is that everything he’s been doing is just for “plausible deniablity.” That he’s playing the game for now and soon he’ll be able to say “Look, I tried escalating the war in Afghanistan, I tried giving limitless amounts of money to corporations, I tried ‘bipartisanship’ – none of these things worked. Now it’s time to try something different.”
That is, I know, a very dim hope. (I think the thing about bipartisanship is the most likely, but even the idea that he’ll stop “reaching across the aisle” knowing he’s going to get bitten seems too optimistic at this point.)
Obama’s “enemy combatant” policy: following a familiar pattern.
March 19, 2009 at 5:22 pm
This one feels like yet another nail-in-coffin headline:
Overall, he’s looking a lot like The Smiler from Transmetro. Thank God we’ve got intelligent, prophetic comic books to guide us through these times, because journalists, educators, academics, and scientists have sure as shit been sleeping on the job.
March 19, 2009 at 6:54 pm
I think people are missing the point that it isn’t a question of what Obama wants to do, but what he can get done. That is, perhaps, the most terrifying aspect of current events (at least for me); A president of considerable charisma, intelligence, vision, and popularity might not actually have enough political power to reroute our system in any meaningful way. …but don’t blame Obama. We have no idea of his constraints. When it comes down to it, it’s our fault, collectively, that we are in this position. As Menken once said, Democracy is the idea that the people should get what they want and get it good and hard.
March 19, 2009 at 8:40 pm
The endless billions to trillions of bailouts are tremendously unpopular around the country despite the media giving them the thumbs up.
A real leader could turn off the spigot for oligarch welfare quite easily.
Obama doesn’t. Obama has spent so much so fast that he makes Bush look thrifty.
He’s just setting himself up to be future leader of the NWO.
March 19, 2009 at 8:59 pm
The popularity of the bailouts is irrelevant. We need leaders who know more about our situation than I do and can make good decisions even if no one likes them. The question is, do any of us know what would actually happen if Obama did something other than what he is doing (I doubt it), and does anyone have a better the suggestion THAT CAN ACTUALLY BE DONE? It’s hard to get any real view of the current situation, but there’s one thing you can count on. If GM, AIG, or any of the rest of these bloated monsters goes belly up with great suddenness, there will be people who lose their houses, their marriages, their sanity, and die of lack of health care and, in general, it won’t be the executives who put those firms where they are today. I’m often amused by the the right wing pundits and legilators I hear advising that we just let these things fail and get the rot out of the system. Spoken like someone who thinks his/her job is secure! (Not that horrible errors and evil decisions weren’t made and there isn’t a lot of rot in the system, but that’s another conversation.) The quickest remedies for “the system” aren’t very good for living human beings. My personal belief is that we are up a creek far more than most of us realize. As far as the speed of spending, that in itself doesn’t bother me. At least, this time, we’re buying local pork (at worst) instead of making a big pile of our money in the Mid East and blowing it up.
March 19, 2009 at 9:16 pm
“does anyone have a better the suggestion THAT CAN ACTUALLY BE DONE?”
So there’s no solutions and we shouldn’t expect anything from out leaders? Fair enough.
I quibble with the point that this is “collectively our fault” when most of this was set in motion before any of us, even a dinosaur like you, was even born.
March 19, 2009 at 11:05 pm
@Justin – come on, surely you of all people can provide us with a few concrete examples of what could be done.
@Bill – I don’t expect Obama to be able to make any huge leaps forward in policy. Like you say, it’s much larger than him.
Here are, off the top of my head, a few things he could have done differently (in a lot of cases it’s not about things that he could have done, but things he could have chosen NOT to do):
That last round of bailout money? There obviously could have been better provisions for transparency and/or restrictions on using it for stuff like bonuses. He could have refused to sign the legislation until these things were included.
He could have been more forthcoming about some of his appointments problems before the press dug them up and threw them in his face, undermining his position on transparency.
He didn’t have to embrace Bush’s position on this : http://www.theagitator.com/2009/02/11/obama-punts-his-first-state-secrets-case/
He didn’t have to authorize drone attacks in Pakistan.
He didn’t have to re-deploy troops to Afghanistan
He didn’t have to make major concessions to Republicans who would vote against the stimulus plan anyway.
I know I’m forgetting some stuff, but you get the idea.
March 20, 2009 at 7:43 am
Obama is crossing the line, pursuing righteously evil shit on a regular basis. And we’re supposed to be thankful that he’s less evil than his predecessor?
There are solutions. It is doable, even realistic. It’s not even that hard, compared to things like curing cancer or putting a man on mars– it’s just a whole lot of work, and we are lazy, mollified and indifferent, perverted by abundance and corrupted by greed. It is against the inertia of things.
Only great change will save this nation. But will it be saved?
March 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm
If McCain won and was giving trillions to large predatory companies and executives who caused the financial mess regular people would be marching in the streets.
Funny how in this past election, having a liberal win was actually to the rich’s benefit.
I cannot believe that anyone does not consider the bailout to be treason. Obama’s complicity in it (even if he is only a small part of the overall scheme) shreds any credibility he ever had or can hope to have.
Here is a figure on the total bailout thus far – 12.4 trillion according to CNN.
Per capita that is around $40,000 per American.
WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK!!!
& they aren’t even done spending.
They have sold the ground from unborn feet forever.
March 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm
Definitely not saying that things couldn’t be done better. It took me about three seconds to think of the phrase “Organizations receiving federal funds shall be required to report how the funds are spent.” and I sincerely hope there are people working on this stuff that are smarter than I am. All I’m really saying is that we don’t know the constraints. I think I’m better informed than the average person (probably not true) and I have little idea of which of the information I’m running in to is correct. I sometimes worry that the appalling decisions we see ARE the best we can do, but we can’t know that from where we sit. (I’m not sure whether our legislators can know from where they sit either.) None of this is a reason to do nothing. “Only by great change will save this nation. But will it be saved?” Quite correct. Just askin’, but have any of us written to anyone in government with a actable suggestion or a prompt to act a specific way on a vote or document that hasn’t been finalized yet? Not collectively our fault? Everything was set in motion at the beginning of time, but all of us have been alive during the last decade decade, I’m pretty sure.
March 20, 2009 at 9:18 pm
Not denying that having Obama win benefits the existing power structure. That much is obvious if only by the fact that he did win. As for the bailout being the equivalent of treason? I’m not convinced.
What makes you think $40,000 will be worth shit two years from now, much less when your unborn children are entering the work force? I mean, think about it. Here we are spending up a storm, being financed by China, who doesn’t want their export-based economy to collapse. Meanwhile, climate change means 20-40% less global food production for 2009 over 2008. Yeah, we call that ‘record drought’. 2009 is already the driest year on record, and we’re just getting started. And who is the world’s biggest importer of food? China, a nation that is getting the full brunt of both drought and outright desertification at the same time as the world’s rich peoples stop buying all that crap we don’t need.
So what happens when the Chinese, losing faith in our ability to rapidly shore this recession up and get buying shit again, desirous of lifting the yuan to the point that they can reasonably afford to keep a hundred million newly-out-of-work Chinese from having food riots that threaten to destabilize the entire country, starts selling off treasury bonds? The dollar drops. Like a fucking rock. Double-digit inflation. And it won’t be inflation driven by real estate prices, which will do no better than stagnate, but by increases in prices of imported goods and other such commodities. That’s oil, consumer products, and food, primarily. Remember in the lead up to the crash last summer, when gas was approaching $4 a gallon and food prices jumped nearly as much? It’ll be far worse than that, and it won’t be caused by speculators, but by the devaluing of the dollar.
And the funny thing is, in the long run, that inflation is not only likely, but absolutely necessary and beneficial. The US Dollar is a reserve currency, which basically makes it so that the cost of real estate and labor is so high that you can’t make much money growing food or manufacturing goods, because the exporting countries have been devaluing their money by buying ours. So if, in a global panic, everyone cashes in their reserves, and oil-producing countries switch to selling oil in currencies perceived as more stable, the dollar drops down to its real worth. Since we’d no longer be able to borrow the money, every dollar we’d spend as a nation then begins to devalue the total US Dollar pool. This makes doing business in the US cheap enough that we can begin to compete in manufacturing more effectively. It makes local agriculture competitive and even profitable. It devalues the national debt (both public and private), and increases the ability of the nation to pay it back, assuming that fascistic forces don’t use the unrest to turn the nation into a banana republic (where wages don’t rise with the growth of production and the nation has no means of effectively collecting taxes from those who can afford to pay the debt service).
The fact that this has already been happening in a smaller scale for my entire life notwithstanding, I think there is a national awakening going on in regard to the slow fascist takeover, though it is not specifically identified as such. There is a lot of anger at the plutocrats, and it would be a feat of herculean propaganda to now push that anger back towards reinforcing the rule of those self-same plutocrats. I don’t think even Obama is up to that task, though obviously that is his role. I think by allowing him to be elected, it shows that the plutocrats are ready to accept a deal in return for a degree of improved security.
As true alternatives become increasingly broadly implemented, and accordingly, achieve the sorts of economies of scale and systemic reinforcement that solely the plutocrats have thus far enjoyed, we may see a stronger pushback from those right-wing capitalists that have most benefited from the current system, but their credibility is so shot through that it may actually take the form of a coup or open takeover, should they become so desperate. That action, if properly instigated, mitigated and spun, could be the death knell for their entire system of money and influence. Cue New World Order, not the one where the rich rule the earth for ever and ever, but the one where peace reigns on earth and people are free to live how they like in harmony.
March 21, 2009 at 1:33 am
Uriah, like you said, creating and giving away 12.4 trillion is likely to devalue the dollar which will mean that all Americans will see every price they pay dramatically rise.
All that money could be used to subsidize manufacturing, R&D, infrastructure, $40000 checks in the mail, etc.
Hell you if can just create 12.4 we could pay off the national debt in one fell swoop.
Instead we hand it to banks/etc. so their overinflated balance sheets don’t deflate to reality.
The multinationals are looting the Treasury and our political leaders are spinning it as being necessary for the public good (seems like we’re always being threatened with falling skies whenever we don’t obey their objectives). The consequence of the dollar’s deflation will be that in a few years the % of Americans in poverty will rise, the middle class will shrink and the top percent will become more entrenched (and few the rest as business opportunity – back to neo-feudalism and Company towns).
I cannot fathom how such an action is not viewed as anything other than treason.
The possibility of revolution/change in America (or the world) is NIL – the only actors in this nation are the powers-that-be – hope in Obama seems to effectively diffuse anything more – everybody else just talks about it [ala this blog] as they legislate us back into serfdom. There was widespread and outspoken 100 to 1 calls to Congress (many of which I made) against the original mere 700 billion bailout but they passed it anyways. They have continued to pass more and more which leads to increased apathy and decreased participation since it clearly doesn’t matter. Meanwhile the media sells the idea that we need to do this (since the monied buy ads, not the moneyless) and nobody can refute that spin-job because the scheme is too complicated for anybody to explain in soundbytes.
$40,000 per person! Per person! It’s the greatest swindle of all time.
March 23, 2009 at 1:51 am
“If McCain won and was giving trillions to large predatory companies and executives who caused the financial mess regular people would be marching in the streets.”
Uh, there are people marching in the streets:
I have my doubts that people would be significantly more mobilized under a Republican president – or that it would matter (the Iraq war protests were amongst the largest in recorded history – fat lotta good they did us).
Slightly related: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/mar/21/aig-insurance
March 25, 2009 at 2:19 am
I don’t understand why you people quibble about stupid details in bailouts and other government bullshit.
We all know the underlying system is the problem. You can’t sustain yourself on an exponentially increasing economy. It’s so unbelievably naive. Our monetary supply is diseased and until it’s fixed there will continue to be good times for some followed by recession/depression (still good times for some).
What could Obama have done? Nothing because he’s a product of the same political game. You all loved bashing Bush, but it’s all hope and rainbows shooting out your asses for Obama. I’ve been holding this rant in too long, I apologize for the crudeness of it. But come on.
March 25, 2009 at 2:24 am
P.S. That probably was undeserved for most of the comments here, but I keep hearing these excuses for Obama and it’s like; Why do you give him the benefit of the doubt? Is it so you can fit in with all the other progressive friends you have? Or do you just wish that badly he turns out to be a good leader? Just look at it on it’s face, he talks nicer to us… thats about it.
Oh and I got extra money for unemployment. Thanks Obama. I might be able to eat til I plant a garden.