Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

22 January, 2013

I'm a liberal and take no pride in Barack Obama

Dave Cieslewicz's recent blog post at The Daily Page - "I'm a liberal and still proud that Barack Obama is my president" - makes him sound like the poster boy for Chris Hedges' dead liberal class.

He spends an inordinate amount of time praising Obama for just being a swell guy.

We have a thoughtful and very intelligent president who thinks before he speaks, and speaks in complete English sentences that form coherent thoughts... But Barack Obama is a good and decent and intelligent man, cool-headed in a crisis, a man who loves his country, and is guiding it as best he can in polarized times and in a complex world.

Being thoughtful, intelligent, cool-headed, and country-loving doesn't make you an effective president. One can find these characteristics in some of the worst despots in history. If you're flat ass broke and living on the streets, you could argue that Obama's thoughtfulness and intelligence aren't worth a shit; similarly, if you're a sheep farmer on the other side of the globe and a U.S. drone blows your family to bits, words like "good" and "decent" are not likely the terms you would use to describe Barack Obama. This is all hagiographic BS.

Cieslewicz admits that Obama is not perfect and he's right – presidents can never be everything we hope for. But when you can donate thousands of dollars to a candidate's campaign or your industry donates millions, that candidate is a little more perfect for you than he is for the average person out there.

He goes on to list the president's accomplishments:

We have a president who has carefully wound down two wars, improved health coverage for millions of Americans, guided the economy back towards sustained growth, moved along with the nation toward complete inclusion of gays and lesbians, saved the American auto companies and their jobs, and generally (with the big exception of climate change) done right by our environment.

Sure, most of our troops left Iraq, but Obama did his darnedest to keep them there and we haven't left Iraq. And we haven't left Afghanistan yet either.

Cieslewicz conveniently didn't mention the perpetual war we are currently engaged in, what Tom Junod calls "The War that Obama Forgot".

In a speech delivered at Oxford, in England, Jeh Johnson, then the general counsel for the Department of Defense, stated unequivocally that “the United States government is in an armed conflict against Al Qaeda and associated forces, to which the laws of armed conflict apply.” He declared that “it is an unconventional war against an unconventional enemy,” but that “President Obama...has insisted that our efforts in pursuit of this enemy stay firmly rooted in conventional legal principles.” And he warned, at last, that “in the current conflict with Al Qaeda, I can offer no prediction about when this conflict will end, or whether we are, as Winston Churchill described it, near the ‘beginning of the end.’”

We've always been at war with Eastasia!

I sure hope the Affordable Care Act turns out OK. No doubt many will benefit from it. But what could have been had Obama not taken the single payer option off the table?

What does Cieslewicz mean with the comment about Obama having "guided the economy back towards sustained growth"? Heck, maybe he's right. But during his first term "Deep poverty reached its highest point on record" and in the afterglow of his victory in November of last year CBS noted "U.S. Poverty Rate Spikes". If the correlation between retail sales and employment continues, then the "jobs market is heading south" soon. The strength or weakness of the economy is due to many factors, many being out of the president's control. But if Cieslewicz wants to credit Obama with guiding the economy towards sustained growth, then Obama also deserves credit for guiding millions of Americans into poverty.

Obama should be commended for saying in his inaugural address "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law," but this very day White House Press Secretary Jay Carney admonished the hopeful not to look to Obama for action because he "still thinks gay marriage is a state issue". Apparently Obama will talk the talk but not do much more than that.

As for the auto industry bailout, it sounds good but we taxpayers aren't off the hook. If you won't read the article for yourself then let me give you this quote: "In short, the bailout has merely kicked the GM can down the road and left taxpayers to pick up the tens of billions in bills."

From what I've read, Obama has a pretty good environmental record except for the really fucking big exception of climate change.

Our former mayor paraphrases MLK by writing, "the long arc of this administration is toward progress and toward justice." What progress and justice for whom? I found this statement distasteful. MLK chastized "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift" while Obama is keen on spending $1.2 trillion on "national security". As Glen Ford wrote in his piece "Don’t You Dare Conflate MLK and Obama":

Surely, the Dr. King who, in his 1967 “Where Do We Go from Here” speech called for a guaranteed annual income would never have abided Obama’s targeting of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the weeks before his 2009 inauguration. Forty-five years ago, King’s position was clear: “Our emphasis must be twofold: We must create full employment, or we must create incomes.” The very notion of a grand austerity bargain with the Right would have been anathema to MLK.

Contrast the perpetual war Obama champions with MLK's statement that the United States is "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" and one which extols "the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long". Now, I never met Dr. King and I've only read a couple of his speeches but I just don't see him lauding most of Barack Obama's foreign policy.

What would Dr. King say about the justice system that Obama's cronies, including Eric Holder, have created wherein we lock up people for drug possession and throw innocent people into Gitmo while the banksters roam free, absolved from helping to bring the world economy to its knees. Look at the HSBC settlement. A bank that laundered drug money and dealt with clients that had terrorist ties gets a slap on the wrist – a pittance of a fine. And those poor bank executives have to partially defer their bonuses.

So the executives who spent a decade laundering billions of dollars will have to partially defer their bonuses during the five-year deferred prosecution agreement? Are you fucking kidding me? That's the punishment? The government's negotiators couldn't hold firm on forcing HSBC officials to completely wait to receive their ill-gotten bonuses?

Wall Street executives are now basically above the law thanks, in large part, to Obama. This is the Obama administration's march toward justice? Instances of gross malfeasance on the part of bankers goes virtually unpunished and taxpayers bail the banks out. Perhaps this is what Cieslewicz meant by the president guiding us towards sustained economic growth. Add in telecoms receiving retroactive immunity for their crimes. Torture? Eric Holder refuses to hold anyone accountable. The War on Drugs which is decimating black communities around the country. Would Dr. King recognize a candidate who pledged the most transparent administration ever and then turns around only to maintain a secret kill list and assassinates American citizens without due process as someone who moves justice forward? Cieslewicz has the gall to see all of this (and more) and call it justice invoking Dr. King all the while?

Cieslewicz's post ends with him saying he's proud that Obama is his president. Pride is an interesting word because it is a selfish word. It's not the act of feeling good because you recognize the goodness in others; it's feeling good about oneself because you see yourself reflected in the actions of others. It's a narcissitic sense of satisfaction. This is perhaps the reason Cieslewicz called Obama intelligent twice. Instead of taking a long, hard look in the mirror and seeing the cruel “justice” meted out by our Hellfire missiles, the growing poverty and widening income gap, the new African front of Obama's perpetual war, &c., Cieslewicz looks to find what he wants to see.
|| Palmer, 9:22 PM

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