Archive for April 11th, 2011
Paul Krugman, writing for the NYT:
I realize that with hostile Republicans controlling the House, there’s not much Mr. Obama can get done in the way of concrete policy. Arguably, all he has left is the bully pulpit. But he isn’t even using that — or, rather, he’s using it to reinforce his enemies’ narrative.
Krugman was commenting on Obama’s lack of fight during the recent budget deal. That bad deal comes on the heels of Obama’s recent lack of fight on net neutrality, where Obama and his hand-picked commissioner Julius Genachowski purposely steered clear of the promising solution of declaring the Internet to be a mode of “telecommunications” pursuant to the Communications Act of 1996. That wasn’t doable with AT&T looking on, spending more on lobbyists than all members of the military-industrial complex combined. Obama’s recent collapse occurred after he declared that he would “Take a back seat to no one” regarding net neutrality.
Well, it’s clear that Obama didn’t have the guts to fight for what he apparently once believed regarding net neutrality. That’s the awful trend. Consider his inept Wall Street finance alleged reform (“banks” are now bigger than they were prior to the collapse) and consider his convoluted health care reform, which dumped us into the waiting arms of virtually monopolistic private health insurers (mine raised my premium 10% last week–so much for “cost control,” Obama’s original justification for health care reform).
And then there is Guantanamo–yes, it’s still open for business, and consider that the “Peace President” ramped up our military presence in Afghanistan, where we still waste $2B/week, killing and maiming numerous civilians in America’s longest war. And consider that Obama has become quite the “Secrecy President.” And consider his unwillingness to speak up to protest the torture of Bradley Manning. And why is he taking the side of tens of thousands of tax cheats while ignoring the massive injustice done to a man for whom we should be holding parades, Bradley Birkenfeld?
Barack Obama is a President who doesn’t have the guts to fight for the promises he made during his campaign. It’s apparently not in his bones to do so. He’s the Political-Free-Market President: He apparently believes that good things will happen in Washington if only he charms everyone and stays out of the way. Because of this deep character flaw, his window of opportunity to implement the program he campaigned slammed shut. At best, he’ll be playing defense, though the recent budget deal suggests that he doesn’t have the grit to play tough defense. If I were a Republican, I’d probably be wondering whether I’d actually want to replace Obama with a Republican.
This is all so incredibly surreal. My thoughts are similar to those expressed by Lawrence Lessig at the 2011 National Conference for Media Reform. He boiled the problem down to this: “Private funds drive elections.” He noted that members of Congress spend 30-70% of their time raising money to get re-elected. This has got to change, because “every issue we care about is blocked by this rot.” The Citizens know about this problem quite well; Lessig cited a poll showing that 70% of voters “believe that money corrupts Congress.” He has declared that it’s often not worth our time to fight issues of the day, because good ideas don’t have a chance of winning. Instead, we all need to become “rootstrikers.” Here’s the idea in a nutshell:
“”There’s no progress so long as private funds drive public elections.”
And see the Rootstriker video here.
Two nights ago, in the midst of all of this frustration, I had dinner with an African American man who looked at me with shock and disbelief as I expressed my frustrations regarding Barack Obama. The man warned me that we can’t “afford” to criticize Obama, or else Obama’s opponents will use that against him. “We worked so hard to get him elected.”
Yes, it seems unsavory to criticize the bad judgment of those who we generally respect, but it is often one’s moral duty. For many months I’ve been losing hope for Obama, evidenced by many articles I’ve written at this website, but now I’m losing respect for him. I’ll admit that my frustration occurs in the following context: We’ve been moving toward the political right for at least 10 years now (longer if you include Bill Clinton’s disastrous de-regulation of Wall Street). Based on this long sad slide, it would be immoral for me to not criticize the current president, for whom I voted. There was so much hope in the air a mere two years ago. Is there still hope? The current situation brings to mind a quote regarding FDR:
FDR once met with a group of activists who sought his support for bold legislation. He listened to their arguments for some time and then said, “You’ve convinced me. Now go out and make me do it.”
I will do everything in my meager power to try to make Obama do what he promised, even when that seems hopeless. I will not hold back criticism. Obama has been making a ghastly string of mistakes ever since elected, even though he ran one of the most brilliant campaigns I’ve ever seen. But now he appears to almost fully settled as a comfy resident of Washington, D.C., which is now more visibly than ever a highly big seductive coin-operated town.
Harvard professor Gary King determined that Washington lawmakers spend a lot of time calling each other names (King is interviewed “How senators spend 27 percent of their time taunting each other” in The Week).
Groucho Marx might have to rework the lyrics in the song from Horsefeathers
I don’t care what you have to say
It makes no difference anyway;
Whatever it is, I’m against it!
No matter what it is
Or who commenced it
I’m against it!
Your proposition may be good
But let’s have one thing understood
Whatever it is, I’m against it!
to include a couple of slurs to bring it up to date.