10/27/2009

10-27-09 - The Evil of Obama

The really tragic thing about Obama is that he's an illusion, a palliative. Back during the GWB years we had a brief moment where liberals in America actually paid attention to politics again and were fired up enough to actually vote and counteract the right-wing nutjobs who seem to always be fired up enough to vote. All that energy got channeled into electing Obama, which it turns out was just a diversion, a waste of energy. It's just like sporting events or booze or television, a distraction to keep the rabble from realizing the reality and rising up.

Liberals are self-doubting, try to compromise, try to be reasonable, while conservatives seem to just dig in farther, toe the line, and move further to the right. And then liberals compromise again. So it has been since the 70's. I was telling Jeff the other day, I think modern democrats are obviously much more conservative than Nixon (who actually enacted many of our modern social programs). Even with democrats in power in government it doesn't seem to matter, we've continued to move to the right during this term. You may say "no no we're to the left of where we were under GWB". Not so - the pendulum is currently in its left-most part of its swing, but the center of the pendulum swing is still shifting right.

Obama & the democrats so far have been extremely right wing in everything they've actually done. Some of the speeches sound somewhat liberal, but those don't turn into actual actions, and instead we get sly under the radar extremely conservative actions. The worst things that Obama has done have been the furthering of opacity of the executive office, continued extradition of suspects to countries that torture, continued domestic surveillance, and complete subsidy of the finance industry without any increase of regulation.

What we needed after GWB was a really big correction back towards civil liberty, transparency, higher taxes on the rich & corporations, real health care reform, real environmental rules, an end to corrupt subsidies for oil companies, natural gas, ethanol, agribusiness, huge cuts of the pentagon budget, a real new policy on prisoners, and we've gotten none of that. But the real evil is that despite all that, most liberals are still self-satisfied because we "did a good thing" electing a black man. Bully for fucking us.

9 comments:

Aaron said...

Baby steps man, baby steps. This is still a very conservative country (40% self identify as conservative, 20% as liberal, and the rest as 'independent', which basically means too stupid to tie there shoelaces, and therefore 'conservative'. Any attempt at a real obvious leftward tilt would be met with immediate expunging of democrats from office into the absolute dregs of republicans that are left over. You think if you sat down with Obama over a beer that he's not at least as left as you or me? Sure he is. But he understands that to play these days you gotta look like Reagan and sneak the good shit in under the table. You can see it in the health care reform stuff. He's way to the right of everyone it seems in his proposals, but for every inch to the left that the senate or house look like they'll be able to get, he notches over that way. The things that really scare me are half-measures that expose dems to losses in the future. Health care reform without any (even half-assed) measure of cost containment for one. Republicans could run against that for decades (even though they're against all cost containment measures). Obama made a bunch of deals with health insurance lobby during his election. But, when the lobbyists gave him an inch of wiggle room (their bogus cost studies from a few weeks ago), he started trying to slip out of those agreements. For all the stuff he's trying to get done now, Obama is a long game player. Let's compare how far left he moves the country after (hopefully) 8 years to the other dem presidents.

Obviously I'm a bit of an Obama lover (of course I gotta be, cuz I gave him my hard earned money so I'm 'invested'). That said, I'm pissed at how slow and conservative he acts every damn day. But the strategy is pretty good and obvious (even if it's completely fucking evil in the short term, like not dropping a hammer on bush's torture nonsense, and even prolonging the hiding of it). Infuriating.

cbloom said...

"You think if you sat down with Obama over a beer that he's not at least as left as you or me? Sure he is."

I dunno. I can understand moving slowly and trying to ease the country left, but there have been a lot of executive office decisions that aren't legislative and show conservatism. Things like continued extradition, eavesdropping, even tighter media censorship of embedded journalists, etc.

Plus the handling of the banking crisis, they basically used as a way to give free money to the banks, and since the investment banks were allowed to become FDIC insured they are getting even more free government insurance than ever, and nothing has been done on regulation. There was an easy opportunity to make big fixes there that would not have been resisted which they intentionally passed up, presumably only because Obama and Geitner are in the pocket of big finance.

Aaron said...

Or shorter: to be an electable democrat in this country you gotta find a way to appeal to some large swath of the 80% of Americans who are not liberal. To be a good liberal president (ie, get re-elected) you gotta both get elected and be clever enough push an agenda that looks centrist and conservative, but in fact is liberal.

That's a tough job. Republicans are totally right to be whining about how Obama is trying to 'change America'. They're wrong (and making themselves look ridiculous) about calling it socialism (thank god). He's actually trying to slide us back toward liberalism without making it too obvious.

cbloom said...

Aside from being disappointed, I just think it's a bad strategy. The result will be no major improvements, and the Republicans will be able to say "look the liberals got to do what they want and they didn't fix anything".

The thing is, even though Obama is being very conservative he's still being branded as "liberal", so the fact that he's not actually a liberal is irrelevant. When his policies fail due to being not liberal enough, the republicans will still say "liberalism failed" and then use that to move to the right of Obama's middle ground.

Aaron said...

"I dunno. I can understand moving slowly and trying to ease the country left, but there have been a lot of executive office decisions that aren't legislative and show conservatism"

It's more than easing to the left. It's building in the possibility of fairly radical changes, back-loading things. Putting in government programs that get depended on (and like Medicare, can then never go away). And it's certainly stuff you'd never get past this congress and the American people if you put it much farther to the left (or really made it leftist in any visual way at all really).

Showing conservatism is critical. That's how you get re-elected (unless you're from SF). Thank god for Pelosi man. I need a naked Pelosi poster in my office.

"Plus the handling of the banking crisis"
Yeah. Geitner is an idiot. Those banks should have been allowed to collapse and bankrupt and the gvnt should have just taken them over (maybe not pure nationalization, but something close). I agree on that point. However, just throwing them cash was a hell of a lot simpler for about the same short term benefit, and way less risk short term (and right now everything is about short term improvement). There are pretty serious movements long term (where they're easier to deal with) on regulation. Of course, that will be a long drawn out fight with tons of compromises and we may end up not winning.

"There was an easy opportunity to make big fixes there that would not have been resisted". Not resisted? Maybe not... I'm not so sure. But, they definitely would have been staggeringly risky at a moment of critical economic weakness (even a 20% chance of blowing everything up was probably not worth it, although YMMV on that one). They are totally in the pocket of big finance too. I'll concede you that. I mean Geitner IS big finance, he is part of the pocket liner. Obama seems to be congenitally willing to give up relatively easy short term gains for a longer term gain. I kinda agree he missed a good opportunity, though I kinda also feel like it was too risky of a thing to try.

Aaron said...

"Aside from being disappointed, I just think it's a bad strategy. The result will be no major improvements"

There are major improvements already. We're technically not in recession anymore. GDP last quarter was positive (and significantly so) for the first time in a long time. The lagging indicators (unemployment mostly) are... well... lagging by about a year as they do. All that pandering to banking and finance has totally helped shift the stupid stock market, which dumb people (voters) believe has something to do with how good their lives are. But that's a major thing to move. Just imagine if it didn't!

"The thing is, even though Obama is being very conservative he's still being branded as "liberal"".
That's par for the course. Republican accuse other republicans of being too liberal. The point is that to be a successful democrat you have to have proof that you are not too liberal, despite being accused of it. I agree with the risk of failing because of being not liberal enough. That's the tricky line dems are searching for these days. Bills crappy enough to get passed, but good enough to not blow up, and hopefully backloaded with really good stuff.

And sure, there's a bunch of incompetence and corruption and flat out bad intentions in there too (fucking Lieberman), and worse than all of that, mealy-mouthed pandering, lack-of-discipline, no killer-instinct pansy-ass behavior from the good guys. I want more Grayson and Pelosi. Grrrrrr.

cbloom said...

"There are major improvements already. We're technically not in recession anymore."

You don't actually believe that do you? From what I can tell, it's actually continuing to get worse and we haven't actually hit bottom yet.

"GDP last quarter was positive (and significantly so) for the first time in a long time."

That was a BS stat though, it was buoyed by BS from the finance industry, a huge bump from Cars for Clunkers, and a bump from construction. I don't think any of those are long term trends.

"The lagging indicators (unemployment mostly) are... well... lagging by about a year as they do."

Unemployment continues to be severely undercounted as more people voluntarily stop looking for work. I think we'll also see a massive growth in "underemployment". It will be interesting to see what median income does over the next ten years (I predict a pretty big drop).

"All that pandering to banking and finance has totally helped shift the stupid stock market"

Yep, rich people are getting rich again, that is true.

There are more worrisome things brewing in the economy as the stimulus packages come to an end. China may currently be in a big bubble they created to hide the recession.

We also are going to have to continue firing government workers, cut government spending, or severely raise taxes, any of which is going to hurt bad in the next few years.

In summary : we're fucked and we haven't done a single damn thing to reduce that fuckage.

Sly said...

That's called being a professional politician.


Beware of the extreme extension of such a decease: you'd end up with politicians like French ones, which speak a lot and who don't do anything at all. And you're already quite closed to that.

Aaron said...

Don't ding the 'bumps' too hard. The point of stimulus is necessarily short term. Even in the depression no one expected the WPA stuff to employ people forever.

I didn't say it was good, I said improved. Recession is a pretty technical definition... it's not like they faked the definition just to say we're out for fun. Of course it still feels like a recession (though not really for me personally). Really what feels bad is the unemployment number. My core opinion is that the american way of life itself is completely unsustainable, so I don't really see how any of this un-sustainable thing can be 'fixed'. We don't need all this shit we keep borrowing to buy, and any re-alignment away from buying all that shit is gonna mean that a bunch of people don't have jobs anymore. Bleh. My point is only that the policies were smart in that they moved the statistics a lot (except for unemployment), which is a necessary but not sufficient condition for improving things. Failing on the stats would be catastrophic in the near term, and make delivering on actual conditions impossible.

Realistically where are all these people going to be employed? I don't think anyone knows. There's an argument that a lot of companies were laying people off not because they couldn't afford them, but as an excuse to shed workers they've long been looking for an excuse to get rid of. I don't see any top down solution for that. We're never going to become a manufacturing country again.

So yeah, long term it's all totally fucked, I think we're on the same page there. Obama's not gonna try to fix that though. He's just gonna try to get us back onto the doomed thing kinda the way it was before. It's the only option really... the core problems can't be fixed.

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