Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS

Okay. it's now seven months since Obama took office.

The economy was in free fall. So was the stock market. So were the auto companies. Our country's reputation was in tatters as well.

The economy is rebounding. The stock market is rebounding. The auto companies are rebounding (GM just added more workers and more overtime). All, thanks to Obama's policies.

As for the country's reputation, well, when pirates hijacked a ship with an American Captain and crew, the Navy Seals rescued the ship, the crew and eventually the captain with a Hollywood ending. Maybe could have happened on anyone's watch, but it happened on his. Where the last administration tried to get North Korea to do things it wanted and ultimately failed, at least under Obama we got the two reporters out and North Korea has since taken other actions that bode well for a lessening of the rhetoric and a broadening of the possibilities for diplomacy. And the same with other nasty dictatorships like Burma (Mynmar).

And a whole mess of great legislation has passed and is beginning to be felt (credit card companies have to give you 45 days warning in rate changes instead of 15 is a small one, much better benefits for veterans is a big one).

And he's come closer to actually initiating some kind of healthcare reform, even if in the end it turns out to be minimal and incremental, it will be a start on something many presidents have been trying to accomplish since Teddy Roosevelt and few have made a dent in.

So over all the guy's pulled off some pretty tremendous successes given the mess he inherited and the short time he's had to bring about change. So what are we talking about in the media? Some tiny percentage of the population that wants to destroy any credibility Obama has earned through a lifetime of smart choices and good causes and see him removed from power in any way possible.

And what do signs comparing him to either Hitler or The Joker from the Batman movies intend to accomplish, the equation of a democratically elected centrist Democrat with two historical figures, one real one made up, who are so evil there can be only one response to them: kill them.

The last Batman movie THE DARK KNIGHT made it totally clear through its story line that moral or legal considerations were to be put aside in fighting a force as evil as The Joker. And history as well as movies have made it clear that the only response to a Hitler has to be some kind of plot to assassinate him.

I despise the people making these comparisons and using this overblown rhetoric and imagery, and those in the media who continue to give them more attention than they warrant.

13 comments:

Butch in Waukegan said...

Bud and Lou, Dean and Jerry, Tom and Dickie.

Mike has tee’ed another one up for the other half of this dynamic duo, Jim. Will Jim have 90% of the comments on this post, or scale it back a little to only 50%?

Before the discussion is inevitably defined as heroic Obama against the looney right I want make a short case for other ways at evaluating Obama and where we’re at.

The economy is rebounding. The stock market is rebounding. The auto companies are rebounding (GM just added more workers and more overtime). All, thanks to Obama's policies.

Economy rebounding. Not proven. Unemployment is rising. 1/3 of all mortgages are “underwater” - homeowners owe more than their houses are worth. Foreclosures and “walk aways” are up.

Stock market is rebounding. Always does when corporations cut cost, i.e. lay off workers. Again, unemployment is rising - how do a higher stock prices help those of us out of work?

The auto companies are rebounding. Dead cat bounce. The auto industry will be in trouble for years.

All, thanks to Obama's policies. Obama’s policy is to hand over the keys of the government to Goldman Sachs. Is that what his supporters voted for and expected?

The government is firmly in the hands of the banks and corporations. A good example of this is Obama’s championing health care “reform”, proposals that are supported and pushed by the large pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

Lally said...

Butch, you're correct. Obama hasn't been able to create an economic and political utopia in seven months, so therefore what? We should condemn him for trying? After inheriting what was an almost perfect dystopia seven months ago which included an economy that was rapidly heading into the worst Depression the world had seen in centuries if not longer (according to most economists) he managed, with the limited power of the executive branch butting heads with entrenched beuroucracies (never could spell that word) and other branches of government and the media and the defeated party that the media seems to think represents a majority and gives them the consequent majority of space and coverage for their opinions and propaganda to stop the total collapse of the economy, slow the jobless rate, and yes help the stock market rebound (I don't own stocks and don't care about them but I know from everything I've read and experienced that a climbing stock market is better for the country even if just psychologically than a falling one), keep the car companies from going under and GM is hiring again, I notice you didn't contest that fact or the fact that Ford showed a profit for the last quarter, the first time in quite a while and once again the world's perception of the USA is heading in a positive direction instead of so low there was no place further down to go...etc.

And even if you and Jim and all the other naysayers on the right and left were right in your failing marks for Obama so far, it still doesn't justify comparing him to Hitler or the Joker. His intentions are not genocide nor to cause total havoc and he doesn't embody the most evil aspects of humanity, but in fact is attempting to bring about some positive change in a context that currently seems to thrive on conflict. I don't agree with all his tactics by a long shot, nor do I even agree with some of his vision of what's best for our country and the world, but I agree with him more than I do with any living Republican or with utopians who actually think an elected US president can somehow conjure up the magical potions of Merlin and overcome all the obstacles to achieving one person's idea of what changes need to occur and then doing it without consequences. As Barney Frank said to that woman who was labeling the current attempts at healthcare as "Obama's Nazi plan"—what planet do you reside on?

JIm said...

Not a bad start Butch, but many banks, auto companies and possibly the health care system are and will be in the hands of the same government that is running a bankrupt Post Office, Railroad, Medicare and Social Security System. They can't even run a simple Cash for Clunkers Program. We have a stimulus plan that does not stimulate. My great hope for the defeat of socialized medicine is that the Obamasiah will keep attempting to sell it. It has been tanking in support since he started selling it. The contrast between his lofty rhetoric and HR3200, now available on line, is stark. Obama to Nazi comparisons are on policy, which are valid. Nazi Germany was socialist first before it became internationally deadly. Real Clear Politics average approval for Obama is down to 51%. If we can get him down to 45%, I think even Congressional Liberals may have doubts. To be despised by a liberal who wants to bring the failed doctrine of Socialism to the greatest Democratic Republic in history is a badge of honor.

JIm said...

Warren Buffett, an Obama supporter last year, is raising the alarm OF OUT OF CONTROL GOVERNMENT SPENDING AND BORROWING!!!! Mr. Buffet seems to believe that more "Obama Successes" will turn the US into a "Banana Republic".

Warren E. Buffett is the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway

“The United States economy is now out of the emergency room and appears to be on a slow path to recovery. But enormous dosages of monetary medicine continue to be administered and, before long, we will need to deal with their side effects. For now, most of those effects are invisible and could indeed remain latent for a long time. Still, their threat may be as ominous as that posed by the financial crisis itself.
To understand this threat, we need to look at where we stand historically. If we leave aside the war-impacted years of 1942 to 1946, the largest annual deficit the United States has incurred since 1920 was 6 percent of gross domestic product. This fiscal year, though, the deficit will rise to about 13 percent of G.D.P., more than twice the non-wartime record. In dollars, that equates to a staggering $1.8 trillion. Fiscally, we are in uncharted territory.
Because of this gigantic deficit, our country’s “net debt” (that is, the amount held publicly) is mushrooming. During this fiscal year, it will increase more than one percentage point per month, climbing to about 56 percent of G.D.P. from 41 percent. Admittedly, other countries, like Japan and Italy, have far higher ratios and no one can know the precise level of net debt to G.D.P. at which the United States will lose its reputation for financial integrity. But a few more years like this one and we will find out.”

We don’t want our country to evolve into the banana-republic economy described by Keynes.”

Butch in Waukegan said...

Butch, you're correct. Obama hasn't been able to create an economic and political utopia in seven months, so therefore what?

Straw man.

You stated the economy is rebounding and attributed it to Obama. I called you on it, emphasizing unemployment as a key indicator of a poor economy. (This was before I saw this morning’s dismal unemployment figures.)

So you believe that the economy can rebound at the same time people are losing their jobs? Is it “utopian” to expect the government to be more concerned about average people losing their jobs than making sure the banks, insurance companies and health corporations maintain their obscene profits?

By the way I wasn’t aware that Ford made money last quarter. Goldman Sachs had record revenues last quarter. Was that a people’s victory too?

Lally said...

Butch, Maybe I'm not so good at irony, but the idea of the line you quoted as a "straw man" was to show how your response did exactly the same thing, sets up a "straw man". Of course unemployment hasn't disappeared after a few months, only gotten better after a precipitous decline that was almost a straight line downward. I'm sorry if "rebound" doesn't work for you. But avoiding the worst depression in centuries and unemployment that was heading down even without the economic meltdown that occurred over the year before Obama took office (because of changes in the economy globally etc.) is an accomplishment, whether you can recognize it or not. If you were one of the workers hired or rehired by GM you'd be grateful. And of course I'm aware and have friends and family who have been hit hard by this recession and the changes in the economy brought about by decades of Republican policies that favored the wealthy over the rest of us, but you sound like one of those people who actually believe a worldwide economy falling into what was starting to become a deep depression alongside seminal changes in how that economy worked could be fixed by a snap of someone's fingers. Snap. Well, it almost has been. Obviously not entirely, not even close, and there's gonna be more pain ahead, but Obama's election and policies, no matter how flawed or compromised by realities out of his or yours or my control, did a great deal to turn that catastrophe into something more manageable and in many cases positive. It's like saying Hitler was known for trying to "socialize" medicine (not) instead of for killing twelve million people including most of the so-called "Gypsies" (Romany) in Europe at the time and six million Jewish Europeans. I live in Jersey where Paterson is not only the name of the state's greatest poet's masterpiece, but is also an historic community with the biggest waterfalls in the country outside Niagra, and it's been left to deteriorate into an impoverished wasteland, but Obama just signed a bill making this birthplace of "American industry" championed by James Madison as the future of this country's wealth, into a national park! One of hundreds of small and large accomplishments that will make life better for many of my fellow citizens, including even Obama's greatest detractors. And like I said, under Republican administrations, benefits for veteranswere diminishing, under Obama they're now the best they've been since WWII. Of course the rightwing influence in the military (and rightwingers on this blog) will ignore that reality and continue to claim for the chickenhawk party some sort of macho national security image, despite the fact that the worst attack ever committed against this country on our own soil since the war of 1812 happened under a Republican controlled government.

Butch in Waukegan said...

Mike, I certainly know you are very aware and concerned about unemployment, and it wasn’t my intention to imply otherwise. I was responding to how you constructed your argument that the economy is “rebounding”.

It isn’t. After posting I ran an errand and listened to a podcast of le Show. Harry read a story about the 5 banks that failed on Friday, making a total of 77 for the year. 25 failed in 2008. The economy sucks.

Both you and Jim use facts like the bank failures for the R/D-Bush/Obama smack down scorecard. But our problems are systematic, go back many years, and have the fingerprints of both parties on them.

harryn said...

michael - good report card...
and no, he hasn't created a utopia because there's mountains of problems - most of which were inherited and we keep getting ambushed by these redneck noise - but give the guy a chance - they set the stage early on when limbaugh said he wanted to see obama fail and a few repubs claimed this healthcare could be his waterloo ...

the rightwingers have been trying to bring this guy down from the beginning - that's no surprise - it's the depths they sink to with piety and veiled bigotry that leaves me a little awestruck ...

and though i've always savored your word-smithing, i wonder why you'd spend it on thick-headed right wing terrorists - let's just stick to the facts: obama's doing a terrific job in spite of the arbitrary opposition ...
i do wonder michael - how did you deal with rednecks back in the day - when we were yutes ...

p.s. - tom ridge's book is due out in a few weeks and he explains the former administrations political manipulations of the threat levels -
man, these guys are wicked ...

Anonymous said...

Dear M:
I have to agree with "harryn"---I hate to see you expending so much energy and time on all these rightwads. Do you think you can argue them into the light? Those on the fringe right are going to stay firmly in place, reality and eloquent argument nothwithstanding.

My primary complaint about the president is that he is far too accommodating of republicans. I am extremely disappointed at his apparent abandonment of the "public option" and have been wistfully wondering whether Hillary might have been more inclined to throttle Grassley and his ilk. (Of course, she did nothing significant to oppose Bush, the worst president in history, when in the senate, so I'm probably wrong.) In any case, I truly hope that progressives will challenge and unseat as many Blue Dogs as possible in the next election cycle. "Democrats" like Max Baucus are even more nauseating than republicans.

TP

JIm said...

A recent poll suggests why Obama and Democrats/Socialists may want to pay attention to Conservatives and Moderates. Conservatives are the largest voting block with 40% followed by Moderates 35%. Liberals are a mere 21% of the electorate. Liberals rule on Lally’s Alley but not amongst voters. Obama concealed is Liberalism/Socialism last fall, for good reason. As far as bringing this fellow Obama down, that is occurring with no help from Republicans. The food fight amongst the Netroots/Liberal crowd and the Blue Dogs is fun to watch. The Pelosi, Reid, Obama,Lally war of words on the just plain folks and voters who showed up at Tea Parties and Town hall meetings, only weakens him further. The funny thing is, that the August recess Town hall meetings was an idea of the Democrats to garner support for the government take over of health care.

June 15, 2009
“Conservatives” Are Single-Largest Ideological Group
Percentage of “liberals” higher this decade than in early ’90s
by Lydia Saad
PRINCETON, NJ -- Thus far in 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This represents a slight increase for conservatism in the U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004. The 21% calling themselves liberal is in line with findings throughout this decade, but is up from the 1990s.

JIm said...

GOOD NEWS FOR AMERICA AND THE FREE ENTERPRIZE SYSTEM!!!

Zogby: Obama Hits Record Low in Poll

Thursday, August 20, 2009 7:07 PM

By: David A. Patten
President Barack Obama's popularity has plummeted to a record low, with just 45 percent of voters now approving of his performance, according to the latest Zogby International poll.

Asked whether they approve or disapprove of the president's job performance, just 45.3 percent of likely voters say they approve. That compares with 50.5 percent who disapprove of the job Obama is doing.

PS Butch, Please note that I have confined myself to 3.6% of the responses, so far.

JIm said...

Woops, I ment 36%. I guess I am over 40% now.

Butch in Waukegan said...

Considering Mike’s supporters on this thread attribute all criticism of Obama to the right wing, I wonder how they will process Krugman’s latest column.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/opinion/21krugman.html

Another rightwad terrorist?