Archive for July 18th, 2010

Politico’s Conventional Bullshit

July 18th, 2010 No comments

Among the many pundits and news organizations that peddle vague and shallow observations as ‘conventional wisdom’, Politico is near the top of the heap. This week they published a piece called “Why Obama loses by winning” which is the epitome of the kind of garbage that Washington insiders consider brilliant analysis.

When Obama came into office, the assumption even among some Democrats was that he was a dazzling politician and communicator who might prove too unseasoned at governance to win substantive achievements.

The reality is the opposite. You can argue over whether Obama’s achievements are good or bad on the merits. But, especially after Thursday’s vote, you can’t argue that Obama is not getting things done.

Um…yes we can. And we are. Obama may be pushing lots of legislation through that address big issues like health care and financial reform, but when you scratch the surface you don’t see much actually getting done. Other than an individual mandate and some extra subsidies for poor people, not much has changed about this country’s health care system. And other than the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a one-time-only audit of the Federal Reserve, financial reform hasn’t changed a thing about the way Wall Street operates.

Obama’s strategy is to make it look like he’s achieving all kinds of great, historic accomplishments, and it would seem that the Washington punditry has taken the bait.

But the truly egregious thing about this article is this tired old nugget:

But on the issues voters care most about — the economy, jobs and spending — Obama has shown himself to be a Big Government liberal. This reality is killing him with independent-minded voters — a trend that started one year ago and has gotten much worse of late.

Right, we all know how everyone is so upset that Obama is such a Big Government spendaholic liberal. Never mind that the single biggest factor behind this perception is the economic stimulus plan which prevented the current recession from being much worse than it is. It’s Economics 101 that in a recession, you spend more money to get the economy moving again. It’s how we pulled out of the Great Depression. It’s necessary to spend more if we’re going to pull out of the recession we’re in now. Many economists think Obama should do much more stimulus spending—but thanks to right-wing media spin and total ignorance of basic economic principles, many people think that Obama’s excessive spending is responsible for the recession.

Hence the god-awful title of this piece, “Obama loses by winning.” As in, “Even though Obama was swept into office on a message of change and even though he’s addressing every issue he said he would as a candidate, voters would rather he not get all this legislation passed because it costs too much money.” Apparently, voters would like him a lot more if he didn’t do anything on health care, finance, energy, and so on. What Obama should be doing is spending all of his time working on things like Flag Appreciation initiatives and honoring America’s great baseball players.

America is so fucked if this is the conventional wisdom in Washington. Our country is in serious trouble and the only thing that can prevent a monumental fall-of-Rome level catastrophe is radical, fundamental reform. Obama won’t even go near the level of reform we actually need, but the Washington media elite still insist that he’s going too far. He wants to get out the oars and row very softly against the current, but the media wants him to sit back and let the current take us where it will—which in this case is over a waterfall.

On a less important note, the piece also has some fun things to say about liberal bloggers:

The liberal blogosphere grew in response to Bush. But it is still a movement marked by immaturity and impetuousness — unaccustomed to its own side holding power and the responsibilities and choices that come with that.

Ha HAH!!! Yes, it’s we liberal bloggers who have all the power now! We have so much power we literally don’t know what to do with it. Obama, who is totally on our side and listens to everything we say, is driving his presidency into a ditch because he just keeps taking our immature and impetuous advice! Damn, that’s rich.

Regarding our “immaturity and impetuousness” I suppose it’s of little use to compare us to right-wing bloggers, whom we all know are the pinnacle of sophistication. It’s not like they’re saying things like Obama’s birth certificate is fake and he was actually born in Kenya, that his health care reform bill was a plot to set up death panels to ration care, that he purposefully caused the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in order to get climate legislation passed, that he’s a secret Muslim who sympathizes with terrorists, or that he’s an angry black radical who is redistributing the wealth to his black friends as back-door reparations for slavery. No, right-wing bloggers would never be so immature.

So many liberals seem shocked and dismayed that Obama is governing as a self-protective politician first and a liberal second, even though that is what he campaigned as. The liberal blogs cheer the fact that Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s scalp has been replaced with that of Gen. David Petraeus, even though both men are equally hawkish on Afghanistan, but barely applauded the passage of health care reform. They treat the firing of a blogger from The Washington Post as an event of historic significance, while largely averting their gaze from the fact that major losses for Democrats in the fall elections would virtually kill hopes for progressive legislation during the next couple of years.

Seriously, have these guys ever actually read a liberal blog? 1- There’s nothing shocking about the fact that Obama cares more about self-preservation than liberal principles—we’re just pissed off that he pretended otherwise. 2- Just because we’re happier with Petraeus than McChrystal doesn’t mean we support the war in Afghanistan. Personally, I only applauded the change because with Petraeus in command it will be politically easier to end the war and bring troops home. 3- Damn right we barely applauded the passage of health care reform. It wasn’t worth applauding. 4- How many people characterized Dave Weigel’s firing from the Washington Post as an event of historic significance? I never mentioned Dave Weigel, but I highly doubt that those who did lost focus on 5- the prospect of major losses for Democrats in the fall, making it even more impossible to get progressive legislation passed.

Regarding this final point, nothing pisses me off more than the argument that progressives are shooting themselves in the foot by being too progressive. Apparently, if we want progressive legislation, what he have to do is let them water-down the legislation until it’s not progressive at all. Only then can it pass, thus securing a political victory for democrats, thus allowing them to win their re-election campaigns and thus return to Washington where they can…what? Are they suddenly going to start passing progressive legislation after the mid-terms?

What these media elites never recognize—either deliberately or out of ignorance—is that America needs big reforms. We tried things the conservative way for the last thirty years and it’s led to economic stagnation, the destruction of America’s reputation abroad, the slow death of the middle class and the catastrophic redistribution of power from sovereign nation-states to multi-national corporations. Progressives aren’t advocating progressive legislation as some kind of culture war battle—most of us spend little or no time at all talking about things like abortion or gay marriage. We’re advocating for progressive legislation because that’s what this country needs, because it’s what the world needs, because it will help everyone, including people who treat the word ‘progressive’ as if it’s worse than ‘nazi’.

We will continue to push our ideology in spite of the political consequences for those in Washington because short-term political interests should never trump long-term national interests. It may take a few election cycles, but hopefully our influence will grow, we’ll sway more independents through the force of our arguments (which have the virtue of being supported by facts and by history). The goal is not to help the Democratic Party, but to make the Democratic Party help us, and thus help everyone. If they have to lose a few elections before they finally get the message, so be it.

Democratic Governors Afraid of Immigration Fight

July 18th, 2010 No comments

From last week’s New York Times:

BOSTON — In a private meeting with White House officials this weekend, Democratic governors voiced deep anxiety about the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona’s new immigration law, worrying that it could cost a vulnerable Democratic Party in the fall elections.

Are you serious, Democrats? How weak and spineless can you possibly be? Do you seriously want the Justice Department to drop the lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law just to make your re-election campaigns easier?

This is exactly why people hate politicians. They care more about doing what’s politically expedient than doing what’s right. If they oppose Arizona’s immigration law—which practically guarantees racial profiling and usurps authority for the state government which for very logical reasons ought to rest with the federal government—then how about some willingness to speak out against it? Or, conversely, if they do support this law, how about some willingness to say so?

Instead of just taking a position and letting the voters decide, they complain about having to take a position because the issue is too controversial.

Not only that, but they actually want Obama to drop the lawsuit and throw all those law-abiding, legal Arizona residents who happen to be Hispanic under the bus, leaving them subject to racial profiling and possible detainment if they forget to carry their birth certificate whenever they leave the house. All so that their re-election campaigns can go a little more smoothly. Pathetic.