Incremental Change I Can Believe In

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As the nation sits on the precipice of default and worldwide Depression, my frustration with progressives has turned from annoyance to blind rage.  The delusional fantasy that Barack Obama can wave a magic wand, part the Red Sea, and create progressive change with the stroke of a pen, just won’t die.  And it frustrates the hell out of me.  I understand the mindset intimately because I was there.  This presidency is a unique moment in American history and it has fueled the idealism of the American people. That’s a good thing.  However, it has also unleashed a tsunami of unrealistic expectations.  

Our system of government is designed to frustrate reform and change, especially progressive change. Whatever change we manage to get is ALWAYS incremental and a foundation that can be built upon. I thought that was widely understood.  I was wrong.

Anybody who hasn’t been under a rock for the last few weeks understands that there is no reasoning with the Republicans on Capitol Hill or anywhere else.  David Brooks said it best:

… the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative. The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

…If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.

And they will be right.

Given the ruinous catastrophe that the country faces, I find it maddening that some progressives think that the president is going to be able to achieve anything worthwhile as long as Republicans control the House of Representatives.  Didn’t we learn this lesson 16 years ago when Bill Clinton was president? After Clinton’s re-election the GOP doubled down on the crazy.  Bill Clinton was immensely flattered to be considered the first black president and the Republicans resolved that any white male that would cop to that should be treated like a nigger. That’s what the humiliation of impeachment was ultimately about and they haven’t changed. The thin veneer of solidarity with African Americans and other people of color displayed by our party leaders renders the Right-Wing constitutionally incapable of accepting any Democratic President’s legitimacy.

Thirteen years later, the president who saved us from Depression, secured comprehensive health reform, and reversed DADT without embarrassing his wife, his family, and the nation with sordid details of oval office fellatio, can’t seem to do anything right for the people who vigorously defended the philanderer-in-chief who got all of that progressive policy wrong in addition to weakening the social safety net and deregulating the banks that speculated us into the current predicament.  In the African American community, there is an aphorism that we are taught as children: We have to be twice as good to get half as much.  True to form, Barack Obama is twice as good as Bill Clinton ever was and doesn’t even get half the credit.

I’m tired of the cacophony of criticism from the firebagger caucus that President Obama is somehow defective.  He’s the most effective president on domestic policy since LBJ. Unlike Charlie Sheen, Barack Obama IS winning, which I think is the realization fueling the Republican drive to blow up the economy and his presidency so they can play blame-a-nigga games during the 2012 Presidential election.

The fact that firebaggers refuse to acknowledge the latent racism behind Republican machinations blocking a raise in the debt ceiling reveals that Republicans are not the only ones with a race problem they need to own up to. The need for Barack Obama to be perfection personified before some progressives can trust and applaud his leadership is delusional at best.  At worst it is racist and it is time we had an adult conversation about that. His election has not exorcised the demon of racism in this country and relieves no one of their moral obligation to continue supporting fairness and equal opportunity.

If President Obama has a failing, it is that he refuses to acknowledge that truth and the racism behind the animus he faces from the Republicans.  Whatever.  I’ll support him regardless because nobody in my lifetime has demonstrated that they’re more worthy of being President.

Labor Day Open Thread

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The President  opened the fall campaign in his customary way today with a barn burning speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Continuing the piecemeal approach of incremental change that our political system allows, President Obama announced a plan for $50 billion of infrastructure investment.  The plan is weighted heavily toward roads, bridges,  high speed rail, smart investments and limited job creation.  Shrewdly, he performed the obligatory ass kissing of organized labor to create enthusiasm and excitement for the Democratic ticket in the fall. Moreover, he sold his plan with the customary feel good rhetoric and American Dream cliches.

Obama’s scathing criticism of the failed policies and right-wing propaganda of the Republicans was what some voters needed to hear.  Too bad white voters are not listening to reason this year.  Republicans understand the power of fear and are using it to their advantage, Democrats should be taking Republicans faces off for their hypocrisy, lies, and distortions on every front.  Fear about the future of Social Security is particularly potent, unfortunately, Obama has no credibility on that issue.

Lastly, the President gave what amounted to a middle class call to arms in this address but  he’s done precious little to address the foreclosure crisis that is decimating the middle class–particularly the black and brown middle class. We’ll see if it works. What is on your mind today?

President Obama: Dazed and Confused

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Embracing his inner Jimmy Carter, President Obama revealed a heretofore hidden personality yesterday: deficit hawk.   Green eyeshade firmly affixed, the president has the audacity to believe that his proposed $477 billion dollar spending freeze in the middle of the deepest recession in more than twenty-five years is something that will work.  It never has. He coulda asked President Carter.  Better yet he coulda looked in the mirror and asked himself.  Candidate Obama campaigned against John McCain’s spending freeze.

To the consternation of many, President Carter insisted on spending cuts to domestic discretionary programs as unemployment remained stubbornly high.  Like Obama, he had an electoral mandate that he squandered and Democratic majorities in both houses that he wasted.  He produced no lasting domestic policy accomplishments and presided over a large defense buildup that Reagan continued and took credit for. Ideologically, President Obama, like Jimmy Carter, has been all over the map and it’s hard to keep track.

Obama was against the war in Iraq and then took office and escalated the war in Afghanistan. He railed against the greed on Wall Street and proposed a targeted tax on the banks, but facilitated the bailout of the worst hedge fund speculators and the unconscionable greed of investment banker con artists.  He has done next to nothing to confiscate or put the breaks on record bonuses and payouts to the banksters as they tighten credit to small businesses and profess a let them eat cake attitude to the victims of their predatory loan schemes.

Both Presidents are decent men.  Both are gentlemen and scholars with a flair for the written word. They also have a moralistic predilection for making self-defeating statements or addresses like Carter’s Malaise speech or Obama’s statement that he’d rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.  We’ve seen this movie before and this is one celluloid disaster flick I’d rather not sit though. For the sake of the tender feelings of my dear Elie, I’m, not the only one that thinks so.

In his continually futile attempt to be all things to all people and to just simply be liked, Barack Obama has embraced the conservadem me-too approach that has helped many blue dog democrats blur the lines between Democrat and Republican and appeal to fickle independent voters unhappy about the sad state of the economy and the nation’s burgeoning debt.

That is a loosing proposition.  No matter what he does, the Republicans will scream bloody murder, call him a socialist, and blow dog whistles to the troglodyte right.  The Republicans are the enemy.  Period.  The President should stick to the somewhat progressive platform he campaigned on, get off his damn knees, stop kissing arses and tell the Republicans and their conservadem handmaidens to go straight to hell.  He does not have to submit to the hazing of the corporate media and the right-wing.  He controls the message. Its time the Obama White House acted like it.  I pray for all our sakes that they stop channeling a dazed and confused Carter Administration.