Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Record: Obama Utters Four Reaganisms in One Paragraph

"I ran for President because I believed in an America where ordinary folks could get ahead; where if you worked hard, you could have a better life.  That’s been my focus since I came into office, and that has to be our focus now.  It’s one of the reasons why we’re working to reduce our nation’s deficit.  Government has to start living within its means, just like families doWe have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.  
The good news is, Democrats and Republicans agree on the need to solve the problem".

-- Barack Obama, Weekly Radio Address, 7/2/11.

I despair.  The man is openly embracing all the mendacious conservative talking points of Reaganomics: 1) If you haven't achieved the American Dream, you just haven't worked hard enough; 2) The false equivalence between family budgets and government budgets; 3) The economy will grow if we starve it; and 4)The Confidence Fairy created through such starvation will transform profit-hoarding corporations into wondrous Tinker Belles who will tinkle their golden drops of beneficence on all the rest of us.  Yeah, that last part so totally worked out in the Bush Regime and its corporate welfare program, didn't it?
Of course, the radio address comes just one day after Obama apparently met his June fund-raising goals. According to the latest email from Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) chairman Jim Messina, a grand total of 475,000 rubes sent in their meager dollars and entered for a chance to win dinner with the president (and Biden).  So pay no attention to that pedagogic press con the other day, in which Obama pretended to chide his fellow Republicans.  The compulsive repetitive talking points of cutting out tax deductions for corporate jets and allowing a few subsidies to expire as planned are just crumbs to placate the pesky base.

The good news, according to the One, is not the fact that he is fighting back, but that Democrats and Republicans are agreeing on the same fake problem.  They are embracing the same fantasy, so all is right in Austeriana.  Watch the video of his address if you have a strong stomach.  He actually emphasizes the "TR" in the trillions he wants to cut.  Too bad he hasn't channelled the other TR -- the original progressive bull moose, who invented the Bully Pulpit, now gathering much dust.

The president appeared to have mounted it briefly this week, but he has jumped down in a hurry and is once again wallowing in the same bipartisan bullshit.

Slashing the Safety Net in Order to Save It


John in Lafayette said...

It is, indeed, enough to make one physically ill.

Isn't there a Ned Lamont out there for the Democrats? Someone who will actually stand up and BE a Democrat?

I'm reminded of the West Wing episode where the retiring Supreme Court Justice looked at Jed Bartlet and said, "I voted for you because I wanted a Democrat. I wanted a Democrat, what I got was you."

4Runner said...

Things will only get better. Next, Ronnie Junior will be telling us that trees cause pollution and that catsup is a vegetable. Or is it that catsup causes pollution and a tree is a vegetable? Either way, we'll be smilingly assured that trickle down tides lift all boats. And may god bless us all.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I just despair. I'm not holding my breath until those tax cuts for corporate jets and other outrages are abolished. I would be very surprised to see the hedge fund managers paying regular tax rates instead of their 15 percent. I would be delighted if tax rates for the obscenely rich and the income taxed for Social Security went up. I fear that, instead, the GOP and their Democratic enablers alike will throw the disadvantaged, kids, seniors and the middle class in general under the bus. I'm so glad you're writing about all this. There are times, when I sit here, in rural Arizona, and feel like the lone voice crying out in the desert while others drink the GOP Kool-Aid that they're somehow "saving" entitlements, in sync with the middle class, blah, blah, blah...

Jay - Ottawa said...

TLOTE's Saturday morning address was another go at grooming the country for "the cave" -- i.e., his soon to be announced cave to the Repubs on the debt ceiling, and the cave a lot of us will be living if he keeps channeling Reagan.

James F Traynor said...

Ah,Karen! Right again - always about Obama, and, given the rumored 'fracking', of N.Y. about Cuomo II. For the environment of N.Y. his rumored proposal, if true, would be courting disaster.

But, to get back to His Majesty Obama I, yes, he is a disaster of major proportions. But what to do about the bastard?! The alternative is truly awful and possible. Some say that a second term for the sociopath is just postponing the inevitable. And better face the struggle now rather in the future when the second term will enable the manque Democrat to enervate progressive opposition.

Marina said...

Karen, what are your thoughts on the argument that we must vote for Obama in 2012 because of the Supreme Court? Or because President Bachmann will be even worse?

I'm assuming that I have no choice but to vote for this (expletive deleted)--but I would love to know what you plan on doing.

Karen Garcia said...

The Supreme Court has a stranglehold on the country and five men are free to play God for the rest of their lives, destroying what's left of our democracy. Since Obama is a conservative Republican himself, how can we trust even him to appoint another Supreme who would act in our own best interests? I certainly don't. Any extreme nominee would always be blocked by the Senate. (Then again, Democrats voted for Alito and Thomas, etc.)
That being said, I think it is a mistake to broadcast our voting intentions so early in the game. Obama must be amused, hearing that people hate him but will hold their noses and vote for him anyway. It just gives him license to embrace the conservative agenda that more blatantly. He just needs our votes -- his big bucks are coming from Wall Street and the secret "Priorities" donations. So to say you'll vote for him but not donate or work for him is defeatist, I think. Depending on how far to the right Obama goes, and if his opponent is Romney or Huntsman,I would be apt to vote socialist, Working Families Party (in NY) or Green. I think we should all vote our consciences instead of pure party lines. Neither political party works for us any longer.

Anonymous said...

Was anyone standing onstage with him and did it look like their lips were moving during the President's speech?


Kate Madison said...


I respectfully disagree with Karen on this one! I am as disgusted and disappointed with Obama as all other progressives, to be sure. However, I think if you look at his Supreme Court appointments (vs. GWB and GHWB), you will find they are far superior. Sotomayer and Kagen always vote with the liberal minority on important social issues, and Kagen has actually disagreed and gone head-to-head with Scalia on a couple of legal points in recent cases.

Other than Supreme Court appointments, I do not see much difference in voting for Obama or a moderate Republican (i.e., Huntsman) if such is selected. However, with the Tea Party sway, I think it is likely that a moderate Republican would be forced to pick a Tea Party winger as VP. Michele Bachmann comes to mind.

Voting for a third party candidate is, to my mind, selling the farm to the Republicans--as the Florida vote for Ralph Nader did in 2000. I think how different some important things issues have been under Gore--i.e., two Supreme Court appointments? I guarantee you, we would not have Roberts and Alito if Gore had been President--although we ultimately would have been disappointed in him for other reasons, I am sure.

After all, the Presidency, like the Congress, is controlled by corporations. Like it or not, they are bought and sold, and America is not a democracy or a republic, it is an oligarchy. This will not change in our lifetimes, I feel sure, sad to say. Citizens United has guaranteed that!

I have made it clear to the Obama campaign that I will not be an organizer for 2012, nor will I contribute any small cash to the campaign. I have received quite a few calls trying to bring me back to the fold, and I have explained in nauseating detail why I have fallen away. This is my form of protest.

As a footnote, it seems that the Obama organization is more interested in getting my (volunteer) services and money than in getting my vote. They are going to lose that one. But I do hope Obama wins in 2012. Having a Republican president would be even more destructive--perhaps suicidal!

When all is said and done: THINK SUPREMES! Obama doesn't give a rip whether or not we are going to vote for him. Jimmy Messina wants the money, honey, and our time!

Karen Garcia said...

I don't buy into the c.w. that Nader cost Gore the election. Gore lost the election for Gore, as did Clinton, who didn't bother campaigning for him. I think people who vote third party are disgusted with the other two, and are voting as a form of protest -- without the third party candidate, they'd probably stay home. The lefty third party candidate of my imagination this time around might serve the purpose of forcing Obama to move more toward the center, out of pure fear.
Re the Supreme Court, the Senate holds the final say. Harriet Meier was close to wing-nut status, and she didn't last long.
Also, why is Ruth Bader Ginsberg sticking around? You would think, frail and old as she is, she would retire to give "liberal" Obama a chance to nominate another justice before his first, and possibly only, term is up. Does she know something we don't? Anyway, here's to wishing her a long, long life.

Karen Garcia said...

Forgot to add this: As a senator, Obama admired John Roberts's "intellect" when he was under consideration in 2005 and was considering voting for him. His aides talked him out of it because if Roberts ended up voting too conservatively, this might hurt O's future presidential chances. So Obama voted against the Roberts confirmation purely out of his own political self-interest. He actually thought Roberts was cool, though.
Kagan and Sotomayor were early nominees and meant to please the female base worried about the overturning of Roe v Wade. I would look for Obama to appoint more conservative judges during his second term. What has he got to lose?

Anne Lavoie said...

Gore could not even carry his own home state of Tennessee! I supposed we're suppose to blame Nader for that too?

James F Traynor said...

Both sides of Madison vs. Garcia present excellent arguments. Madison's position is one of hopeful patience and delay. Garcia's response is that there is actually little hope and time's awastin'.

But Madison admits that we no longer are a democracy (never really were) or a democratic republic (arguable), but an oligarchy. I cannot, at the moment, think of an oligarchy that surrendered its position peacefully. Even so, that instance would, no doubt, be in the minority. It is more likely that the oligarchy would strengthen it's position during a second Obama term- perhaps even with his help, unwitting or not.

At the moment I'm with Garcia, but would happily change sides if Madison could present more evidence for the validity of her position. I don't relish slashing the Gordian knot; the unintended consequences can be very unpleasant.

James F Traynor said...

The enemy is consolidating while we are in disarray.

Anonymous said...

I rarely agree with Kate Madison, but Elaine Kagan was an excellent, and vocal SC pick. I appreciated Kagan's recent votes and statements.

SC nominations are a legitimate reason to hold one's nose and vote for Obama. (Tho in my blue state of California, I have the luxury of writing in Spitzer.) And no, I don't blame Nader (or even Gore) for 2000. 

On another topic that Garcia and Madison continue to speak out on:

I had hoped that there might be some reflection in the wake of the recent letter from Cy Vance, the NY prosecutor, regarding serious credibility issues on the part of the witness in the case against DSK. It looks increasingly that DSK was set up.

As much as everyone loves to hate the IMF, the replacement of DSK with Lagarde has already resulted in some very poor terms for relief for Greece. 

That, and not allegations of rape, is the real story.

DSK's plan for Greece would at least have forced the bondholders to take a haircut. With the Geithner-backed Lagarde, there's less chance that a serious debt restructuring to 50% of GDP will occur.

Part of what troubles me is the media (and blog) lynching of DSK by "feminists" who don't seem to understand the very dire consequences for women (and men) in Greece (and soon Spain) of having lost DSK.

DSK  was far from perfect as an IMF leader, and the IMF itself has deep problems. But it looks increasingly that he was set up in order to replace him with someone who didn't challenge, as DSK did, the use of the dollar as the reserve currency, which nets our country 25 billion annually. It also amazes me that it hasn't occurred to mesdames Garcia, Dowd, or Madison that this vulnerable maid could herself have been coerced into entrapping DSK.

It also appears that we haven't been given the full story on the DNA found in the room. Everyone has assumed it was semen. But it appears it may not have been.

I read Garcia's comment to Dowd's article today - she invoked the Duke Lacrosse players.

But the more relevant comparison is the wrong, political and overly aggressive work by NY prosecutors in the Central Park Jogger Case, wherein a group of men were scapegoated by politically-minded prosecutors.... And "proud" New Yorkers rushed to judgment in defense of a "hapless" female.

I recommend re-reading Dowd's erroneous rushes to judgment on the DSK case -she wrote two columns on it since the arrest, her denunciations of DSK strongly backed by Garcia, Burns and Madison. The invective still being flung at DSK even by Garcia today might be better directed at Sarkozy or Lagarde. (Garcia, whose writing, as she knows, I genuinely admire, called DSK a "creep" in her NYTimes comment today, even though being a creep, or even a harridan,  is not cause for prosecution.) 

Unless, of course, we are blinded by gender and ignorant of what is occurring in Europe as a result of DSK's "resignation."


Karen Garcia said...

I admit I initially bought right in to the conviction by public opinion and public prosecutors of Monsieur. That is why I am withholding judgment, till all the "facts" come out... not that they ever will.
I did notice the conveniently coincidental timing of the appointment of Mlle Lagarde and the sudden collapse of the case against DSK, however. The plot thickens. Also the approval given by Geithner to the Lagarde appointment lends credibility to the theory that this may well have been a vast oligarchic conspiracy.
Another suspicious factoid is that the translation of the conversation in an obcure dialect between the African maid and her jailed boyfriend took weeks to get translated. I mean, the UN is right down the block for goodness sake. That excuse just beggars belief.

Draft Spitzer said...

I know - they translated it on Wednesday???

That was the day after Lagarde was endorsed/anointed by Geithner.

Everything is now on massive fire sale in Greece. The entire country is being raped. Spain will likely not be treated so harshly, thank God, but Greece is basically being sold to the lowest bidders.

And what Goldman Sachs did to Greece, it is now doing to US municipalities.

Draft Spitzer said...

Here's a link to a Reuters article on GS screwing US municipalities with derivatives contracts. As Greece goes, so will Alabama. Note that Jersey was still taking it up the arse from GS in 2009, to the tune of $1 million a MONTH even though the NOTES HAD ALREADY BEEN REDEEMED. 

And sadly, Goldman claims there's no more KY jelly, either, because of the demand pressure from all its other victims. Now THAT's what I call rape. Economic rape - the kind that's irresistable to a certain kind of banker. Not high-born DSK, but literally born-in-the-NY-housing-projects-Blankfein. There was a time I used to admire Blankfein's rise out of the projects. Funny, no?

The money shots:
"The Goldman partnership, meanwhile, is embroiled in antitrust litigation brought by various cities and towns across the U.S. The municipalities allege that numerous financial services firms, including Goldman Sachs Mitsui, conspired to fix prices and bids on a wide-range of derivatives products, including so-called interest rate swaps."

Now check out what's happening to Greece post Goldman Sachs-manufactured Forex derivatives. Basically, the delay in a restructuring of the debt (merci, Geithner & Mlle. Lagarde) means that ANY source of state revenue will be sold to foreign buyers, so Greece will NEVER be able to pay off its debt. From bridge tolls to parking meters to the ports. Hello? The historic port of Piraeus is on sale. China (good luck to them in managing a beloved port in a country that even the Nazis couldn't handle) was a potential buyer. 

Everyone look up from your 4th if July Barbecue and LOOK closely at what is happening in Syntagma Square. THAT is what the American sheeple would be doing if they read The Financial Times. THAT is a healthy reaction to being raped by the plutocracy and having your country sold out from under you.

THAT is the real story, not the he-said-she-said that MoDowd keeps selling.

James F Traynor said...

DSK is a side show. Look at the documentary "Debtocracy" on You Tube. And read "Confessions of a Hit Man" by Perkins. The IMF is the instrument of global plutocracy. Frankly, I think he's guilty, given his history, and what woman wouldn't have a little mud on her shoes, given her history. It goes with the territory

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Let's get rid of Obama. We can't do it with a primary but we can leave the ballot unmarked or vote third party. Then we can get control of the Democratic Party and try to get at least one house of the Congress in 2014; the Republicans will almost certainly overreach. I would love to see Bernie Sanders as the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in 2016.

Draft Spitzer said...

I don't disagree that it's a sideshow/distraction, and that the IMF is a greatly flawed institution, and I've said as much. However, I think it's unwise to ignore the fact that as a direct result of DSK's ouster, the poorest nation in Europe is being forced to take on worse austerity measures than would have occurred under DSK - not to mention the reality that the bondholders are not being forced to take a haircut.

That's the real story, and if you live in Westchester or Napa, the difference between Lagarde and DSK is negligible.

If you live in Athens or Iraklion, or soon, in Madrid, it is NOT a negligible difference.

In the ER, we used to say that "time is muscle" when dealing with cardiac arrest.

The same thing is happening in Greece. And soon Spain.

Don't kid yourself that it can't and won't happen here - as Reuters makes clear, it already is.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks for your input and the link. Isn't it sad and ironic that Greece, the birthplace of Democracy, is becoming victim of the Plutocracy. Privatization on a global scale in the wake of the Wall Street plunder of the global economy. This is what Naomi Klein meant when she wrote about disaster capitalism. Create a catastrophe and then profit from it. Add a little sordid sex to the mix and you have a distracted populace. (As I said before, I was initially sucked in by the class-war aspects, feministic theme of the DSK narrative).
In the USA, the profiteers are privatizing everything from turnpikes to parking meters to prisons to schools (see my post on RealityChex, dumped from the NYT today).
@James -- Vive le Resistance! Fear of Supreme Court wingnuts is no reason to vote for a corrupt sellout.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ Marina

Your question has unleashed choirs of angels sweeping in one by one to respond to your inquiry, even though you had only put the question to our resident archangel, Karen. I hasten to add that all of these angels a-swooping are of the heavenly kind, none malevolent. In the lower ranks we do squabble at times, but with a lightness of touch expected of better angels. (It is the angels of the dark side who march in lockstep.) I wager your question and at least one of these angelic responses will one day find its place in journalistic literature beside Virginia’s inquiry about Santa Claus.

There are people on earth who have already consigned Ralph Nader to hell for presuming to enter the presidential race in 2000 on a third party ticket. They are most likely from the Republican Party, the Democratic Party and the more recently formed Pragmatic Party, which is neither fish, nor fig nor tomato. My typing fingers are hoarse for repeating the following so many times: Nader was not a spoiler for Gore in Florida.

Some detail you must research and confirm for yourself, but for now I’ll simply try to point you in the right direction with a few facts, as distinct from myths that, like some nasty bacteria, require less oxygen to stay alive and replicate.

The pre-GWBush Supreme Court majority suspended democracy and appointed GWB president in 2000. The popular election was thrown out, in other words. The Florida vote was in fact won by Gore. That was confirmed when the count continued informally after GWB was plopped in the high-back chair of the Oval Office. Gore never needed the votes Nader brought to the polls. The Court majority may go to Hades, as well as Bush, and Gore too for his weak-wristed fight on behalf of democracy. As for Nader, I can tell you now as an eye witness to the paperwork, he has a small, low-income, green energy apartment reserved in heaven. Forever!

That said, should we stick with TLOTE in 2012? One of my fine-feathered companions will shortly post an allegory addressing that question. Look for it. And the Real Supreme up here says to bless you and your provocative questions.

Draft Spitzer said...

Thanks. When I look at Syntagma Square it breaks my heart. And at the same time, it gives me hope. It may not be pretty, but in those protestors IS Democracy. It's engaged, and sweaty. It's putting your life on the line. 

The police in Athens tear-gassed Manolis Glezos, who as a young man scaled the Parthenon during the Axis occupation to plant a Greek resistance flag. 

These Greeks, they've made some mistakes, but the people on the ground, even 80-something Glezos, they haven't forgotten that Democracy is a constant struggle. It was always so, it has been always a fragile experiment based on trust.

So Karen, when are you organizing me and James and the rest of us to march on DC?

We need your leadership and organizing skills.

Marie Burns said...

While I'm respectful of everybody's opinions on Obama, and I share everyone's "despair," I have to agree with my friend Kate Madison on the folly of sitting home come election day, or lodging a protest vote for a third-party candidate or the Republican candidate.

I don't defend Obama. As Steve Benen wrote yesterday, in analyzing his tax policy, he is somewhat to the right of Reagan. That's right: to the right of Reagan. I agree with both Garcia & Krugman about Obama's Reaganomics.

But if you look past the high-profile stuff, you see some things Obama is doing that a Republican would NEVER do.

Just this week, the DOJ reversed course & filed a strong brief against DOMA in the case of a gay woman (Karen Golinski) who is suing the federal government for rights for her wife. Think Mitt Romney's DOJ would do that? How about Bachmann's?

Many of Obama's lower-court appointments are progressives, and that's important. Right now, the federal district & appeals courts are heavily weighted in Republicans' favor. Why do you think Mitch McConnell is holding up confirmations? The same goes for federal prosecutors? Do you really want Bachmann's prosecutors going after ha-ha "voter fraud"?

Do you think a Republican president would go out of his way to defend student loans? Do you think he would hold the line on Social Security & Medicare?

Republicans are trying to destroy the EPA. Remember what a Republican EPA looks like?

And those trade agreements that liberals hate? Obama put in a provision to retrain American workers who lost jobs because of the agreements. The Republicans on the House committee that's doing the mark-up just walked out of the committee on Friday because they want to kill the retraining. The White House has indicated Obama would veto the legislation if the retraining program goes.

Do you think Elizabeth Warren would have even her temporary job?

There are a thousand ways a Republican president would be worse than Obama. I urge you to think about that before you ride your high horse into the polls.

The Constant Weader

Black Swan said...

Came over here from the NYTimes after reading and agreeing with a lot of what you have said in the comment sections. As far as going to DC, there is which is organizing a peaceful protest in DC on the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan. I plan on finding some way to trek over there from the West Coast. I will even fly! if I have to.

October though is a ways off, and November 2012 might as well be a century from now with the rate things are collapsing. Anything we can do to educate and inform in the meantime can't hurt.

I am glad Karen and others have been posting comments to the NYTimes and keeping the dialogue from straying too far into the swamps of propaganda. Sometimes as an individual it gets overwhelming, looking at the shape of things too come and all the power behind it. I feel like a drop of rain in the ocean, but if we can create a big enough storm we can start to dilute it.

I have always been interested, but never active in politics, but I feel it is the duty and obligation of those of us that can see through the lies and propaganda to make a stand. Not just for the USA, not just for Democracy, but for all Mankind.

It gives me some hope to read blogs like this and see that while sometimes it may feel this way, I am not alone in my worries and my hopes.

Draft Spitzer said...

I'd like to address some of the points put forward by the estimable Marie Burns:

1) DOJ on DOMA: I know I speak for many progressives who are too cowed to say this: gay marriage is a giant red herring that's used to distract from the real issues, which are economic. (IMO, Gay marriage is essentially a conservativ-ization of the once-vibrant, radical LGBT community.) But to YOUR point, with Romney's record, I can easily see him doing the same as Obama on this issue. Gay donors have big pull, and Romney understands that.

2) Bachmann: she's not in the running, and I think you know that.

3) Defending student loans in their current incarnation ain't no favor - they're the Fannie Mae of 2011, and I think you know that, too. Social Security and Medicare would likely fare the same under a GOP Pres as under Obama. Reality check: he's not defending either any more than the GOP would IF they were in power - they're popular programs.

4) can I imagine a Republican EPA? I sure can, the EPA was tougher on a relative basis under its creator, Richard Milhouse Nixon, and under Ford, than it is under Obama.

5) Liz Warren may actually fare better under Romney. Basic reality: Obama = Romney for all practical purposes.

6) Thus, there are a thousand ways in which a GOP Pres would be the SAME as Obama.

7) as for the high horse and the protest vote, it depends where you live.

8) You do yourself (and progressives) no favors by telegraphing that you'll support Mr. Cellophane no matter what.

(#8 is a basic negotiating tactic. You and Karen taught me THAT one!)

I didn't address your lower court point - I don't disagree with you there.

We'll see, but in the meantime, stop telling the quarterback you'll still make out with him when it's clear he's ceding the game to the opposition...

Anonymous said...

Some are estimable and others are omniscient...

I can't wait to tell my son his happiness is just a giant red-herring...a distraction.


Draft Spitzer said...

No contradiction there. Much of what makes us happy is a distraction. Why should your son be any different?
Is it necessarily wrong or odious to ask why so much energy was focused on delivering something that will not protect vulnerable LGBT individuals... But will instead further entrench in secular society an inherently dysfunctional and discriminatory institution?
And what more practical items did Cuomo trade for this?
No one wants your son or anyone else to be deprived of happiness, but eyes on the prize: the NY victory is a cover for Cuomo's assault on the poor.
Caveat emptor.

Jay - Ottawa said...

So, Ned, in choosing the next administration, you deem anthropological issues more important than the political or economic? I understand and sympathize if, out of solidarity with your son, you have become a single issue voter. If not, are all issues equivalent? Most commenters here are struggling to weigh a whole array of issues at stake. Is there no hierarchy of needs to be taken into account? Are there more discriminated-against gays in America, or more poor and recently bankrupted families? Which is more fundamental and critical to the nation's future: (a) the numbers of people affected and degree of injury related to DADT and DOMA or (b) the numbers of people affected and the degree of injury related to the revved-up class war resulting in massive employment, regressive taxation, a crumbling infrastructure and millions of empty houses? The LGBT community has enjoyed a few victories lately. Fine. However, the millions of citizens worried sick about their economic situation rightly expect little from Obama, Bernanke, the Congress or the Supremes. Which group deserves our sympathy and attention first? The government's attention?

Marie Burns said...

"I think you know that...." -- Draft Spitzer

If there are people in the progressive community who think gay rights are a red herring, let them speak up as Draft Spitzer has done. With the problems gay Americans face in securing equal rights, they don't need the additional burden of wondering who their friends are.

I'll bet many gays resent Draft Spitzer's suggestion that their rights are "a red herring" as much as I resent her remark, which she wrote three times, that I am not truthful. How Draft Spitzer would be so presumptuous as to declare in print that she thinks a person she does not know would pose arguments in which she did not believe is beyond me. It is an ugly thing. I don't mind being told I'm wrong on an issue; I often am. But being told in print I'm a liar is unwarranted character assassination, and I find it inexcusable. I tend to let criticism roll off my back. This attack is staying put right on my chippy shoulder.

The Constant Weader

Karen Garcia said...

Message to commenters: I'll leave this thread open awhile longer but if starts getting more personal, I will have to cut it off. And that would be too bad, because for the most part the discussion has been lively, thought-provoking and challenging.

First rule -- let's not speculate on contributors' motivations for saying what they do. Think of how our esteemed public officials are always urging each other to be civil and be inspired by them. Or vomit.

Karen Garcia said...

My thoughts on Cuomo and the marriage equality law: A lot was covered in a previous post I wrote for this blog.
I am happy New York now has this on the books, but I am not happy our governor is getting so much credit for it. This was a moment whose time had come, and it was a political no-brainer for Cuomo to go along and perform some arm-twisting theater.
This guy is another DINO. The Tea Party loves him. Carl Palladino the GOP rival sent me an email urging to support him. His banker friends have actually run TV ads thanking him for letting the millionaire surtax expire in the state. He is shutting down family health clinics, laying off teachers and imposing all the general austerity measures beloved by Republican governors. Right after gay marriage passed, he is spending that political capital to lift the ban on fracking, thus breaking a campaign promise.
Republicans and Democrats serve the same oligarchy -- the Democrats just display a smidgen more humanity here and there to keep us believing they have our interests at heart.

mac gordon said...

I'm a strong supporter of the LGBT community, but I agree that it's important for us to understand that there are more vital concerns, than gay marriage, that need to be addressed.
As Draft Spitzer says - the economy is the primary issue that affects us all.
It seems to me, that events in the US are moving so quickly - read economic deterioration for the majority - that we need to revisit our priorities.

Marie Burns said...

Evidently I did not make clear that none of the issues I raised as reasons to support Obama over the Republican nominee trumps the economy.

But anyone who thinks the Republican nominee -- whoever s/he may be -- will do more for jobs & the economy than Obama has not been reading the newspapers lately.

Mitt Romney, the frontrunner in the Republican race, has killed hundreds of jobs with his Bain corporate takeover operation. While he was governor of Massachusetts, the state ranked 49th in job creation. He has recently criticized Obama on the closing of a sheet-metal plant in Allentown, Pennsylvania, but he is opposed to the programs that would have saved it.

Michele Bachmann, who is the runner-up in many polls, would solve our jobs woes by eliminating the minimum wage law. Need I say more?

Minnesota is closed for business this weekend. Many blame former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, another much-touted presidential hopeful, who left the state with a multi-billion-dollar deficit.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman reportedly was a good steward for his state, but so far it doesn't appear he has much of a chance to win the Republican nomination because he's not a whacked-out panderer. He's the only Republican candidate who doesn't outright frighten me. But his economic agenda, such as it is, is to reduce the deficit & roll back regulation of business. Great ideas, huh?

Were there a strong, viable progressive candidate to oppose Obama in the primaries, I would support her or him. But there is not. Do I think Elizabeth Warren would be a better president than Obama. Yeah, probably. But she doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning a primary. Retail politics is not her thing. Bernie Sanders? I love Bernie. But he's not going to be president, and he knows it. Spitzer? Ha! If he wants to be president of some country, he'll have to move to France. I was an early supporter of his return to grace (and I took a lot of heat for it), but he's not going to be the US POTUS any more than David Vitter -- a Rhodes scholar! -- is. Russ Feingold? Couldn't even win in Wisconsin. Howard Dean? Nope. There is another generation of candidates coming up -- Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse (even his name is right), Kirsten Gillibrand (not a favorite of mine, but she really, really wants the job), & people who haven't broken out yet. But none of these people is going to be president in 2013.

The Constant Weader

Anonymous said...

I agree with Draft, Jay, and Mac. There's a great column today by Chris Hedges over at that touches on this very debate in the last paragraph ("If elections were effective..."). We need to sever ourselves from the Democratic party, even if well-intentioned people like Marie think it would be counterproductive and ineffectual in the short term. As Chris so eloquently states, "The expediency of the moment has a habit of subsuming the moral imperatives of the future."

-- William

James F Traynor said...

Severing ourselves from the Democratic Party is not the answer. Restoring it is. But rewarding the Clinton-Obama wing with re-election is not the way to change the party; it will cause them to sell us out even more than they have already. Madison and Burns have powerful arguments for staying with Obama, but time is not on our side. Better to sacrifice an ineffective (at best) presidency, try to strengthen our presence in the Congress in 2012 and aim for takeover of both houses of Congress in 2014 and the presidency in 2016.

I know it is risky, but the alternative of an entrenched Clinton-Obama wing in control of the Democratic Party into the foreseeable future is untenable.

Marie Burns said...

Well-intentioned people like Marie want a government that works for the American people. That is the "moral imperative," contra Hedges. To destroy what is, whether from the left or from the right, is to create a vacuum that really would be that "great sucking noise" that would destroy the nation.

Anarchy from the left is no more desirable than is the egregious anarchy we're currently seeing from the right as members of Congress try to undermine the economy for an electoral advantage. Both sides are immoral. Activists like Hedges, Chomsky & Nader are useful for pointing out all that is wrong with the current government, but their "solutions" are dangerous pipedreams that delude the unwitting into making disastrous choices.

I was an adult in the last anarchic period, and it was not a period of great righteousness. It was an era of fear, hatred and division from which the country has never fully recovered. Everybody should take a deep breath and think a little harder about what s/he wishes for. If we want a viable nation, we have to work for it, not tear it down.

The Constant Weader

James F Traynor said...


I read the Hedges column and agree with it, but the solution is not, ultimately, a third party. Voting third party in 2012, but only against Obama is, I think, the way to go. Then, after we've sent the message, take the Democratic Party away from its present leadership.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry that I used that wording - clearly I was wrong to do so. My intention was not to say you were lying. (As you may be aware, I have a Tourette's-like "gift" for calling it like I see it, so if I meant you were lying I would have typed: " Liar!")

 What I did mean is that we all have the ability to look skeptically at what is before us, and to see (and promote) various sides.

And maybe gay marriage is not a red herring. But can we concede that it's being used as a bait and switch?

That is: We ask for a jobs program, the Dems give us gay marriage. If we say, We can't eat gay marriage, it's like giving a quadraplegic guy a frisbee. And then the Dems get all red in the face and yell at us: "When did you and quadraplegic dude become homophobic?"  

But asking for pols to be accountable on economic issues doesn't make one a homophobe. What I mean is that they're playing us, and the LGBT community is getting played, too.  (Boxer and Feinstein play this game to the hilt - so much for feminism!)

On a street-level basis: Here in my hometown of San Francisco, we have a lot of pols who support gay marriage, but vote to end rent control.

Thus over 30 years we've bled this city of its working-class, its black population, and old-timers, and we've increased the number of renters. But black people, like renters, aren't big-money donors like the LGBT community, to its credit, has become. 

So even though there are today, "gratis" the drug war, more black people incarcerated than on the eve of The Civil War, the Dems tell us that gay marriage is the number 1 civil rights issue in America. How does THAT compute? It's okay, we don't KNOW these anonymous black faces in prison, so they don't matter?

I worked in ER, serving a lot of homeless and minority patients, including homeless LGBT men and women. I was grateful for  the opportunity to serve the City and its people. But gay marriage will not help  these vulnerable people, because they will likely never be "marriageable" - gay or straight. If you prick them, do they not bleed?

That's the reality on the street level. We aren't providing basic shelter. But they can marry! 

And When the Supreme Court tells California that prison overcrowding is inhumane, we might admit there are some higher-level civil rights issues we've ignored - not just economic, but basic human rights. And we're not wrong to call the pols out on it.

I actually think the gay marriage issue has exposed a rift in the Dem/Progressive side. The more well-off can relate to the issue, but many of us just hanging on by our fingernails see it as a bait-and-switch. Maybe we're both right?


Jay - Ottawa said...

Marie, everything you say -- and it's clear you've done the homework to dig up more facts about the Republican line up for 2012 -- is valid. All of those candidates will sell high, sell low, but sell us out they will.

What some of us are trying to get across is that Obama belongs right up there in the thick of your line up. Why leave him out? He has surpassed W at home and abroad. The guys with eyeshades who lean over graph paper have just plotted Obama's words and actions TO THE RIGHT OF RONNIE!. How much more can this President betray progressives while pleasing oligarchs with the same deft moves? Even the guys on the basketball court are catching on. They tell me that 99.9% of the time, he fakes left and goes right. The story of his life.

I doubt any among the Republican cast of campaigners will be more chummy with Wall Street than Obama has been and will continue to be. I mention the Greed Factor first, because that's our biggest problem. Yes, I really do doubt the Court will look any better after another four years of Obama. Roe v. Wade will not be reversed because enough women, rich and poor on both sides of the political divide, will not let that happen. And what will Obama do post 2012 to roll back unemployment, our second biggest headache? The same thing he's done in the past year or two: stage photo ops with lucky hardhats at plants that are exceptions to the big picture.

If an ideological Republican voter in Nov 2012 were to have doubts about "moderate" Jon Hunstman's commitment to continuing the class war, all that Republican voter need do, to be on the safe side, is to draw the curtain and vote for Obama. Obama has earned Republican high honors and has damn near sunk the last nail in the coffin of the middle class before his first term is over.

I have stopped using TLOTE as his sobriquet. He's not "the lesser"; he's number one. As for his reputed decency and soft touch, that's not humanity, just the velvet glove hiding a Republican fist. Ask the millions who don't know what hit them on his watch.

James F Traynor said...


Can you elaborate on what you mean by leftist anarchy? Are peaceful demonstrations anarchy? Is voting third party anarchy? It didn't seem to me that Hedges was arguing, implicit or otherwise, for anarchy.

I too was an adult in 'the last anarchic period' as you put it
and it was very unpleasant. But without those demonstrations, without Ellsberg where would we be today? Without the Civil Rights marches and protests where would the blacks be?

That's not anarchy, it's democracy. Messy, to be sure, but there it is.

Marie Burns said...

@Jay. If you'll notice, it was I who pointed out that Obama's budget is to the right of a number of Reagan's. Did you get the impression I was defending that as a good thing? I was not.

Under a Republican president, there would not have been a stimulus bill, & had Franken been in the Senate instead of being locked in a run-off with Coleman, the bill might have been larger. It was the ladies from Maine & that horse's patoot Lieberman who whittled it down. Romney said saving the auto manufacturing industry (his father was head of the now-defunct American Motors!) was a loser. Republicans called it "socialism." Whatever you think of Dodd-Frank (and I don't think much of it), there would be no Dodd-Frank with a Republican president. Obama did raise the minimum wage & he did attempt (or claim to) effect a hike in taxes on the wealthiest Americans. I don't think any of today's Republicans would do any of those things. He also would sign most any liberal bill -- on the economy or otherwise -- Democrats brought his way. A Republican president would veto them.

Please don't think I'm defending Obama's policies. If you read the New York Times op-ed comments sections or my Website, you'd know I criticize his policies nearly every day.

@James Traynor. If you don't remember the hate on the faces (and in the hearts) of anti-war demonstrators, you don't remember those days. If you don't remember young soldiers killing kids at Kent State, you don't remember those days. If you don't remember Bill Ayres, et al., making bombs designed to kill Americans, you don't remember those days. If you don't remember J. Edgar Hoover & Richard Nixon, you don't remember those days. But that was a day when two young journalists could bring down the presidency. I don't think that can happen any more (unless the president is a Democrat who gets caught boffing the help).

Neither does Chris Hedges. He thinks we few "civilized" people may have to resort to armed resistence, but his main suggestion is that we take to the hills like Benedictine monks when the revolution comes. He is an anarchist like Mitch McConnell is an anarchist -- both want to destroy the government. Both believe it cannot be improved.

I've seen the government get better & I've seen it get worse. Unlike the youngish Barry Goldwater, I do not believe "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

I get just as angry as you all do at the policies of both Democrats & Republicans. But I also live in the real world of the possible. And what many of you are proposing is to make things worse, not better. I lived through the hippie era, too, and I am quite aware of the romance of taking to the hills & living in communes, and that's not a choice I would make. That choice may make your own little world tolerable, but it doesn't do much for society as a whole. And ultimately, I think our civic duty is to endeavor to make life better for others, not just for ourselves. That's my idea of what a true progressive does. The Hedges route is a a form of selfishness that isn't a heck of a lot better than the Tea Party I've-got-mine-too-bad-for-you "philosophy." What Hedges offers is just another, slightly more appealing, form of nihilism. "Despair," which is where this conversation began, is a natural, normal reaction to the sorry state of our governmental institutions, but translating that despair into pious acts of destruction is an undesirable, unwarranted and irresponsible outcome. That view is not being "well-intentioned," as someone dismissed me; that's being all grown-up.

The Constant Weader

mac gordon said...

I agree with Jay Ottawa. Obama is certainly not, in my opinion, TLOTE. He owes his position to the 'usual suspects' that haunt Wall St., and other 'canyons of power'. I think we delude ourselves, if we believe he will change, if he is elected to a second term.
We 'the people' should be out on the streets, making ourselves heard, right here, right now!
As James F Traynor said "That's not anarchy, it's democracy".

D12345 said...

How about one other issue....Obama caved on the tax cut extension, supposedly to save unemployment insurance for some (not all) unemployed.
Now, predictably, the howl goes up about the deficit and cuts that are far more brutal than the unemployment benefits are on the horizon.

fool me once, shame on you, fool my twice....fool me 20 times...Obama you are not a friend of working people.