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funksands On February - 12 - 2011

Here's to you!

I grew up in a small town in Southern Idaho surrounded by the culture wars.  Deep in the deepest of red territories, my friends growing up were children of Mormons, farmers, loggers, and other small business owners.

As the child of a set of highly educated, atheist, liberal-tarian, gun-owning, outdoor loving, bleeding heart, miles davis-listening parents, I grew up somewhat differently than those around me.

Embedded in a homogenized culture helped me to become a student of it.  The national culture wars of the 1990’s were very familiar to me, as I had been living inside a mild version of them since the 1970’s.

Now all of us are wearily familiar with the GOP playbook of the last 30 years.  Fractures have started to appear in the GOP monolith.  They have played nearly every card they have, pushing the political narrative so far right that only sociopaths can be counted on to carry the banner for the theocratic and kleptocratic right.

However the result of these elections have resulted in very few sweeping changes to laws and statutes that have to do with right-wing culture issues.  What has resulted is  30 years of pillaging of the commons.  The wealth of our nation has been sucked into the pockets of the top .00005%.  And they want more.

Liberals shake our heads and fists at those that consistently vote against their/our own economic interest, in many cases destroying their/our local communities, simply because of an (R) next to a candidate’s name, or a promise to save the babies.

At least we aren’t suckers like our brothers and sisters on the right.  We know better.

Several weeks ago I made up my mind to vote for Barack Obama again in 2012.  I understand that events may transpire to change that decision, but there it was.   In a rare moment of introspection I wondered where that certainty had come from?

Was it because I agreed with the majority of the policies and legislation that the President had championed?  Tough to say.

Was it because he had kept the promises from his campaign that were most dear to me?  No, actually he hasn’t yet.

Is my certainty because he is the lesser of two evils?  Is that it?  After the giddy days of 2008, it was disappointing to think that “I’m not as bad as the psychopaths in the other party” was the best Obama had to offer.

How did we get here?

I have a theory.  Barack Obama has borrowed pages from the Clinton presidency and the GOP playbook to craft a two-term strategy that may be foolproof.

Obama is offering cultural reform in return for the left and independents acquiescence about the core economic issues of our nation.  The genius of his strategy is that unlike the poor righties, I believe he intends to deliver on many of those reforms.   Why? The left is too smart and fickle to fall for empty promises forever.

I am confident that as an Obama supporter in 2012, I will walk into the voting booth with a long list of Obama’s accomplishment spooling in my head.  Many of these hard-won victories are HUGE accomplishments.  This will justify in my mind voting for him again.

But I can’t shake the feeling I’ve been set up.

I’m being given gays in the military in return for outsourcing jobs.

I’m being given veteran homelessness initiatives for no change in odious bankruptcy laws.

I’m being given health insurance for pre-existing conditions for enshrinment of health industry profits.

I’m being given the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act in return for credit cards still being able to charge us 30%.

I’m being given green initiaves in return for no change in oil and coal subsidies.

I’m being given benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees in return for minor changes to derivative regulation.

I’ve been given Elisabeth Warren, only to have her marginalized, her authority and power more symbolic than real.

I’ve been given two women Supreme Court Justices, (one hispanic!) in return for almost no push-back against Citizens United.

I’ve been given a small stimulus bill in return for more tax cuts.

Is this enough?  Will Obama’s base and swing voters be satisfied with sweeping social changes, while having the wealth of the nation carted away from under their noses?  I don’t have an answer for that.  But I suspect that this choice is being deliberately crafted for our consideration.

Here’s a test: flip-flop all of the above bargains.  How would you feel?

For example:  Would you take concerted effort to repeal Citizens United in exchange for two more old white guys as justices?

Would you take credit card fees capped at 10% if it meant Lily Leadbetter had to wait, possibly for a long time?

Would you take the end of oil and coal subsidies if it meant delaying green intiatives?

If you could bring jobs home from China and India if it meant delaying gay’s right to serve, would you take it?

I know that there have been efforts by the House Dems to solve these problems, but you aren’t going to stop 30 years of laundering our money and jobs with the passive, cautious “leadership” the White House has shown.

I think they’re okay with keeping the economic game just the way it is.  I think Obama would be perfectly satisfied to give us sweeping social change shackled to the same old economic dance partner.

If that is the case, will that satisfy you?  Will that earn your vote?  If so, why?  If not, what will you do next?

Written by funksands

There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know. Additionally there is bacon.

127 Responses so far.

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  1. KillgoreTrout says:


    You mentioned the 30 million waiting for a better bill. I just want to say, that they have to wait until the majority of the healthcare reform bill goes into effect. In what, 2013?

  2. KillgoreTrout says:

    I’m not sure exactly what a culture warrior is. I can make a vague guess, but would like someone to explain it to me.

    • anachoret says:

      My take on the culture wars is that it was created as a new take on the “urban vs rural” split, in a battle for suburban voters.

      I first noticed it’s effects in elevating incarceration rates of urban youth, for things like Marijuana possession. It was rolled out as a “get tough on” mantra. The notion that we needed a new “morning in America” was because we had not been tough enough on things like petty crimes, which allowed urban centers to become the horrible dens of inequity that they were (especially if you didn’t live in one, and believed what you saw in the media). I believe Pat Buchanan said “We need to take back our cities.”

      Today it is most evident in the speeches which differentiate between “Real” America and those areas that embrace “multiculturalism on steroids.”

      It had and has real effects, and, I would argue, has been one of the reasons that America has the incarceration rates it has today. It spawned the image of American cities as “battle-grounds” and war-zones, rather than communities and neighborhoods. As the phrases “Culture War” and culture warriors implies, it is to be seen and portrayed as a war, pitting American against American, for “The very soul of our nation.”

    • PocketWatch says:

      From one of my rants … I don’t know if it addresses your question, but in my mind it does…

      Fire, ice, asteroids, volcanoes, global climate change, pole shifts, war, gay rights, race, religious disputes, oil disasters, financial collapses, American Idol, political parties, Jersey Shore, riots in Greece… they are all bogeymen with which we distract ourselves from the real threat of our time.

      In an age when everyone invents his own truth, there is no community, no commons, only factions and fractures.

      Without community, without a sense of commons, there can be no consensus to resist the greedy, the envious, the cynical, the solipsistic and power-mad narcisists who sieze control and turn the institutions of civilization into a series of doom machines, real or imagined.

      The question each of us needs to ask ourselves is, which side of this very real conflict are we on?

      Do you honestly believe that "every man for himself" and "I've got mine" are real answers, and that the civilization that allows you to operate that way is actually beneficial and will be self-sustaining if everyone thinks and behaves that way?

      Or, do you believe that we ARE our brothers' keepers, and that by fostering that belief, and by building a true commons we can all share in order to prosper, we will all end up in a better world?

      To me, that is the cultural divide.

    • Buddy McCue says:

      Pat Buchanan described the “culture war” fairly well in a speech to the 1992 Republican National Convention. He said that it was a war going on in this country for the soul of America. It was all about “public morality.”

      He said, “The agenda Clinton and Clinton would impose on America — abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat — that’s change, all right. But it is not the kind of change America wants. It is not the kind of change America needs. And it is not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God’s country.”

      Economic issues and foreign policy are not nearly as important as these cultural issues to the “culture warrior.”

      “Culture Warrior” is also the title of a book by Bill O’Reilley, who adopts the term to describe himself and his own efforts. To him, the war is between “traditionalists” and “secular-progressives”.

      • JMBrodie says:

        And for many of us, the term meant the beginning of sorting out the “them” from the “us.” There was suddenly a coming together of this idea that some were more American than others — a sea change from the “huddled masses yearning” stuff that had defined us to that point.

        Mr. Buchanan and Mr. O’Reilly were two men who saw a future time when they would not represent the majority, and then they created evil others in much the same way DW Griffith did a century ago.

        To me, “Culture Wars” was code for a new Post-Reconstruction.

    • audadvnc says:

      “I’m taking your money and rights and handing them off to the one percenters. But look at this nice set of rose colored glasses I got for you!”

  3. Sabreen60 says:

    CL…I’m not a mushy person, I’m really not. I’ve fought quite a few battles in my lifetime. Reading rarely brings tears to my eyes. But, after reading your comments (especially the one that has no reply button)I felt this somewhat harden fighter “welling up”. You expressed, almost with poetry, my thoughts so completely. I don’t have the wherewithal to express myself so eloquently as you have done. So thank you for expressing in writing that which swirls around in my mind.

    • JMBrodie says:

      Agreed. It seems the change we have sought has come at a price. Part of me still believes that if we vote real progressives into office we would see real reforms. The thread I am holding tightly to is quite slim indeed.

      Perhaps this is what change looks like. Without beating a tired horse, I must again ask where we would be under a McCain Administration.

  4. caleb36 says:

    One of the mistakes i think many people make about President Obama is separating him as an individual person from his party. In his policy positions, Obama is a quite typical representative of today’s Democratic leaders, specifically the Illinois Democratic party from whence he comes.

    I have worked for many years in jobs connected with the Illinois legislature. Illinois has a Democratic-controlled House and Senate and a Democratic Governor (Pat Quinn). It has nothing akin to the filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate, which means that what the Democratic leadership wants to enact, it generally can. Illinois also has a budgetary deficit which, in relation to its size, is either first or second worst in the nation.

    What has occurred in recent years is a bifurcation of political point of view on social vs. economic issues among the Democrats. On non-economic issues, the party has moved remarkably in a progressive direction. Since November, the Illinois General Assembly has legalized civil unions and voted to abolish the death penalty (the Governor’s position on this latter legislation is not known, but it is expected that he will sign it). Legalization of medical marijuana failed on two close votes but appears headed for passage in the near future. Any of these actions would have been inconceivable in Illinois even five years ago.

    On the economic front, the situation is the opposite. Democrats are not only condoning, but initiating, a series of anti-union, anti-public employee measures. It is Democrats, not Republican, who have moved forward with legislation to make major cuts in workers’ compensation benefits, disenfranchise thousands of public employees from collective bargaining rights, prevent teachers from striking, support charter schools at the expense (both financially and morally) of public education, and cut public employee health care and pension benefits. While it is true that the State urgently needs to economize, the Democrats are joining in the chorus of blaming public employees for the fiscal crisis, instead of the big financial institutions whose chicanery caused the crash and resulting downturn in state revenues.

    In the area of taxation, the Illinois Democrats have proved more progressive than the president and U.S. Congress by enacting income tax increases on both individuals and corporations. Had they failed to do so, the state may have gone bankrupt. Tied to this tax increase, however, is legislation proposed by the leadership that would require an extraordinary majority to enact any legislation increasing state spending by more than the amount of the state’s revenue growth over the past several years. This proposal, which would largely eliminate the possibility of even small programs to enhance the public welfare, has the potential of becoming Illinois’ equivalent of California’s infamous Proposition 13.

    In their economic, labor, and education policies, the Democrats can in no way be considered any longer the lesser of two evils. On the contrary, it is they who are taking the lead in initiating an aggressively pro-corporate, anti-union agenda. Doubtless the increased flow of corporate dollars to their coffers (encouraged by the Citizens United decision) is behind this change in political orientation. It is to be noted that the drastic rightward turn in the party’s direction is very recent, less than two years, and picking up steam noticeably within the past six months. It is also noteworthy that every high Democratic state official, including our formerly quite liberal governor, is on board.

    My point in writing this is that the decision of whether to support President Obama in 2012 should not be taken separately from an evaluation whether to support the Democratic party as a whole. To my mind, today’s Democratic party fails to meet minimum standards of even a slightly progressive political organization. The increased social progressivism is wonderful, but it doesn’t make up for the basic failure to take the people’s side in a time of economic depression. Is a liberal challenge possible from within the party? I hope so, because it is virtually impossible for a third party to succeed in America. At present, however, there appears no sign that this is the case.

    • funksands says:

      You make some compelling points. By some estimations only 25% or so of the needed financial reforms were put into place over the last two years. One suggestion Obama came up with was to levy fees on banks with over $50 billion in assets. Congress shot that down.

      Many laud the administration for even being able to get 25% through a reluctant Dem Senate and a do-nothing GOP.

      Do you think it is because their policies are so different from Bush’s comparatively speaking, or because they are the needed policies? I wonder about that.

      When your administration is populated by ex- and soon-to-be Wall Streeters do their positions automatically start from a point of deference to that point of view? I can’t help but think it does.

    • escribacat says:

      Interesting post, caleb. How strange that they’ve chosen to move to the right when the very election of Obama shows that the country as a whole moved to the left after Bush.

      My problem with withdrawing support from the Democrats is a very simple one. All it does is divide the left-leaning voters and pave the way for the election of a Republican. It is a guaranteed outcome. So you don’t agree with everything the Democrats do — would you rather have a Republican in office?

      • caleb36 says:

        Thinking more about your question, there is, of course, a great gap between the two parties on non-economic issues, which has become much greater now that the Democrats have move leftward and the national Republicans have become complete troglodytes. This is, in itself, a compelling reason to vote Democrat if we as a nation do not wish to return to the dark ages.

        Interestingly, Illinois Republicans have a moderate tradition (Lincoln, after all, is from here), which the national Republicans have tried to crack with only partial success. Thus, Republicans in the Illinois legislature were among those voting for civil unions and abolition of the death penalty. The last three Republican Governors were all moderates, with the latest, George Ryan, commuting the sentences of all prisoners then on death row. The 2010 candidate for governor, Bill Brady, however, broke the moderate Republican mold. He is not quite Tea Party, but getting there.

        Just because Democrats are much better on social issues is no reason to become complacent with the party. Because the Democrats have been so weak, and now actively regressive, on economic issues, many voters legitimately see no reason to vote for their candidates. The result may fearfully be the success of a Republican-supported social counterrevolution.

      • caleb36 says:

        This is a great dilemma that you pose. The Republicans have taken such extreme, kooky right wing positions that they have made it impossible for me NOT to vote for what I consider an unacceptable party, the Democrats. Again citing Illinois, the Republican candidate, Bill Brady, would have essentially eliminated state government had he been elected, by cutting tens of thousands of state jobs and many vital programs. (He was the favorite in the polls and only lost by 31,000 votes.) But if Americans continue to be denied fundamental, democratic (small “d”) choice by the two parties, we will eventually go the way of Egypt.

  5. Redemption Song II says:


    Yeah, that’s basically how I feel about Obama…open eyes and a slight twist of the lips.

  6. david p canada says:

    President Obama campaigned from the Left and once elected, morphed into a moderate Conservative. Normally I would give him kudos for that, except for one issue.


    This isn’t just the elephant in the room, it’s a whole herd of them. If the US is to remain competitive in the global economy, single-payer health-care must be implemented and soon. Small- to medium-size business would rejoice as that is the no. 1 issue for new hires.

    Sure, it would mean a tax increase and a big one. So what? Once passed, Americans could get on with the job of becoming wealthier, something they are very good at.

    What has been passed now is a joke. Poor people will not pay for health-care. The only way to get money from the poor is to raise the price of booze, smokes, and lottery tickets.

    As it stands now, with the exception of military strength, Canada is a superior country to the US, simply by the way it treats it’s citizens, especially the weakest.

    I have many more thoughts on this…

    And I’m still a Conservative.

    • Truth says:

      David, are you sure you are a Conservative? In any case, great post.

      I just don’t think Obama campaigned as a leftie. IMO he was center left before the election and he is center left today.

    • kesmarn says:

      David, if you keep this up, you just might become known as one of those conservatives who gives conservatism a good name! 😉

    • jdmn17 says:

      I worked in health care, delivery and supplier. The mark ups are outrageous and the profits obscene so getting the corporations to buy into it is unlikely. Ditto the insurance industry that makes a killing on premiums. We have a longer road then we know.

      And I do agree with you about Canada being superior in it’s treatment of its people. They just have a much sunnier attitude on the whole, the people that is.

      • escribacat says:

        Hey jdm…you make an important point that almost never gets addressed in this debate — when you talk about the outrageous markups and profits, you are referring to the hospitals, clinics, doctors, etc. Why do Americans have to pay more for everything than the rest of the world?

        • jdmn17 says:

          Ecat -- first my thanks for astonishing me I made a point -- important too :-)

          The medical device field I served in -- well let’s say retail prices were a function of insurance reimbursement. Countries like Canada paid about 20% of what we pay here. Why? They refuse to pay more. And they told the US companies to take it or shove it. Ditto many other Euro countries. We saw prices range from $2000 to $10000 for the same product. The US is about $8000 btw, Japan, Suisse are the two highest. Also the potentate states like SA etc. They pay about ten grand for a product that goes for two in Canada.

          Doctors get much higher rates than Canada but Canadian docs still make a good living and are held in higher esteem while for the most part being just like your next door neighbor, because they often are.

          Hospital costs in Canada are lower because they are not profit driven (and before you say most hospitals are not for profit -- I beg to differ, that’s all accounting).

          Nurses and allied health care workers are mostly on par across all countries. We can’t blame health care workers for the problems. And yet when they threaten to walk over the shoddy treatment they get for lower pay and reduced benefits they are demonized in the press.

          The mark ups just kill me. We bitch about DoD paying $400 for a hammer they can buy at Home Depot for $25. Medical products are the same yet we don’t express outrage over that. Why? Because the MSM doesn’t really want us to be aware of that or we might end up rallying in Central Park like the Egyptians.

    • funksands says:

      Great post David.

    • choicelady says:

      I would live in Canada in a heartbeat -- did one summer while teaching at UCCB in Sydney, NS. But we are stuck with our own, odd notions of “exceptionalism” that have been honed over two centuries and through much propaganda to propagate the idea that the private sector is best.

      Canada’s health care plan is outstanding -- except for the regressive tax used to pay for much of it. There is not a lot good one can say about a 17% VAT that falls most heavily on the poor. In CA we are looking at funding a single payer plan -- very hard to do without gouging the poor. So while I hail Canada’s plan to the skies, I have reservations -- big ones -- about how you all have chosen to pay for it. I do NOT know whether people below a certain income level get some kind of rebate? I have to laugh if they don’t -- you offer us tourists a form to file to get OUR VAT payments back (I won’t do that -- I support your system and am happy to add my pittance to it.)

      Now = scroll down to last night’s discussion of HRC, and you will see that imperfect as it is, it borrowed many of the principles of the CA single payer plan including per capita costs. So it’s not a failure. It’s a start. And maybe, over time, we will find a funding plan that is less burdensom to the needy. Or perhaps not. But that is a flaw in the Canadian system, and one that troubles me a great deal.

      • Mightywoof says:

        Hi CLady! I despise sales taxes of any kind and, true to my socialist heart, I would love to see them consigned to the dustbin of history and progressive income taxes returned. Howsomever ……. I wasn’t too sure about the Sales Taxes bring used to fund health care up here so I went looking. While not an authoritative source ( http://www.canadian-healthcare.org/page8.html -- I don’t have much time this morning -- maybe David P can add further to this?) the health care plans in each Province are funded primarily from both Federal and Provincial individual and corporate income taxes although in some Provinces a portion is also funded thorough sales taxes. Ontario, where I am, at one time also charged an income-dependant health surtax at the time you do your tax forms to supplement the funding -- I can’t recall if they still do. A bit of a dog’s breakfast and it’s constantly under attack from both the funding end (costs must be contained) and what is actually covered -- but we still get excellent health care imo with no upfront cost to the patient …… and I don’t fall for the meme that our health care is free -- we simply spread the risk and don’t charge individual premiums for our government insurance (at least not here in Ontario).

        Regressive sales taxes are a whole ‘nother conversation!!

      • funksands says:

        What do you think of Vermont’s plan? Just curious.

        • choicelady says:

          We on the State Strategy Group for single payer are working with the folks in VT. We are all pretty much in the same boat -- it’s all in flux, we’re sharing data, and our folks who are developing the financing plan are working with theirs. That said, we don’t have the “final final” for either state yet. I have real hope that between the two we will figure something out that is good on both the finance end AND the delivery end. We have the second, not the first in both states. It’s just too soon to tell. Sorry not to be able to be more definitive!

  7. zootliberal says:

    Holy crap funksands, I have had a long hard day and then I come home, fire up the friggin’ cpu and read this! I mean sure it was well written, sure it had gobs of truth, put mostly it hurt my head having to ponder why in the hell I still support this guy and, no thanks to you, that won’t be so easy. Now I probably won’t sleep that well either -- so I hope you’re proud of yourself.

    Perhaps I can work out a more useful comment in my dreams, as I can’t right now, so I will just play Flamenco Sketches (which hopefully you’ve come to like, despite the fact that your parents most certainly did) and hope that Cannonball Adderly’s oh so sweet solo can drown out this clamoring of yours now echoing in my head.

    Have some consideration, Jesus.

    btw, that it was brilliant doesn’t help one fucking bit. good night.

    • KillgoreTrout says:

      You can never go wrong with Miles Davis and his peers.

    • Truth says:

      Zoot, scroll down and savor choicelady’s comments. They are a treat!

    • funksands says:

      There’s plenty worth supporting. I view Obama as a bridge to change, not the change itself.

      • jdmn17 says:

        funk -- small steps. when you build furniture starting with shit stained grey barn boards using hand tools you really grasp the concept of small steps. I agree he’s a bridge to change, let’s just hope it’s not Sara’s bridge to nowhere

        • choicelady says:

          jdmn -- what an elegant analogy! Only thing I’d change is that Obama got handed gray, weathered board with bird poop on ’em. That said, this is very eye-opening as a way of having people understand what difficulties come in undoing the damages inflicted over the past 40 years on poopy weathered boards. Thank you -- may I pinch this for use elsewhere? It’s very clarifying!

  8. KB723 says:

    You Folks have a Great Evening. I am out… See ya’ all around on another time. 😎

  9. ghsts says:

    Awesome post!

    Like you, I’m just looking for some way back to him but for me it is like expecting to get eggs from a squirrel. I knew Obama from my heydays in Chicago, and was kinda creeped out by his stances on polar issues in the state senate but was all-in for his other two campaigns. You don’t usually get to Harvard by rocking the boat and expected the occasional pain in the back. I loved DeVito in the Rainmaker, and wanted to believe in the mythical lawyer for the underdog.

    He is a man under pressure no doubt but that shtick didn’t work out of w’s mouth and unholy out of the mouths of Democrats. I don’t need to be satisfied by success in the first two years not to mention my lifetime. Like the Civil Rights movements before us, real change takes decades or centuries not months and not for lack of trying. Dare I say it, I was looking for some one to take a stand for the Real.(Case in point Obama would have walked away from Egypt after Mubarak agreed to not run in September.)

    In the HC bill we got ‘no preexisting condition’ and lost everything else. The admin didn’t give us DADT repeal the courts did, though the prez made it stick no doubt. The “Crisis with Just Say No Pain” hit and everyone cried jobs, so Obama started licking the jackboots. OK, they may be Doc Martins but my face lost feeling years ago. Down with corporate lobbyists, turned into please sign here for your free tote bag as you exit the oval office. Accountability for unjust Wars turned into what good could come from rehashing the past? So no, I won’t trade your head for my bed, a new cardboard box could be fun though.

    • choicelady says:

      This is what makes my teeth grind -- in the Health Care bill you got HUGE changes that will make major alterations in covering millions. I’d suggest reading it -- all of it -- and not leaping to such simplistic conclusions. Progressives have to take more responsibility for understanding details and not just some ‘frame’ that makes us dismissive without substance.

  10. AdLib says:

    Great job on voicing what I think many Progressives are feeling and recognizing now.

    Politics is about compromise. No president comes into office and gets everything they and their core constituency wants. It’s all about strategy, what do you trade for what, what do you give up for what to accomplish SOMETHING.

    That’s my issue with the Dem Purist view. If it had prevailed, we would not have HCR and many of the other items you list.

    I learned that an absolute commitment to philosophical purity is a recipe for absolute failure. With all the Blue Dogs and conservative Dems in Congress, we saw how flatly impossible it was to get some things passed. Could Obama have said or done anything else to get Lieberman to stop opposing and blocking Medicare for all? I doubt it. So was that him selling out Dems? No, it was Lieberman taking the trophy for that.

    Wishful thinking is not a legitimate political philosophy. There are realities that exist no matter what. This is what some of these Purist Dems, opposing Obama today really don’t understand. It amazes me too how so many think the President can make laws and how Obama is blamed for what Congress couldn’t accomplish.

    I’m with you, when I walk into that voting booth I will be thinking about how much he actually has accomplished and how much more he might be able to without needing to seek election again and possibly, a new Dem majority in Congress.

    • funksands says:

      Ad Lib, I couldn’t agree more with what you said.

      I’m not a purist, far from it. I think I was simply looking for an executive response equal to the peril we face.

      Regardless of outcome, the intent would have been a start.

  11. PocketWatch says:

    I have a theory that goes like this…

    I believe that if the economy was healthy and there were few issues pending, President Obama (or any reasonably center-left President) would have been happy to go down the path the left wanted, and the right knew it.

    People in the WH knew months if not longer before the crash, that it was coming, but WHEN was the question.

    I find it highly suspicious that after the election and before taking office, all of a sudden…. BOOM!

    How better to keep a moderate Dem President who has the charisma to carry the day on many social issues hog-tied and surrounded by corporatists than hand him a steaming pile of economic dogshit, bagged up and flaming on the White house steps? And that’s exactly what happened.

    There is no political downside to that. All the economic ills can be -- correctly or not -- laid in his lap, and the right gets four years to beat the crap out of him in the media. And further, it limits what anyone is able to accomplish, because everyone in government is now focused on one thing.

    I find it amazing he’s gotten as far as he has in the circumstance, and, as I said, I suspect a rat. A big, nasty, corporate rat.

    • ghsts says:

      As my mother always said, ‘food goes in the mouth on the floor only attracts mice.

      • choicelady says:

        I’m not quite sure what it means, but I love it anyway!


        • ghsts says:

          Sloppy kids eating in the basement, we didn’t have rats in the heartland only mice.

          • bito says:

            In the “heartland”? You must have never seen a one of the rats in a steel mill in the MidWest, they could carry a lunch box away. lol

            • choicelady says:

              bito -- LOL!!!! I’ve heard that about Mill Rats. ALL of the senses of the term! Did you work there? Fascinating place I must say, rats and all!

            • bito says:

              C’Lady, yes I was one and I saw them. I worked at the USS Gary works for a while going to school. You had to carry your lunch in a metal lunch box and then place it in a metal locker. Those things were large, scary and unafraid of humans.

            • bito says:

              😆 C’Lady the rats in the Gary works kept cats as pets. Kept them on leashes and walked them. 😉

            • choicelady says:

              bito -- hang around the grain elevators circling the Great Lakes -- the workers give the rats names and great respect!

              I agree about the lunch boxes! Steelworkers at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna swore they went hungry because the rats had taken the boxes!

    • choicelady says:


    • funksands says:

      There is no better time than in the smoking ruins of a 100-year financial disaster to enact sweeping changes in the corrupted rules of the game.

      Obama did not have any interest in that.

      The rat is a given.

      • bito says:

        funksands, I am in agreement with C’lady below this. I watched the mark-ups in both the House and the Senate on the financial reform bill. Was it a perfect bill? No. Was it fought in the the Senate every step of the way? Yes! If you can point me to something that will show me that “Obama did not have any interest in that”, I would be interested in reading it.
        The Republicans fought it, the purists wanted more. It still needed 61 votes to pass the in the Senate. it was the most sweeping reform that has been passed in 30+ years.
        Oh and the R’s in the House now want to de-fund that do nothing bill.

        • eileenleft says:

          Did you folks listen/watch Obama’s weekly addresses? I have. Religiously. As all of these fights were taking place, especially financial reform, he HAMMERED congress for the influence of lobbyists on legislation. I heard it with my own ears. Why did those statements not make it out into the political conversation? Answer: they were overwhelmed with all of the yelling taking place on the MSM. Were some of the people holding up stronger legislation Dems? Absolutely. One factor that many forget is that he has not had the support of his party that WE expected. Just consider congress’ response to closing GITMO. RW talking points have percolating throughout the political conversation for two years, unabated. I was always shocked to hear them repeated by Dem lawmakers. Every time he tried to get things back on track, there was the corporate media drowning out his message. Arianna Huffington did NOT help. She did real damage to Obama in the first two years by dividing his base. I even hear echoes of her “talking points” right here on this blog as I read comments.
          Bottom line, we have to do the work. He can’t do it alone. He will have to choose his battles, just like most of us do everyday. Sounds simplistic, but it is true.
          To focus only on his perceived shortcomings we will lose. And that is the naked truth.

          • funksands says:

            eileen, I’ll admit it, I don’t listen to the weekly addresses. Can I listen to them on whitehouse.gov?

          • choicelady says:

            eileen -- spot ON. I don’t always hear the weekly addresses, but what I’ve heard never EVER “trickles out”. You are so correct, especially about AH and her screaming headlines that top a totally different story. Over and over I’ve listened to even smart, pretty progressive people make HUGE errors in interpreting what Obama has said or done or what has passed or why. I feel like Alice in Wonderland -- nothing I see squares with reality at ALL. Thank you for making this so clear. I am in total agreement.

        • choicelady says:

          Absolutely, bito! This is the fist pushback the financial institutions have had in over 30 years, and it’s a GREAT first step.

          PROGRESSIVES -- there is a very real possibility that had the collapse come in 2006 or 2007 and Obama had run in 2008, we WOULD have had FDR and the second New Deal. But it did not.

          Americans are ignorant of both history and, well, facts. They were not ready or eager to believe that the abundance they’ve known since WW II was really gone, that this wasn’t a blip in the firmament. We had another such scare in 1987 and pulled out; the S&L disaster in 1989 and pulled out. The bounty of the 90s and the downturn (temporary we thought) after 9/11 -- all that we recovered from. So Obama got caught in America’s magical thinking -- this is supposed to be temporary and we should get out, go back to business as usual, the only people hurt are THEM (whoever) but not, God forbid, ME!

          You did not have enough time lag of experience with failed GOP policies to let Americans understand, as they did under Hoover, how freaking bankrupt the system IS. So you don’t have the will among the Blue Dogs or many Americans to fix it with BIG solutions.

          Obama is moving us in the correct direction, but unlike Roosevelt he does not have the ability to do a WPA, etc. His own party undermined that. His plans for the American Re-investment and Recovery Act got chopped by DEMS. FDR never faced that because the situation was worse for middle income Americans than it was for the same group in 2008.

          Today it is different also because so many of the people seriously harmed by this financial collapse are people of color -- and white Americans, the “likely voters” -- secretly or openly believe they brought their disasters on themselves.

          So between short time lag, conservative Dems, and intrinsic racism, you have no real room for Obama to write his projects in a big way.

          It’s not the same as 1933. We play the hand we’re dealt. Instead of comparing Obama to FDR, just look at him compared to the last freaking 40 YEARS!!! It is insanity for the GOP to think we can just have the same old all over again. It is also insanity to think Obama can just make it “OK” overnight.

          Unlike the New Deal, we will take this the way it was built -- one step at a time. It took 40 years to get this screwed up. It will take at least a decade to fix it. Get over the desire for a New Deal. Welcome to the New Reality.

          • KQuark says:

            I always thought the FDR comparison was way too high an expectation. Not only did FDR have carte blanch with much bigger majorities in congress he did not have to put up with the right wing echo chamber and tea baggers. People already had years of the GD not just months and gave him almost two terms without flipping congress to fix things. Still will all he accomplished WWII was necessary to get the economy back to full employment.

            I also have to chuckle when people talk about back room deals. FDR was the king of the back room deal followed by LBJ. He illegally started the loan lease program months before congress acted.

            People also forget how “conservative” the first iteration of Social Security really was. It excluded most occupations held by woman and minorities and did not even include Federal workers. Talk about a nasty compromise to get it passed by Dixiecrats. So unlike the FDR mythology he compromised much like Obama did with the ACA.

          • bito says:

            C’Lady, sometime you make me weep with joy on your understanding and expressing the history of social justice and the plights of fight for them. One person I admire was Mrs Francis Perkins and I often think that you must be a reincarnation of her. She was a true believer in progress is progressive and fought many years in the cabinet of FDR to get many things passed. She knew it took time, yet she never stopped.
            You are a jewel and I remain your eager student, Professor.

            • choicelady says:

              Oh bito -- you could not have made me happier! I’m honored you’d even think of me on the same page as Mrs. Perkins. My folks had friends from MN who were major progressive leaders there during the Depression. Mrs. P. came to town, they were asked to have her to dinner. Thinking she’d probably be ladylike, they bought a set of sherry glasses to offer her some libation. Turns out the lady drank whiskey. Neat. The “Francis Perkins Sherry Glasses” however became a family treasure. As is the story. I do think very highly of her indeed, and I’m touched you’d think me worthy of comparison -- even though I don’t like whiskey.

      • choicelady says:

        I SO disagree, funksands! Whatever his interest, and I posted a lot below, he cannot do this without Congress. We are so used to the Imperial President that we don’t know what to do with one whose MAIN interest has been to restore a functioning democracy which means a balance of power that he respects.

        I agree with PocketWatch -- there is a huge corporatist (and Dominionist Christian which many TeaBaggers ARE) push to make Obama immobile. It works well enough that, coupled with the flaming piles of poo from the MSM, it’s almost impossible for him to get really heard and to do what he wants. What he has accomplished under these circumstances is amazing. He has begun turning back the tide of corporate dominance in many areas. But to expect him to do it single handedly and to right the wrongs of the past 30-plus years in just over TWO years is beyond naive. What he has done is start the process.

        If we on the progressive side do not learn to understand policy -- in really solid detail -- and if we don’t learn to stop having magical thinking that is nearly as bad as the Right, he will fail. WE will fail. Unralistic expectations are the death knell for policy. If any of us want something, we have to DO it ourselves -- the same way the ‘baggers did it. We have to get outside the blogs and WORK.

        Case in point -- AdLib and many othes of us are working on a new policy for CA that WILL push back Citizens United. We used our combined strengths to learn that CA’s Fair Political Practices Commission -- headed by a Republican no less -- found a loophole in Citizens United and set a new disclosure regulation in place. Now anyone paying to support as AstroTurf groups is “outed” in CA. No more shadow financing. Another step -- we at the Planet are using our strengths to build new coalitions and to go beyond the blog to the streets, too. We had huge success in bringing sunshine to the Koch cabal -- and they hated it.

        First steps. Not the last.

        We don’t expect Obama to do these things. Democracy functions ONLY when we do. And we won’t back down. He said election night that he could NOT do stuff alone. It takes all of us saying what we want and refusing to back off. Well only the Tea Party seems to have receive that message and used it. Where are the progressives??? All the ones I know personally, outside the folks here, do nothing at all but whine. And it’s scary as hell when I see what people CAN accomplish if they act. Blogging is great, but it won’t make change. It will only give us more psychic comfort when we lose. And that’s not good enough.

        • Sabreen60 says:

          I posted this article on HP. I re-read it when I need to be reminded of the nature of the Republican Party in general, and those in Congress in particular. The game the Republicans play is not a new one. The goal is to make the Dems, including the President appear unable to govern. I agree that President Obama has compromised far more than I would have liked. But given the Party of “NO” to everything, I think I UNDERSTAND the “why” of the compromises.

          There is a method to the madness of Republicans.


        • ghsts says:

          The only way you’re gonna push back against Citizens United is by Constitutional Amendment or a one way ticket to 2032. First steps generally are in the direction you want to go. Centrifugal force is wonderful in dancing, but centripetal force just keeps you on the same track while making you sick.

          • AdLib says:

            With all due respect, that’s not the case. There are several key elements of CU that can be undermined state by state relatively quickly. In fact, as CL has explained, CA has already weakened it by requiring disclosure on all groups that finance campaign advertising.

            And there’s a lot more in the works.

            You can try to take out a giant with one massive stroke or by many smaller cuts.

            • Truth says:

              That gives me hope in the case of Citizen United.

            • choicelady says:

              ghsts -- AdLib and I among others are making inroad via building on a law that is NOW WORKING in Ohio. We will explain more as we develop the idea and get it finished. But we’re not doing this in a granola vacuum. Neither AdLib nor I is ignorant of “California Exceptionalism” and how often it just lies here and goes nowhere else. That’s why AdLib did such a superb job of looking nationally for ideas upon which to build.

              Interestingly -- despite the war on Ohio unions, Ohio is a leader in progressive ideas on many fronts.

              Just saying -- we appreciate everything from everywhere.

            • ghsts says:

              Didn’t work with; civil rights, minimum wage, prohibition, environmental policy, slavery, suffrage, reproductive rights, DADT,marriage equality, universal hc, immigration, right to work, did I miss something here? 20-30 years, like I said, does wonders for burying the trips so in a sense I agree with you.

              Props to you Califighters but you’ve got a sketchy record when it comes to influence east of the divide, let alone your own state.

            • choicelady says:

              Chinese saying: death by a thousand cuts? It works.

        • funksands says:

          I don’t expect magic. I’m a realist that understands the barriers that exist for the President.

          I also believe that long-term change will only come from the bottom-up not the top-down.

          I also don’t expect him to do it single-handedly but I do expect him to advocate.

          As far as being unable to be heard? That’s hogwash. He’s the President. He can be the most heard person on the planet on any topic he chooses to be.

          The global economy froze for 48 hrs in 2008. We have an estimated $638 trillion dollars of unfunded derivatives on the global books and we got a clearinghouse for trades (even though the prices of derivatives are still determined in a black box) and forcing originators of asset-backed securities to maintain a 5% ownership risk in their securities.

          It’s weak and the administration should be called on it.

          I can do that while still appreciating the good work he’s done.

  12. MossyOak says:

    Great post, Funksands! I’ve been struggling with the same issue and you gave me much to consider. My thinking at any given moment: Yes/no/maybe….filling that little oval in with a pen next to him name will not be an easy act. I do agree Obama is reading from Clinton’s playbook and, as much as I liked Clinton after his eight years and a booming economy, I now realize he was just another neoliberal kneeling at the corporate altar to get re-elected.

    The most cogent point of your post, the getting something for losing something, is a pattern that has played out in DC consistently since Obama took office, paring unlike things into bills to make it palatable for all and satisfying for none. DADT was fabulous, but seven million people lost their homes. That’s tough medicine to swallow. If Obama is the chess master we all thought him to be, it is in the area of sending mixed messages where he has excelled. Barring anyone better throwing their hat in the ring (highly doubtful) I guess we’re stuck with him.

    • funksands says:

      I am hoping that these patterns are simply the result of cautious pragmatism rather than cynical manipulation. That would make me feel better.

      The question that nags me is what about the one after Obama? If we can’t count on the Dems to retake the economic initiative, who will?

      Now more than ever I am convinced that growing local candidates to specifically infiltrate the Democratic party from grassroots up is the only way we’ll change our fortunes. The Tea Party and their corporate backers did it. We can do it.

  13. ParadisePlacebo74 says:

    Well written. I can’t find anything in your assessment to disagree with.

  14. KQuark says:

    No President Obama will never be a culture warrior. Not only is it not in his DNA to be that divisive, it’s also the only strategy he could use to get in office. I knew what Obama was before I voted for him and that was a much more moderate and pragmatic man than many on the left would let themselves see in him. He never ever said he was a left wing George Bush even though that’s what the right still thinks he is and the left wants him to be.

    The comparison to Reagan is a fair one in this way. His words outstretch what he is willing to compromise on policy much like Reagan conservative words outstretched his actions. Because he knows like Reagan words are seeds for crop to be sown years down the line not one week or even in the next election cycle.

    I think allot of the dichotomies you present are unfair in that it implies Obama had ultimate say on all these issues when most of them were decided by Congress, specifically the Senate. Many of the things you mentioned were just amendments to laws that were shot down in the Senate for example.

    • KillgoreTrout says:

      I think Obama misplaced his veto pen.

      • bito says:

        KTrout, what do you think he should he have vetoed?

        • KillgoreTrout says:

          Several bills actually. HCR for one. He should have sent it back and asked for single payer. That’s what he campaigned on. The Patriot Act extension of 2 years ago.
          Further military spending for Afghanistan.

          • PatsyT says:


            The Obameter Scorecard

            PolitiFact has compiled more than 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking their progress on our Obameter.

            We rate their status as Not Yet Rated, In the Works or Stalled. Once we find action is completed, we rate them Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken.

            Promise Kept 134
            Compromise 41
            Promise Broken 38
            Stalled 72
            In the Works 219
            Not yet rated 2


          • KB723 says:

            Killgore, I am sorry to say that, he campaigned on many promises to be broken. It is the ritual…

            Folks seem to forget that campaign promises are little more than campaign “Slogans”

          • choicelady says:

            Hi Killgore -- well, did you count votes? I did since I support single payer in CA. By the largest possible stretch of the imagination (blackmail was not out of the question) we could be assured of 40, maybe 50 votes for single payer in Congress. Period. You NEED 216.

            That’s the rub. So scroll down and see what I found when I read the federal bill -- I was OVER THE MOON about some of it. All of it? Nope. Still don’t like mandates in the private market. But other aspects to it are amazing.

            And this WAS the will of PEOPLE. My organization worked since 2004 to have our 1.5 million members in CA understand options in health policy and how they fit their moral values. We had over 200,000 intense activists who, after reading my analyses, stood up and support the federal HCR openly, actively, proudly. They were just a fraction of the people who spoke out for HCR. I’m proud of that even as I still work for single payer -- a MUCH better plan -- in CA. But millions are getting care now that did not have it, and that is nothing short of amazing. I cannot dismiss help -- real help -- in favor of ideals. Whose life shall I sacrifice in honor of a principle that cannot be obtained?

            I can sacrifice only ONE life -- mine. If I can see that millions will be helped and no one hurt by a policy, then I have no moral choice other than to move forward. I cannot throw those people away. We have folks here on the Planet who are finally getting health coverage for the first time in YEARS. That is worth its weight in gold to me.

            If you could find more than 50 votes (with or without blackmail) please let me know. We could not do it. But what we got is like Social Security in the 30s and Medicare in ’64 -- a really great first step. That is huge.

            • choicelady says:

              Killgore -- again, can’t answer directly, but please understand when I say the fact you’re tired of incrementalism means nothing. Nothing at all. It’s a feeling, not a policy. It’s yours, not everyone’s.

              If you’re willing to send this back for a stronger bill for which there were INSUFFICIENT VOTES, then YOU tell the 30 million people they have to wait many more years for health care coverage because it annoys YOU to do incrementalism.

              I rather think that the 30 million might have a couple of things to say to you about that. I submit that they could not care less what you “feel” when they have life-saving gain to hand. Can you explain to me why I should listen to you instead of to them? Seriously. I am asking why your being tired of incrementalism takes precedence over their health and lives?

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              I just think Obama should have vetoed the bill and sent it back for a stronger bill, that included single payer.
              There is a fine line between compromise and capitulation. And the person that can clearly see that line would be an excellent leader, indeed.
              I suppose that I am just tired of incremental improvements to problems that have been long standing. The HCR we got is still better than what we had.

            • KB723 says:

              choicelady. Oh My… You are sooo intelligent and up to par with the current issues.

              I am Blessed just to have shared comments with you.

              I am pleased to know that You and others here are fighting the good fight and wish the best to you and others who contribute.

    • funksands says:

      I don’t disagree. I knew Black Nixon was never going to be Dennis Kucinich.

      I think you are illustrating one of the issues that I have with Obama. I understand the House and the Senate ultimately have final say over the details of bills. They don’t however have control over the message and the push of the administration.

      • KQuark says:

        See that’s where we have huge gaps in our basic views on what political discourse should be all about. “Black Nixon” really that’s hyperbole pure and simple. Nixon we now know from his tapes was a bigot and you just tied Obama unfairly to that legacy. My comparison with Reagan was very specific and I did not imply they had the same ideological leanings at all. That kind of name calling over simplistic language is what’s wrong with our discourse today.

        • funksands says:

          Don’t let my lazy description intimate that I am comparing Obama to Nixon as a person or to his ideology. Nixon was a paranoid scumbag.

          However, I do tie him very much to Nixon’s policies which were more liberal than Clinton or Carter ever were.

          -imposed wage and price controls.
          -indexed Social Security for inflation.
          -created Supplemental Security Income.
          -created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
          -created Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
          -promoted the Legacy of parks program.
          -implemented the Philadelphia Plan, the first significant federal affirmative action program.
          dramatically improved salaries for US federal employees worldwide.
          -signed a bill that lowered the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 miles per hour to conserve gasoline during the 1973 energy crisis.
          -established the Office of Minority Business Enterprise.
          -On February 6, 1974, he introduced the Comprehensive Health Insurance Act. Nixon’s plan would have mandated employers to purchase health insurance for their employees, and in addition provided a federal health plan like Medicaid that any American could join by paying on a sliding scale based on income.

          • KQuark says:

            Also remember Nixon was dealing with a far far more liberal congress than we’ve seen in decades. He was in a similar position Clinton was in but Dems had a much much greater hold on congress if you look at the numbers.

          • KQuark says:

            Wow do your really know what his last signing statement was about at all?

            It was about ensuring the executive branch’s right to try Gitmo detainees in Federal court.

            • choicelady says:

              ghsts -- the Attorney General has a judicial function. The issue was executive authority to determine location. That is all. Otherwise of course you’re right.

            • ghsts says:

              I assume that was directed at me, not funksands. Last I heard, not above learning new things, it wasn’t the executive branch’s responsibility to TRY anyone. In college, not Harvard, we were taught that was a duty under the Judicial branch’s jurisdiction.

          • choicelady says:

            We all know that for the latter, tapes showed that health care reform was a cynical an act as anythng Nixon did. He mocked his own work -- he knew it would not pass but it would make him look good.

            Of course Nixon passed things we can’t today -- we’ve had 30 years of massive RW shift that makes Dwight Eisenhower look like the commie McCarthy accused him of being!

            We know that what once was considered “conservative” today looks flaming liberal. That’s why what Obama is doing takes so much guts -- it’s trying to bring the center back to the CENTER instead of the right-ish place it’s migrated to being.

            If Obama had come on the heels of Ford, I think he’d have a very different look and feel to his policies, but after Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush -- we’re so screwed that pulling things back is MASSIVELY difficult.

            People do not accomplish great things simply through will. Obama does not have the luxury of dissing the Constitution that Bush had -- Bush had nobody to breathe down his neck, not even the last two years when the Dem Congress had to repair what it could. Obama has his own Blue Dogs AND this unspeakable fragmented and fractured GOP that can’t find its OWN center but with a laser focus on him to kill him off -- perhaps not just metaphorically.

            Speak out because he’s the president? Into what ether? He’s mis-quoted and certainly misinterpreted at every turn by everyone from Wolf Blitzer to Rush. When HP hopped on the bandwagon and LIED about things he had done and said, then just where does his work get a fair hearing? I’ve never seen such a concerted effort to undermine policy AND pronouncements from all sides! That’s the game plan of media monopoly, and freaking A -- it’s working!

            • choicelady says:

              ghsts -- signing statements used to be largely clarifying and ceremonial. ONLY Bush decided to use them to press his Imperial Presidency. We are so sick of Bush’s abuses that we cringe when stuff we used to take for granted is even mentioned. Obama has used them infrequently but not at all as far as I can see to thwart the law. We progressive folks HAVE to stop flinching at everything simply because we became familiar with a term only when it was abused. We are becoming inflexible and hostile and crabby. It’s not helpful to become the mirror image of the ‘baggers.

            • ghsts says:

              First thing tomorrow, read more! If they are as you describe then why add them at all? Doesn’t the behavior simply perpetuate the horror that I remember from the Bush years and the concept that legislation after passage is open to interpretation from the Executive?

            • choicelady says:

              ghsts -- the FACT of a signing statement is unconstitutional? NO! The refusal to abide by the law passed, as Bush did over and over, is unConstitutional. Obama’s signing statements are supportive and “value added” by reinforcing the importance of the bill.

              I think you have not READ them -- you can read them at the site. At no point can I find one that undermines the legislation, only makes his own support known.

              What was unconstitutional about Bush’s “signing statements” is that he used them to VOID the laws and say why he refused to support what Congress had passed and he had signed.

              The fact of a signing statement is not prima facie evidence of unconstitutional behavior! READ them.

            • ghsts says:

              Thanks for the link, that’s a positive that they are available no matter how unconstitutional.

              You realize that the value or worth of this economy, its health is based on debt. The less debt the bigger the crisis. Geithner spoke (yesterday now) saying we had to decrease the countries exposure in “home mortgages”, visa vie Fanny Mae not fictitious wall st financial instruments. So the problem wasn’t default swap trading but poor people spending too much with govt backed debt. Someone get me a sedative.

            • choicelady says:

              ghsts -- I can’t reply to you below, so I’ll do it here.

              Repeating the mantra of the right but making it his own is just brilliant. Of course we ‘want’ fiscal responsibility -- and there is a ton of duplication and silliness in government (who need THAT many armed forces bands???) so Obama’s move to look at restructuring some of government is great. And it keeps the GOP busy. And off the streets and out of bars (not to name a Speaker or anybody.)

              But as for “signing statements” you CAN look them up. In 2009 Obama had 8. In 2010 he had 5. This year so far 2. You can Google them. They are mostly confirmations of the laws Congress passed.

              Bush had 24 in 2001. 34 in 2002, 28 in 2003, and so on.


              So -- what does one say about “Obama’s signing statements” that really matters? He is not Bush. He is NOT undermining the Constitution in ANY way.

              If you have a smoking gun about Obama and signing statements, I’d sure like to know it ’cause I can’t find it.

            • ghsts says:

              Center of what? Is that like ‘most Americans just want the Congress to work together to pass stuff to fix junk’? This country didn’t migrate to the right, the left just sat the last one out, the country is the same split it was in 2008, or don’t you remember the live feed from the McCain concession?

              Saying that people changed their minds and want fiscal responsibility is just bagger talk, or Stockholm syndrome.

              Let me see Obama’s last signing statement so we can see what he thinks of the constitution.

      • choicelady says:

        I am a lobbyist. Consequently, I am forced, sometimes kicking and screaming, to READ bills both in CA and federal.

        What amazes me is not what Obama has failed to do but how much he got done. Case in point -- here in CA I have been a single payer supporter with respect to health care. I was the ONLY lobbyist to actively oppose Gov. Schwarzenegger’s health care reform bill -- not because it wasn’t single payer but because I READ the damned thing, and it was HORRIBLE. I read the unpublished first version -- never entered for bill consideration -- and the second version that was. The second version did NOT include the language of the first -- in fact omitted all references -- to the fact that every premium would be pretty low and thus subsidized by the state, but you, every last man and woman and kid, would pay a $5000 deductible with only 2 things free: childhood immunizations and Pap smears, then you’d have an ADDITIONAL out of pocket of $10K in case you actually got, you know, SICK. That’s $15K per person per year. That’s the plan Mitt dealt onto all MA residents without employer health care. So I said for these and several other reasons, that sucked, and NO my organization will NOT be supporting this, thank you. I’d not have known that if I had not read it all -- 4000 pages, thank you very freaking much.

        I ALSO read the single payer finance plan, introduced once in the 7 or so years we’ve been doing this. It had costs to the individual of 1-8% on a sliding scale with virtually all major tests free. It has no copays or OOP expenses, but there were other taxes etc. that would feed into the plan. It would mandate everyone’s involvement. No exceptions save for a very few.

        Obama’s plan -- almost all prevention tests and exams free. Cost on premium to the individual -- 1-8% on a sliding scale. I read all 2000-plus pages, and what I came away with is how freaking much the federal plan drew from CA single payer!!! It uses several of the same formulae and offers much of the same care as the CA plan.

        Is it a great plan? Nope. Is it as good enough? Not yet. But it has so much IN it from the single payer plan that I was floored! I dislike mandates in the private market -- but unlike Arnold’s horrific plan, the costs in the federal plan are very favorable to the individual. It’s lousy stewardship of federal money that provides the subsidies, but it’s a very good plan for individuals. Public option would be even better, of course.

        I am absolutely astonished at how much our single payer plan guided the outcomes on many key issues in the federal plan. But -- you’d have to read the bill to know all that.

        Switching subjects -- the extension of the tax cut to the rich. About five people in America seem to know this -- but the agreement Obama crafted is HUGELY good for very low income working people and the middle class. Of the entire package, the costs of cuts for the rich equals 16% of the whole with the rest going to Earned Income Tax Credits for low wage workers, for tax cuts and credits for families struggling to protect child care and college for their kids, unemployment insurance that had already been killed by congress, REAL tax credits for small businesses on Main Street to make big investments and, as in Europe, write them off immediately so that they can GET what freaking Wall Street refuses to lend them; and on and on and on. The Center on Budget & Policy Priorities risked their very progressive reputation to say all this -- and my organization agreed. Eight-four percent of that agreement went to the people. Only 16% went to the rich.

        I tend to be cranky about a lot of criticism of Obama largely because I work daily with the CA state legislature and see the hell that democracy can produce on the BEST plans. It’s not giving Obama a pass -- it’s being realistic to understand how almost impossible it is to get stuff done through a recalcitrant and cowardly congress.

        As for message? Back to the post on media control -- the White House isn’t “failing” on message. It’s being screwed. The only person who got it right on the state of the union was Rachel MAddow -- even George Lakoff got it wrong. Obama articulated conservative points -- and drew them back to the center/left. It was artful. What did we all hear from the pundits? He’s Clinton. Nope. I don’t think so. I don’t see him caving.

        I’m not sure how anyone thinks Elizabeth Warren has been hog tied -- evidence? Credit card companies have stopped sending us blatantly false information and yeah some still charge in the 30% range -- but I’m no longer receiving duplicitous and unreadable “information” on the one bad card I hang onto simply to charge $12 every four months. Suddenly I am in charge -- I get to KNOW what is out there in credit.

        We cannot fix the radical right decimation of America overnight. But damn -- I am SO hopeful of this president. I like what he’s doing on foreign issues, NOT using the National Security Council memo #68 that requires this nation to intervene in every hiccup made by another nation. I like what Obama has done with respect to Egypt -- he kept OUT of it, and his NOT mewling about democracy allowed Egyptians wanting to overturn Mabarak to operate without being branded as foreign dupes. I like some brand new toughness toward Israel with respect to Palestinians. It’s small steps -- but the BIGGEST ones we’ve seen since WW II.

        WE cannot change the past 30 years of corporate power over America over night. But even the issues of re-industrialization and reworking of those critically important tax codes that lets us protect domestic production goes SO unnoticed by people for whom manufacturing is just not interesting. It’s critical, and we’re doing it. We are beginning to trade again, and that comes from small, but significant, changes in trade policies. Next I hope Obama will challenge the free market in currency -- that one thing, putting currency back to serve solely as a medium of exchange and NOT a speculative commodity -- would stablizie the WORLD. It might be asking a LOT for this term. But I do hope next term he will.

        How can one man undo all this damage? He can’t. But he CAN change the discussion as he has, and he CAN make the first steps toward stability. And those steps -- seen from my persepctive as a raving policy wonk -- have been monumental. I am absolutely in awe.

        I just wish more of you were.

        • PatsyT says:

          ChoiceLady you are a Goddess!

        • TruthWins says:

          In fact, I am ABSOLUTELY in awe about your post, choicelady. Please reformat it and publish it as an article here, if you haven’t done that yet. This is something I truly want to reread and refer to.

          I always felt very much that Obama is silently laying out the groundwork in the background, but you sacrificed yourself to read all that crap and have all those facts ready.

          Pulitzer price for you, please!

          • choicelady says:

            You’re very kind -- but it’s what I DO. Reading crap. I tend to piss people off because of the fact I read bills. Not every one, of course, but the big stuff. I have to because I know I’ve been LIED to by even my supposed allies, and I need to know what is REALLY in these things. I owe a good interpretation to my members and those who rely on my judgement.

            We also do ballot propositions. So I have to research them. I once explained to members that the “humane farm animal” proposition, Prop. 2 a couple of years ago, relied on some very suspicious data contracted by both sides. So I wound up finding my OWN data from studies outside those done for the campaigns. The focus was on humane cages for chickens. I read academic, government, and foreign reports on raising chickens, costs to consumers, cost of labor, numbers of jobs, safety and disease stats, you name it. I now know waaaay more about chickens than I EVER wanted to know. But I did it so our members wouldn’t have to. We supported the proposition, but we did so not just from knee-jerk sympathies for chickens but also from sound judgements that could be sustained.

            I think it’s impossible, if you’re not in my position, to keep up with things well. We sort of need a Ombudsman of Interpretation for the ordinary citizen. But one thing I also know -- it’s not a good idea to believe everything you DO hear -- there is as much wrong information on the progressive side as on the right. It’s not as pernicious, but it’s still inaccurate. I don’t know how to remedy that, I really don’t. I guess I’d simply argue for keeping both your deepest values AND your good sense honed -- and be willing to change. Some things look good in principle but suck (a technical policy term, of course) in practice.

            When push comes to shove, the only value I hold dear is: does it make people’s lives better? If so -- it’s worth supporting even if imperfect. If not -- even if it’s only some people or in ways that don’t affect you and me -- then don’t support it.

            Following the Hippocratic Oath:

            First, Do No Harm.

        • Questinia says:

          You should be awarded. I am in awe, CL.

          • KB723 says:

            Q. I was wondering around at work a couple weeks ago. I was thinking of all the folks I knew working at a Dental Lab back here in Denver. I knew a young lady that was quite a painter and was also into Arch Welding.

            You took me back in time, I still think about them people.

        • KB723 says:

          CL I am still at Awe why the Israelis have Public Option.

        • AdLib says:

          Wow CL, you have laid out such a detailed and convincing argument for Obama’s success as president.

          So many are justifiably frustrated with the compromises that have been made along the way on a number of issues.

          I was one of those very unhappy with Obama for not fighting publicly for the Public Option. But, as you describe and as I know from the work you’re doing, Single Payer WAS passed to be put in place on a state-by-state basis.

          Looking at the big picture, because of the HCR bill, in several years there could indeed be single payer programs in many states across the country.

          My question comes from the opposite direction, what president before Obama has accomplished as many things that ultimately benefit the majority of Americans?

          What would the alternative have been? Would the more conservative Hillary have accomplished more or have better served the Progressive community? Of course we know we’d be circling the drain now if McCain/Palin had won.

          As time goes by I think the long list of Obama’s historic accomplishments will be recognized. In the current environment, with the economy in the shape it’s in, with much of HCR not in effect yet and with the corporate powers gobbling up more of our democracy and wealth, it can be hard to fully appreciate what he’s accomplished.

          On the other hand, with a President Romney, Huckabee or Palin in the WH, we would be looking back on these days with great nostalgia.

          • choicelady says:

            How ironic that after WW II we probably got the most that benefitted real people from the man we all hated -- LBJ.

            His foreign policy was so -- is there even a word for what he did in Vietnam? -- and yet his domestic policy was utterly brilliant. It was kind hearted and compassionate and accomplished SO much good.

            How do we reconcile those two things?

          • bito says:

            “Our” C’Lady does know how to post! I have never read her and not been educated.

            • choicelady says:

              KB -- can’t reply below but on Davis-Bacon, this is just another war on working people! This is consistent with the assaults on public employees (and private sector unions, too) in Ohio.

              It takes ALL of us screaming to make these bozos HEAR that cutting decent wages is doing two things -- it’s an assault on those working and it’s ALSO an assault on the economy since lower wages always yield less consumption which is the ONLY thing that refuels the economy.

              The pernicious effect of the Laffer curve -- supply side economics -- is with us even now. The neo-cons and Baggers seem to believe that you can have an economy predicated entirely on trading paper. Wall Street and nothing else. This is what KILLED us in 2008 -- but they won’t give it up. It’s sexy and glamorous and has HUGE bucks associated with it. And somehow they think it works!!!! They believe that we don’t need manufacturing and we don’t need to pay people well so we can have a Latin American economy with very low wage workers at the bottom and a tiny number of uber rich at the top, and that’s OK. Well, it doesn’t work. It’s unsustainable. And that is the lesson of Egypt -- and I predict that Latin America will go up in flames in many nations before the next decade is out.

              So Davis-Bacon does NOT save Americans money. It costs every business its income, and it costs every community its safety and well being.

              Henry Ford got it -- and it’s just as true today. Pay workers well and they buy stuff. When Chrysler demanded a $200/mo pay cut from workers in the 1980 bail out, their sales plummeted. Why? Their own workers were the biggest customers, and $200 per month is a car payment.

              Mechanize, outsource, shift to paper -- you don’t pay, you don’t get paid. I once had a small consulting business -- my favorite stamp for bills was:

              “Please pay us so we can pay them so they can pay him so he can pay you.”

              It actually worked. We got paid when we stamped that on unpaid invoices.

              Kill Davis-Bacon and frankly, you kill America.

            • KB723 says:

              bito and choicelady, I want to hear more about the RW wanting to do away with 1 billion in spending on the Davis-Bacon Act.

              If infrastructure rebuilding is to happen, than Why cut the wage of those tradesmen and women?

              Smoke and mirrors, Let’s just end these wars that offer NOTHING to the American working class…

            • choicelady says:

              bito -- can’t reply to the next question but here it goes.

              This issue arose this week in Ohio. The state is moving to de-unionize the public employees, and overall make Ohio a right to work state.

              The pressure being applied by conservative legislators is: public employees are stripping tax benefits from the ordinary hard working Ohio person such as the poor laid off steelworkers, etc. (As if the GOP gave a damn about laid off steelworkers!)

              Reality -- taxes were cut some years ago and not raised so no, public employees are NOT raising taxes to support lavish incomes. BUT that mantra -- public employees are screwing laid off steelworkers -- is working.

              What you and I did “on the line in ’89” was the death knell of worker solidarity. Public employees and “upper level” professional unions did NOT support blue collar people. Left liberals sneered at them and cheered when plants were torn down -- called them “eyesores” and “environmental disasters”.

              Reagan and many others (Nixon with the hard hats vs. hippies) managed to get us all to turn our backs on one another. We now believe that what “you” get is somehow “my” loss.

              In Ohio if the unions and workers and retirees from blue collar private sector jobs do NOT support one another, the entire ship sinks. If public employees are de-unionized and forced to work on specious individual contracts, then Ohio will be right-to-work and the private sector unions will be killed off and pensions will across the boards be raided and defunded.

              All in the name of “protecting” the public.

              Ohio labor -- across the boards -MUST come together NOW on behalf of police, fire, teachers, academics, whoever. No matter what has happened in the past, this is a war on ALL working people, not just the public unions.

              So we have allowed ourselves to be sectionalized. We have allowed anyone who is not ourselves to become “THEM”. Labor, women seeking reproductive choices, women NOT in favor of choice, public sector employees, immigrants, minorities -- THEM. You can add to this list at any moment.

              Bumper sticker I saw today:

              “There is no THEM”

              That one sentiment is the first step.

              Second step -- making alliance with someone not yourself around an issue that does not affect you. Never mind what it is. Don’t have breast cancer? Lobby for those who do. Not a machinist? Bring coffee to a picket line of those who are. Not an immigrant? Demand fair treatment for them anyway.

              One step at a time. One micro step to stand with someone else.

              Best movie about Jim Crow -- “The Long Walk Home” with Whoopie Goldberg and Sissy Spacek. Spacek’s privileged white character walks in the shoes of her housekeeper during the Montgomery bus boycott -- she finds compassion for a woman who’d previously been invisible to her.

              We are all freaking invisible to one another. And that includes progressives who don’t see others who need things that maybe we don’t want or need.

              Buddhist philosophy teaches of the “near enemies”. These are emotions that approximate ones that we value. The worst, I think, is substituting pity for compassion. Compassion is real fellow feeling about another’s circumstances. Pity is the “near enemy” that makes the person pitied subordinate to the person feeling the pity. It’s demeaning. And in the pity we can find reasons to sacrifice the other person.

              We have way too much pity, and it makes us dismissive. We have to make policy choices and political decisions based on compassion. We no longer can walk away dismissing others and feelling justified in that lack of concern.

              Bill Maher asked -- how can Egyptians show us how to have a revolution? Well we don’t need one against a democratically elected administration -- we need one in the way we dismiss others. If there is ONE thing we can learn from Egypt it’s that everyone is an ally if you let that happen. There simply is no room for that if we are to move away from the Kochs and back to democracy.

              We all need us all. Then, bito, we can once again begin to ACT. That cannot happen until we honestly accept others as our equals in this struggle. And that first step -- “there is no THEM” -- is the hardest step of all.

            • bito says:

              C’Lady, I read many comments on many sites asking why can’t they “left” coalesce with one voice. I have to ask “what is wrong with the trade Unions?” They have fought for social justice,living wages and corporate greed all my, my great, my grands an my fathers lives. With your work in the progressive churches and the Unions, what more don we need? Money to buy our voices like the Kochs?

            • choicelady says:

              Oh bito -- how many wonderful things I learn from YOU! And the warmth I feel toward you, as yet unmet, over our shared experiences “on the lines”!!!

              Everyone here has so much to offer one another. It’s fun, often incredibly funny, and amazingly insightful to be part of the Planet.

        • PocketWatch says:

          And here we have it.

          I can be rightfully accused of speaking out of my butt on so many issues, simply because I am not on “the inside.” It takes someone like CL, who IS on the inside and can see the makings of the sausage, to understand what goes on.

          I thank you. I am no autoObmamabot… I am essentially a Socialist on most social issues, and have been frustrated with our government in general for 30 years. I would LOVE to see rapid social justice in this country. I also know that change takes time. It took 50 years of termites eating at the foundations to get us here, and will take years and years to rebuild those foundations without destroying the building.

          Thanks, CL.


          • whatsthatsound says:

            agree about that, CL and thanks for the reminder. You wrote about that earlier. Yes, that was pivotal, and it’s been like that ever since. Only the biggest and greediest, not the smallest and neediest, may approach the trough.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            I’m with you, PW. I don’t know enough about all the mechanisms that are in place, and all the shenanigans, etc., that an insider like CL does. So I end up like OP, frustrated and wishing for more liberal (actually I would just call them commons sensical and honorable) decision making from ALL branches of government.
            So, listening to her, I can understand the frustration she feels toward grumblers like me, but since I’m NOT a lobbyist I go with my gut (or like you, out my butt, perhaps). And I want to hear somebody big and important announce to us all that Reagan sucker punched this country and we’re all still reeling.

            • choicelady says:

              BTW -- I agree we need someone to tell us Reagan sucker punched us -- but we also need to be reminded that it started with Carter. He made a choice in 1976 -- would he authorize a federal loan to the people of Youngstown, OH to buy the shuttered steel plant and run it or not.


              Chrysler, fine. NY City fine. Deregulation fine.

              People? Not so fine.

              So I blame Carter and his ties to the Trilateral Commission for the first giant step toward de-humanization of American economic policy. Reagan only built on what Carter did. I’m not saying Reagan couldn’t have done it without Carter, but Carter paved the way.

              A Southern friend cynically reflected upon those of us who supported Carter in ’76 saying, “You Yankees sure do fool easy.” He was right. But it WAS what we had. Now THAT was a lousy president -- not for Iran and the hostage crisis but for his disdain for average Americans and what they needed.

              Bah. Humbug!

            • PocketWatch says:

              I have a theory about THAT SOB as well… I’ll save it for another time….



          • choicelady says:

            Why thank you, PocketWatch, that means a lot!

            • funksands says:

              One of the only good things to come out the Carter administration is that he made it through without firing a shot. The whole four years. Pretty amazing given today’s context.

        • funksands says:

          Thank you SO much for your thoughts. I really appreciate them.

          • choicelady says:

            Thank YOU, funksands.

            I DO share your frustrations! I started as a kid from the streets working on women’s reprodutive rights issues, standing between women and the people who were screaming at them. After over a decade of that, it became VERY clear that I could no longer turn my nose up at policy -- that anything we did on the streets depended SO much on whether we had good laws or stinko ones. So now I do both. I spend a lot of time on picket lines with labor (bito and I share a very powerful moment in history we’ll tell you about some day) with women, with immigrants -- and then I turn around and weigh in against lousy legislation that would just make the lives of the folks who live in the real world even worse. Sometimes I get to support stuff that would make it BETTER -- and that’s the joy of it.

            It’s uphill work. We have mountains the corporatists and their ilk have built over decades to tear down. We have NOT been good with messaging -- they grab the public with slogans such as “tax relief” and “job killer” -- and we turn in 40-page data papers no one ever reads!

            But what I do know is the power of people. The health reform bill passed thanks to the will of PEOPLE. That’s the untold story -- the hundreds of thousands who clamored for it, my organization’s members front and center. From all walks of life people made their feelings known -- not a perfect bill but a damned good start. We have members on the Planet that are getting help for the first time in decades. It matters to us even if it’s NOT single payer, is NOT perfect. People -- ordinary people -- demanded this. It wasn’t a “deal” at the White House. It was the will of the people. And that’s what keep MY faith in democracy -- and Obama -- alive.

            • TruthWins says:

              choicelady: We have NOT been good with messaging – they grab the public with slogans such as “tax relief” and “job killer” – and we turn in 40-page data papers no one ever reads!

              Yes, that’s an important part we have to work on.

            • funksands says:

              Very well said. I am particulary vulnerable to this argument as both my son and I are uninsurable. We have coverage through my business, but god help us if I ever shut it down.

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