Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Futuristic Movement of Monstrous Proportions


Barack and Michelle Obama today announced they are combining their theme songs -- "Winning the Future" and "Let's Move" into one all-purpose slogan in keeping with the current austerity campaign to trim government waste.

The President wants to Win the Future by investing in green jobs -- preferably low-wage and non-union, so we can out-compete the rest of the Third World.  Michelle wants us to eat less and exercise more.  As the President is so fond of obsessively and fallaciously saying, families and governments are exactly the same -- overweight slackers who need to tighten our belts.

So what if this month's spike in the unemployment rate is mainly due to the massive national layoffs of teachers and other public workers?  So what if boards of education throughout the land are being forced to shorten the school week to three or four days?  The kids are becoming nothing more than bloated desk potatoes anyway.  They need to get out more, stay healthy for the below-minimum wage jobs of the future. 

And what about those senior citizens?  Everybody knows your metabolism slows down as you get older. So that's why Obama and his Republican co-conspirators bipartisan negotiators have come up with the nifty idea of chained consumer price formulae.  Once you start collecting your Social Security -- if the politicians have their way, at around 68 or 70 -- you will oh so gradually see a decrease in  benefits.... say, about the cost of only a bite of that candy bar you know you don't really need, every single month for the rest of your life.  So if and when you make it to 95, you'll be as thin as a rail and down to only one meal a day on the few hundred a month you'll then be collecting.  You see, the President cares about your well-being.  He knows change is hard.  Father Knows Best.  ( And if you didn't sign his fatherhood pledge last month, you're just being a selfish ideologue.)

That's why the President is not sweating the rising unemployment rate.  The headwinds of the crappy economy are evaporating all his sweat, and they should be cooling you down too.  By Election Day, joblessness may be up to 13 percent -- but not to worry.  It's a structural thing, the new normal, and it's all according to plan.  The corporations really do want to keep jobs here, but they just don't have the confidence yet.  Wages here are still way too high.  Why pay somebody $8 an hour when they can get a Bangladeshi child to do the same thing for pennies?

The idea is to turn the United States into such a great Third World Country that other nations will start offshoring their jobs to us.  It's already happening in Sweden and the "right to work" (anti-union) state of Virginia:

Swedish corporate leaders, ironically, are now trying to exploit those wider U.S. gaps. IKEA pays its factory workers in Sweden a minimum $19 an hour. In Virginia, IKEA workers doing the same exact work start at $8. IKEA looks on the United States, local union organizer Bill Street matter-of-factly observed earlier this month, “the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico.” (Labor Notes).

Anti-immigration advocates love to complain that Mexicans cross the border to steal our low-paying restaurant and migrant farm jobs, have their anchor babies and grab up all our wonderful free health care.  How ironic that Mexico is a major medical tourism destination for Americans with no or crappy health coverage.  For example, the cost of a knee replacement in Mexico is $10.500 compared to $25,000 here. And there are recovery center options at seaside resorts, too.  Anyway, illegal immigration is actually slowing down because word is finally getting out in Mexico that the American economy really, really stinks. Again, all according to plan. Immigration reform legislation may not even be needed.

But I digress.  This is all a Grand Plan, for our own good.  The Social Safety Net is overrated.  We're just trapped in that net like a bunch of flailing fish who are too stupid to know what's good for us.  The President is going to slash that net and allow us to escape into the Deep, free at last.


Flagellation of the Willing




45 comments:

Napoleon said...

I read with some relief yesterday, and now today, that many Democrats, and one Independent, in the Senate and House are openly balking at approving Obama's rumored proposals to cut Social Security benefits and Medicare as a means for reaching agreement on a debt ceiling limit. The next best news was the overwhelming extent to which the comments to Krugman's NY Times' article express exasperation with Obama's style, methods, and compromises on critical issues of policies. I sense that the blogosphere and mainstream media are both reporting more and more on exasperation within the Democratic Party on Obama's leadership. Perhaps, a critical mass of frustration will develop quicker than anyone, including Obama, had anticipated.

Draft Spitzer said...

Nap,
"overwhelming extent to which the comments to Krugman's NY Times' article express exasperation with Obama's style, methods, and compromises on critical issues of policies"

I'd like to believe you, but I read through those comments with all the devotion of a Franciscan monk, and I gotta tell you, they are always skewed in that manner.

But it doesn't mean the tide isn't turning. I just wouldn't base it on Krug's reader comments.

4Runner said...

To reflect the new realities, big guv programs will be rebranded:

Medicare>>>Medicareless

Social Security>>>Social Insecurity

Medicaid>>>MediKoolAid

Draft Spitzer said...

Has anyone given this story the sniff test?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/08/democratic-senatorial-campaign-committee-koch_n_893116.html

Karen Garcia said...

@Draft:
I absolutely believe the Kochs donate to the Democrats too. If not to the DSCC, then at least to "Priorities USA", the Democrats' answer to Americans for Prosperity (both enabled by Citzens United and the Supremes).
If you watch a lot of PBS shows, you will notice that David Koch is often the prime sponsor of this liberal-leaning, GOP anathema. Like any other corporate goon, he likes to hedge his bets. Rupert Murdoch, despite running the GOP, also donates to Democrats. Obama's BFF CEO David Cote is a Republican who donates big to both parties. Both parties are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Oligarchy.
PS -- that HuffPo story is pretty funny though, reading about the Democrats trying to squirm their way out of being Koch-Lites!

The Black Swan said...

I am embarrassed that Patty Murray is one of the Senators from my state and that I have voted for her in the past. Although it shouldn't surprise me seeing as how we have some very large corporations located out here. This just makes me even more confused as to who or what I am supposed to vote for in the next election. Even our incredibly progressive push to legalize marijuana is painfully flawed. For every step forward we end up taking two more back and one to the right. I fear for the elderly almost as much as I fear for my own generation and those younger. I'm sure someone somewhere is keen to invent a method to turn the elderly into fuel. Soylent GreenEnergy! We can save Social Security and Medicare and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It's a capitalists dream.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

@ Black Swan,

Every time I have cared enough about an issue to check on how my senators have voted from Washington State, Patty Murray almost always votes the right way. Unlike Obama, she hasn’t actively worked to help pass an anti-Middle Class agenda. I can’t see her voting to cut Social Security or Medicare.

I am cynical enough to wonder if Patty isn’t being set up. While not progressive enough for my tastes, she isn’t THAT bad either and I know she had a tight race with Dino Rossi. Maybe this is an effort to alienate her progressive supporters enough to cause her to lose the next election (which I think for her is in 2014).

I have a question for you and of the other readers - no need to actually answer; just asks it of yourself - . When the IRS asks you if you want to contribute $3 to Presidential Campaign Fund, do you always say yes? Would you be willing to pay $10 , $20 even $50 or $100 to keep campaigns clean? The problem is we metaphorically wring our hands about corruption and politicians like Patty Murray going begging to corporate donors, but where else will they get the money to run against Republicans with deep pockets and deep pocketed friends?

Personally, I don’t think ANY donations of ANY kind should be allowed and the government should foot the bill for all elections. I truly believe that big campaign donations come with strings and that amounts to a bribe. I think each eligible candidate (and obviously there should be some kind of litmus test) should be given a reasonable amount of free air time (the air waves belong to the people of this country after all) to discuss their position on the issues. No money for commercials, just the candidate sitting in front of a video camera making their speech. I think groups like the League of Women Voters should host debates – lots of them – and they should be televised. And campaigns should not be able to start until two months before an election. This business of Obama basically focussing on getting re-elected within a year of being president is ridiculous. We need our politicians to focus on doing their jobs, not always with an eye on being re-elected.

But the problem is, as it stands at the moment, our system rewards the politicians who can raise the big bucks. Murray had a close race with a Republican hack, Dino Rossi, in the last election and I am sure she is wondering – as the Middle Class continues to get more and more squeezed – how she is going to raise the money to fight a Republican like him. Those people who have traditionally supported her don’t have the money to generously give anymore.

While I normally encourage people to follow the money – in this case, follow the voting record.

The Black Swan said...

@Valerie Long Tweedie

I forgot how terrible Dino Rossi is. He lives just down the street from where I grew up and was a slimy individual for as long as I can remember. I will be paying close attention to the upcoming votes on the debt limit. I just hope the local media covers it. It'll be sad if this vote comes and goes and the average person has no idea how their representatives voted. This is the real fatal flaw in our system. If people don't even know how their reps are voting then how they can hold them accountable for their actions. And with all the money they have to run a campaign it is real easy to paint over a lot of blemishes.

Jay - Ottawa said...

“So if and when you make it to 95, you'll be as thin as a rail and down to only one meal a day on the few hundred a month you'll then be collecting.”

There IS a way of taking the IF out of making it to 95, should you choose to live that long as a half-starved serf.

It is a well-researched scientific fact that lab rats, monkeys and humans live longer, much longer, on near-starvation diets. Belt tightening has its up side.

For that same reason, deficit-obsessed policy makers should try a new and counterintuitive approach: supersizing us into the grave.

Obama and congressional members threatening Food Stamps, Social Security and COLA are working against themselves with their belt-tightening measures. That goes for Michelle’s anti-obesity campaign, too. We would drop off the rolls like flies sniffing DDT if they gave us more, not less.

Let them eat cake and they won’t be at the teat of the nanny state so long draining state coffers. And they’ll die as contented voters. This country needs more contented voters, dead or alive.

Forget Catfood Panel recommendations. The answer lies inside Big Macs and, for those of you in the uppah claaahs, jars of fois gras. There’s your budget cuts.

mac gordon said...

In response to VLT. I would certainly be prepared to pay, via the IRS, for a publicly funded election. We seem to have arrived at a point in our history, where we have the most incredibly corrupt system of elections. It reminds me of the 'Rotten Boroughs' in the early 1800's in England, where elections were casually 'bought and paid for'. I didn't think I would see anything similar in 'modern' America. Also, a real limit is needed on the length of campaigns. I believe six weeks is allowed in the UK. Obviously, as we're much bigger, we'd need more time - but no more than six months. Imagine three and a half years of actual governing!
Just an aside, but I'm hoping that the Rupert Murdoch scandal, might have some impact here. Perhaps some who take Faux News at face value, could possibly rethink the veracity of their stories.

Draft Spitzer said...

Karen,

This. Is it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/10/business/the-unemployed-somehow-became-invisible.html

Like you once suggested: Hooverville. In DC. With local replicas around the country.

Karen Garcia said...

@Draft Spitzer,
I did see that article, and it answered my questions about why the government doesn't care (as yet their own positions are not all that threatened) and why unemployed people aren't protesting more.

PS -- Apologies to those of you trying to post comments and getting weird Error messages. This has been an ongoing issue all day. It is a Google issue. If you wish, email me your comment to cut and paste: kmgarcia2000@yahoo.com. Thanks

Jay - Ottawa said...

@Gerald Rubin

The article you linked was quite a piece of work on Obama. Amazing that it was written months before the 2008 election. Or was it back dated? One has to wonder a little about the site's overall dedication to a sweeping condemnation of Islam. Still, the article itself is persuasive and fascinating for its well-argued thesis that a diagnosis of deep-seated narcissism explains Obama and some other historical figures.

@Kate Madison

On the chance that you return to this post past, how do you, as a clinician in psychology, rate the article referenced by Gerald?

Draft Spitzer said...

Karen,

As some of us are in the post-fourth-of-July Sentimental-elegiac-patriotic mode, I thought I'd pass along this breathtaking podcast on Monticello from Studio 360.

http://www.studio360.org/2011/jul/08/

One of the insights culled from comments by Jefferson's slaves is the "central security Pan-Opticon" aspect of Jefferson's design. That is, TJ's design wasn't just about architectural beauty, but the ability from a single vantage point to monitor all of his slaves as they worked.

Also: nice tidbit in there about Mick Jagger's visit to Monty.

Napoleon said...

@Valerie Long Tweedie
@mac gordon said

Valerie Long Tweedie's idea of increasing public financing for elections through IRS contributions is both a good idea and one least likely to run afoul of the First Amendment as the current Supreme Court sees it. Even so, one can't discount a conservative attack on the constitutionality of such a change if it threatens to make a material difference. The grounds for the attack would be the Supreme Court's recent June 27, 2011 decision in Arizona Free Enterprise Club's FreedomClub PAC v. Bennett where the Court held that Arizona's matching funds law imposed unconstitutional burdens on the speech of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups. Hopefully, the attack would fail.

Mac Gordon's idea of shortening the length of political campaigns, particularly presidential ones, to a maximum of 6 months is good in principle but as a practical matter it probably wouldn't accomplish its goal. Privately financed campaigners would insist they had a First Amendment right, notwithstanding such a law, to begin their campaign whenever they wanted. There is a strong likelihood the current Supreme Court would uphold such a claim.

However, the current composition of the Court is no reason not to try reforms, and to try them successively until the law is settled on where the constitutional lines are drawn on campaign limitations.

Napoleon said...

In one of the last comments, Jay - Ottawa asked Kate Madison how she, "as a clinician in psychology, rate the article referenced by Gerald?". For those interested, the article in question is "Understanding Obama: The Making of a Fuehrer" By Ali Sina at http://www.faithfreedom.org/obama.html. I read 2/3 rds to 3/4 ths of the article. Actually, it suffices to get the gist of the article from reading a much smaller percentage.

The main thrust of the article is the simple theme that Obama is a narcissist and can be compared to Hitler. The author disowns any attempt to liken Obama to Hitler but then goes on massively to do so.

I am not a clinician in psychology. However, the content and style of the article invite the making of psychological inferences about the author. One that comes to mind is that the author has ignored, or not known, Nietzsche's warning that terrible experiences can make one into something terrible, at least if precautions aren't taken.

There is no point in my reviewing the article. It is too extreme and unrestrained. As for Obama, he, like many (perhaps more so than many), is, or can be, full of himself. During his campaign, he constantly talked about 'we'. In governing, he constantly refers to 'me'. It is not fruitful for me to conjecture on what mental states may have led to this change or what it represents in his view of himself.

What I do find interesting is that though Obama came into the presidency with an expectation on the part of the public that his speeches would have a powerful effect and that his use of the internet would help get his message across, neither has occured. That he is not able to use his speeches, ad libs, jokes, questions, and comment to connect with the general public and to move them, or to use the internet to burrow his message into the minds and hearts of the people, is, I believe, now clear to him. I think he recognizes that he is not able, with the general public, to be on message or to stay on message or able to avoid stamping over his message. Rather, the public is getting a different view of him than the ones he wants to project. This too, I think, is now sinking in. He hasn't found an answer to these problems, and knows that he hasn't. As candidate, the public wanted to know about him. But as president, the public isn't interested in learning about him. They want to know something more substantive. They are still however interested in knowing about his wife and two daughters.

Karen Garcia said...

@Draft,
Thanks for the Monticello link -- that is quite a spread that Tommy J. built.

And re Gerald's link: this kind of article would have been condemned just a short time ago, and that it is now being greeted with at least a modicum of respect speaks volumes about how how many former supporters are realizing that they were sucked in by this charismatic figure. I believe this helps explain some of the anger. Many of us are as angry at ourselves for being dupes, as we are at him. He displayed an extraordinary talent for mass hypnosis. The comparisons with Hitler are extremely troubling, however and over the top. Hitler was a dictator, for starters. He became unstoppable. Obama is vulnerable. Too bad this comparison serves to erase some of the author's valid points, as Napoleon said.
If you examine the crowd shots during Obama's campaign speeches, the sight of the sea of star-struck emotional faces is downright frightening. I recently watched a clip of one of Michelle's speeches in which she promised Barack would fill the "emptiness in our souls". They promised much, and not only did they not deliver nor try to deliver, they ultimately betrayed the trust of the electorate.
I think the campaign speeches this time around will be a tad more subdued. But the phoniness has nowhere to hide. At least they are aware the magic is gone, and thank God it is. But they have nothing to replace it with.

Draft Spitzer said...

Karen,
Check out who our friend Joe Nocera is friends with - the Dickensianly named hedge fund manager Cliff Asness - caught buying Paul Ryan $700 dollars worth of wine. 

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/07/mystery_solved_ryans_dinner_dates_ided.php?ref=fpblg

No wonder Nocera was so quick to condemn DSK - keeping the old man coulda cost his friends sumpin' awful...

Janet Camp said...

@Draft

Thank you for the kind mention, but I must enlighten your image of my "semi-comfortable retired/pensioned" life!

I am only "retired" because no one hires women "of a certain age" with no recent experience (that is, those who spent years at home with special needs children), and there is no pension, believe me.

I do have a spouse of modest means who works incredibly long hours (and taken pay cuts) helping to keep a family business afloat since the crash. No pension there either and they just dropped their health care in favor of a very high-deductible, catastrophic-coverage-only plan. The kids are grown, but all are struggling to make ends meet in spite of education and experience. None have any benefits to speak of. Much of our meager savings have gone to help them and, now, the grandkids--trying to keep them from having to take on horrendous debt for education.

I can assure you that I have every reason to long for a truly progressive government, but I also live in the real world and I carefully watch the small under-the-radar (no headlines) stuff that has been happening in the cabinet offices and it's enough to make me want him reelected--rather than ANY republican. I work on campaigns, I give money to Progressive groups and candidates, I protest at the State Capitol and I vote in all elections. What more can I do? I think I'm just more willing than some to accept that there are millions of people in this country that totally disagree with me and think that I am an irresponsible slacker who made my own bed and should not complain about having to lie in it. I think it's sad that they think there is only one way to live and that money is the only goal in life. Other than a month's worth of food stamps 30 years ago, I have not used their tax dollars--and some of that was mine anyway.

I respect Obama for trying to be their President too. This has all been going on since the New Deal, intensified with Reagan, and went berserk with the resurgence of the John Birch Society--he just came in on it lately. It's too far gone for him to do anything big or meaningful, but I think he's doing what he can and I'll be curious to see what he can pull out as a lame duck--which won't happen if we get so disillusioned that we won't even vote for him.

Having said all that, I despise what is passing for a campaign. Those emails we all get sicken me, so believe me, all I will do is vote, nothing more.

VLT said...

Gerald,

The article you linked to was a piece of horrible right wing anti-Obama propaganda which tries to pass itself off as legitimate by citing a few sources. Any minimal effort to check out those sources (which I indeed only gave minimal effort to) shows that both the author and his main source, Vaknin, are a couple of charlatans and completely unqualified to psycho-analyze Obama. Both have VERY questionable academic qualifications and Vaknin definitely does not deserve the title PhD.

Anyone who follows this blog knows I am no fan of Obama but there are enough legitimate criticisms of him by highly intelligent journalists and experts in their field, like Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman, that we don’t need to have the voice of pseudo intellectuals – if one can even use the word “intellectual” to describe them – added to the discussion.

Whether or not Obama is a narcissist – and if you go by the author’s citing of the Wikipedia, - yes Wikipedia! - more proof this guy does not have an academic degree from ANYWHERE academic – definition, I guess many of us might wonder. However, NONE of us (especially the author) has the training or the access to Obama’s deep inner thoughts to make that diagnosis.

Personally, it doesn’t matter to me. I hold Obama accountable for his actions. He is a big boy. Even if he is trying his best, which I doubt, just isn’t enough for me. If he can’t do the job, he needs to get out of the way so a more qualified person can lead this country.

As for why people voted for the guy – Obama offered hope and change. I believe that is why his betrayal is doubly bad. He raised our hopes and we gave him our trust and the minute he was in power, he turned and bit the hand that fed him. I agree with Draft, Obama has the oratorical skills necessary to sway the masses – just lacks the credibility. Even those who plan to vote for him out of fear for the alternative, don’t like or trust him anymore.

Respectfully,
Valerie

falken751 said...

The only good things in our government are socialistic. Social Security, medicare, medicaid, unemployment compensation etc. but if one listens to our government, socialism is bad. Everything about capitalism is bad for the middle class people in the U.S., but the people keep falling for the old rhetoric and voting for the same jerks. People like Ralph Nader lose to jerks like George Bush. Go figure!

"Cat" will do said...

I had a boyfriend once who was of the 'corporate' mindset: for fifteen years he maintained a 'wait and see' attitude about our relationship. Fool that I was (hopefully am no longer, but who's to say?) I finally told him to fuck off (which would be the equivalent of making corporations pay their share of taxes for once.) Now he's all lonesome and complains how I left him and I'm havin a good time traveling and meeting people who like me without a wait and see period. How to organize a National anti shopping strike? That'll show em.

Karen Garcia said...

Note to Readers:
Someone (a private individual) has threatened to sue me for libel for a comment published yesterday. While I found the remark to be mildly "personal" it was by no means a personal attack and did not even come close to meeting the legal standards for libel. Without going into any more specifics, I chose to remove it, because even though any lawsuit would be entirely frivolous, I would still have to pay a lawyer to defend myself. Being on a fixed income I cannot afford to do that.
I will continue to moderate all comments and try not to be censorious. Hope this does not place a chilling effect on the discourse.
Just remember -- when it comes to public figures, almost anything goes. When it comes to private persons, you have to be more careful, especially if that private person is not involved in the ongoing forum discussion. Thanks!

"Cat" will do said...

@ jay ottowa

read The Psychopath Test about narcissists running the world. Guy nails it.

Anne Lavoie said...

Karen, I hope you don't back off. Whoever it is/they are are just trying to silence your powerful and truthful voice. Please don't let that happen.

We have already noticed certain individuals get so defensive about their positions that they will claim that comments are 'threatening' when no one else can find any such thing. Or calling others 'shrill' for expressing opinions differing from their own. Even VLT warned about the chilling effect of that.

The attempt to chill free speech is a common tactic among those with weak positions or candidates, and especially by those who recognize the true power of words to coalesce people and create movements. Congratulations, Karen, I think whoever it is has proven that you are indeed powerful.

Threatening a baseless lawsuit is cowardice of the first order, a sign of desperation, and an indication you are speaking truth to power.

James F Traynor said...

In regards to being narcissistic or sociopathic:

In anger, I have used both those terms in describing Obama's policies. I am not qualified to make those diagnoses. I know that my statements were hyperbolic, as in calling someone insane when clearly he or she is not.

I have, in the past, done research (ecology, wildlife biology) and have a graduate minor in statistics. As a result, I have some sensitivity to the use of technical language. I have no education or experience with psychological terms, other than the required undergraduate psych. 101 or one graduate course in ethnology.

But I think I know enough to feel that Kate Madison must get very nervous when she hears lay people throwing around such terms, as I do when I hear people throw around terms and phrases like 'global warming' without any clear understanding of what they're saying.

Neil said...

I voted for Obama in 2008, now the sight of this double-talking lawyer makes me sick. In 2012, anyone but BHO. Take the pledge.

Kate Madison said...

@James F. Traynor-

Yes. Thank you for saying it for me.

Anne Lavoie said...

Re: Psychology, Therapists, and Diagnoses:

You have more rights to express yourself if you do not have the credentials of a psychologist, therapist, nurse, or whatever. I know as a licensed RN, I could not make a medical diagnosis, while every Tom, Dick, and Mary could get away with it, as long as they did not claim to be a nurse.

And with a degree in Psychology and graduate work in Counseling, I was not credentialed, so my opinion was just that, not a diagnosis. Whether you have a degree in something or not, you are not an expert, and your opinion does not carry the weight to harm someone of someone who is an expert or licensed or credentialed.

Very few therapists have any background at all in Psychology, so there is no secret knowledge they have to make them more capable of making an amateur diagnosis than the rest of us. Most therapists are Social Workers and either have their MSW graduate degree or a MA or MEd in Education. They could even have a degree in early childhood education and call themselves a therapist.

You need to check their state licensing board for their actual background and whether or not they are truly licensed, certified therapists (LCSW by their name.)

BTW, many people with degrees in art and music also hang a shingle calling themselves therapists. It depends on the state as to what kind of background the person must have, or if they even license them. Massage therapists comes to mind.

Psychologists will call themselves Psychologists and will be licensed by the states in which they practice. I suspect only they and Physicians can diagnose and are held accountable. The rest of us can read Wikipedia and give our armchair diagnoses, and no court is going to claim we damaged someone's reputation since we are simply ignoramuses.

So the PSYCHO who threatened the lawsuit can put that in their pipe and smoke it. And if any lawyers are out there, I hope they share their knowledge with us about First Amendment rights, and correct me if I am wrong.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Ali Sina reminds me of zealots who, in otherwise orderly demonstrations, break into obscenities at the top of their lungs. Bystanders are not won over. The nuts then hurl rocks at storefronts. Mounted police apply the spur, and the protest in its entirety is discredited on the six o’clock news. In that way, critiques of Obama like Sina’s risk discrediting all critiques of Obama.

Sina’s explications of narcissism are fascinating to a layperson like myself, although I understand from others how uncredentialed, unreferenced, unbalanced and misapplied they are. And yet surely some of Ali Sina’s screed has validity. With abundant detail Ali reminds us how little Obama had actually done in public service by 2008, other than to promote himself and skip lightly from one level to the next. Aside from being his own speechwriter, there were no accomplishments. Another point I would grant Sina is his prescience. He wrote his essay in September 2008. Way back then Ali Sina was on to something; I myself had fallen for the con.

Ali Sina wants all candidates for presidential office to undergo psychiatric evaluation. I trust professionals in psych work reject the idea; the contrivance is suspect and would give rise to countless abuses. Historical evaluation is preferable. In the last analysis, what must be evaluated continually are deeds, not words or thoughts or motivations. Sina was on sounder footing when he examined Obama’s empty history of legislative accomplishment.

Forget deep Freud and pop psych. Here’s the test: What did Obama do, and for whom did he do it?

The record is unambiguous. Obama continues to move in an arc already surpassing that of Bush in its perfidy in more than one realm. Isn’t that the measure of what to expect of TLOTE after 2012?

There is another measure put forward by fair-minded people, one already expressed yesterday by other commenters. In voting politicians in and out of office, the responsible citizen must not vote his own interests alone. Take a look around you. Millions of Americans have been dispossessed of their jobs, savings and homes. I may not be one of them yet, but common decency tells me, because of the urgency of their plight, I must vote their interests too. Solidarity once tipped the balance in Poland. It might do wonders here too.

Karen Garcia said...

The person requesting that I take down a comment by a reader now says a lawsuit was never threatened. However, I interpreted it as such because the comment in question was construed as "unlawful" and "actionable" by the complainant. By the way, this has nothing to do with the recent discussions on psychological diagnoses and hyperbole. This was about one reader ascribing a motive to another reader, and more a personality conflict than anything, in my humble view.
Incidentally, under the law, anything published here by me is my responsibility and liability. As a former newspaper reporter, I am well versed in what does and doesn't constitute libel. For instance, it's almost impossible to libel the President or the Pope, because they are public figures and thus considered "fair game." In other words, any lawsuit they might bring for someone calling them names would go nowhere fast. But when it comes to private parties, as I said above, we have to be very careful. Even when the truth can be proven, they can try to prove malice and show they were damaged.
Long story short -- vent at will and moderation will prevail to the best of my ability. To anyone whose feelings get hurt,or think they are being unfairly maligned, please write to me. Sometimes I miss things that prove hurtful. Thanks again.

Draft Spitzer said...

@Karen,

Please accept my sincere apologies for being the doofus who wrote something that someone considered libelous. It hadn't occurred to me that my comments would be interpreted in the manner they were, they were only meant to provoke greater political participation, and I'm mortified, particularly because I really admire the individual who took offense. I extend a sincere apology  to the person who took offense, whom I have often publicly and rightly praised. Karen should not bear any liability for what I wrote.

Janet Camp, who did not take offense, was the person I was responding to. I will re-post my updated reply, which omits my prior reference to the aggrieved third party.

Apologies again,
DS

Draft Spitzer said...

 

@Janet:
I wrongly assumed a more comfortable lifestyle, and I'm genuinely sorry because I'd be happier if you were more secure! 

I should know that everyone is paddling ever harder to stay afloat. My once-comfortable parents are now scrimping after changes to Medicare, and their pediatrician friends still working past 70 because their own kids and grandkids are struggling. 

Is this how my parents' mythical Immigrant-American dream ends, not with a bang but a whimper? When I was a kid, and Dad would come home exhausted from dealing with hospital politics, I'd promise him that I'd be a wealthy magnate and I would support him so he'd never have to work again. My sister promised to become an environmental lawyer and save the very planet so fretted over by Dad. 

Needless to say, we've failed him. I wonder if the real Cordelia didn't die in battle, but in shame.

Like the rest of the country, siblings and cousins have all tried to save face, but this process, if we were honest, had started chipping away in the 1990's, when our skilled blue-collar (and IMO, more creative) relatives saw their sheet metal jobs first downsized, and then, when quality suffered due to smaller crews, outsourced. But a real estate bubble neatly disguised much, if not all, of the pain -they went into construction. And now what? No bridges to build, no infrastructure projects. 

Having admitted all that, I'm honestly just not seeing enough daylight between Obama and the GOP. From Reagan onward, it's been increasingly, with each successive admin, a Wall Street government. I regret that I was, in my prevaricating marketing position in the banking sector, a clueless cheerleader of sorts for Clinton's CFMA and his repeal of Glass-Steagall. I've worked hard to make amends in a variety of ways.

But GOP or Dem, it seems very much that it doesn't matter whom we elect. Still, regardless of how I vote (unless it's critical in my state, I'll write in Spitz) I'm glad you're in the fight, and I still believe we're on the same side, just approaching the field differently.

I do want to add one more thing, though: I think we've all been in denial about what, exactly, brought forward the WPA and so many necessary programs and reform.

The '30's were full of violent struggle, and frankly, the deeper I dig into labor history, it started well before that. Our side (labor) was fearless in making themselves physically vulnerable at protests. Their fierce talk makes the tea party look like Adlai Stevenson. This is where Karen's criticism of "civility" as cover for submission/repression is becoming clearer to me.

And that's why I always thought the liberal take on the tea parties was flawed. Sure, the tea partiers were mistaken in their analysis, and organized by Koch cash, but they were still, as individual citizens, putting their voice onto the streets and malls. Many of them, I reasoned, could be the descendants of those who participated in The Great Strike of 1934. They needed an outlet, and Koch could reach them and mobilize faster. We as a group are partly to blame for that. 

Do you know how hard it is these days to get people to join a peaceful protest? Everyone fears for their corporate reputation, due to LinkedIn. Pictures of you on Facebook, say, participating in a peaceful protest would follow you forever. Far more damaging than drunken party pics. The flip side of social networking: no belly for even non-violent demonstrations, no heart to defy the corporate bullies. 

But perhaps the tide is changing. It won't change, however, until WE take peaceful action. Perhaps playful peaceful action is the best return on our time? That includes our comments here, but I hope that we don't leave it at that. There are Hoovervilles to be built!

DS

Janet Camp said...

@Draft

Thanks for the update. I completely agree that people need to be willing to demonstrate and I will even go so far as to say that these demonstrations, when they do happen (I'm thinking of the recent ones here in Wisconsin) need to get a little edgier, although I think that's hard to do without it ending up in violence. I know the birth and growth of the labor movement was very violent at times and that lives were lost, but like a lot of things, our tolerance level has changed--for the better no doubt and no level of violent protest would be tolerated today. Remember Seattle a few years ago? So much as a broken window will be the end of a demonstration. The flip side is that the protests in Madison were so peaceful that it all seemed, at times, like a street fair and I think this hurt the effectiveness to some extent. I think sheer numbers and completely peaceful is the winning formula. Also, persistence.

Sorry about all the offense taken nonsense. I've had a couple of exchanges with a couple of thin-skinned divas myself. Some take offense very easily and jump to conclusions rather than continue the discussion. I've always though that an ad hominem attach is an odd way to respond to a (real or perceived) ad hominem attack.

I hope you will all be rooting for a good outcome of our recall elections and that if you know anyone in Wisconsin, please call them and remind them to VOTE.

@Karen

I think I'm beginning to see why people use screen names. It's harder to threaten an unnamed source. It even seems to make people much angrier when they are able to name the source of their anger. Interesting phenomenon and good material for some aspiring graduate student perhaps.

General Comment:

I think Anne makes a very good point about people offering diagnoses, especially if the ARE qualified to do so--IN A CLINICAL SETTING. I read an awful lot of armchair and out-of-clinic stuff here and many other places. Narcissist seems to be the supposed "worst illness in the world to label someone with" these days. Anyone we don't like is suddenly a narcissist. Interesting that this term has been applied to both Palin and Obama on a regular basis, with equal invective. Who is a narcissist seems to be more a matter of where ones politics lie than in the criteria of the DSM -IV--which is meant to be applied by a trained and qualified professional. I guess I could make a case for narcissist with a small or capital "C", just as we do with "insane", "nuts", or other words, but mostly I've decided to try not to fall into this kind of verbal shortcut. But some will take offense at the use of any word that even hints at criticism, something as innocuous as "vanity" for instance. In such cases, I find another blog to read.

VLT said...

Draft,

You really hit the nail on the head. My husband and I played by the rules – worked hard all our lives, lived within our means, both have Master's degrees in very practical careers (teaching and engineering) and yet we find ourselves (at 45 and 50 years of age) somewhat financially insecure at a time in our lives where we should be feeling settled. Of all my former students who write to me, only the ones involved in Finance in some way are feeling economically secure. There is something REALLY WRONG with this picture and it contrasts greatly with what I see in Australia. I found the story of IKEA paying wages in the U.S. half as much as they pay in Sweden very sobering and distressful. Is America already on its way to becoming a Second World Country?

And you are so right. Few of us outside the Manufacturing sector were THAT bothered by the loss of those manufacturing jobs during the Clinton Administration – especially at the beginning. Part of it was we were lied to about the benefits of Free Trade and the plan for retraining those who would be unemployed as a result of NAFTA, but part of it was we didn’t question it. Now the chickens are coming home to roost as more and more white collar jobs are being outsourced, manufacturing is pretty much dead and our Middle Class is being decimated.

I really believe that both Australia and the U.S. should seriously reconsider Free Trade. If wiping out a country’s Middle Class is the price we pay for a bunch of cheap quality stuff, aren’t we better off without the junky products that are going to end up in garbage dump anyway? I am not against Trade in general - just think it should be done on a case by case basis and take into account the benefits to the people of this country as opposed to only benefiting the big corporations.

And for the record, I wasn’t criticising anyone’s opinions of Obama or their interpretation of his actions. And I apologise, Gerald, if you felt I bit your head off about introducing the article. You didn’t complain but upon rereading my comment, I think I should have been more gentle in my language. My criticism was of the author and his main source who I felt/feel have no credentials to psychoanalyse Obama. The author is trying to come off as an expert and his credentials say otherwise. While I think words like "sociopath" are a little strong to describe Obama, I think we SHOULD be questioning his character and motives.

Draft Spitzer said...

@Janet,
Thanks. I'm totally with you on the need for all protests to be peaceful. I just think that our side forgets how demanding those protests were, and they therefore forsake going to plain vanilla protests. So we're not even close to those big peaceful protests we need.

I organized a protest outside our local Federal Reserve Bank in early 2009 on the advice of Bill Grieder via Bill Moyers. I had asked all attendees, including my gray panther type friends, to wear corporate casual so that newbies like myself would feel more comfortable joining the protest. I found out their definition of "corporate casual" was different from mine...
Later, some teenagers dressed in black clothing crashed our polite protest, and they actually hung an effigy of a banker, a stunt which many of us had tried very hard to prevent. Yes, the teens did this in front of the Federal Reserve Bank! I was mortified. Also, we who'd invested weeks of effort organizing the protest had prepared these nice, short speeches, but we couldn't be heard because a local group calling itself "Raging Grannies" was singing and chanting louder than our loudspeaker and couldn't be bothered to check in with us. So yeah, it was a circus. 
A week or so later I started stealth-attending tea parties to promote the stimulus and protest the bank bailout. I was never turned away in spite of my politics, in fact, I was welcomed at most, which I thought was smart of them. I was favorably impressed by how FreedomWorks operated, too bad for us that they're totally wrong. I hope to write more about the "smart" tactics they used later.

VLT said...

@Falken 751

Great comment about socialism

Pretty much everything in our country that makes us safe is a result of socialistic policies. It always amazes me how little people understand their own government. Most people on the left and right decry socialism but understand we need an FDA, public libraries, fire stations and a good highway system. All are socialistic policies where the government intervenes into the profit making affairs of individuals to act on behalf of the general good of the entire society.

We need to stop allowing Socialism to be defined by the right which wants everyone to believe if we embrace a little socialism that we are inviting Stalin and dictatorship into our midst.

We need to do what Bernie does - dust off the theory and start defending it. Only in America do we have this irrational attitude about socialism. It reminds me of the way vampires used to cringe at a silver cross in the old black and white movies. Ridiculous!

Gerald Rubin said...

I was the one who posted the article describing Obama as a narcissist and have some very interesting comments to make. First, there are any number of articles out there describing Obama as a narcissist. I did not go through each one and then make a choice as to the best one. As far as the conservative element of the website posting this article, I was not aware of it because I had read if from a different source. I went to the actual source only after Googling the title to obtain a link. I do not read conservative, Islamophobic web material.

I have a Ph.D. in chemistry not psychology but consider myself very savvy to developmental psychology being a big fan of recently deceased Alice Miller and others. I do think Obama has been subject to Narcissistic injuries because he was shuttled from caregiver to caregiver, producing abandonment issues that often cause narcissism in adults to fill the void, so to speak. However, as Alice Miller points out the degree of narcissistic injury can vary considerable from person to person. Alice Miller pointed out that Hitler was beaten by his father extremely frequently and severely and there were other problematic circumstances as well cause his extremeness. He was in effect abreacting out this punishment on the whole Jewish population of Germany among others. I don't see Obama nearly at this level, but if you analyze carefully his policies are killing and imprisoning many, many people with no mitigating purpose behind them. If you think about history, even Saddam Hussein, Butcher of Baghdad, had some relative benign aspects. Before the invasion of Kuwaitt, Iraq had some degree of a middle class and also his treatment of women I have read was benign in comparison to Sharia law states such as Afghanistan. This stuff comes from my long term memory so I am open to any differences on the facts I present.

Very embarrassing for me however is that I excitedly posted the Obama narcissism articles on the walls of several progressive Facebook only to have them removed. I finally figured out why and I am eating a bit of crow for it. When I posted the link on the Facebook pages, I was not attentive enough at the time to realize that the thumbnail that came up was about Hitler. One does not always know what thumbnail will present itself when posting on FB. I believe that I am sane enough that if I had realized this clearly at the time I would not have posted the articles.

I too was fooled enough to go door-to-door for Obama in 2008 in Colorado. The energy behind his candidacy was incredible and I had no doubt that he would win. However, I quickly saw through his duplicity have been frustrated how others have not. I probably have enough anti-Obama material on my FB wall to have a file with the FBI and have recently made it private to the public. Having such a hypnotist president who at ever step continues to do harm and not have people realize it is quite scary to me. I sure hope this misperception changes fast as seems to be happening

Draft Spitzer said...

VLT:
Thanks, this paragraph you wrote is exactly it:

"Few of us outside the Manufacturing sector were THAT bothered by the loss of those manufacturing jobs during the Clinton Administration – especially at the beginning. Part of it was we were lied to about the benefits of Free Trade and the plan for retraining those who would be unemployed as a result of NAFTA, but part of it was we didn’t question it. Now the chickens are coming home to roost as more and more white collar jobs are being outsourced, manufacturing is pretty much dead and our Middle Class is being decimated."

For those of us who worked corporate, that's exactly what happened. I remember puzzling over NAFTA in 1995 - little did I know I'd soon be selling it and other free market ideas to private clients. But it's my fault, because I didn't ask enough questions. To be honest, there was no way a marketing goon like me would have the scope to even begin to know where to start asking questions. So maybe all of this was inevitable. 

But my willingness to turn a blind eye was not incidental, when you consider the millions like me who swallowed the free market myth, hook, line and sinker! That all seems like such a long time ago...

Thanks again for your comment,
"Draft"

Draft Spitzer said...

Gerald Rubin,
Everybody, myself esp. included, has made mistakes. It's to your credit that you came back to explain what had happened. It's also a credit to Karen's diplomacy as editor/writer that you felt that an admission of an error would be understood here.
Nice creds, btw. We have a lot of engineers and scientists here. Can we find a few constitutional lawyers? I have questions...

-Draft

Karen Garcia said...

@Gerald,
That article you referred to had me fooled too. The comparisons to Hitler were troubling, but other than that, it seemed well-researched and not the usual right-wing drivel. For one thing it didn't have the tell-tale American flag on the masthead to tip us off!
For a good analysis of Obama, I highly recommend "Death of the Liberal Class" by Chris Hedges. It is depressing as hell.
And also dig into "A Singular Woman" by Janny Scott, the bio of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham. Contrary to myth, he was not an abused or neglected child. He only spent a few years in Indonesia, during which time his house contained live-in servants. If anything, Mom and the grandparents spoiled him rotten. She sent him back to Hawaii so he could get an expensive private education, which she definitely helped pay for. He doesn't appear to have treated her all that well in his adult life, but she never found the slightest fault with him. So the elitism and entitlement did not start at Harvard.

Napoleon said...

@Valerie Long Tweedie

I don't see anything for which you need to apologize concerning your forthright condemnation and description of the article referred to by Gerald. The article was garbage, in its inferences, its structure, its support, its contentions, supposed proof, and aims.

The 4th and 5th sentences of the article was a preview of the filthy hatchet job to come when the author stated: "It is so instinctive for most people to want to see blacks succeed. It is as if all humanity is carrying a collective guilt for what the ancestors of blacks endured."

I say leave this article in the garbage dump and be done with it.

Draft Spitzer said...

Nap,

I didn't read the article (I'm not that interested in psychoanalyzing pols - everything I need to know is in their legislative/voting/public statement record.

So I was spared whatever outrages inherent in that article, thank God.

But on the race issue: as a mixed-race person, I do think that "white, liberal guilt" or whatever you want to call it, has at times allowed me, and certain others, more leeway and less accountability than we deserved. 

Or that was healthy for us.

That may explain why my immigrant, non-white mother could support neither Hillary nor Obama. She KNEW that the next President would need to be held FULLY accountable, and she didn't want him or her to have any of the kinds of excuses/leeway that had, after years of prejudice, been dumped into her lap thanks to guilty white liberalism. I think she also felt suspicious that people were just "patting themselves on the back" by voting for a corporatist African-American or corporatist woman. (She only takes marching orders from Bill Moyers and the ghost of Howard Zinn.)

We still, however, support affirmative action.

Napoleon said...

@Draft Spitzer

I don't know anything of your personal history other than the interpretation you have placed on it, and certainly am in no position to judge its validity or conformity to facts or whether it is a liberal or strict interpretation. What I do know is that it can't pretend to be a general one that accounts for the objective history of race relations in the United States.

In any event, I don't see why a subjective rendering of this sort should be taken as anything other than that, and certainly should not be viewed as having any relevancy to the history of millions of African American people who are descendants of more than one race or of those African Americans who are not.

Draft Spitzer said...

Nap,

Right on. Hard to crunch the numbers on a subjective analysis.

For those of us who feel fatigued by the identity politics of race, gender, personality, book catalogue, astrological sign, etc., it does not matter, as you put it, whether my comment has relevance to African-Americans.

The question roughly raised by mom's comment is this: as with gay marriage, how much has a ceremonial/anthropological "first" cost us in terms of addressing larger economic issues?

I would hardly be alone in notimg that Obama's racial identity has been used to sway the left into accepting a far-right set of policies.

It's a valid criticism, not so much of Obama, but of cluelessly guilty white liberal consciences in at least one significant way: Obama has done even less for African-Americans than any other ethnic group.