Thursday, September 1, 2011

Barack the Bizarre

So, I was only half paying attention to the latest who-dissed-who crap in Washington yesterday, with Obama and Boehner playing dueling playdates again.  The usual "I'm the adult and you're not, so there!" stuff that the people suffering through one of the worst natural disasters in American history couldn't care less about, especially since about a million are still without electricity, internet and cable.

Tropical Storm Irene and mass disaster have been flooded out by "Boehner Stiffs Obama on Joint Session!" on the front pages.  People at the end of their ropes have been replaced by pundits gasping "Is Obama Playing a Game of Rope-a-Dope over Speech?"  and "This Has Never Happened Before in the History of American Political History" hysteria.

So late last night I had just finished writing my "Eric the Dread" post about how Cantor doesn't care about disaster victims, when I decided to check my email one last time before turning in.  There was a message from "Barack" with the title "Frustrated".  Wow, I thought to myself, the president is writing to all the people in the federal disaster zones to offer us a few crumbs of presidential sympathy. But was I ever wrong.  Here is what he (or a campaign flunky) wrote:
Karen --
Today I asked for a joint session of Congress where I will lay out a clear plan to get Americans back to work. Next week, I will deliver the details of the plan and call on lawmakers to pass it.
( I didn't get what I wanted so I am bitching to you. I am also not making you privy to any of my so-called plans. They suck, but my soaring rhetoric can make anything sound good.  You'll just have to wait).
Whether they will do the job they were elected to do is ultimately up to them.
( I am running against the generic Congress, not the Republican Congress, or even against any of the Republican candidates. If you don't get your precious jobs bill, it's all on those Democrats and Republicans -- not me. I am completely ignoring the progressive emergency Jobs Bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Whether I do the job I was elected to do is not ultimately up to me.  It's somebody else's fault. It's my job that is ultimately at stake here).
But both you and I can pressure them to do the right thing. We can send the message that the American people are playing by the rules and meeting their responsibilities -- and it's time for our leaders in Congress to meet theirs.
(Triangulate with the voters against Generic Congress.  Invite them to join my exclusive "Adults Only" VIP Club of Populist Insiders.  Break out in a rendition of Helen Reddy's "You and Me Against the World.")
And we must hold them accountable if they don't.
(Or else.... what?  Send them to their rooms?)
So I'm asking you to stand with me in calling on Congress to step up and take action on jobs.
No matter how things go in the weeks and months ahead, this will be an important challenge for our organization.
(Put Country before Party, but Organization ("Obama for America") before Country).
It's been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American people need them to be focused on.
I know that you're frustrated by that. I am, too.
(I pretend that my base of purist idealogues is not at all frustrated with Moi.  If they can no longer worship me, I shall play the Pity Card).
That's why I'm putting forward a set of bipartisan proposals to help grow the economy and create jobs -- that means strengthening our small businesses, giving needed breaks to middle-class families, while taking responsible steps to bring down our deficit.
(Even though I just called out Congress for being a bunch of whiney brats, I shall still cling to my bipartishit delusions.  Oh, and growing the economy and creating jobs is code for Trickle Down Reaganomics.  I know, I know, it's been debunked as a theory, but maybe if I keep repeating it over and over and over, I will make it so.  And I simply can't discuss jobs without taking those responsible steps to slash your social safety net.  I need an adult plan that has to be grand to calm down the Markets.  We're in this together, you and I.  The Markets rule all of us, so let's be team players and go along to get along, ok?)
I'm asking lawmakers to look past short-term politics and take action on that plan. But we've got to do this together.
I will deliver this message to Congress next week, but I'm asking you to stand alongside me today: (inserts link simply requesting name and email only).
(A ploy by my campaign to see just how dwindling my base of support really is).
More to come,

I don't know if Ezra Klein saw a copy of this missive, but he sounded about as disgusted as I've ever heard him this morning:
To paraphrase economist Brad DeLong, last night was one of those nights when you remember that even taking into account the fact that our political system is performing worse than you could possibly imagine, it's performing worse than you can possibly imagine. Washington has made many more consequential missteps than this one. But few of them have been so thoroughly depressing, so insistent on showing us us, with brutal clarity, what the greatest nation in the world has come to.
Read his whole post. I think it's time we all get together and start our own mass triangulation movement.  This is no longer about Republican vs. Democrat.  This is all about Them vs. Us.  You know.... the Class War.




Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me that if I should happen to do a post that includes the word "revolution" would I get on an FBI list of subversives like I've heard about saying certain words on the "telephone", whatever that is, can go to a list of suspects who don't like what's going down with our elected officials :cause I'm much too old to spend my golden years in prison. Ciao.

James Singer said...

Dear Anonymous. I wouldn't worry about it. Fuck 'em. Prison's better than the poorhouse.

Denis Neville said...

Barack the Bizarre, as Martin Wolff said, “wishes to be president of a country that does not exist. In his fantasy US, politicians bury differences in bipartisan harmony. In fact, he faces an opposition that would prefer their country to fail than their president to succeed.”

Politics-as-entertainment is a much cheaper alternative to the more expensive exploration of real problems and issues and ways to solve them for our media.

"Boehner Stiffs Obama on Joint Session!" floods out the Irene disaster.

“The Hurricane of Hype” according to Howard Kurtz. As Nate Silver said, “I don’t see how you dismiss it as hype. If, as Mr. Kurtz says, “the prophets of doom were wrong,” I’m not looking forward to seeing what happens when they’re right.”

Once an agent for change in its role as the "fourth estate," the media is now deeply embedded in the establishment with a vested interest in preserving it.

Excerpt from February 2009 Bill Moyers Journal interview with Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald:

JAY ROSEN: Well, what cannot be considered is that there could be anything radically wrong with Washington. That the entire institution could be broken. That there are new rules necessary. That idea, that the institutions of Washington have failed and need to be changed, doesn't really occur to the press, because they're one of those institutions.

BILL MOYERS: On my computer upstairs, I have a lot of photographs from around the world this week, of protests, demonstrations of people who feel desperate in the midst of economic collapse and calamity. And they're taking to the streets. We don't see that in this country. Will Washington ever get the message unless they feel the pulse of people who are saying we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more?

GLENN GREENWALD: I think the idea of street demonstrations is probably the most stigmatized idea in our political process. There were huge marches, for instance, prior to the Iraq war, against the war. There were hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people throughout Europe marching in the streets against the war.

And yet, the media virtually excluded those demonstrations from the narrative, because they're threatening, and because they're considered to be the act of unserious radicals and people who are on the fringe, and I think that in some sense, that's reflective of the fact that that level of agitation is probably the most threatening to the people who have a vested in having the system continue unchanged.

At the same time, I think the problem is, is that the citizenry has really been trained to believe that they're impotent when it comes to demanding action from the political class.

It's already extraordinary that nine out of ten Americans, prior to the election - nine out of ten - believe that the country was radically off course. They lost complete faith in our political institutions, our media institutions. Virtually everything is held in such low esteem, and that's the reason why there was such hope vested in Barack Obama, that he would be something different and new that the country is hungering for.

But I think what needs to happen is there needs to be a sense, as you said, whether it's street demonstrations or other forms of true social disruption that can threaten the people who have an interest in preserving how things are, that until that happens, and whatever form that takes. It's hard to predict. It can be spontaneous. It can grow out of real dissatisfaction and anger. That more or less, lip service will be paid to the idea that these are significant problems that our political leaders care about, that change is coming.

But no real change will occur. Their interests will continue to be to ignore all of that, to treat it as condescendingly as possible and just to placate it when they can.

Denis Neville said...

According to Time’s Michael Scherer, there was an Obama team secret retreat where historian Michael Beschloss was asked the question how does a U.S. President win re-election with the nation suffering unacceptably high rates of unemployment? Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936 and Ronald Reagan in 1984 will be the model for the 2012 Obama campaign. Really? Barack the bizarre!

“The most dreadful failure of which any form of government can be guilty is simply to lose touch with reality, because out of this failure all imaginable forms of evil grow. Every empire that has crashed has come down primarily because its rulers did not know what was going on in the world and were incapable of learning.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, New York, September 29, 1936

Karen Garcia said...

They wear their top priority on their sleeves, don't they? Clueless hubris. I have gotten a few more emails from the campaign (I stay signed up just so I can get material for my blog!)One involves what looks like a pyramid scheme, I swear. Another gimmick is a national petition. If you can get 5,000 signatures, they might get around to looking at it. They out-Orwell Orwell! Every website has a pop-up OFA ad with a smiling face following me wherever I go on the net. EEK!!!!

Valerie said...

Is anyone responding to these Obama campaign attempts? Does anyone believe he is capable of leadership anymore? The people I know who are planning on voting for him is because he is the Lesser of Two Evils not because they think he is doing a good job. I have nothing but disgust for the man and I am still thinking about the way he sent an attack dog after Schneiderman. He is bought and owned. My greatest wish is he would just step down and start using his connections with the big banks to further his personal fortune.

I keep asking myself, what has been going on in our country that we haven't been able to produce effective leadership? Is it our education system? Is it the way kids are being parented today? Is it that we knock off people like Schneiderman and Elizabeth Warren so that all we are left with are the con man and the bully?

Denis Neville said...

“The world is a raft sailing through space with, potentially, plenty of provisions for everybody; the idea that we must all cooperate and see to it that everyone does his fair share of the work and gets his fair share of the provisions seems so blatantly obvious that one would say that no one could possibly fail to accept it unless he had some corrupt motive for clinging to the present system.” – George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

Liberals used to be the canaries in the American mineshaft of modern democracy. Today they are no more than useful idiots. One can imagine George Orwell visiting that mineshaft today as he did 75 years ago at Wigan Pier. Substitute liberal Democrat for socialist to understand Obama’s failure with those ordinary citizens who under normal circumstances should benefit from the Democratic Party.

“Everyone who uses his brain knows that Socialism is a way out of the worldwide depression," Orwell wrote. “It would at least ensure our getting enough to eat, even if it deprived us of everything else. Indeed, from one point of view, Socialism is such an elementary common sense that I am sometimes amazed that it has not established itself already.” Yet, “the average thinking person nowadays is merely not a Socialist, he is actively hostile to Socialism has about it something inherently distasteful—something that drives away the very people who ought to be flocking it its support.”

According to Orwell, the typical socialist “is someone who in five years time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage…or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaler, and often with vegetarian leanings…with a social position he has no intention of forfeiting.”

Describing a gathering of leftists, Orwell said, “every person there…bore the worst stigmata of sniffish middle-class superiority. If a real working man, a miner dirty from the pit, for instance, had suddenly walked into their midst, they would have been embarrassed, angry and disgusted; some, I should think, would have fled holding their noses….The ordinary decent person, who is in sympathy with the essential aims of Socialism, is given the impression that there is no room for his kind in any Socialist party that means business.”

Obama’s struggle to appeal to ordinary Americans seems very much like Orwell's descriptions. One used to think that he could not possibly fail, unless he had some corrupt motive for clinging to the present system.