Being Uncomfortable with Power

I have been thinking about writing this diary for a while now. Since Obama's swearing in I have noticed that the rift between right and left has been growing significantly, but much more disturbingly I have noticed a growing rift within our own ranks. I am not speaking of the same rift that existed during the primary, which was certainly a bitter rift from which the wounds have not completely healed, but something different that has happened in recent months.

I have watched and listened as much of the progressive movement, or the left fringe of the party, or whatever term is applied to it by the person speaking, has become increasingly distrustful of, and angry towards, President Obama. I worked for SEIU during the campaign, working seven days a week for months on end, to see Obama win; and I will be the first to admit that my perception is colored by that.

Lately, I have been increasingly angered myself about the attitudes of some on the left whose bitterness seems extreme to me; also, I have become concerned by those who do not show much bitterness but seem to be increasingly cynical that any of the changes we have hoped for and worked so hard for will come to fruition. I myself have some concerns about the way the administration has handled certain aspects of their agenda but I am even more concerned about the direction we, as a party and a movement, may be heading.

I have been trying to hazard out why this is happening, because I have noticed unhappiness, in the extreme, directed towards the administration on every issue. I am sure that some of this is simply because everybody has different priorities and when the administrations does not match up perfectly with those priorities it generates emotions ranging from disappointment to disgust. I do think there is a larger philosophical reason for the level of resentment that has been fermenting in recent months though. I believe, that on a certain level, progressives are uncomfortable and distrustful of anyone who holds power.

This is partially because we have become accustomed to being left out of the process by every leader, even those in our own party. It is partially because we have seen first hand the damage that those in power can do. 8 years of a President like good ole' W will do that to you. It is partially because of the sense, perhaps a good sense, that our ideals are more important than holding on to power.

Now, with the healthcare debate dragging on and the distaste most of us feel for the bills that are being passed and the pace at which everything from this reform, to gay rights issues, to the closing of Gitmo, as well as a myriad of other progressive priorities, have been pushed forward by the administration has left many feeling burned again. I have said many times that I think applying pressure to the administration is good. Obama campaigned on many issues that are close to our hearts and we have ought to expect his follow through on these issues. But I also think that we should be practicing a certain level of patience as well as an understanding that the progressive movement is a BIG movement that encompasses a lot of important, and complicated, issues. We aren't going to see ALL of our priorities realized this year or next. Truth be told we probably will not see all of them realized by the end of Obama's first term or even by the end of his Presidency.

But I think, in our efforts to be responsible and to continue to push for these things we ought to also occasionally take a moment and look at our motivations. We should stop and consider the political realities that surround each issue and how they affect every other part of the agenda. With few exceptions everyone here at MYDD, and in the progressive community as a whole, wants to see the same agenda enacted.

We all want DADT and DOMA repealed. We all want to see Healthcare with a public option passed and signed into law. We all want to see a true end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we all want to see Gitmo closed. We all want to see climate change addressed in a manner that is going to have a positive effect. In addition to all of those things we want to see our economy revitalized, new rules for financial institutions, a better approach to public education, and countless other issues that we all know will make this country and this world a better place. We also all want these things to have happened yesterday. The reality is that government has never moved at that pace and it isn't going to start now just because Obama won and because we have majorities in the House and the Senate. The Senate in particular moves at a deliberate pace and has some "Democrats" who aren't pulling their weight on these issues. We need to keep applying pressure to both the administration and legislators whose votes we need. But we need to do it responsibly.

More importantly we need to look around and ask ourselves if we are being inherently distrustful of power regardless of who wields it. Obama needs to know that we are serious about the things that are important to us, but he also needs to know that, so long as he is working towards those things and being honest with us, he has an ally in our ranks. If the administration cannot trust that we have their back so long as they have ours they have no reason to treat us as an ally, let alone to take us seriously at all.

In addition to the fraying relationship with the administration, and persumably with our legislators, we need to repair the fraying relationship between ourselves. It is clear that there is lingering resentment from the primaries and it is clear that there is lingering resentment between those of us who have different top priorities.

Personally, for me, the biggest priority is healthcare reform. It was the issue I worked on throughout the campaign last year, and it is the issue I think will have the biggest positive impact on our country in the immediate term. I don't think we are going to see a straight up public option this year, mainly because I don't think the votes exist in the Senate. I do think the "opt out" clause that has been discussed recently might be the thing that pushes it through to Obama's desk so he can sign something meaningful. I know some people don't like that idea, but I truly don't think too many states will opt out, and I think that state legislatures that do will pay a steep enough price that the mistake will only  be made the first time aroumd. I also beleive that once some form of public option is on the table we will be in the door and will eventually get the complete overhaul we need.

For others the top priority is DADT and DOMA. These are worthy and noble causes that need to be addressed and I believe will be addressed before the end of Obama's first term. What I do not understand is this: with the economy being what it is, and healthcare being such a fight, and with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, why people are so angry, and seemingly surprised, that this is not the number one priority of the administration. I understand and share the anger of the GLBT community over the injustices they have been subjectged to for far too long. I also understand the political realities of these issues and why these are not the top priority of the administration.

I think I have gone on far enough and probably wandered a bit from my central point. We cannot be distrustful of the President simply because he is President, and we should not begin to hate one another simply because we have different views of the administration and view the overarching progressive agenda through different lenses. We need to start having real conversations about our disagreements rather than dismissing eachother as malcontents and "Obamabots." Our strength from 2006 to 2008 was that we were all united by a common foe. If we cannot find our way back to that unity now we are going to face a tough road in 2010 and 2012. It would be a real shame if the minor differences we have served to destroy everything we have worked so hard for.  

Tags: 2010, Afghanistan, Blogosphere, Civility, democracy, Democrats, equality, Healthcare, Iraq, obama, primary wars, Priorities, progressives (all tags)



Tips, Comments, and Flames

Give me all you got! I can handle it. At any rate I hope I can generate some conversation about it all.

by JDF 2009-10-12 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

I think the most important question is how to operate as the left/progressive flank that any administration requires in order to accomplish a progressive agenda.  Some amount of fiery criticism may feed that goal.  But too much, not necessarily with regard to position but tenor, ends up discrediting it.  All electable democratic presidents, even those with progressive intentions, require a base that functions to counterbalance the pull of the center/right.  But we must do this in a way that maintains credibility and fosters our own growth as well.  Issue based activism is one of the most effective ways to grow out coalition/s and make the president pursue those things he wants to, just as FDR required a strong and even strident labor movement to make him implement social security and other programs associated with the new deal.

by Strummerson 2009-10-12 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

Very well said, and I agree with you that criticism, where appropriate, is a necessary component of our strategy.

My concern is that a large segement of the progressive movement is not, in fact, pushing the agenda. Rather they are standing simply in opposition to the administration simply because they oppose power of any nature.

by JDF 2009-10-12 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

Can you cite some examples of people standing in opposition to the administration because they oppose power of any nature?  I mean something more than venting in a blog.  I don't really see that happening.  I also would disagree that the progressive movement is not pushing an agenda.  For example, you mention the DADT and DOMA issues, which you would not prioritize (which is fine as a position).  People who are pushing those items are pushing the progressive agenda. It's just a different part of the agenda.  And it may be that in pushing that part of the agenda, they stand in opposition to the administration.  In my view, it is a constant dance, not borne of a hostility towards power, but a hostility towards the status quo.  And I believe some in the progressive movement are afraid of this dance when there's no need to be.  Look at how the right wing achieved such success in the Republican party.  It is because they screamed and yelled and threatened when they did not get their way.  And it was successful.      

I appreciate your taking the time to write out your thoughts (and i hope to offer my own if I have the time later this evening).      

by orestes 2009-10-12 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

Perhaps I am wrong to assume the "venting" I read on this blog is indicative of the nature of the person who is writing it. It also seems that many people seem to be taking the fact that their causes are not treated with the same level of urgency by the administration as evidence that we are being failed by this particular President; it is that demeanor that leads me to believe that the reason is an inherent distrust of power.

I feel that the reality is that the administration has to balance all of these priorities, along with the day to day aspects of governing, and the realities of our economic situation and the situation foriegn policy wise. What that means is everything but the highest priority issues move along slower than any of us would like. That is why positive pressure from outside the administration is so important. They do need to know that we are paying attention and that our voice does still matter.

by JDF 2009-10-12 02:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

With respect, I think you are seeing what you want to see.  I think you have constructed a prism and view the progressive movement solely through that prism.  You state that you think progressives have a distrust of power, yet you cite only that people are angry that issues which are important to them are not being prioritized.  I don't see a link between that and a distrust of power.  It appears to me that what you are really saying is that some progressives don't trust power, which is more than a rhetorical cuteness.  On that I would agree.  Progressives who have been fighting for the past thirty years (using Reagan as a juncture) have learned not to trust what we are told.  We have learned that politicians will only do that which you force them to.  So, I agree that many progressives don't trust mere rhetoric and that their issues will be addressed.  And that is a good thing.  Perhaps you have not had the same experiences that those who have been putting up the good fight for years will little to show for it have had.  For me, the danger warning from this administration was the handling of the financial meltdown.  The entire system continues in the same manner- the indices are up, the remaining big banks are raking it in, and people can't a loan, or are having their credit card interest rates skyrocket.  This administration had the perfect opportunity to change the way wall street does business to the benefit of the entire country (let's not forget who caused this crisis in the first place) and, despite protestations to the contrary, they allowed business to go on as usual, but this time with our money.  Those of us who have watched this game before have a very different view.  That does not mean we don't want progress.  It means that we know the difference between promises and action.  We also know that we won't get everything we want, but you can't possibly get it if you don't ask for it.

Finally, the process of determining which issues are the most pressing involves a judgment call as well.  Notice how only issues that affect business and the wealthy are priorities.  If it benefits the average citizen, it needs to wait.  Beware of falling into the classist trap.

by orestes 2009-10-12 03:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

I thought I hade made it clear that I feel some Progressives have an inherent distrust of power...but as I read your response I actually see the distinction I should have made. You have a learned distrust of power, which makes sense to me. What you don't seem to have, that others do is an inherent dislike of power.

I disagree with the premise that only the issues that affect business and the wealthy are priorities. I do understand the distaste with how the financial crisis has been dealt with and I do think that is an issue, perhaps more than any other, that ought to be revisited. However, Obama did sign the CARD act which should have a significant impact on how people are treated by Credit Card companies; still much more needs to be done.

However, I feel that if you look at the issues that we have seen progress on I think there are a great deal that are, or should be, important to the Progressive Movement. I do certainly applaud those who are trying to push the administration towards progressive action. It is important, what I am warning against is those whose interest is not in pushing the administration but rather have already seemed to have given up on it 9 months in. Because the one thing I do no for certain is that if we give up on the Obama Administration whatever comes next will be far less palatable to us.

by JDF 2009-10-12 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

I think progressives WANT to see Obama using power. They want to see competence, decisiveness, passion for progressive causes, a man who uses power for good. They want to see a president who doesn't give power away to others and has the best interests of the PEOPLE at all times. So far that hasn't been seen, and that is what is missing.

by Marjoriest 2009-10-12 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

The left-right frame is false because the system was built on accountability to people with protections for minorities built into the Constitution. Those two principles are the guiding forces for a functional, healthy democracy. Without it, right or left, our democracy can not. Indeed, as Glenn Greenwald writes- there are issues such as the rising power of plutocrats that go beyond left or right. Is being against the bill  out of wall street a left or right issue or one about kleptocracy? Is being concerned with legislation being written by lobby interest a left or right issue or one of plutocracy? It is incredibly easy to frame this as left versus right, but it is much accurate to realize there are many scales. The left versus right frame just allows the plutocrat for example to use the centrist way of thinking against them. They end up supporting what are regressive policies over settled questions like how to deal with antitrust law to give just one example of practical effect.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

Follow up:

It is also interesting watch how DC bubble think gets in the way of where the American public is versus the choices that President Obama makes.

For example, the diarist describes DADT repeal, I guess, as a "left" idea. But, in the polls, it is support by 80 percent of the public. So, obviously, he is not referring to the American people when he describes left and right.

The left and right being described is that of DC bubble think. That thinking can and does allow plutocrats to control the debate over say health care. 60 percent of the public, including a plurality of Republicans, support a robust public option. Yet, to look at DC, there is this gap between what the public believes is the center, and what DC believes is the center. Why is that the case?

by bruh3 2009-10-13 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

"But I also think that we should be practicing a certain level of patience as well as an understanding that the progressive movement is a BIG movement that encompasses a lot of important, and complicated, issues. We aren't going to see ALL of our priorities realized this year or next. Truth be told we probably will not see all of them realized by the end of Obama's first term or even by the end of his Presidency."

That sounds great.

Here's the problem with that-- the last 9 months. Make no mistake, priorities were made, and you might be better off looking at what those were, who got served, for seeing what happens next--big priorities have been placed ahead of everything that Obama campaigned for bringing about while President and I'll believe its changing when I see it.

Start to acknowledge that the banks/financial institutions have owned the domestic agenda, while the military industrial powers are setting the foreign policy agenda, and you'll be talking about the reality of what has happened.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-10-12 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

If what you said were completely accurate then the Obama Administration would basically be a continuation of the Bush Administration. I hope we can all agree that is not true.

I have read your posts and comments regarding Afghanistan earlier today and I find myself mostly in disagreement with you. While campaigning for the Presidency Obama made clear his opposition to the Iraqi war, while maintaining that the Afghan war was a necessary undertaking. He also made clear that in all cases where the military was involved he was going to listen to his Generals regarding what was needed. Now, I understand that there is an argument to be had over whether or not we should still bein Afghanistan, but Obama has been consistent on this issue from day one and what is currently happening in that regard neither surprises me or makes me feel betrayed by the President. I would agree that Iraq has not been wound down as fast as would be preferable but I also beleive that Obama's policy towards Iraq is a marked improvement over his predecessor and that we are moving in the right direction. That is in addition to the numerous executive orders he has signed to ensure that damage done by the Bush Administration is not recreated in the future; these include orders explicitely banning torture, orders to close the CIA prisons, and orders to close Guantanamo Bay. All of these are completely necessary. In the case of closing Gitmo it creates a new set of complications that may or may not alter the timeline, but I have seen no reason to believe the administration is going to move away from that promise.

As to domestic policy, here is some of what Obama has done since becoming President: signed off on $5 billion dollars in funding for Headstart and other childcare initiatives, extending health insurance to more low-income children, undid the Bush Administration's stem-cell policy, signed the CARD act, created further tax credits to offset the cost of college tuition.

All of this is in addition to getting Sonia Sotomayor on to the Supreme Court, putting an end to the Mexico City policy, and signing the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

No Presidency is going to be perfect, and I honestly like the fact that our standards are higher than most. But to pretend that Obama has completely ignored his campaign promises, to me, seems inaccurate. So far he is pretty much the President I expected him to be when I chose to support him.

I am not saying that can't change. If, as his Presidency continues, there is no movement on any of the important issues previously discussed (DADT, DOMA, Healthcare, stronger regulation of the financial sector, etc.) Then I would be willing to revise my point of view. However, so far it seems that the problem is that the process doesn't move fast enough, and that has always been true when the process worked properly. (If things moved at the speed they are moving now maybe the Patriot Act would not have been crammed down our collective throat.)

by JDF 2009-10-12 02:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

Look at the forest friend, those are nice single accomplishments, but you are ignoring TARP and military complex funding, which out-number the monetary funding of those things you mention about 99:1.

Where you spend the money is where the power and the priority is played out.

Obama is banking on inflation with all the money that's being spent; w/o it we are toast in the amount of debt being created, he'll have to settle for the world kicking the dollar aside in favor of a global currency.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-10-12 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

I think the thing I agree with you most on is the military spending...and I will be interested to see what direction that goes in as his Presidency continues. The TARP bill was ugly and, I hope, was a learning experience for the administration.

I have never been one to deny that mistakes have been made. I just find it slightly jarring the quickness with which so many seem willing to give up on Obama. I fear that if that is what happens we are going to miss a meaningful opportunity AND get something far worse in 2012.

by JDF 2009-10-12 03:59PM | 0 recs
my clapping louder

won't help Obama in the least. Geithner and Summers are among those making us "miss a meaningful opportunity." If Obama loses in 2012, Geithner and Summers will deserve a lot of the blame.

by desmoinesdem 2009-10-12 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: my clapping louder

I didn't ask for mindless sycophantism, though apparently there is no room here for anything between being a sycophant and completely disavowing the Obama Presidency. (I know that sentence is a gross over-reaction, but that is how some of these conversations have felt at times.)

What I was suggesting is that when pushing the administration turns into hatred and disgust, not just of the Administration, but of others who share your goals but not your complete view, it is a bad thing.

I was also suggesting that some of the distrust and dislike of the administration seems to be indicative of a deeper seeded issue within the progressive movement.

by JDF 2009-10-12 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: my clapping louder

Part of this is the inability of the true believers to accept that President Obama is neoliberal on economic issues in the same bent as most of the Democrats leadership. This means they will tweak at the edges of the economic issues, but they will not address issues like "Banks are too big to fail" or "How can we create an industrial policy to diversify our domestic energy  supply?"  or "How do we diversify our main street economy to prevent future shocks like we see now?"

Those are the deeper economic questions that will systemically determine the prosperity of this country. But we are instead stuck ,and have been for 40 years now, on the Democrats putting out the fires  done by the damage of pure neoliberal thought. We see this in every debate. President Obama is not asking how to solve these problems. He is punting on them.

We go from crisis to crisis dumping huge sums onto the issues without addressing the underling fundamentals that are causing the problems in the first place.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

I can't find a single point to disagree with, but I might say that you are a bit kind to certain denizens of MyDD, you know, the ones whose fake names immediately come to mind. The easiest way to identify them is to review the various reactions to the Nobel Prize surprise...

by QTG 2009-10-12 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

I think it is helpful to encourage people to be patient in their heart, but patience is probably a poor political strategy.  The squeaky wheel tends to get the grease.  Maybe now is not the time for DADT repeal, I guess, but it is more likely to happen sooner if advocates agitate for it as opposed to sitting back and thinking "don't worry, Obama's got this."

I don't enjoy some of the overheated rhetoric that flies around, and of course, some people were haters from before day one and will never change.  But I think, generally speaking, anger is productive in politics and people who just kind of placidly accept things at their own pace had better be content with the status quo.  Remember, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.

by Steve M 2009-10-12 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

I think no matter what the President's intentions are, the left should be pushing their agenda the same way.  If Obama's goals are perfectly aligned with the progressive movement we lose nothing, and if they're not we move them in a constructive way.

Besides, making it known that there's a large and active part of the population that wants things like GLBT equality and real healthcare reform helps the people in power who are already with us.

I think there's way too much talk about whether or not the President is 'on our side'.  The people primarily interested in that are mostly seeing politics as a soap opera or want to establish their moral superiority, instead of actually doing constructive things.

by Jess81 2009-10-12 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

Pushing the progressive agenda is of course a good thing, and I have never said otherwise. But when the pushing becomes simple hatred, and I think you hit the nail on the head the sort of person who is behaving in that way, it is dangerous to the Progressive agenda.

by JDF 2009-10-12 04:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

As much as we'd all love to live in a Progressive world, the reality is we don't. If the standard we set for our current majority status is whether the Progressive agenda in all its particulars is passed and signed into law within an arbitrary and extremely short time frame, then brace yourself for bitter disappointment. We should be taking the high road and strategising for the long haul with an eye toward solidifying a long stay in the majority.

My guess is we'll shoot our wad early and look like a bunch of over-eager underachievers if we pitch a series of hissy-fits every time the leadership does politics, which is their job and which they know how to do better than a bunch of bloggers. Just sayin'

by QTG 2009-10-12 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

The economic crisis provided the perfect storm for major reform action.  That opportunity is being squandered.  If you cannot get politicians to adopt a progressive (ie, populist) agenda during these times, what exactly are we building?  What good is a party if it accepts this canard that it now needs a supermajority to pass legislation?  How do we promote a progressive agenda if we endorse former republicans, current republicans (see the NYC mayor race), and conservative democrats.  We have seen that these people have been given far too much power within the party, at the expense of the progressive wing.  Why is it always accepted/endorsed that slow and steady is the correct approach?  I would argue it reflects the bourgeois values of the overprivileged, comfortable classes who don't really want their world to change much at all.  They don't really have a dog in the race.

by orestes 2009-10-13 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

We OWN the goddam dog.

by QTG 2009-10-13 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Being Uncomfortable with Power

I discussed income inequality, and how Americans are falling behind Europe in social mobility in a separate diary. 38/888#commenttop

It is now a fact that wealth in our country is becoming concentrated in the top 1 percent making 2/3rds of nations income gain. w&id=2908

Rather than addressing these issues, we are reduced to slogans and charismatic leadership. The danger here is that we are going from one charismatic leader to another to another. I do not  see how these issues can be addressed.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 02:06PM | 0 recs
I'm not happy that DADT and DOMA haven't

been repealed yet. I think this needed to be done yesterday. I also want Obama to keep his promise on the Freedom of Choice act.

But on the other hand Obama is tackling the worse recession since Great Depression, highest unemployment rates in 20 years, banking, financial and housing sectors collapse, America's automobile giants in bankruptcy, giant deficits,  two wars (one from which he has set a deadline to withdraw), GITMO, healthcare industry that is out of control so and so forth...

So far Obama has

  1. Turnaround the economy, most economists agree that the recession is over
  2. Saved the banking, financial and housing sectors from complete collapse and save our country from a financial abyss.
  3. Turned around the automobile industry, slowly even GM out of bankruptcy is now re-opening plants in mid-America.
  4. Set a deadline in Iraq. Today we have a clear plan that majority of the troops would be withdrawn by mid July 2010.
  5. A clear set of military and civilian objectives was set in March for Afghanistan. Obama is now rethinking the strategy how to achieve those objectives and metrics of success.
  6. We are very close to getting a healthcare reform bill passed (however imperfect it might be).
  7. We have gotten Russia and China onboard to control North Korea's further nuclear weapon development.
  8. He clearly wants GITMO closed but Congress had chickened out.
  9. Got stimulus package out, with clear mandates to expand our alternative power capabilities, spending to preserve and possibly increased employment in education, construction et al...

And all of these achievements in first nine months of his presidency.
I'm not going to quote the rightwing anti America wingnuts. I'm more concerned about some in the left (straight out from a so-called leftwing blog) who thinks Obama is a War Criminal and a doormat for corporations. An asshole sitting in front of his little laptop in his college dorm room (with his expenses paid by his parents) influenced by his first read of Das Kapital and Dadaism, pretending to be a anarcho-socialist, is probably getting a mindfuck by calling Obama a War Criminal. That may help the likes of Larouche douchebags with their mental mansturbations, but I have little time for these jackasses.

If you think you can do better than what Obama did, GFY!

by louisprandtl 2009-10-12 05:19PM | 0 recs
Jess, my last sentence wasn't directed at you

..just to be clear..

by louisprandtl 2009-10-12 05:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Jess, my last sentence wasn't directed at you

Haha, I never in a million years would have thought it was, but thanks anyway.

by Jess81 2009-10-12 08:23PM | 0 recs
turned around the economy?

That's premature when we're still losing 250k jobs a month.

The recession is not Obama's fault, but nor has he turned the economy around. The stimulus was not big enough, and too much of the money was spent on things with little stimulative effect (like fixing the alternative minimum tax).

by desmoinesdem 2009-10-12 07:06PM | 0 recs
Most economists agree that the

recession had ended and the recovery had started. cle/ALeqM5iB87vb8BDm0a5Ive2po5SsJaHONQD9 B9JR200

It takes about 15-18 months to start the job recovery process following a recession. Around next summer when unemployment is going to start climbing down. economy/Economy%20In-depth/2009

by louisprandtl 2009-10-12 07:13PM | 0 recs
Here's a good discussion on how

the unemployment rates would fare after this Great recession especially because of the resemblance to the '73-'75 and '81-'82 recession.
Although the severity of this recession is more. DF/09q3Knotek.pdf

by louisprandtl 2009-10-12 07:23PM | 0 recs
Unfortunately the effect of the stimulus

package will be fully seen next year when most of the spending will happen. It takes sometime for the full process to execute the projects under the stimulus projects.

Atleast the place I live in, I already see American Recovery Act at work in road construction, projects on energy efficiency, alternative energy solutions for buildings and automobiles being conducted from ARA funding et al ..

by louisprandtl 2009-10-12 07:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Unfortunately the effect of the stimulus

Those same economists are saying that the unemployment rate will remain extremely high for several years. The indicators they are using are limited to GDP, which does not translate to QoL issues or whether the wealth is being spread throughout. As I point out above, the income gains in the last year was made primarily by 2/3 by the top 1 percent. Without addressing those issues, you are not discussing an economic democracy. It's a plutocracy. Why do I say this? The amount of wealth required to influence the views in DC are enormous. They are set to go up in price if the S.Ct.votes in favor of unlimited funding as they seem to be indicating they will do. Policies with popular support are ignored and/or watered down. They are often written by corporate lobby interests. I can go on. The point is that it is not as simple as you describe. Nor are we even addressing the underlying issues. We are performing triage rather than ensuring the long term health of the economy. This is what Democrats have been doing for decades. Putting out fires.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 02:11PM | 0 recs
here's what I don't get

You say your top priority is health care reform, and you're resigned to no public option because the votes aren't there in the Senate.

Are you trying to tell me that the White House did all it could to get those votes in the Senate?

I would like to see one piece of evidence that any arms have been twisted to get hesitating senators to back a public option.

Orszag was working closely with Baucus all summer on a very crappy (by almost unanimous consent) bill. Doesn't that strike you as a sign that the White House didn't even try to get the votes for a public option?

Obama promised to enact sweeping health care reform during the campaign--he said yes to public option, no to individual mandate. Then when he gets his big chance before Congress, he says the bill has to have an individual mandate, and he won't sign anything that adds a dime to the deficit. (We hear nothing about "no extra troops for Afghanistan unless it doesn't add a dime to the deficit.") He likes a public option, but that's not a deal-breaker for him.

I am trying to figure out why you think some progressives are unduly suspicious of Obama. On the issue that's your top priority, do you really feel he's done all he could to get the best possible bill out of Congress?

by desmoinesdem 2009-10-12 07:02PM | 0 recs
This I fervently agree. A healthcare reform

bill without a working and effective public option is a complete non-starter. And the administration's stance in favor of PO is weak.

by louisprandtl 2009-10-12 07:05PM | 0 recs
Re: here's what I don't get

I am not resigned to no Public Option. I am resigned to no Public Option without there being some sort of compromise to appease the conservadems and others in the Senate. I think the opt out clause, or something similar, that was thrown around earlier this week is probably the best case scenario right now. That is not the same as there being no public option, it just means the bill, like most bills, will not be perfect.

by JDF 2009-10-12 07:27PM | 0 recs
Opt-out clause is a nonstarter because

it would force the sicker and poorer folks to move from states without PO to states with PO causing it to fail both the types of states.

by louisprandtl 2009-10-12 07:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Opt-out clause is a nonstarter because

that assumes that there are significant number of states that opt-out. The other point of view is the possibility that once some sort of PO is available it will have to made available everywhere because any state legislature that decides to opt out will face the wrath of the voters.

by JDF 2009-10-12 08:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Opt-out clause is a nonstarter because

It would also disproportionately impact low income African-Americans.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 02:30PM | 0 recs
by the way, I rec'd this diary

because this is an important conversation. I frankly don't understand why you feel it's inappropriate to distrust Obama. His choice of Summers and Geithner, and his decision to continue the Bush Wall Street bailout (even seeking an extra $250 billion toward this purpose this year) gives good grounds to distrust him, even if we set aside the whole health care reform debate.

by desmoinesdem 2009-10-12 07:04PM | 0 recs
Just a question. Would a Wall Street collapse
would have been good for American economy?
I think when a President is faced with this question, it is not an easy proposition.
by louisprandtl 2009-10-12 07:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Just a question. Would a Wall Street collapse

This is not a popular question because while everybody knows the answer they also wish we could have let them hang themselves with their own avarice.

by JDF 2009-10-12 08:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Just a question. Would a Wall Street collapse

There is a third way.  The Wall Street bailout could have come with meaningful strings attached.  For example, the government could have taken affirmative steps to make sure that banks which receive aid would actually loan money to people, as opposed to just flinging money at them and hoping they do the right thing.

by Steve M 2009-10-12 08:45PM | 0 recs
I agree financial and banking sector regulations

and oversight needs to be tightened. Some of the current practices of Wall Street should be explicitly prohibited. Because the healthcare battle in the Congress, the financial sector overhaul had taken a backseat, but I think Obama would be pushing for it once the healthcare battle is won.

by louisprandtl 2009-10-13 05:22AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree financial and banking sector regulatio

A better question, why tie your hands early on by leaving off certain options on the table. Why say as Geithner did the following:

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Why even pretend we do not already have a process for nationalizing banks unless one is trying to put one's hand on the scale?

Why argue as they have been doing  lately that they are focused on continuing to prop up the too big to fail banks as a strategy?

Why with regulation do they choose policies that are not as stringent as they need to be to fully address the issue- according to Senators discussing the issue?

At some point, when are we suppose to look at the set of behaviors coming out of the White House, and call a duck, a duck. Or a Neoliberal, a Neolbiberal, when that is their training, the statements they make on the subject and the policies they seem to be focused on enacting?

by bruh3 2009-10-13 02:35PM | 0 recs
the point of the bailout

was to free up credit for the business sector.

As anyone in small business if it's easier to get a bank loan now than it was a year ago. I guarantee the answer will be no.

by desmoinesdem 2009-10-13 03:27AM | 0 recs
the main point of it

was to prevent the complete collapse of dozens of financial institutions.  Increasing credit liquidity was a desired benefit but not the primary purpose.

I don't place much stock in arguments premised on "ask anyone in small business" because anecdotes are not data, especially hypothetical anecdotes.

by JJE 2009-10-13 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: the main point of it

Ok then, if you want data, this MarketWatch article from last Friday should fit the bill.

U.S. banks are reducing their lending at the fastest rate on record, tightening the credit squeeze and threatening to leave many otherwise viable businesses unable to borrow money to expand their businesses, meet their payroll or refinance their maturing debts.

According to weekly figures provided by the Federal Reserve, total loans at commercial banks have fallen at a 19% annual rate over the past three months, while loans to businesses have dropped at a 28% annualized pace.

Last autumn, bank lending temporarily expanded when other sources of funding from the shadow banking system dried up after the collapse of Lehman Bros. Since then, however, total outstanding bank loans have dropped at an accelerating pace.

The decline in bank lending mostly affects smaller businesses. Larger corporations have alternative sources of funding, including retained earnings, corporate bonds, securitized loans and new equity. Those other sources of capital have increased in recent months, but not enough to offset the decline in bank lending.

Calculated Risk has more about how small businesses continue to bear the brunt of this credit crunch.

by Steve M 2009-10-13 09:46AM | 0 recs
Conveniently omitted

If the drop-off in lending is mainly due to weak demand by businesses, then there's some hope that the recent upward momentum in industrial output and sales could lead to more optimistic business sentiment, greater demand for capital, and more lending by banks.

But if the decline is mainly due to weak banks unable or unwilling to lend, then a turnaround in credit creation may have to wait until banks' balance sheets are repaired, a process that could be delayed by further expected defaults in consumer loans, mortgages and commercial real-estate loans.

So it is unclear whether the decline in lending is due to lack of available capital or lack of demand.

by JJE 2009-10-13 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Conveniently omitted

"Conveniently omitted," when I quote the first four paragraphs of an article but don't skip down to the eighth?  Try to have a discussion without being a jerk sometime.

by Steve M 2009-10-13 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Conveniently omitted

Well I do think the points in the paragraphs that were quoted as important contextually, I agree the phrase "conveniently omitted," was probably unnecessary. However, his point about the demand for lending is relevant.

As an aside, I know numerous small business owners, who have been able to secure loans in recent months that they would not have been able to get late last year/ early this year.

by JDF 2009-10-13 11:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Conveniently omitted

The evidence that lending is not occurring for small businesses is overwhelming: iness/sba_annual_lending_overview/index. htm?section=money_latest anks-turn-up-noses-at-lending-to-small.h tml -a-114367-m-2-sc-55-lending_to_small_bus iness_banks_are_still_shy-i

The numbers are severe enough that the administration is having to contemplate how to address the issue.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 03:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Conveniently omitted

The concern is that banks are hoarding because rather than addressing the bad debt they are using the money to keep propped up which is not something that can be determined because there were no stipulations placed on the money sufficient enough to address this sort of issue.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 03:46PM | 0 recs
It was convenient

for your argument.  I didn't say it was intentionally omitted.  Thin-skinned whininess doesn't look good on you.

by JJE 2009-10-13 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: It was convenient

Keep digging if you like.  Everyone knows what "conveniently omitted" means.

by Steve M 2009-10-13 01:12PM | 0 recs
I shall keep digging!

Especially through sources that are quoted in a misleading fashion.

by JJE 2009-10-13 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: by the way, I rec'd this diary

I don't think it is inappropriate to distrust Obama, I think it is inappropriate when that crosses over into hate, hate directed at Obama, the Administration, and anyone else who hasn't turned against them.

Further, I think it is unreasonable and inappropriate to have given up completely on this Presidency less than a year in, yet that seems to be what many here have done.

by JDF 2009-10-12 07:25PM | 0 recs
you assume that blogger critics

hate Obama, with little evidence other than, we criticize him too much for your liking. If Obama pushed hard for and got a really good health care reform bill passed, I'd be happy to rank him in the top 10 presidents of all time. Ditto if he implemented a policy on climate change that were adequate to solve the problem, but that's even less likely than getting good health care reform.

I understand that I'm never going to get everything I want from the president, but given our large Congressional majorities, I am disappointed by some of the priorities Obama has set so far.

It's true that I view him through a skeptical filter, but I don't hate him at all.

by desmoinesdem 2009-10-13 03:26AM | 0 recs
Re: you assume that blogger critics

You don't hate just hate that 5 Norwegians gave him a prize.


by QTG 2009-10-13 03:43AM | 0 recs
Re: you assume that blogger critics

I think reaction to the NPP an odd litmus test regarding anyone's view of Obama, his priorities, or his legislative strategies.  

What this discussion is bringing up is the question of whether it's appropriate to distinguish between "supporters" and "haters" in such a blunt and simplistic fashion.  Most of us, I think, fall somewhere in between "loyalty oath" and "enemies list."  That's exactly where a left flank needs to be.  As for the loonies who denigrate and defend Obama at all costs, just bad pitches.  Lay off.  No need to swing.

But one can think the Nobel odd and potentially disadvantageous without being a PUMA or Glen Beck operative.

by Strummerson 2009-10-13 04:52AM | 0 recs
Re: you assume that blogger critics


by QTG 2009-10-13 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: you assume that blogger critics

desmoinesdem, I know that you probably feel like this was directed at you, when in reality it wasn't. I purposely didn't call specific people out in this diary, but if you look around here you will be able to see the rather stark difference between voicing dissent and simply giving up, or worse. You can also see the difference between people who offer informed opinions and people who are just need to attack.

by JDF 2009-10-13 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: you assume that blogger critics

One of the reasons my tone has become progressively nastier here is a reaction to what many of the more pro-Obama cheerleaders put out.

I will go through the trouble of posting research that I have done on an issue, and what I get in return are attempts to demonize me, call me a liar, etc. Some of it by some of the same people posting a long with you right now.

For example, I post a diary about a need to repeal the antitrust exemption, and JJE name calls. I post a diary on social mobility falling behind the U.S., and the more pro-Obama people personalize it.

I write a post to someone who is factually wrong on DADT with links to actual articles proving each point I made, and I get, I am a bully for pointing out that the posters was factually wrong. This is not about substance or tone.

I have seen others posts criticism  with a more polite tone than I am willing to give people here. They receive the same treatment. If it were about tone, they would not receive the same treatment.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 03:54PM | 0 recs
Re: by the way, I rec'd this diary

I continue to be confused by your perspective on the left criticism of Obama.  I think very few people in the left who criticize Obama hate him.  I can say that for me, I hate very few people in this world and they don't include public figures.  And I have to say I have read very few, if any, hateful comments directed to Obama.  (Of course, there are always the trolls, but I just ignore them.)  Voicing frustration or anger at his in/actions does not equate to hate.  I can't help but feel that your argument boils down to, stop being so mean to Obama; can't we all just get along?  That is fine as an emotional plea, but there is really nothing to discuss there.  

by orestes 2009-10-13 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: by the way, I rec'd this diary

I can see your point of view to some extent but I think to have it you have to ignore the increasingly bitter tone of conversation that has taken shape here and to some extent in the Progressive community as a whole. To be clear it is nowhere near as bad as it was during the Primary, but it gets out of control.

When we are treating eachother as though we are no longer all on the same side it is a real problem. You are right that there are always trolls but look at some of the ongoing conversations that are taking place. If you don't see the level of anger and bitterness that I do than thats fine; but from where I am sitting we are coming dangerously close to turning on ourselves and that is not good for the Progressive Movement or Democracy in general.

by JDF 2009-10-13 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: by the way, I rec'd this diary

The funny thing is last year I was regularly attacked for being anti-Clinton or a Clinton hater for the same reason as now- I looked at what she wanted to do, and I compared it to what policies I felt we should have.

I think the issue here is no ideology at all. I think it is charismatic/leadership views of politics versus those who have as their first priority issues.

President Obama, for example, claims to be for the public option, but then we learn through Senator Harkin that "President Obama could have the public option if he whipped for it." Implicit in the statement is that President Obama is not whipping for it. What is someone supposed to with this inconsistency- one of many- pretend it is not there? Say "well Harkin must be lying" Or are they suppose to look at it as it is.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: by the way, I rec'd this diary

Your diary is thoughtful and I recommended it, but this comment is asinine. Basically, you're trying to psychologize (trust issues, anger issues, irrational hate issues) what is a pretty up-front situation: Obama's not (very) progressive, so progressives on this blog criticize him. (Not that that needs to be explained but . . .) They criticize him probably for the following reason: the criticism multiplied by many doing same pressures him from the left, letting him know there could be a political price paid for him not going along with what the criticizer thinks he should do.

I agree that progressives need to be realistic about Obama, and I think the way you see that or not is by looking at all of a diarists' diaries. Do they recognize Obama's (occasional) positive and progressive acts along with his failings? Even progressives have to admit Obama took down the missile 'shield' in Eastern Europe, which was unquestionably a strong move toward peace. Obama's negotiations with Iran have quieted tensions between the two countries, hopefully not temporarily.

Finally, Afghanistan, escalation or not, is undetermined. And I appreciate that Obama is being a commander in chief and not obediently and immediately going along with his generals' recommendations. Now, when McChrystal has Obama's ear, why shouldn't progressive bloggists also try to get Obama to hear them? And that lefty effort may sound like criticism, since the basic point of the 8-year Afghanistan war and occupation is in play and Obama seems to have gotten it wrong.

Another note: Wasn't the card check legislation a major priority of SEIU and the unions? It was a major one for me, and Obama promised support for it during the campaign, but now seems just one more casualty of what seems to me a DLC, neoliberal White House.

by fairleft2 2009-10-13 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: by the way, I rec'd this diary

Card Check legislation is a major priority for the SEIU, but there are other aspects of EFCA that are just as important... I don't see it as a casualty of a DLC style White House so much as a casualty of a Senate that, despite our super majority, is not nearly as left leaning as we would like. If abandoning card check at this time allows us to get the rest of EFCA, as well as some other pro-labor considerations, into a bill that will actually reach Obama's desk that is a good thing. Just as getting some sort of HCR bill with anything approaching a Public Option to his desk is better than not. Now, if what eventually comes out of conference is the Baucus Bill rather than something better than we will be getting screwed; but if that is the case it won't pass the House anyway.

by JDF 2009-10-13 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: by the way, I rec'd this diary

Card check is difficult to replace and I haven't heard of a replacement that comes close to the effect it would have had. But hopefully an alternative will be found that achieves 80-90% of what it would've achieved.

But let's not forget this was another Obama team 'botched' job, EFCA should've been part of a very aggressive arm-twisting first 100 days. I think organized labor thought that was the original plan. Instead we got whimpiness and hemming and hawing, until the nays had the initiative. That's a big part of the frustration with Obama, being bogged down now in the usual politics, the opportunity of the first 100 days wasted.

by fairleft2 2009-10-13 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Uncomfortable

trying to reconcile the apparent contradiction in the diary, which laments our lack of any influence regardless of who gets elected, and the noble dilemma which leads us to the clear feeling that "our ideals are more important than holding on to power."

What power is that, again? The power we lack?

I'll remind everyone once again: "These ARE the good old days!" If you don't enjoy them now, you never will. It gets no better than this. We have a brilliant President and a huge majority in the House and a rare 60 seat majority in the Senate. If you are expecting better ratios, you're delusional. Get a different hobby.

by QTG 2009-10-13 05:34PM | 0 recs
We need a common foe to be successful

Democrats were united against Bush in both 2006 and 2008.  What are Democrats united against right now?  Nothing.  Take away that and what is there to get excited/angry about.

by Kent 2009-10-13 07:33PM | 0 recs
Re: We need a common foe to be successful


by Strummerson 2009-10-13 08:28PM | 0 recs
Re: We need a common foe to be successful

This is true. It was easier to gloss over ideological differences when the argument as Kos would put it was more Democrats. Now that it is becoming better Democrats, there is a tension between those who focus solely on more Democrats rather than better policy outcomes, which is what the better Democrats are seeking.  The more Democrats people may want similar policy outcomes, bu they do not prioritize it.

by bruh3 2009-10-13 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: We need a common foe to be successful

Democrats were totally united against Bush in 2004 as well.  There's no magic in it.

by Steve M 2009-10-14 12:38AM | 0 recs


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