FOX, HEN HOUSE

A quick summary of why I never got on board with ObamaMania and why, at its top dollar best, our political system today can produce a reformer about as radical as William Howard Taft. Shorter title: This is why we are so fucked.

News item, July 13, 2011: "Immelt: Obama jobs council devising plans for job creation." General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt was the logical choice to serve as Barack Obama's "jobs czar" – who knows more about creating jobs than the CEOs of large, multinational corporations?

News item, July 25, 2011: "GE Moves 115 Year Old X-Ray Unit to China." See? Look at all of the jobs he created. In China. By closing something that has been in Waukesha, WI for more than a century. To "tap growth" in China. And these aren't the kind of pull-the-lever-on-the-kick-press jobs that we keep being told are fated to go overseas because they involve no skill. These are exactly the kind of high-tech buzzword jobs that Obama won't shut the hell up about, excepting the absence of "green" in the description.

This. This is why Barack Obama is a failure of colossal proportions and why I don't want to hear any of the half-assed excuses about how everything that has happened to him is the fault of nasty Republicans, stupid voters, and the like. He's a failure because despite what many of you managed to convince yourselves in 2008, he's just another smiling face in a long line of corporatist whores that have rotted what used to be a somewhat liberal party from within and left us with a political system offering little but the illusion of choice.

For the last decade, many people who study political participation have speculated that 1996 and 2000 might have been the nadir of voter turnout and interest in politics in the U.S. The 1996 election in particular was contested during a strong economy between two candidates no one much cared for. Increased turnout was observed in 2004 and again in 2008. I can't wait to see 2012. We're going to see campaigns spending previously unfathomable amounts of money in an effort to fire up voting bases whose attitudes toward the candidates range from boredom to white-hot anger.

Tell me something: where is that wave of energy and enthusiasm that swept Obama into office in 2008 going to come from in 2012, with the President owning two wars that didn't end (plus a third that just started), the Teabagger austerity agenda that he endorsed wholeheartedly, and supporters already resorting to arguments of last resort like, "Well, he's better than the alternative." On the Republican side the nominee will either be a semi-sane candidate who the base will hate (see: McCain) or a lunatic for whom sane people will be too embarrassed to vote. That record voter turnout in 2008 could turn into record lows in a single election cycle.

Aside from the half-assed health care reform that he allowed insurance companies to write, what has Barack Obama accomplished to encourage – or even mildly please – his core supporters? The Immelt appointment as Jobs Czar and the vignette about GE's job growth plan for China is a good representation of what Obama is all about: repeatedly, naively believing that untrustworthy people – Teabaggers, John Boehner, CEOs of companies that pay no taxes and employ 60% of their workforce outside of the U.S. – will work with him "in good faith" if he uses a lot of soaring rhetoric and asks them nicely enough. He seems fundamentally incapable of realizing that these people do not like him and do not care about his interests or those of anyone but themselves. And so they break it off in his ass, not occasionally but every single time.

The alternative hypothesis is that he fundamentally agrees with a corporate, Wall Street friendly version of liberalism (aka Moderate Republicanism) or, even worse, he is essentially a Manchurian Candidate right-winger. I find that possibility so disheartening that I prefer to believe that he is stupid.

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65 Responses to “FOX, HEN HOUSE”

  1. Mike Says:

    "Dennis Kucinich"

    You need to primary with someone who could theoretically win the election. (Not that I have anyone in mind.)

  2. Alex Says:

    "The alternative hypothesis is that he fundamentally agrees with a corporate, Wall Street friendly version of liberalism"

    He taught at University of Chicago for years. I've never understood why this doesn't come up more when people grapple with their disappointment in his economic perspective.

  3. Death Panel Truck Says:

    Obama never promised to be your goddamned savior, but you're gonna nail him to the cross all the same, aren't you, Ed?

    Enjoy President Perry, asshole. You'll get the president you deserve. What pisses me off is that I will also get the president you deserve.

  4. mclaren Says:

    You people all talk as though any president could stop or even slow the relentless destruction of the American economy and the collapse of the American middle class.

    It's systemic, people. The way U.S. corporations survive is by lowering their costs so they can compete with corporations located in Asia or South America. If they don't lower their costs, they get undercut on price and go out of business.

    "In the years ahead, sizable numbers of skilled, reasonably well-educated middle-income workers in service-sector jobs long considered safe from foreign trade—accounting, law, financial and risk management, health care and information technology, to name a few—could be facing layoffs or serious wage pressure as developing nations perform increasingly sophisticated offshore work."

    Source: 30 May 2010 Newsweek international edition article “Europe: The Big Squeeze.”

    Martin Brain and Martin Ford have been talking about this for years.

    And you think by electing some different guy president you can change this systemic process?

    Out here on planet earth, computers + software + databases + robots are relentless driving humans out of the workforce. And it's accelerating.

    Meanwhile, as Marc Andreesen notes, software is eating the world.

    Trouble is, when you get a software-based economy, the profit goes away. Anything that's mostly software soon gets downloaded for free. And despite all the efforts to criminalize bittorrent or ban filesharing sites, it's just never going to get harder to download stuff from the net. Ever. The internet is not getting slower, hard drives are not getting smaller, file searching is not getting more difficult.

    The end result is simple. A world in which everything is mostly free, and no one has a job (as Bruce Sterling put it).

    Capitalism as we know it doesn't work in that kind of world. Capitalism blows up. You can't sustain capitalism as we know it in a world where most of the people have no jobs and there's no middle class and most of the stuff people need gets produced by robots. That's today, right now. The Japanese are working hard on agricultural robots, one of the last links in the chain. Robots that do restocking in big box stores or that handle food in fast food chain restaurants or that drive cars are already being tested and well on the way to becoming a mature technology. (Google "self-driving car" and see what you come up with.)

    This stuff is all hurtling toward us at lightspeed, and capitalism as we know it is coming apart. Something else will have to take its place. It won't be socialism and it won't be communism. Maybe it'll be something like Wikipedia, or maybe it'll be something more like kickstarter.com. I don't know. What I do know is that capitalism as it existed from Adam Smith's time until now is done. Stick a fork in it, it's toast.

  5. Confused Says:

    I have to say, I am slightly bewildered by the Obama isn't what I expected crowd. He is pretty much what he represented himself to be during his campaign. How much did he talk about radical change? Not much. His idea was about changing the tenor in DC. About working together. His promise to end the war in Iraq even came with caveats, and he said he was going to increase our troops in Afghanistan. His healthcare proposal was middle of the road at best, and wall street was his biggest donor. He was never a progressive, and never pretended to be one. By the way, Hillary was the exact same, only a little more hawkish on the war front. Now people are mad because he isn't bringing the type of change they thought he promised them. Be upset with yourself for your poor listening skills. He is being basically the kind of pres he told you he would be.

  6. mclaren Says:

    "I have to say, I am slightly bewildered by the Obama isn't what I expected crowd."

    Then you're either dishonest or dyslexic.

    Barack Obama campaigned on hope and change. People in America today discern little hope for the future, and less change. Essentially all of Obama's policies, with the exception of his health-care non-reform which involved a massive giveaway to the corrupt collusive cartel-ridden U.S. medical-industrial complex, represent the third term of the Bush administration.

    This kind of blatant lying does nothing to further the conversation about our political options today. A commentator can try to defend policies like Obama's decision to increase American military spending by 8% per annum in one of the largest economic downturns in American history. Or, alternatively, a commentator can admit that policies like agreeing to unworkable national health insurance mandates or the decision not to prosecute for fraud any of the Wall Street thieves who created the economic collapse, are policies that will have very bad effects in the near future…but then attempt to defend those policies in the context of larger issues. Perhaps the claim that the Republican party has become so insane that Obama had no other choice. Or possibly the assertion that the American people have consistently supported such foolishly self-destructive policies as the Reagan tax cuts and the uncontrolled growth of the military-industrial complex, that Obama must try to wean the American people off their crazy self-destructive behavior a bit at a time, like a parent dealing with a teenage daughter addicted to cutting herself.

    But a commentator can't simply get away with the outright lie that Obama campaigned on ordering the assassination of American citizens without even charging them with committing a crime, or that Obama campaigned on conducting the largest legal assault on government whistleblowers in American history, or that Obama campaigned on letting the Joint Chiefs and the pentagon overrule his direct orders about pulling troops out of Afghanistan, or that Obama campaigned on giving the Wall Street criminalswho wrecked the economy a get-out-of-jail-free card.

    Obama didn't campaign on those things, and everyone knows it. Claiming that Obama did campaign on these policies is not just foolish, it's stupid. If you want to tell lies, the first rule of thumb is that those lies must be at least remotely believable.

  7. Confused Says:

    really Mclaren,
    Lies? Let's review actual policies that Obama did talk about. When did you ever hear Obama talk about radically changing our policies when it came to the infamous global war on terror? Other than wanting to close Gitmo, and stopping torture, he didn't exactly call for any massive change in how we were dealing with terrorists. Hell, I don't even remember him coming out against crap like rendition, or the Patriot act, and all the abuses that are involved with that garbage legislation. If he ever did, he certainly never actually spent any time stressing that in his campaign. So, yes, as far as homeland security is concerned he is not that different than Bush, and he never said he would be.
    Hope and change? Your crying because he hasn't provided you with enough hope, or the change you wanted. Boo as well as Hoo. Only morons think that campaign slogans are the same as policy proposals. Did he campaign on cutting military spending? no. Did he campaign on sending the folks at Goldman Sachs or hedge funds to jail? No. ( He did vote for TARP after all). And yes, he did indeed campaign on giving the Generals on the ground important input as to whether or not we left Iraq or Afghanistan. What the hell do you think he meant when he was talking about his policy to end the wars was contingent on the conditions on the ground. He often said explicitly that he would listen to his Generals. I'm sorry that you have the attention span of a gnat, and couldn't recall his repeated emphasis on that point.
    You are a perfect example of assigning your expectations as to what hope and change were supposed to be, while ignoring what policies he put forth.
    He was never a progressive and never pretended to be one. He was a centrist Dem who believed in the power of pragmatism and compromise. If you spent any time listening to the substance of his campaign, and less to the prose and soaring rhetoric, you would realize that while there are things to be disappointed about, he has been pretty close to what he told you he was going to be. Which is basically the same type of President that Hillary told you she was going to be.
    I'm dyslexic or dishonest? You're deaf or high. Because Obama came up to you and said hi, I'm a lot like Bill Clinton, and you heard, Hi, I'm the long lost twin of Dennis Kucinich.

  8. charles pierce Says:

    "Hey, you fell for the bait-and-switch, dummy, and I didn't." isn't exactly a ringing endorsement as regards re-electing the incumbent. Just sayin'.

  9. Joe Blow Says:

    "he's just another smiling face in a long line of corporatist whores that have rotted what used to be a somewhat liberal party from within and left us with a political system offering little but the illusion of choice"

    wow. I hoped it was not true. I thought maybe he would be better.. progressive, environmental, bold when needed against those with power.

    ha ha boo hoo.. only campaign promise he kept was to up the war in Afghanistan.

    mining coal, shooting wolves, bailing out the rich and screwing the middle class. now we have Keystone XL about to be approved. that is a mess from all angles.

    I don't think Obama is being used or manipulated. This is who he is. a corporate tool.

  10. mngstrfy Says:

    A poli sci prof who loathes teaching and detests politics? Good for if you want to take a look at the curdled side of the soul a couple times a month; ambulatory self-loathing with HTML. Not worth a daily read any more unless you have a depression fetish.

  11. Confused Says:

    I agree he is not much more than a corporate tool.
    But Bait and switch is the wrong analogy. It's more like he ran an ad that said in big bold letters "our lowest price ever on such and such". Then he listed that price, which wasn't particularly low, in slightly smaller print right underneath the big sale proclomation. I can't really feel sorry for the folks that only bothered to see the big letters, came to the store, and are now angry that the price isn't what they expected.

  12. NYD3030 Says:

    @Mclaren —

    The August 25th comment about the end of Capitalism was the smartest thing anyone has said in this comment section. Elected officials *could* ease the transition to the post-capitalism, post-consumerism, post-jobs-and-a-house-and-a-car economy by passing smart policies (once it becomes clear(er) what exactly is coming next), but the American electorate is so hopelessly stuck in a hissy-fit about whose version of the 1950's should be Frankensteined back to life that nobody we elect can deal with this situation by facing reality and adjusting accordingly.

    This process is going to take hundreds of years and probably involve some chain of horrific wars. I will not be shocked if one of – if not the first – of those wars is us finally flaming out as an empire and squandering the last bits of treasure on a hopeless attempt to resurrect the 20th century post-war world order.

    I can't fucking wait, it's gonna be so rad!