, detention, and torture issues he's actively moving their agenda.

Nell, I didn't hear the part about what you suggest we do for energy until truly clean renewable energy is plentiful enough to take the place of what we've got, or how our society will survive and who will pay the price of getting there. (And, yes, I believe in curtailing individual energy use, but where's your suggestion on how we enforce that? Remember when Jimmy Carter suggested that people wear a sweater? What an insult that seemed to have been!)

Unfortunately, as with health care, a full scale revolution isn't going to happen (unless it happens through the "peak oil" scenario). Incremental steps is all we've got, and the least we can do is take them. But the purity trolls would rather rant and see Bush/Cheney illuminati be elected, more deregulation, rather than support pragmatic Democrats who trim and make deals to get something modest but meaningful done.

You cite editorialists who, like you, are unwilling to state facts, analyze the challenges behind the problems they cite, or say what doable alternatives exist. If you truly believe that there's such a thing as "financial, oil and military overlords," you might consider what a monumental challenge it is to thwart those interests. It's unlikely that you'll ever do that though, because it's a lot harder than holding people to a standard of unattainable (and unelectable) purity - especially when you don't have to solve any of those problems yourself.

Waiting for Godot.

but i guess it's more fun to just pretend disappointed liberals are just delusional or expect too much.

I don't understand this statement. Larison is clearly not doing that, nor am I.

His point, rather, is that Obama is not a leftist, but suggests disappointment from the left is legitimate - and that part of his problem is his centrism, and that's also part of the problem the GOP has criticizing him on these issues.

@Sapient,

Fortunately, full scale revolutions do indeed happen, your claim notwithstanding. The danger is that the captive activist base of the Democratic Party may finally be deflated to the point where they simply throw in the towel on "incremental change". The political implications are electoral defeat. Yet for some reason it is always the Left that is asked to "take one for the team". In theory, you would think our progressive president would "throw a bone" to those who support would appear necessary to implement minimalist incremental change.

Further, when it comes to the ongoing "war on terrorism" to condone the policies of the Obama administration (indefinite incarceration, state sanctioned assassination, endless war, etc.) is simply unacceptable.

P.S., David Bromwich has a good essay on this topic in the May 13 edition of the London Review of Books.

I can guarantee cleek that it's not at all fun to watch the disloyalty and lack of support from the left

bah

i've consistently defended Obama against attacks from the right and from the left. i gave him the benefit of the doubt on his approach to health care reform, his decision to "go forward" instead of going after BushCo, his adopt-and-extend approach to BushCo's wars and detention policies, etc. but i'm not going to cover for him here, and it would be silly to even try - the country clearly sees how limp and confused and pathetic his response has been to the oilcano.

"loyalty" ?

loyalty is earned.

you got what you voted for: President Persiflage

After eight years of President "I Wish I Was A Real Cowboy" and Vice President Darth Freaking Vader, and with the available alternative having been President Aneurysm and Vice President "I Shoot Wolves From Helicopters", President Persiflage will do quite nicely, thank you very much.

I suppose we will go through at least four years where every criticism is answered by "he is better than the last(or the alternative)". And certainly he is both better and worse, because "whatever he is?" is a perfectly reasonable question.

Left to their own imaginations, or political expedience, he becomes all of those things because no one is sure "what he is", because he is simply all things to all people. In an election year full of hope that plays well, in practice it just doesn't work as well.

cleek at least is willing to address how he is doing, not in contrast to anyone else.

Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly "Here's an idea for assignment editors: publish a piece with specific steps federal officials should take but haven't. Because at this point, unless we can fix the leak with useless media palaver, there's not much point to the breathless speculation, nebulous criticism, and finger-pointing."

bobbyp: Full-scale revolutions do happen; it's true. They're not always "fortunate".

The libertarians, by the way, say the whole incident proves their point, since it shows how industries invariably capture their regulators when the public isn't watching. And the public is rarely watching.

That response is incoherent- the purpose of regulatory capture in this case is to allow the industries to proceed as they would like to. This is the exact effect of the deregulation proposed by libertarians as well.
There is no way to paint a picture of this disaster that does not implicate the profit motive of BP in not using effective safeguards against a spill. Unless there were regulations *preventing* them from doing so.

And if the oil wells were socialized, there wouldn't be accidents, right? (Chernobyl).

Socialism and effective regulation are orthagonal discussions.

the country clearly sees how limp and confused and pathetic his response has been to the oilcano.

I for one am &%$*ing tired of hearing repeated whines about how Obama needs to do more on the rheorical front. Oyster Tea's 1:38pm comment highlighted several actual responses that we should expect (and push for). But all this desire for rhetoric, 5 weeks ago, for fighting the notion that BP is able to use its money, power and influence in Louisiana to walk all over ordinary Americans, or the perception that the ridiculous shenanigans that appear to be surrounding the disaster are in any way acceptable, that the message Obama and company have sent from day one until yesterday was one of passivity -- or worse, complicity and how limp and confused and pathetic his response has been.

Go find an MP3 of FDR someplace, curl up, and listen to it. There are real solutions, and there is hand-holding, and I know which one Id prefer the President concentrate on. And, apparently, which one other people would prefer.

He's a trimmer and deal-cutter, not any kind of real change agent.

In some fantasy world he can just make a clear case for something like health care and it becomes law somehow; in reality, he's got to get 60 Senators to go along. In fantasy land, it makes sense to view the centrist endpoint as Obama's choice, but again, in reality that centrist endpoint is a product of negotiations between the Senate and the WH (and the House).
I feel bad for anyone who imagined that Obama had a superhero costume tucked away someplace and would don it as soon as he stepped into the WH. Also, there is no &%*#ing Santa Claus.

Could one of the whining crowd grace us with a list of specific technical or organizational things that the administration should have done post-disaster to mitigate or stop the leak? Or are *all* of the suggested improvements variations on "he should've drawn horns and a funny moustache on the BP CEO's picture and posted it on his Facebook page"?

@ Carleton Wu

Thanks

for me, it's not about specific technical fixes - i don't doubt that the relevant expertise here comes from the oil companies. no, it's about letting the public know that the US Federal Government is on our side, and is looking out for our interests, and is happy to completely disregard any of BP's concerns which may be related to BP's bottom line. we already know BP was misleading and evasive about the magnitude of the leak. we know they're willing to scrimp on safety. we know they're interfering with journalists. we have good reason to distrust BP, so we shouldn't be letting them run the show, except in situations where their specific technical skills require it.

see, nothing about Facebook, or scuba suits, or aquaman.

Was he going to send the National Guard a mile down in the gulf? Send the nuclear sub fleet from Groton to do... what, exactly? Rent or appropriate oil-well-leak-stopping equipment that hasn't been invented yet? Nationalize Red Adair's company, which only works on land?

i've never suggested anything like that. my position has always been that BP has the relevant technical skills, but that we should not allow them to run the overall effort because they have clear conflicts-of-interest. and yet, oddly, every time i say this, i get responses like yours, which accuse me of wanting Obama to take over the operation, top to bottom. it's almost like people would rather attack a weaker argument than the one i'm actually making. odd, that.

cleek at least is willing to address how he is doing, not in contrast to anyone else.

Hey, my bad, I wandered off into tu quoque land.

IMO the President Persiflage criticism is reasonable. Obama says a lot of stuff is gonna happen that doesn't.

Also IMO some of that is him articulating a real goal then running up against the reality of making it happen, and some of it is garden variety political bullshitting.

I agree with cleek, IMO Obama would have done well to take a stronger position early on. And I most definitely agree with Nell and/or Kagro X, the stronger position I would have liked to see him take would have been championing the broad range of public interests that are at stake in the Gulf as against the relatively narrow interests of BP.

My guess is that he didn't do so because he doesn't see the situation in those terms. I wish that wasn't so. I don't find it disappointing, because I didn't and don't really expect different from Obama. I just wish it wasn't so.

Most of the stuff he said last week sounded fine to me, but I will wait and see how much of it actually pans out.

Hope that reply suits you better.

But, Cleek, the junk shot and the top kill failed.

The same relevant technical skills of junk shot and top kill that would have failed if BP was working under Obama's and the Federal government's direct supervision.

The only difference is that Obama instead of BP would have has to announce the failure.

Then what?

Well, if I was him, I'd then say to the engineering brain trust standing beside me, "Gimme that fu*king wrench" and then I'd dive head first off the side of the ship, find the Octopus' Garden, and live there happy as a clam.

Or are *all* of the suggested improvements variations on "he should've drawn horns and a funny moustache on the BP CEO's picture and posted it on his Facebook page"?

I'll offer my desired improvement. I'm a lefty, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt.

Private corporations make huge amounts of money by doing things that involve large downside risks or costs, and then shifting those risks or costs to the public sector.

I'd like that to freaking stop.

I don't expect leadership on that front from Obama, because as far as I can tell he doesn't see that as a significant structural problem in our current economic, legal, and social arrangement. He is at most mildly liberal, which means he will prefer to leave things as they are and take remedial steps around the edges to keep the damage to a dull roar.

You shouldn't be allowed to drill oil wells a mile down in the floor of the sea unless you have demonstrated that you can deal with whatever problems come up. Because if you can't it will cost *a lot of other people* their health, or livelihoods, or lives.

To me, this does not seem like a crazy idea, or an outrageous or unreasonable demand.

loyalty is earned."

Well, then we're fu*ked, aren't we?

That's going to be a tough road to hoe against the reptilian, anti-American, zombie Republican Party wherein loyalty and fealty are either pledged eternally from birth to death and completely ..... or bought, whichever method appeals most at the moment to the lowest Redstate end of the cracker Bell Curve, Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, the Taliban, and al Qaeda.

"This is what's at stake this fall. Forget policy. It's this: endless hearings and investigations until they find something that gets the public worked up, or until the public just cries uncle and says oh okay we're sick of hearing you crazy people, if it'll shut you up, just impeach the bastard already."

Michael Tomasky via Steve Benen.

That Obama has united the Tea Party and the Investment Bankers, two mortal enemies, the first of whom would be murdering the second in any other insane but less ridiculous country, and the latter of whom would be successfully loading the first's retirement accounts and savings accounts with bad paper right up until the populist machetes split their skulls, tells me that Obama has done something right, nothing right, or everything right, if anyone can cobble together an opinion from the sorry dog's dinner the Nation's discourse (transmitted by the vile traditional and internet media for the entertainment of our spleens) has become.

So that Jay Jerome doesn't feel ignored as he snickers into his flat beer, Hillary Clinton would have a made a decent President too (I'd like a 500-word essay by the end of today from Jay on all of the things she would have done better or differently or more effectively over the past 18 months, and for good measure, throw in the exact date that the oil leak would have been stopped by Hillary), but come next Fall as the enemies of my country retake power, she'd be impeached too, probably for allowing Bill Clinton to deliver a late night love pizza to the Oval Office.

BP just told us the "top kill and the junk shot" failed. Now they'll try the "overhand reverse optional head fake to draw the oil to the surface of the Gulf and siphon it directly into my gas tank" (which is O.K., and I kid, since I bought a used car that came from New Orleans after Katrina that already had Gulf saltwater in the gas tank and oil sump, so things even out in the end in America, where product will be sold no matter what by our fellow liar-neighbors.)

Parenthetically, I love how the American public learns the jargon (like an incantational drone to put us to sleep) of whatever catastrophe besets us (Iraqi War weaponry specs, levee construction in New Orleans, and now we sit in bars with Sarah Death Palin and sound like Schlumberger engineers just back from wild-catting, -- "what they oughta do, is they oughta go in there and ....))

If Obama had mounted the bully pulpit two or three weeks ago and tore a few new ones among the assorted actors in this mess and demanded that BP, Schlumberger, MMS, Department of Energy, Red Adair, the entire cast of "There Will Be Blood", Newt Gingrich's technobabblefascisthorseshitglibtalking entourage, and every superhero, including Oilslick Man and Junkshot Girl would be given every private and public resource and expertise in the world to do the top kill and the junk shot NOW .... well, he'd look pretty stupid and ineffectual now, wouldn't he?

He's have to speak on T.V. tonight and say: "Well folks, we poked a hole in the bottom of the ocean and I don't know how to fix it, despite the best efforts of our best people, public and private, who I'm going to fire and replace with the faux-Schlumberger engineers and political geniuses climbing over each other for last-call in the bars of America right now, as soon as I kick Bobby Jindal in the nuts and give him a 40-weight shampoo while he's doubled-over in the oily States-rights marshes of Louisiana, but make no mistake, I have failed."

"So kill me now, because I'm probably going to be impeached next January over the outrage of letting my daughter crack open the door to the White House master bathroom to ask impertinent questions while I'm shaving in my boxer shorts."

russell says:

"Obama says a lot of stuff is gonna happen that doesn't." Like what? Some kind of a quote of what he said that won't happen would be appreciated.

"IMO Obama would have done well to take a stronger position early on. And I most definitely agree with Nell and/or Kagro X, the stronger position I would have liked to see him take would have been championing the broad range of public interests that are at stake in the Gulf as against the relatively narrow interests of BP." Like what? He "took a position" in line with BP? What position was that? Are you still complaining about his stance on offshore drilling? Have you been following the news about the energy bill at all? Like the fact that this horror is going to get in the way of its passage because the Republican Senators aren't going to be on board if there's any resistance at all to more "drill baby drill"?

What the hell are you people smoking?

Again, all of the criticisms are about theatrics, not substance, or about expectations that are unachievable with the Congress that we currently have. In the meantime, pissing on Obama from the left is counterproductive. Who are you going to elect, people.

Well, I take that back about nobody else to elect. I'm voting for John Thullen.

But, Cleek, the junk shot and the top kill failed.

right. and now the technical teams will move on to Plan K or Plan L (i've lost track of how many things they've tried).

but that should be (and should have been) the extent of BP's involvement: the technical aspects relating to shutting off the leak, and doing everything they can to clean up the mess. there's no reason BP should be doing air and marine traffic control, telling Sheriff offices what to do, etc..

instead, it looks like BP has been running everything and that the US government is OK with that.

well, i don't trust BP.

" the US government is OK with that."

cite?

for me, it's not about specific technical fixes - i don't doubt that the relevant expertise here comes from the oil companies. no, it's about letting the public know that the US Federal Government is on our side, and is looking out for our interests, and is happy to completely disregard any of BP's concerns which may be related to BP's bottom line.

Im hearing this, but Im also hearing people saying 'I want more than words.' I agree with the latter sentiment- I do not want to hear about wanting to close Gitmo, I want to see Gitmo closed. I do not want to hear about holding Wall Street, or BP, responsible. I want to see that actually happen.
At the same time, I understand that the President isn't able to do much unilaterally, especially if he wants to it last past the next GOP administration. The financial bill that's coming out looks like about as good a compromise as we're going to get- Obama could ask for more, but I don't see what that sort of posturing would get us.

I mean, I don't have a fondness for big oil companies. But if we know anything about Obama, we know that he thinks of himself in broad, inclusive terms ie he's the president of the oil workers and the oil company stockholders as well as the Greens. Even if they didn't vote for him.
So he was never going to stand up on Day One and turn this into a sermon about the evils of capitalism and fossil fuels. He was always going to preach unity and a middle path, because that's always who he's been.

Now if, at the end of this, BP isn't paying the bill because of something Obama did or didn't do, then Ill be very disappointed with him. But not because of what he said.

Private corporations make huge amounts of money by doing things that involve large downside risks or costs, and then shifting those risks or costs to the public sector.
I'd like that to freaking stop.
I don't expect leadership on that front from Obama, because as far as I can tell he doesn't see that as a significant structural problem in our current economic, legal, and social arrangement.

Sure, I'd love to see that change. But is that somehow within Obama's power? These things have come up twice in his administration, but they're both specialized cases. And if eg nuclear power plant has a serious malfunction and the government takes some weight for that, then that'll be another specialized case. That is, I don't see any language you could roll into the 'We're Tired Of You Screwing Us Big Business' Act of 2011 that would stop this general problem.
If we're just talking about this case- well, first I think it's clear that the government needs to act, whether or not it's going to get reimbursed from BP. If at the end of the day it foots the bill for unemployed shrimpers and protecting Florida's coral reefs, that is much better than those things not being done.
Then, the time comes to get the money from the beast- a legal process that is going to be like drawing blood from a vampire (ie an entity constituted on creating the opposite transaction). And, even if we want to see BP stripped to the bone, we also have to accept the existing laws, and (hopefully) change them for the next time. Because we respect the rule of law.

Can Obama fundamentally change the symbiotic relationship between 'business-friendly' government and big businesses? Im not sure how he could. And I doubt he'll even try, given the low chances for success and the large number of tasks that he can accomplish between now and 2012. Maybe in his second term, but even then I wonder exactly what that change would look like...

But I think that the mindreading on your part here isn't called for- does Obama not take whatever actions you think that he should because he likes the status quo? Or because he's trying to fight other battles? Or because he sees this as impossible to win? I have no idea, and I suspect you don't either.

"Instead, it looks like BP has been running everything and that the U.S. government is O.K. with that."

To me, it looks like BP is running everything, and regardless of the horror inflicted on the American people by this accident and BP's repeated prevarications about the size of the leak and failures to stop the oil flow, a ridiculous percentage of the same American people will buy the coming lying Republican narrative that the Coast Guard should be privatized and run as a profit-seeking subsidiary of BP, and what we really need is more privately-owned oil slicks along every one of the world's coastlines, and for good measure, let's drill in Yellowstone too and maybe puncture that volcanic dome that's been building and rejoice the day when we are blown to smithereens under private ownership so we can blame the government for not doing anything, doing too much, doing it all, and not knowing what it is doing, just like the private sector.

And that despite BP running everything, it's Obama's fault and he owns it. George Will thinks it's unfair Obama is being blamed but welcomes it nevertheless because it puts one more nail in the coffin of gummint competence, earned or not.

Morton Thiokol manufactured the 0-rings in the Space Shuttle, but NASA should be privatized and run by Morton Thiokol.

Heck, there are right-wing musicians (they're mad cause Glenn Beck told them the new Stalinist health-care bill includes a tax on sequins) in Nashville whose town is being cleaned up and set right largely by FEMA who are being commissioned right now to write anti-government, pro-oil industry three chord crossover country-western tunes for Sarah Death Palin's run for the Presidency, with graphics depicting oil slicks in the scary black sillouette (good for target practice at the local Republican killing grounds) of the Obama family photograph.

As for George Will, when that big deadly asteroid is sighted headed for Earth with a bulls-eye the size of Kansas, I hope one of two things happen:

The Chinese Government shoots the asteroid down, because OUR government is just too effing beleaguered to give a crap any longer, but one shard of the 'roid breaks off and hits Will right between the eyes as he sits in his box seat at an Orioles game. .....

.... or better, we hire Hallmark/Lockheed/Acme Coal to tie a ribbon around it and inscribe it with these words -- "+uck you, George! Since the U.S. Government no longer exists, at your request, we decided to take a shot at it and looks like we haven't a clue what we're doing either."

George would only be able to read the "@uck you, George" before the very point of the asteroid made its first contact with the sheen of pure ideological perspiration on his forehead.

Hallmark has always been too wordy.


In the meantime, pissing on Obama from the left is counterproductive.

This is a longstanding left tradition, just spiteful revenge for the democratic establishment pissing on Henry Wallace.

We pissed on Johnson for Viet Nam. Perhaps you think that was a waste of time.

We pissed on Jimmy Carter for ramping up defense spending, playing footsies with the Afghan rebels, and deregulating trucking and airlines...did you enjoy your flight?

We pissed on Clinton for NAFTA, WTO, having "moments", unleashing neo-liberalism, ending "welfare as we know it" and DADT. Some black president he was.

Who are you going to elect, people.

Geez. I dunno. Convince me it matters.

In the meantime, pissing on Obama from the left is counterproductive.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to have missed all the good liberal memos to Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanch Lincoln, et al, to stop "pissing on Obama from the right.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to have missed all the good liberal memos to Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanch Lincoln, et al, to stop "pissing on Obama from the right.

You have? Seriously? Missed all of the outrage directed at Lincoln, Nelson, etc for not being liberal enough? Did you maybe notice how Lincoln is in a runoff to keep her job, having pissed off a number of liberal constituencies in her constant plays to the 'center' (ie right)?

Obviously some people have been pissed at them for not going along; Im not sure if you're claiming ignorance of that or if you don't categorize the people saying bad things about them as "liberals". Neither one makes sense to me.

Geez. I dunno. Convince me it matters.

Unfortunately, you're making the perfect the enemy of the good. For example, DADT is odious on its face, but it did get the military to this point ie where it's de facto integrated & accepts this result. It did (or was supposed to) prevent closeted homosexuals in the military from being openly investigated.
Today, it's outlived whatever usefulness it had as a bridge. Today, it's easy to dismiss it as a bad policy. But I think it did it's job, and that attempting to directly do away with discrimination the military by Clinton might have produced a worse long-term outcome.
Because that's what matters, the results. Not how well policies fit into our ideal world.

The alternative, as you put it, is to say that anything short of perfection (eg single-payer v Obamacare) isn't worth fighting for. But there are actual people who derive great benefits from liberal successes, even if they aren't perfect successes or contain compromises.

Saving some people matters, even if we can't save them all. If that doesn't matter to you, then you were only in politics to gratify your ego, to take tiny photo-ops of yourself being a hero in your head. If you cared about achieving actual results and helping actual people, then it matters like hell.

"If you cared about achieving actual results and helping actual people, then it matters like hell."

Sounds like you've helped actual people, Carleton Wu. It's frightening how much it matters, and how little people appreciate the difficulty of the struggle.

Because that's what matters, the results.

do negative results matter, too ? or should we only pay attention to the positives ?

or, should i just STFU and clap louder, like a good Dem is supposed to ?

do negative results matter, too ? or should we only pay attention to the positives ?

What matters is that electing Obama makes for a better world than electing McCain. Those were our two options if you will recall.

Whereas, what seems to matter to idealists is that electing Obama has far worse results than electing Batman Einstein McJesus. Thus, as I said, making the perfect (unattainable) the enemy of the good (actual attainable positive results).

Now, you can argue that they are the same, which I think is laughable, but it's been argued. Or you can take the radical's position that things must get worse before the get better & that therefore President Cheney is best for the long-term outcome.
But if you agree that Obama is better than McCain, and you're not playing some long, theoretical game of making things worse, then I don't see any alternative other than supporting the best option we have at the time.

Carleton: "then I don't see any alternative other than supporting the best option we have at the time."

That's the nub of it. To your way of thinking, criticism constitutes ipso facto lack of support.

But do tell me why the president was politically constrained from
(a.) making a full throated case for the public option from the start.
(b.) was politically constrained to make pre-emptive deals (on the QT, I might add) with Big Pharma and the insurance industry to get the weak health care reform we got.
(c.) Was politically constrained to unilaterally open up off shore drilling.
(d.) Was politically constrained to continue indefinite incarceration and invoke the right to kill American citizens overseas on executive whim. If you support this as simply another example of "the best option available at the time" then I can only express my contempt for invoking such a feeble justification.

He could have done more. The "best option" is not where we have tended to wind up. He had the political capital to move us further. He did not employ it. He has, with his repeated pattern of pre-emptive concessions, unilaterally narrowed the field of what is "politically possible".

For merely pointing this out, we are castigated for being "unrealistic", "pie in the sky", or (remarkably) worse.

I shall (unlike you) refrain from impuning your motives or the needs of your particular ego, but I would ask, politely and just once, for you to STFU about "the perfect being the enemy of the good". Thank you.

In solidarity,

What matters is that electing Obama makes for a better world than electing McCain.

true. but the election was 18 months ago. and Obama is president, not Cheney. and i'm not a radical. and i don't think "they're the same". so let's get back to reality...

then I don't see any alternative other than supporting the best option we have at the time

yes, the old two party system dilemma...

but help me out: is there any time or place when criticism of the President is advisable ?

(i'll just assume that it's OK if he a Republican)

is it OK when you think the President is probably hurting The Party ?

This thread is about the Gulf disaster. I don't see how it's constructive to criticize Obama (criticisms without substance, IMHO), regarding his handling of this disaster. He's got everyone in his administration who has anything to offer working on it. I think people are hard pressed to say that he's "hurting the party" except that he doesn't engage in the precise photo ops that some people would prefer. There have been a couple of incidents (possibly explained by the nature of the clean-up effort, etc.) of reporters being treated in a heavy-handed, rude way by BP folks - and there were insufficient public announcements of "There'll be none of that!!!!" by administration officials. Obama has publicly confessed to other errors.

Sure, none of us were excited about the offshore drilling announcement that he made as part of his energy policy. Has anyone noticed what's happened to his energy policy and why? Lindsay Crybaby Graham, is withholding his erstwhile support until he is satisfied that people aren't deterred about the offshore drilling issue. What does this tell you about why Obama championed offshore drilling as part of his energy policy? Obviously, because he had to in order to get the @ssh0le Senate votes that were necessary to place resources toward greener technology.

Now, this thread, as noted, is about the Gulf disaster. But notice that the same "disappointed" people don't seem to get the fact that similar problems arise in every other realm. Public option? It was going to lose in the Senate - why should Obama be championing something that is guaranteed to lose? So that the media can call him a loser? He wanted to champion a bill that would win - quickly. Thus, deals, concessions, compromises: a winning bill - health insurance options for millions of people who had had none, even though not a perfect bill, Maybe more perfection will be available later. In the meantime, lots of people's lives are genuinely better.

There are lots of other threads about lots of other issues, and I'm more willing to defend Obama than most people here on all of those things - he's sensible and thoughtful. But nobody's saying that he's perfect, or that you or I (which I did today about the Israeli debacle) shouldn't be complaining to our Congresspeople or to the White House. But constantly trashing the President as part of a relentless chorus of Republicans and "progressives" strengthens the attitude of some that there's no difference between Dems and Republicans - that they're all crooks, all corporatists, all ineffectual, all sell-outs. It's not true. Obama compromises because he has to work with people like Lieberman, Graham, etc. in the Senate, and he has to look like a winner.

Who are you going to elect, people.

I voted for Obama, gave him money, and made phone calls for him. If he runs in 2012, I will no doubt do the same again.

Does this somehow mean that criticism of Obama is out of bounds? Seriously, what the hell is that about?

But I think that the mindreading on your part here isn't called for- does Obama not take whatever actions you think that he should because he likes the status quo?

What freaking mind-reading? I stated something I'd like to see. It's not something Obama has done. End of story.

Why he has or hasn't done something I wish he would do is not something I have a lot of insight into. What other dilemnas he has to solve are his problem. Nobody made him run for President.

He's the POTUS, not freaking Fearless Leader.

russell:

"Does this somehow mean that criticism of Obama is out of bounds?"

Go right ahead and criticize him. You're "with cleek" who began the comments by making common cause with Peggy Noonan. That's what the comment section is for, for you to express your solidarity with cleek and Peggy Noonan if that's how you feel. I happen to think your views are misguided and they don't help anyone get excited about voting Democratic - the only way we're currently going to achieve any change in this country. In fact, the take away for most people from cleek, Nell and you is that Obama is a "detached non-leader" who's been co-opted by corporations and doesn't fight for anything worth supporting - might as well be a Republican-lite.

For example you said "I don't expect leadership on that front [diminishing the power of private corporations] from Obama, because as far as I can tell he doesn't see that as a significant structural problem in our current economic, legal, and social arrangement..." Oh, no? Obama spent a good deal of his career in the communities of inner city Chicagoattending Reverend Wright's United Church of Christ. I'm sure he knows that there is a significant structural problem in our society. It's just that short of burning down the house, it's not one that he can wave his magic wand and change. He was there, day by frustrating day. And since he's been president, he took the Supreme Court to task in his State of the Union address for the very issue of corporate power. He hasn't forgotten.

Obama's government has to work with BP to do whatever can be done to stop the leak and clean up the spill. This is the way the law works. It wouldn't help the working relationship of BP and the Federal government for Obama to be hitting the airwaves on a daily basis lambasting BP when the government is a reluctant business partner. But why analyze the reality of the situation on the ground?

The criticisms of Obama are eerily similar to those of Al Gore in 2000. i'm thinking particularly of the Lewis Lapham article in Harper's before the election and similar rants. He's a nerd; he's a corporatist, he's got no passion; he takes positions that are too "safe". There's no difference between Democrats and Republicans; they're all beholden to corporate overlords.... It did a lot of good for the country to hear the left provide a harmony to the right wing noise machine in 2000.,, I'm sure it will be equally helpful this election year, and going forward.

That's the nub of it. To your way of thinking, criticism constitutes ipso facto lack of support.

Close, but it's a little more... nuanced.

"Who are you going to elect, people."

Geez. I dunno. Convince me it matters.

That was you. Questioning who you should support. Arguing that the two sides are the same.

To my way of thinking, articulating a lack of support constitutes ipso facto lack of support.


but I would ask, politely and just once, for you to STFU about "the perfect being the enemy of the good". Thank you.

Im not really sure what to make of this. Is the criticism so bitingly on target that you can neither handle it nor come upp with an effective refutation? Id say take a break from the boards then, rather than ask people to not discuss things because you just find them too upsetting.

but help me out: is there any time or place when criticism of the President is advisable ?

I think it's great. But 1)I just don't think it's warranted here and 2)I don't think that any progressive should consider abandoning Obama, even if he isn't everything they could ever want in a president. Unless they think that electing republicans somehow advances the progressive agenda further.

"But I think that the mindreading on your part here isn't called for- does Obama not take whatever actions you think that he should because he likes the status quo?"

What freaking mind-reading? I stated something I'd like to see. It's not something Obama has done. End of story.

You said that you thought Obama wasn't making a full-throated censure of the idea of private gains and public losses because as far as I can tell he doesn't see that as a significant structural problem in our current economic, legal, and social arrangement. Im not seeing any way of telling if he actually thinks this, or just thinks that this is not a winnable battle or there are better fights to fight right now.

Not a big deal, but I think it's important to not assume that Obama wants every compromise he's forced to make or that just because he picks his battles that he favors the status quo where he isn't actively fighting.

"Obama says a lot of stuff is gonna happen that doesn't." Like what? Some kind of a quote of what he said that won't happen would be appreciated.

This deserves a response, sorry to have not made one earlier.

No political appointee allowed to work on regs or contracts related to any former employer.

Judges will be allowed to modify mortgage terms, i.e., cramdowns will be allowed.

Public option for health care.

Guantanamo will be closed by January 2010.

There are more, those are a handful that I find particularly regrettable.

Is all of this Obama's very own, exclusive and personal fault? No.

Is Obama utterly without responsibility for these things not happening? Again, no.

None of this is shocking or surprising, an ambient level of bullsh*t is part of the deal in political life.

All I'm saying is Obama is not immune.

You said that you thought Obama wasn't making a full-throated censure of the idea of private gains and public losses because as far as I can tell he doesn't see that as a significant structural problem in our current economic, legal, and social arrangement. Im not seeing any way of telling if he actually thinks this, or just thinks that this is not a winnable battle or there are better fights to fight right now.

Fair enough. My bad, you are correct, I did engage in unwarranted mind-reading.

I'll simply say that I do not see Obama providing any concrete leadership (that word again!) on the issue.

And IMO it is most definitely in his brief to do so. Other Presidents have.

I like Obama, I think he's a good President. I am, frankly, grateful every day that we're not living under McCain/Palin. I have no idea what the country would look like at this point had he (Obama) lost.

All of that said, he's not perfect, and he's not above criticism. Especially if people are *not happy with his performance*.

He asked to be held to account for his performance. IMO I'm just holding up my end of the deal.

You're "with cleek" who began the comments by making common cause with Peggy Noonan.

careful, you're going to use up all your logical fallacy credits.

Rules of Engagement for Militant Moderates......

"Whose side are you on?"
"You're either fer us or agin' us."
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

Gosh oh golly. Those moderates sure can get downright intemperate at times. Wherever did they pick that stuff up?

I like Obama, I think he's a good President. I am, frankly, grateful every day that we're not living under McCain/Palin. I have no idea what the country would look like at this point had he (Obama) lost.

All of that said, he's not perfect, and he's not above criticism. Especially if people are *not happy with his performance*.

A statement proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are either "heighten the contradictions" Left radical or a closet Republican.

Carleton Wu: ...the take away for most people from cleek, Nell and you is that Obama is a "detached non-leader" who's been co-opted by corporations and doesn't fight for anything worth supporting - might as well be a Republican-lite. ...
It did a lot of good for the country to hear the left provide a harmony to the right wing noise machine in 2000. I'm sure it will be equally helpful this election year, and going forward.

One person's "harmony to the right wing noise machine" is another person's substantive and serious policy and political disagreement. The disagreement is over many things, and excuses can be made for some of them. But this one is the most fundamental Democratic issue possible in a country with record post-1930s levels of unemployment and persistent, increasing rates of long-term unemployment.

Bob Kuttner, May 13:

Over the past week, top White House officials have been floating a trial balloon for their strategy on the economy. At its core is a decision to put deficit reduction ahead of job creation. [...]

So the plan, modeled closely on the work of the Peter G. Peterson foundation and the anticipated report of the president's own fiscal commission, is a deal that includes cuts in Social Security plus a new Value Added Tax (VAT), in order to get deep cuts in the deficit. As a sweetener to get Republicans to back the VAT, White House officials would cut the corporate income tax. The plan is dubious economics and worse politics. You could hardly hand the Republicans a better gift for the fall election.

It's not my job to put a happy face on Republican policies pushed by a Democratic president in order not to ruin the party's chances in the fall elections. It's the president's job to address the actual priorities of his voters and the country (which in this case are not at all at odds)in order to inspire some semblance of the enthusiasm he generated two years ago.

1. War? Republican lite. But so's the party as a whole. No one's really surprised, except maybe somewhat about that kill-citizens-and-others-with-drones-on-the-president's-say-so part. And joking about it like Bush.

2. Torture and detention? Institutionalizing the above-the-law executive and the multi-tier "justice" system of show trials and indefinite detention with no charge or trial. A massive difference from what he led us to believe would happen. But the actual political constituency for robust constitutional protections and against torture is pretty small, and so I'm not really shocked that we've been sold out for a close working relationship with the brass (see 1).

3. Offshore oil drilling. Could have stayed with the public's position and then Dems could have beat the Republicans every which way from Sunday with the BP debacle. But he gambled and lost. Isn't going to get Lindsay Graham's vote either way for that energy bill, which also isn't as good as C.Wu makes it sound. Serious base-enthusiasm-dampening move, for nothing. He didn't have to do it: stronger conservation programs and incentives in the energy bill (which are also job creators) could be the bridge to the future.

4. Financial reform. Just as with health care, he's pre-crippled the bill by deals with the perps. But Congress is just as bought-off as he is by the FIRE sector, so not too much extra blame there; Dems were never going to restore Glass-Steagall and end too-big-to-fail lemon capitalists.

5. Nothing kicks in wrt health insurance in time for this election. Opportunity missed, but that's what happens when you make all those deals in advance (no public option, keeping the total budget figure under a Ben Nelson-pleasing number, etc.).

I can live with all of 1 through 5, even the parts that are just total own goals. But rolling out the austerity program that the fat cats have been trying to push through forever RIGHT NOW??

At some point you have to figure he's really and truly on their side. If he goes forward with austerity over employment, then he is. I am not going to be pissed on and pretend it's raining.

What Nell said.

Obama, and the Democratic party as a whole, *are* Republican-lite. The only reason they stand out from the Republicans is because the Republicans as a party have devolved into a collection of reactionary nutjobs.

It cracks me up when people talk about the American left. Who the hell are they talking about? Bernie Sanders?

There is no American left.

There are middle-of-the-road technocrats like Obama, and there are people who want to return the country to what it was before FDR, if not to what it was in the McKinley era.

But there is no American left.

The middle class in this country is going away. When it goes, lots of other things that we value -- most of what falls under the heading of the "American Dream", such as it is -- is going to go with it. Lots of things are going to go with it.

I do not see that the middle class -- i.e., most people in this country -- have a clear champion, in any branch of government, at the federal level. Maybe a small handful of Congresspeople, but nothing like a critical mass. That's about it.

It's not my job to defend Obama's every decision, statement, and action. It's not my job to make sure Obama is re-elected in 2012. It's my job to make sure my interests are reflected in the public policy of the nation.

When Obama does that, he will get my support. When he doesn't, he will not.

That's how he will be able to know if he's doing a good job, or not, from my point of view.

The real issue I see before this country is that lots and lots of people are perfectly happy to see us return to the days of McKinley. I doubt they'll really like it should that actually happen, but that's what they say they want.

I have no handy cure for that. Neither does Obama.

And for the record, I really don't want to hear crap from anybody, including sapient, about who does and who doesn't "really want to help people". We're all just words on a page here, none of us has much if any insight into what any others of us does, or does not do, to "really help people" when we're not typing away at our computers.

So belay that, if you don't mind.

Thanks

But there is no American left.

This can be read two ways. The unintended one may be, in some sense, true soon enough.

Obama, and the Democratic party as a whole, *are* Republican-lite. The only reason they stand out from the Republicans is because the Republicans as a party have devolved into a collection of reactionary nutjobs.

As I put it on another site, we have finally reached Peak Python: we no longer have parties representing the left and the right, but rather a Sensible Party and a Silly Party (with a Silly Party that's been getting increasingly silly as time goes on). I'll continue voting for the Sensible Party because I think it's better for the country to be run by non-crazy people than by crazy (and very often mean and hateful) ones.

But I won't kid myself for a moment into thinking that the Sensible Party represents me or my aspirations for the kind of country I'd like to live in. Not for one second. They are simply the sane option--quite literally so.

That wasn't so hard, was it?

Nell: Offshore oil drilling. Could have stayed with the public's position and then Dems could have beat the Republicans every which way from Sunday with the BP debacle. But he gambled and lost. Isn't going to get Lindsay Graham's vote either way for that energy bill, which also isn't as good as C.Wu makes it sound.

...and it's now official that Graham won't support a climate change bill. Which he was never going to do to begin with. Too clever by nine-tenths, Obrahma.

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