Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The President Who Does Not (Want To) Get It

One of these days, if and when I get past the unbelievable sense of disappointment, I might get around to commenting on the stupidity and the lack of empathy of a president who, after treating the people who were instrumental in his election like the drunk at the other end of the counter, tells them that they are irresponsible and that they should buck up (after his chief of staff called them retarded, and his press secretary called them the professional left-wing, or something to that effect.)

In the meantime, I am going to leave it at Greg Sargent's eloquent rebuke of the White House and its tone deafness on what progressives are "whining about."

OK, I can't resist the urge, such is the level of my frustration and impatience with this White House: The President and the Vicepresident are either playing dumb, or they are dumb altogether, when they say that folks like me are whining because we did not get everything we wanted. (Or, an even scarier and more offensive prospect, "change you can believe in" was all about misdirection.)

I, as many folks like me, am not complaining because I did not get everything I wanted: I am complaining because I did not get anything I wanted.

Obama's appointments have been dis-appointments, from Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, to Tim Geithner and Larry Summers at the helm of the economic ship.

The advice the President has gotten from his Chief of Staff has been dismal, with plenty of critics coming out of the woodwork now that Rahm Emanuel is on his way out, if this Financial Times article is to be believed.

Obama's approach on health care and financial reform, in pursuit of the mirage of Republican support, was comparable in ineptitude and lack of foresight to Neville Chamberlain's foreign policy. He gave up his negotiating strong points before the negotiations even began. The common thread in both instances is the choice of leaving the foxes (Republicans and Democrats) in charge of the hen-house. The last thing I wanted was more insurance involvement in health care, and that is exactly what we got. No price-controls, no meaningful bans on rescissions (you will see), no public option. In financial reform, no caps on credit card interest rates, no sensible barriers to the size of financial institutions, no meaningful help for people in financial distress. The list could go on for pages, but I am too frustrated and too upset to continue.

If the President and his advisors have any sense left in them, they will realize that his favorability ratings have tanked, the Democrats' prospects are grim for November, and my sentiments about his presidency are shared by many, not because we are whiners, but because we thought we had elected not Anthony Robbins, but FDR. And our discontent is not due to a single factor, but to the sum of the President's actions over the two years since we celebrated the most exhilarating moment in recent political history.

If the President's goal was to appease his enemies, he is fighting a losing battle, and a mighty foolish and hopeless one. And if his desire to appease them is so overwhelming that he will go to any lengths, including insulting the intelligence of those who most believed in him, without ever throwing them a bone, he will be a one-term president, and deservedly so.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Educate Yourself, September 27, 2010 Edition

Please listen to this installment of the BBC program Business Daily. The topic is:
Could ever greater concentrations of wealth in a country be not just socially divisive, but also economically inefficient?

The rich are getting richer in America at a time of high unemployment and a worn out safety net. Steve Forbes, publisher, political hopeful, and also a very rich man defends the American economic system. John Monks of the European Trades Union Confederation makes the case for a gentler, more European, form of capitalism.

It is pretty appalling to listen to Steve Forbes's trite and unoriginal rhetoric. My favorite part starts about 8 minutes into the recording, when John Monks wonders why people in the United States have been taking thirty years of failed economic policies lying down. I often wonder, too.

We All Have Dumb Friends

We all have dumb friends, people we love in spite of their lack of good judgement or good educashun. You love them, but they remain as dumb as posts. (And to the religulous among you, that should tell you something about the power of prayer, but anyway, that's another topic, for another day.) You know, friends like Christine O'Donnell, who believe that if evolution were true (for her, it is not), we'd still see monkeys evolve into humans, or that if apes evolve into humans, why are apes still around?

Well, we all have such friends. Do not make fun of them. Instead, send them to, where they can find good answers to their dumb questions, instead of ridiculing them.

If they still don't get it, well, then, go ahead and make fun of them. Lovingly, that is.

For Those Who Would Do Away With the EPA (And Other Government Agencies): Apricots

There those (mostly libertarians and Repuglycans) who believe that it is not the government job's to regulate business and things like health care, the environmnent, etc. So, for them, this is what happens to apricots when your field happens to be next to a new garbage dump.

Again, they are (supposed to be) apricots.

For Those Who Believe In The Mythical Left Wing Media Conspiracy

This is a sad read, not an unexpected one.

"Fox ‘News’ Personalities Seen As Having Most Positive Impact In Political Debate".

In related news, "Fox ‘News’ Personalities Seen As Having Most Positive Impact In Political Debate". The political climate has changed much since the days of Eisenhower, when the marginal tax rate (the tax on the richest people) sat at 91% and no one dared called the President a socialist. Back in those days, paying a high marginal rate was considered patriotic, not confiscation. Too bad that those who pay lip service to the Greatest Generation on a daily basis forget how the greatest generation regarded taxation and patriotism.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ask The Bigot!

Don't ask, don't tell? Guess, then.
(You can find Chan Lowe's original cartoon, with commentary, here.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quote for Conservatives, from a Conservative

In the age of Barack Obama, many rank-and-file conservatives have been more upset about redistribution of a different sort – the kind that takes money from the prosperous and ''spreads the wealth'' (as Obama put it, in his famous confrontation with Joe the Plumber) down the income ladder.

This kind of spending can be problematic. But conservatives need to recognize that the most pernicious sort of redistribution isn't from the successful to the poor. It's from savers to speculators, from outsiders to insiders, and from the industrious middle class to the reckless, unproductive rich.

From “The Class War We Need”, by conservative New York Times columnist, Ross Douthat,

David Michael Green Is One Angry Professor

"How stupid are you?", asks Prof. David Michael Green of Hofstra University.

I'll give you this: David Michael Green is one angry professor, as you can tell from his website, The Regressive Antidote. But read through his posts and, "if are not outraged, you are not paying attention." When you are done, you will ask this question: What is there NOT to be angry about?

Prof. Green's latest post is one rightfully angry rant about the State of the Union, and the question "How stupid are you?" is, for a vast number of people in this country, purely rhetorical. (Of course, followers of this blog are largely exempted, or you wouldn't be followers by now.) In any case, we won't have to wait too long to find out that the majority of the country is exactly as stupid as our dear professor fears. We will find out on the first Tuesday of November, to be exact.

In the meantime do yourself a favor, and read The Dismantling of Civilized Society. Pass it along, too, to your family, friends, and--why not?--to people for whom you suspect the answer to the opening question is "very."

Spes ultima dea, as my ancestors used to say.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Olbermann Dissects The Reality Behind The Republican Small Business Sham

Olbermann, the journalist that false equivalence peddlers/consumers label "the left's Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck" does a masterful job of dismantling the myth that extending Bush's tax cuts would help "small businesses" and their repeal, conversely, would help them.


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

After the lengthy and enlightening introduction, Olbermann then asks tax shenanigans expert David Cay Johnston and reporter Chris Hayes of The Nation to put things in even more perspective.

Again, watch:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Prof. Shallit Bashes Doug Groothuis. So I Don't Have To.

Read here.

And in case the blogger named Miranda finds this (she replied to Prof. Shallit's post): No, civility, or alleged lack thereof, has nothing to do with Groothuis banning people. Groothuis routinely uses worse invective (ok, equally bad) towards others than I or other banned invididuals ever used against him. Only, since The Constructive Curmudgeon is his blog, he can capriciously ban people rather than accepting a challenge or engaging dissenters in debate. He is very good at finding the speck in other people's arguments while displaying an uncanny ability to ignore the log in his own.

As another blogger pointed out, calling someone a hypocrite, who is demonstrably in fact a hypocrite, is no more "invective" than calling a spade a spade.

President Obama Pisses Me Off. Again. (UPDATED)

If you thought President Obama was going to appoint progressive replacements for the people that are leaving the administration. His nominee to replace Pete Orszag as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget? A guy who does not believe that deregulation is to blame for the financial crisis that crushed the world economy. I am not kidding.

Fortunately Bernie Sanders, one of the few honorable and sane senators left around, will vote against his confirmation.


Update: Cenk Uygur has a very good post about Obama's love of the establishment at Huffington Post.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scattered Thoughts About President Obama and the State of the Union

Velma Hart, my spokeswoman.

This woman articulated the disappointment that many who helped Sen. Obama become President of the United States are feeling. Notice that many of the things that President Obama mentions as examples of success are greatly exaggerated. Credit cards still hold the upper hand over consumers (there is no cap on interest rates), health insurance reform has been a huge flop for those who were hoping that insurance companies would be punished for their past and present predatory behavior (instead, they have been rewarded with more customers), the economy is still hurting millions of Americans.

From the beginning, the President has let his base down, by surrounding himself with Clintonites and economic conservatives like Lawrence Summers (good f***ing riddance, by the way); he disregarded the advice of giant of economic studies, such as Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, and countless others who advised him to do more to stimulate the economy, to push greater banking reforms to prevent a repeat of "too big to fail", and to give more help to the middle class; he has taken single-payer and the public option off the table and put the worst Democrats in the Senate in charge of steering health care reform (later renamed health insurance reform, when it became obvious how much it fell short of reforming health care); he continued some of the most intrusive and abusive Bush policies in terms of secrecy and presidential authority; he has been lukewarm or absent in voicing his support for gay rights; he sought the cooperation of Republicans to a fault, when it was obvious Republicans had no intention of cooperating with him on anything; and, worst of all, he did not fire his chief of staff, Rahm F***ing Emanuel, when that piece of beastly excrement called progressive voters "f***ing retarded" for simply complaining that the president had let them down over, and over, and over again. So believe me, when Velma Hart says that she doesn't "feel it", she speaks for a great number of us, and much too politely for what President Obama truly deserves.

The greatest affront is that the President surrounded himself with the most conservative advisers he could have picked while Democrats had a large majority in both the Senate and the House, leaving us to wonder what could have been achieved if he had picked more progressive staff and if he had strong-armed worms like Max Baucus and Ben Nelson into voting for change one could believe in, or else. But not the opportunity has gone to waste. Even if he were to replace those who are departing with true progressive thinkers and public servants, they could achieve little if Congress goes Republican, as it is likely to, in the upcoming mid-terms. So maybe the plan was to talk the good talk and walk the usual middle-class-adverse walk that we have been shocked into accepting for the last 30 years. Really, when you think about it, politics have become the tool by which the rich and the powerful pour insult and injury on common folks. Who, by and large, deserve all the insult and injury poured open them, if popular support for tea-party candidates is a good yardstick of the State of the Union.


Enter Mike Huckabee.

The former Governor of Arkansas, a supposed example of how compassionate Republicans can be when they try really hard, defended the practice of health insurance companies to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions:
"Look, I think that sounds terrific, but I want to ask you something from a common sense perspective. Suppose we applied that principle [to] our property insurance. And you can call your insurance agent and say, "I'd like to buy some insurance for my house." He'd say, "Tell me about your house." "Well sir, it burned down yesterday, but I'd like to insure it today." And he'll say "I'm sorry, but we can't insure it after it's already burned." Well, no preexisting conditions."

Think about that, for a moment: even the most compassionate conservative around is so blinded by his subservience to the profits of insurance companies, that he fails to understand that the job of a public servant is to find a solution to the problem, instead of accepting the status quo as the only possible answer.

Ironically, Huckabee's comments have been attacked for the lack of compassion they show to the victims of the health insurance sector. Pundits should have focused on a different aspect instead. Huckabee's comments, as heartless and disingenuous as they are, demonstrate one thing: people's health should not be left to the devices of a poorly regulated, free-rein health insurance market. The job of an insurer is to disburse as little money as possible in order to maximize profits. That involves denying as many legitimate claims as possible, or reducing the risk pool to the smallest possible size. If anyone needed any further proof that the way this country regards the relationship between health and insurance is completely insane, you should point them to Huckabee's comments.


The problem is that things will unavoidably get worse for most people under Republicans. But it does not matter any more, because neither party serves the best interest of the nation or the majority its people. They are designed to serve the interest of the oligopaths (the sociopathic oligarchs that fund the politicians' elections.) Sadly, it seems that the nation's answer to the political derangement and futility is to choose more derangement and futility, in the form of ridiculous and dangerous individuals like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and now Carl Paladino and Christine O'Donnell. I guess these days all you need to put on your résumé to become a representative of the lunatic mainstream on the right is "deranged, ignorant dingbat is seeking your vote."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On 9/11, Against Revisionism

President Bush did not keep us safe. 9/11 happened under his watch. The same goes for all the people in his administration who would like us to forget that the worst act of terrorism against the United States happened as they and their neo-con friends had been plotting to invade Iraq and to occupy the Middle East in the name of a nascent American empire, under the guise of the Project for the New American Century.

That's important to remember. Remembering is the best tribute to all who perished on 9/11 and since, in two misconceived, miscarried wars which cost this country its prosperity and the future of its middle-class.

The Havoc Rahm Emanuel Wreaked

Cenk Uygur has a smart analysis of why Rahm Emanuel is the chief culprit for the disaster that awaits Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections.

To which I would add: Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats would not be where they are, in the electoral doldrums, if President Obama had not picked him. The president surrounded himself with centrists or Republican lite types, and we are paying the price for his timid approach to reform. He has two years to convince the people who enthusiastically supported his election that he is not the pro-corporate fraud he looked like for the first 20 months or so in office, but in the meantime prepare to suffer the consequences of the distance between the president's talk and his walk.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Republican Hypocrisy Watch -- Episode One

Can a Republican please explain to me how it is ok for Republicans to decry President Obama's proposal to spend $50b on infrastructure projects, while at the same time pushing for $800b in tax cuts for the rich?

Trampling The Constitution

I have been absent from these parts of the world for a couple of months due to personal reasons, but this piece of news prompted me to interrupt my absence and return to blogging.

In a 6-5 ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with the C.I.A. (and with the Obama Administration) in a case that revolved around extraordinary rendition and that should make your stomach turn if a) you believe in human rights, b) you believe that the first duty of the President is to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution", and c) you believe that when "Bush did it" it was wrong (and Obama doing the same does not make it right.)

And now that I am back expect a bunch of posts between now and Election Day, focusing in particular on hypocrisy and the Republican effort to dismantle the middle class, aided and abetted by complacent, spineless, and self-centered Democrats.
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