The Airing Of The Grievances

Kevin Drum:

Jonathan Bernstein has a question for us left-leaning types:

Think back to what you were thinking in November 2008, and in January 2009. As the 111th Congress winds down, what's your biggest disappointment of the things you expected to happen? Not your wish list, but the things you really expected to happen. What's your biggest happy surprise?

Drum mentions health care reform, withdrawal from Iraq and carbon pricing as his 3 big issues. He thinks Obama got 2 out of 3 plus some other good stuff. Yet again, I find myself in disagreement with Establishment bloggers and remain dumbfounded by their disregard for the importance of tax policy. My biggest disappointments were the inadequate stimulus and especially, the Bush/Obama tax cuts. If he had performed well on those 2 fronts, I would be the biggest Obama Bot there is. He didn't and I'm not. (I also don't think much of the "reform" in the health bill so that makes a difference for me too.)

Speaking for me only

< The Triumph Of Zombie Economics | Waking Up To Part 2 Of The Deal >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Drums are for beating (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by Dadler on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 11:30:48 AM EST
    Where are my sticks?

    You ain't the only one, Tent. If I have to hear another "this was the most productive congress" or "obama really got most of what he promised he would during the campaign" or any other delusional statements about the preceding two years, I think my head will soften into mush and dissolve right off my neck.

    Biggest disappointment? (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 11:50:00 AM EST
    Oh, my, none whatsoever. The stimulus was the.best.ever. So was health insurance reform! Oh, and the tax cuts... oh, and closing guantanamo prison.


    Now time for the feats of strength.


    In the spirit of Festivus... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 11:56:05 AM EST
    if we pin Obama during the Feats of Strength, can we get some o' that change we kept hearing  bout 2 years ago?  Or if not that, at least some of that hope-ium?

    The pin shouldn't be too hard, the guy is like Jello.


    Word (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by kaleidescope on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 12:00:27 PM EST
    In addition to what you mentioned, I would add the many things that Obama could have done without having to get 60 votes in the Senate, but didn't. Investigating and prosecuting torture and bank fraud stand out most. Overall, Eric Holder's performance as a corporate/national security establishment rent boy is, for me, the most dismaying aspect of what billmon used to call the Goldman Sachs Administration.

    There were also the little things the EPA did that the Republican Congress didn't make them do, such as bury scientific memos from staff so it could approve the pesticide clothianidin -- incandescently toxic to bees that is banned in most of the rest of the civilized world.  It's so toxic it gets taken up into plants making their pollen deadly to bees.

    On economic matters we're back to the days of Grover Cleveland.  On civil liberties maters were looking at the administration of Woodrow Wilson.

    Ack (none / 0) (#46)
    by DancingOpossum on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 09:30:25 AM EST
    Kaleidoscope, did not know that about the bee-killing toxin. Jeebus, every time I learn something new about this administration I am newly appalled. I should be over it by now.

    I've got a lot of problems with you people! (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by andgarden on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 12:08:00 PM EST
    You should post the video:

    Line at about 2:05.

    Festivus in a Box (none / 0) (#19)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 03:04:54 PM EST
    All my kids are getting them for Christmas this year. I was so pleased with them when they arrived that I'm ordering one for myself :)

    Obama (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Coral on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 12:34:59 PM EST
    I'm with BTD, the underwhelming job on the economy, failure to get rid of Bush tax cuts for wealthy, are among my biggest disappointments.

    What has been truly shocking is the failure to support Social Security in an open and forceful manner. I never expected that from a Democrat (along with possible attempt to cut SS, which for me is the bottom line; I won't vote for, let alone donate money or time, a politician who attempts to cut Social Security).

    Happy surprise? Several things where I feel something is better than nothing -- health insurance reform; DADT repeal; but nothing that counts as a surprise, more like the minimum possible.

    I'm with Greenwald...Holder and the (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by oldpro on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 12:47:10 PM EST
    Injustice Dept. along with tax policy...two greatest disappointments/lost opportunities to reverse the Bush legacy.  Instead, we get Bush 2.0, extending it, enhancing it, validating it.

    It's change, alright, but in the wrong direction, and desperately sad for those who believed in Obama and the Democratic Party's intent to 'turn things around.'

    Party on, people.

    Me too (5.00 / 0) (#12)
    by ruffian on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 12:52:25 PM EST
    I fully expected more reversals of Bush policies in the general area of civil liberties and detention policies. The tacit approval of the Bush framework of the domestic 'war on terror' is my biggest disappointment.

    With economic policy a close second. Tax policy, weak stimulus and little to no help for what is at the root of the economic decline - the mortgage crisis.


    Why? What evidence did you have that (4.50 / 4) (#18)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 02:59:39 PM EST
    Obama would do what he promised, or that he promised anything? I never heard a thing from him that made me think he was talking specifics instead of rhetoric. His votes were obviously not aligned with his speeches. He had no foundation. That structure went up overnight and was nothing more than the facade of a leader.

    His running as a Democrat was the only thing that indicated he might, just might be different than Bush.


    You are right (none / 0) (#44)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 09:18:20 AM EST
    His running as a Dem was the only thing that made me believe it. I was young then, and foolish.

    obama only cared (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kmblue on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 12:52:21 PM EST
    about the people at the bottom of economy once--while he was campaigning.  That's all over now, unemployment extension notwithstanding.  He's decided he can get reelected without us.  The mask is off for good.

    He's decided he can get relected (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by oldpro on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 01:27:57 PM EST
    by giving W a fourth term.

    my biggest problems (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by CST on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 03:31:48 PM EST
    with Obama were his
    • caving to the drill baby drill rhetoric
    • tax policy
    • inadequate stimulus
    • lack of a fight on the public option
    • handling of the forclosure debacle
    • lack of teeth in financial reform
    • failure to close guantanamo
    • expanding the Bush invasion of privacy
    • uptick in war on drugs, and war on immigration

    that's a long list...

    so things I liked were

    • There are some good things in the health insurance bill.  Not going to get into it now, been into it at length on this blog, but overall, I support most of it.
    • There was some good stuff in the stimulus. Especially for my industry.  Gotta say thanks for my job!
    • DADT repeal.  Finally.
    • EPA seems to actually have a job again.
    • Umm, I guess it's a good thing that they keep extending unemployment benefits.  It's certainly not a bad thing.  And I'll give it to him since republicans for the most part keep voting against it.

    Not on any list - the wars.  I don't know how you could possibly put this on a "good" list.  I also don't know that he could have done much differently.

    A whole lot of caveats on the "good" list.

    The most (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 03:53:54 PM EST
    surprising thing to me is that Obama has turned out to WORSE than my expectations and they were rock bottom from the time he started campaigning in 2008. I always hated the PPUS crap because I knew that he might believe that junk.

    There are a few things in the HCR bill that are good like pre-existing conditions clauses being changed but largely Obama screwed up on that one because he could have just passed that and several other things and been more successful than he was with the omnibus failure.

    But the largest failure of Obama has been on the economy. If you fix the economy, then you can be forgiven for a lot of other things but it's not going to be fixed with Obama.

    I have largely come to the conclusion that Obama really hates the working class in this country. There's no other conclusion that I can derive from his behavior.

    I don't think (none / 0) (#29)
    by Zorba on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 05:00:06 PM EST
    that he "hates" the working class, I just don't think that they're on his radar at all.  He admires and listens to the "upper class," and seems to believe that what's good for them is good for the country, and the benefits will flow downhill (a "rising tide lifts all boats" mentality).  And if that sounds a whole heck of a lot like Reagan- well, yes, we have the black Reagan in the White House right now.  He's admitted to his admiration for Regan on more than one occasion.

    I'm not so sure (none / 0) (#33)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 06:34:16 PM EST
    between what he has said about them and then his actions. I sometimes wonder if he thinks they are all "racists".

    Let's thank J.Merritt for allowing dissent here (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 04:14:42 PM EST
    during the O'campaign.  Two whines per diem was the quota, if I recall correctly.

    It was a huge permission in an unpleasant, unpermissive time.

    ( I didn't do much whining.  I went to ground.  And a few friends called me a racist for supporting Clinton.  That bothered me more than anything else.  Interesting times. )

    To your face? (none / 0) (#28)
    by Yman on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 04:39:51 PM EST
    And a few friends called me a racist for supporting Clinton.  That bothered me more than anything else.

    ... or were these just (semi?)-anonymous internet "friends"?

    Those ridiculous accusations of racism bothered me greatly, too, but if an actual friend had accused me of that, they'd no longer be my friend.


    my own personal anecdote (none / 0) (#31)
    by huzzlewhat on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 05:58:10 PM EST
    During the primaries, shortly after the first debate, I was talking with a guy at a bar during a "Drinking Liberally" meeting. (Was it my imagination that he was chatting me up? Dunno.) Of course, we were talking candidates. It was all very friendly until I said that I'd been an Edwards supporter, because of his stance on U.S. poverty issues, but that I'd been won over by Hillary during the first debate because of her exhaustive knowledge and ability to talk in details about practically any policy. He smirked at me and said, in what I think he thought was a flirtatious manner, "Couldn't bring yourself to support the black guy, huh?" The conversation didn't go anywhere after that, because I just got up and left him there without saying another word. It was the first time I ran into that during the campaign.

    Probably not the last, if I had to guess (none / 0) (#47)
    by Yman on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 10:22:31 AM EST
    Never had anyone say anything like that to my face .... not sure what my reaction would have been, even if they were half-joking.  Of course, I read a lot of similar comments on blogs.

    Good for you for walking away.


    On one hand (none / 0) (#7)
    by lilburro on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 12:32:37 PM EST
    it's impressive that Obama got things done.  On the other hand there's nothing he's done in two years that doesn't basically look like conservative-lite in retrospect (stimulus 40% taxes, health reform market-based/no public option, continuing the Bush tax cuts).  I did not expect him to underuse the bully pulpit.  DADT is awesome.  I was impressed that torture was banned swiftly and convincingly.  The fact that Bushco were allowed to get away with everything is atrocious and suggests that future administrations will be able to get away with torture if they'd like to use it.

    Looking back after two years it's time to ask Obama how he expects to accomplish progressive goals while Republicans hold the House.  How does he expect to organize Democrats so they are behind his policies?  Why does he refuse to reexamine his approach to the economy?

    Kevin Drum thinks things are going to get better and Obama will become more successful.  I think things are on course to become a lot worse.

    Is there anything that would suggest to (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by Anne on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 01:43:26 PM EST
    you that Obama has the least bit of interest in progressive goals?  Or that he is bemoaning that he will have a Republican House to "work with?"

    I think he's a lot happier than even he lets on - and I think the only Dems he has any interest in organizing are those who share his views: the rest of us will be told to get with the program, quit whining, or take a hike - if we haven't already.

    As for his approach to the economy, why re-examine something he and his economic brain trust came up with and think is just swell?  He got the tax cuts he wanted, which will be a great benefit to those he prefers to keep happy, and at the same time, he can use them as an excuse to do some belt-tightening and make some tough choices.  For us, that is.  Some day, in the not-too-distant future, the historians will be talking about 2011 as the year the Age of Austerity was ushered in; how sad is it that people like my mother, who was born in 1930, will get to see another - much worse - Depresion at the end of their lives?  It's actually worse than sad - it's unconscionable.  

    Some day, in the not-too-distant future, Obama will be sitting on Easy Street, raking in the really big bucks, so why will he even care?

    Obama will definitely be more successful: at Republican-style governance; he will be a better Republican president than even a Republican could have been.  That's gotta stick in John McCain's craw, huh?

    Never did I ever think it would be a "Democratic" president who would lead the country to oligarchy.


    Question: after destroying (none / 0) (#10)
    by observed on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 12:50:33 PM EST
    Afghanistan over 9 years, do you think the Afghans would have been better off if the Russians stayed?

    No, the Russians didn't care (none / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 01:45:35 PM EST
    about the people of Afghanistan.  For them there was no such thing as collateral damage or the hope of a healthy self governing Afghanistan, just fewer Afghans to have to deal with.

    That's ahirstorical (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Romberry on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 11:21:39 PM EST
    I'm not sure where you got that idea*, but it's mistaken. The USSR actually spent a great deal of time, effort and money in Afghanistan trying to establish a competent civil government, building infrastructure and just generally doing all the same things that our government claims we want and are trying to do.

    *Actually, that's not really correct. I think you likely got that idea from the same place that most Americans gets idea like that. That would be from our shoddy "Rah, rah! USA! USA!" press and the other official and non-official mouthpieces of our government.


    Bull (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 04:19:17 AM EST
    This is nothing more than leftwing speak attempting as always to paint our military efforts as those of evil doers and everyone else's military as somehow kind and decent and I grow heavily tired of the bull$hit.  The Soviets gunned people down without regard to who or what beginning in December of 1979.  The whole place is full of bullet holes.  A friend of ours who barely survived a helicopter crash the first year there said the whole place had been shot up utterly to hell by the Soviets and was depressing as heck to see and try to figure out where you go from there.

    Many nations have been in and out of Afghanistan, sometimes doing good things for the people there and sometimes NOT AT ALL and the Soviet War in Afghanistan was NOT merciful or kind in any fashion.  


    Bull right back atcha (none / 0) (#48)
    by Romberry on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 04:09:22 AM EST
    I'm a vet. My comment wasn't about our military. It was about our policy.

    Like it or not, your view of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan is based on propaganda, not fact. The USSR did indeed pursue policies of rebuilding and establishment of effective central government. And they failed...because they were outside occupiers. Just like us.


    Not my point. (none / 0) (#16)
    by observed on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 02:28:27 PM EST
    The US,having demolished Iraq, committing some of the worst atrocities in recent years (Fallujah,e.g),ha s no business claiming a right to rebuild.

    Fallujah was prior to COIN (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 03:56:42 PM EST
    Fallujah was the old school military just killing whatever seemed to offend.  Who else is old school out there?  Well Holbrooke when it suited him, and that was the Holbrooke strategy for Afghanistan that so many peace lovers find so appealing.  If something suspcious out there moves and it is around the bad people....kill it!  But keep that footprint small, just kill what offends from on high and don't worry about looking too close.

    Who else has the moral obligation (none / 0) (#25)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 03:59:48 PM EST
    than the US? of course, the moral obligation now means KBR makes the profits. Little infrastructure gets rebuilt in any timely fashion.

     Too bad, considering this was a war of choice.


    I don't expect much out of KBR (none / 0) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 04:07:34 PM EST
    I'm thinking mostly only of the training of security forces and getting them back on track and able to limit the chaos and bloodshed and murder that a power vaccum can create.  In that department, we are doing better than even I expected.

    Let me put it another way: (none / 0) (#30)
    by observed on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 05:24:17 PM EST
    it's like saying a rapist should marry the victim, to right his wrong.

    Love that (none / 0) (#43)
    by DancingOpossum on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 09:18:16 AM EST
    I really love that analogy. I'll have to remember it the next time I hear someone nattering on about our brave sacrifices in Iraq, Afghanistan, and any other country where we've pillaged, burnt, raped, and laid waste. It should be of great comfort to those dead Iraqis and their maimed children that we feel such a sense of "responsibility" to them.

    As Arthur Silber put it, the only obligation we have in any of those countries is to GET THE F*** OUT NOW.


    In addition (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 02:31:28 PM EST
    I think he's a lot happier than even he lets on - and I think the only Dems he has any interest in organizing are those who share his views: the rest of us will be told to get with the program, quit whining, or take a hike - if we haven't already.

    He gets the bonus of whining himself and running in 2012 as "I've been hampered by the Republican House."

    It would be surprising (none / 0) (#20)
    by KeysDan on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 03:16:03 PM EST
    to me if President Obama ran in 2012 as being hampered by the Republican House.  When initially and sheepishly presenting the "Deal", he said he did so because the Republicans were like hostage takers. The Republicans did not warm to characterizations of hostage and blackmail and it was put to rest--fast.  Obama is more likely, in my view, to brag on his ability to get along, compromise and be bipartisan.  He will, however, feel free to note "hampering" by the professional left and other progressive "purists".

    The Imperial Presidency's Poodles: (none / 0) (#22)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 03:52:51 PM EST
    Weird but true: liberals turn into proto-authoritarian pugs when they snag an administration gig.  The following Guardian article describes the transmogrification of both the infamous John Yoo and a successor, Harold Koh, Secretary of State Clinton's pit-bull.


    Chris Hedges on Obama - and the U.S. (none / 0) (#32)
    by The Addams Family on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 06:12:51 PM EST
    via Democracy Now:
    Obama, who made this Faustian bargain with corporate interests in order to gain power, has now been crumpled up and thrown away by these interests. They don't need him anymore. He functioned as a brand after the disastrous eight years of George Bush.

    And what we are watching is an even more craven attempt on the part of the White House to cater to the forces that are literally destroying the United States, have reconfigured, are reconfiguring this country into a form of neofeudalism.

    Hedges also characterizes Obama as

    somebody who, like Clinton, is a self-identified liberal, who speaks in the traditional language of liberalism but has made war against the core values of liberalism, which is a concern for those people outside the narrow power elite.

    & i have to concur even though that will offend the self-identified centrist BTD, & even though i do not now suffer & have never suffered from CDS

    the interview concludes w/this exchange:

    AMY GOODMAN: . . . outside in the snow, outside the gates of the White House, [you said, during a demonstration on Thursday], "Hope, from now on, will look like this."

    CHRIS HEDGES: That's right. All we have left are acts of physical resistance. . . . And if we don't get out, then we're finished. To trust in the normal mechanisms of power and those normal liberal institutions that once . . . gave voice and a place to working men [sic] in this country is to be very naïve and essentially acquiesce to our own bondage.

    Oh good (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 06:35:54 PM EST
    grief. Clinton was a moderate from the beginning and never tried to hide that fact. Obama tried to hide it and that's why people are so mad at him right now. They bought into his shtick lock stock and barrel.

    I remember some people being (none / 0) (#38)
    by waldenpond on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 08:23:16 PM EST
    shrill and arguing "Clinton's to the left of Obama on this issue!!" as a way to beat people over the head that Obama was not a liberal.

    I'm (none / 0) (#41)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 07:28:20 AM EST
    not talking about Hillary. I'm talking about Bill.

    I don't think Obama has ever identified (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Anne on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 07:38:40 PM EST
    himself as a liberal; he used some of the right rhetoric, some catch-phrases that were the equivalent of the secret handshake, leading others to put that label on him, and he did nothing to correct them.  Why would he?  At that stage, he was looking for votes, was in full-on all-things-to-all-people mode, and happy to be whatever people wanted him to be if it meant they would cast a vote for him.

    But governing is not campaigning, and it was in governing - action, policy, legislation he supported or didn't, deals made in back rooms, strategic leaking, appointments and nominations - that Obama's true colors were revealed.

    He's not a liberal.  Not now, not ever.  I feel somewhat sorry for anyone who ever thought he was, who are convinced that he told them he was, because that is the biggest okey-doke Obama's put over - so far.

    He's a Republican.  He's judgmental.  For him, the foreclosure fraud problem is about deadbeats.  Being pro-choice is about women making the choices he's comfortable with.  Being transparent is about the government knowing everything about us, but having no duty to disclose to us anything it is doing, and punishing anyone who dares to breach that barrier.  He's trickle down in an economy that cries out for just the opposite to help equalize the widening income inequality gap.  He's more comfortable with the corporate world that feeds off the masses than he is with the blue collar world hanging by its fingernails.

    Obama has managed, in an incredibly short time and with plenty of help from other Democrats, to suck the life out of the Democratic Party.  Worse, he has taken issues that used to be bedrock for Democrats, things I thought no Democrat would ever abandon, and thrown them to the wolves, pushed them to the right, and made them unrecognizable to this long-time Democrat.

    It's a travesty.


    Well, I agree with you,but (none / 0) (#36)
    by observed on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 07:42:38 PM EST
    are Democrats at large unhappy with Obama?

    No (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 08:02:31 AM EST
    Because many of them are in the "Where else am I going to go?" and "Look over there!  It's Sarah Palin!" modes.

    It's human - we make excuses and dream up fantasies for the known because we fear the unknown.


    Chris Hedges' point (none / 0) (#37)
    by The Addams Family on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 08:02:00 PM EST
    is that Obama is the poster child for the collapse of the Democratic Party but the party's collapse is not all about him  - it is systemic & began much earlier

    i find it rather tiresome, this trend toward psychobabble & making it all personal & about Obama

    rather apolitical too, frankly


    Also (none / 0) (#45)
    by DancingOpossum on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 09:29:23 AM EST
    There's the little fact that the country actually did well under Clinton. Hard to argue against that. I understand that some of the groundwork for what we're seeing today was laid then, but the bad effects could have been averted or mitigated if a different candidate had been elected (which one? I don't know but I doubt John Edwards or Hillary would have frakked things up quite this badly).