Barack Obama has been a disappointment

Barack Obama might be crying about how he’s perceived–and of course right-wingers are always going to greet any Democrat in the White House with attacks and lies. But his liberal critics are the ones who matter–he pretended he was one of them on the campaign trail. It’s not a pleasant prospect for political idealism, but it is clearly, terribly true: Obama should be upset about how lousy of a job he has done in his first year in office.

I hung back, not saying much about Barack Obama last year for two reasons–first, he was newly in office and it was hard to know the true direction of his administration without at least a modicum of observation; and second, every time some conservative idiot like Glenn Beck or Jim Demint fanned the pointless right-wing rage against Obama, it reminded how much worse the world would be if some filthy Republican like John McCain were president.

But those ratinales have run their course–the first expiring due to the new year, and the second largely evaporating in the face of Obama’s collusion with the vile and moronic George W. Bush on Haiti relief (yes the Haitian tragedy is awful and asking for donations is good, but do you really want George Katrina Bush up there ranting about “shysters” when you’re trying to raise money for disater relief?). To the powerful, it is all a game and working “across party lines” over epic foreign tragedies is arbitrarily fine, while pulling together to pass a bigger stimulus bill to put more Americans back to work is argued about and filibustered endlessly–or not even considered. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt over their false distinctions.

And that goes for Mr. Obama. Elected on a wave of popular disenchantment with America’s crusty, broken, self-righteous and lobbyist-dominated political culture, Obama has turned into another monster to rebel against, and nothing better.

I will list five of the enormous failures of the Obama administration:

A crazy and downright evil Afghanistan policy.

The lack of follow-though on the campaign promise to repeal the pointless and morale-undermining “Don’t ask, don’t tell” anti-gay policy in the military.

An economic policy driven by greedy Wall Street thugs Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers.

A corrupt, useless and inadequate attempt at health reform, including support for a deeply illiberal mandate for health insurance that Obama campaigned against.

Obama’s sneaky little attempt to sneak fascism in by the back door by asking for powers of “preventive detention.”

These aren’t the only things Obama has done wrong–there are many more–and in fairness he has actually done a few things right like passing the stimulus bill and slowing down the assault by mineral extracting industries on America’s national parks and forests. But his overall stance has been one hostile to the American people and their rights, and time for deference is over.

Barack Obama is better than Republicans, but still terribly vile.

President Obama is stepping in it with the Afghanistan escalation

Why would Barack Obama and his administration want to escalate the war in Afghanistan?

Well it is true that the president spoke of Afghanistan as a worthy campaign while running for office, and he is saying the same thing now after all. But that said, he is still making a grievous mistake.

The U.S., the cowering, shrinking NATO contingent (the Canadian and British military are both tragically underfunded farces, and the other countries sending troops can hardly be thought of as having true “armies” anymore at all), and the civilians that the president over-hyped in his recent speech will never get done whatever Obama claims he can accomplish in Afghanistan–something about fighting the Taliban (i.e. hassling and killing more civilians and offering body counts to the media) to clear the way for the Afghan central government (“undermined by corruption”  under Hamid Karzai), along with the largely illiterate Afghan security forces and police–and Karzai’s drug dealer CIA asset brother. There aren’t any oil fields of note in Afghanistan, and the pipline dreams of years past don’t make much sense anymore given the seeming parmanent instability in the area. But campaign promises must be kept, bribes must be paid, and General Stanley McChrystal (he of the Pat Tillman coverup) must have his surge.

So, it’s a stupid move by Barack Obama.  Afghanistan is not going to change, and this is just an enormous waste of lives, money and resources.  At the end of the day, there are no more gains to be made by America in Afghanistan–and very few to be defended (look at the still-awful plight of women in the country despite Laura Bush’s lies about the situation).

Just don’t bother trying to go to one of those protests, it’s just a bunch of meth-head anarchists out there anyway.

Barack Obama and the lame attacks of the right-wing

As I watch the laughable blowups of previous Republican top prospects Bobby Jindal and Michael Steele, I can’t help but wonder a little who will finally lead them at least partly out of the wilderness, David Cameron style.

In the short term, the remaining elected politicians from America’s permanent minority party are simply dispirited. Aware of the utter collapse of their party, they are consigning themselves to bitter, long-term opposition.

Into this void has moved a variety of media characters, always right-wing but now feeling under siege, who have launched one lame, useless attack after another on Barack Obama.

Over all this, Obama presides over a remarkably popular administration. Aside from the embarrassments in the cabinet like Robert Gates (he’s a Republican and former Bush administration member) and Tim Geithner (he’s a former IMF official who is a tax cheat and an incompetent bungler so far at Treasury).

But if we step back for a moment, let’s try to see the whole picture–conservatives are deeply alarmed about the “liberal” administration, and a large stimulus plan has already been passed.

And undaunted by right-wing challenges from the media and a few of the less timid Republicans, the Obama administration could be highly successful in turning back at least some of the de-regulatory madness and right-wing insanity in social and fiscal policy that Republicans have instituted over the last decades.

On the 2008 election

election night demonstration

With the historic election of American’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, the oft-repeated mantra that change is coming is finally seeming real. Winning a clear majority of votes cast, Obama proved himself to be the most compelling Democratic candidate in a generation. Whether they supported him due to his having better policy ideas than those offered by the erratic and unprincipled John McCain, or due to Obama’s steady hand and clear judgment, Obama’s supporters have much reason to be relieved and encouraged.

But the relief on my part goes much further than just happiness to see the back of McCain in national politics. It extends to the fact that no longer will rapacious right-wing ideologues have control of the federal government. Whether undermining environmental regulations, trumping up wars for no good reason aside from assisting contractor cronies, supporting hateful and discriminatory changes to the Constitution, building gulag dungeons that violate the laws of war, or packing courts with far-right clowns like Roberts and Alito, the Bush administration has done something much worse than just destroying respect for America’s government around the world–it has destroyed respect for America’s government among thinking people here at home.

So whatever the specifics of President Obama’s cabinet appointments or initial policy pronouncements, those matters of frenzied speculation in media and on blogs at the moment, no one will doubt that new leadership is ready to move America’s vast, powerful, and largely unaccountable federal government away from the evil ideas of Dick Cheney and toward sane policies that will enrage conservatives and reassure liberals.

Barack Obama can still get the nomination

Plenty of establishment Democrats want Hillary Clinton to win the nomination.  As the Clintons’ heyday was also the high point for the DLC, the Hillary Clinton supporter camp can also be seen broadly as more conservative than the younger, more liberal band of Barack Obama supporters.

New Hampshire is a conservative state–the only one in the northeast to vote for George W. Bush in 2000, for example–and its voters only narrowly went in favor of Clinton over Obama in yesterday’s Democratic primary.  It’s not as good as a win but this should be good enough for the Obama campaign for now, as they will probably realize they need to sharpen their campaign to stay competitive over the long haul–keep introducing new proposals, new endorsements, new events, and of course–more Oprah–while continuing to remind voters what a dangerously unwise pick Hillary Clinton would be.

A bit of sharpening is in order, as I said–this is not a coronation!!–but as someone that thinks that he can win I believe the overall style of Barack Obama’s campaign shouldn’t change.  He has been down before in this campaign and has bounced back.  But as long as he continues to run on his record and the prospect of real change, Obama should be able to weather a few days of negative coverage and the Clinton campaign’s coming attacks, win the big primaries, and come out with the nomination.

Wherefore the Ron Paul Revolucion?

As the Iowa caucuses approach, Barack Obama seems to lead the Democratic polls while John McCain is moving up there and in New Hampshire.

I mentioned in podcast 16 that I support Obama, and that McCain is the only real chance the Republicans have to win.

Maybe some people are realizing that now, but the strangest phenomenon for Republicans remains the support for Ron Paul.

After visiting a friend from high school over Christmas break, I walked out the front door, talking with him about whenever we might meet again, and I’m opening my car and about to get in, and the last words I hear are “VOTE RON PAUL!!”

Now, this friend of mine is a pretty serious guy. “All of my friends,” he says, looking rather slightly at me as he says this earlier that night, “are being bums are right now.”

While he works from 5 in the morning until late at night, taking trains sometimes and ignoring personal relationships, good exercise, even his cigarette habit (to some extent). On and on like that.

But then, he also mentions that one of his friends (clearly one of the bums) got him into supporting Ron Paul’s candidacy for the Republican nomination. How I am not sure. But it seems like a word-of-mouth phenomenon, among surprisingly educated and sophisticated people.

I say this with such detachment and surprise because and why these people I talk to, many of them liberals or moderates, seem to like a right-winger who wants to undo the New Deal is hard to understand.

I, like many of them, despise the Iraq war but, as for me Barack Obama seems like a good anti-war candidate, as he has opposed it from the beginning, unlike Hillary Clinton or John Edwards.

It’s worth noting that Ron Paul often comes off as a shrill fanatic, who has recently deplored the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while using some of the most extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric around. His pledge to overturn birthright citizenship is appalling and an attempt to undo an iconic American freedom.

It’s hard to blame Ron Paul supporters for losing site of pragmatic, progressive policies aimed at reducing inequality and protecting rights which many of them used to support, but maybe after their Texas hero’s stagecoach rides into the sunset, they’ll come around to supporting Obama, or at least not voting at all in the general election.

Barack Obama's fading campaign

Barack Obama in Ohio, October 2007

Even as he’s maintained a solid #2 position in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, Barack Obama’s supporters, including me, are wondering what’s next after months of trailing an awful candidate like Hillary Clinton, and now this:

The whole controversy might have been forgotten in the swell of gospel sound except Mr. McClurkin turned the final half hour of the three-hour concert into a revival meeting about the lightning rod he has become for the Obama campaign.

He approached the subject gingerly at first. Then, just when the concert had seemed to reach its pitch and about to end, Mr. McClurkin returned to it with a full-blown plea: “Don’t call me a bigot or anti-gay when I have suffered the same feelings,” he cried.

“God delivered me from homosexuality,” he added. He then told the audience to believe the Bible over the blogs: “God is the only way.” The crowd sang and clapped along in full support….’

[article via Americablog; photo by Virgf78 via Flickr]

This McClurkin is not a cool guy, and Obama should have seen this coming and stopped it. Or..? People are starting to re-think their support–and Obama had built a large liberal base. Not looking good for his campaign for the next few weeks. Not that I like Hillary, or John Edwards either. Is the Democratic field starting to look almost as weak as the Republican one? That would be scary.