Cross-Post: Good Luck, Mr. President

Cross-posted from The Neophyte Photographer.

It is Inauguration Day in the United States.

For all the silliness of the election season, and regardless of the winner, I like inauguration day and the peaceful transition of power it symbolizes (or in this case, the assent of the people to the continuation of the current administration).  I’ve got a number of friends who are there and I hope they have a great time.

I took these shots of the White House last March.  You can see the lights on in the Oval Office and I wonder if they are on all the time, or only when the President is in residence. I’m pretty sure President Obama was in D.C. at the time, so seeing the lights on was kind of cool.

UPDATED to add: Okay, now I’m feeling rather foolish. I’ve been operating under the misapprehension that the Oval Office is located in the White House. It is not. Rather it is located in the West Wing, a separate building on the White House grounds.

It matters

Sweetie and I will be voting today.  For me, this election is a no-brainer, at least at the federal level. I’ll be voting a straight Democratic ticket, and not because I think the Democrats I get to choose from are all that and a bag of chips.  They are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  The ones I have to choose from are far more conservative than I am.

I worry when I hear Shelley Berkley advocate a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I worry when President Obama touts the Simpson-Bowles Commission and wonder if Social Security will be there for me in eleven years.  I oppose the drone strikes.  I think we are far too militaristic and would like to see our Pentagon budget reduced.  The Affordable Care Act did not go nearly far enough for this Single Payer advocate.

But voting for Jill Stein, in this closer-than-close swing state is not an option, because there are some really important issues that matter.

The separation of church and state matters.  

The U.S. Constitution declares that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Unfortunately, we do have a de facto religious test, much to my dismay.

However, while Barack Obama is a declared Christian, and he ends every speech with “God Bless America,” (Oh how I long for the days when politicians just ended their speeches with “Thank you.”), he at least has not been beholden to the religious right and has (gasp!) acknowledged that there are a great many people in our country who do not believe.

FACTS matter.

When I see the denial of science in climate change or hear a sitting Congressman declare that the Theory of Evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell,”   or hear a Senate candidate declare that a “legitimately raped” woman cannot get pregnant because her body just “shuts that whole thing down” I am stunned.  When I learn that these people are in charge of my life, and literally in charge of science research dollars, I am beyond gob-smacked.

I vote for reason. I vote for facts.

Women matter.

When I see Republicans denying women the right to control their own bodies and denying women their reproductive rights on the basis of said Republicans’ religious beliefs, whether it be it contraception or abortion, or categorizing some rape victims as legitimate (and others, by extension, not) or declaring the pregnancies resulting from that rape as a blessing from God, I am horrified.

Religious people in this country have the Constitutional right to believe whatever they want and to live their lives accordingly. They do not have the right to force anyone else, under penalty of law, to do the same.

Keeping religion out of our bodies, our bedrooms and our classrooms matters.

Voting rights matter.

When I see the voter suppression efforts pushed by Republicans in state after state, I am stunned.  There are virtually no known cases of In Person voter fraud.   Why would there be? It makes no sense.  In order to pull off a crime of that magnitude, the people engaging in it would have to be willing to risk up to two years in prison for this federal offense. It’s just not going to happen.  If Republicans really were worried about voter fraud, they’d tighten up absentee voting which has a much higher potential for fraud. (See granny farming)

But they won’t because absentee voting tends to favor Republicans. Voter ID laws are designed to suppress voters who traditionally tend to vote for Democrats. I guess if you can’t win in an open election on the merits of your argument, it just makes sense to remove the competition!

Character matters.

When I see Mitt Romney careen from position to position, never knowing what side of an issue he’s going to be on, I know I cannot trust him to be at the helm of our country for the next four years.

I may not agree with President Obama on every position he’s taken, and regular readers know who I supported in the Democratic primaries the last time around, but over the past term, I’ve come to understand that we don’t have a liberal Democratic president. (Can anyone tell me when we ever have?).  We have now someone I would characterize a progressive Republican president, kind of in the mold of Dwight David Eisenhower, except that Obama accepts the idea of the Military Industrial Complex.  And that, my friends, is the best we’re going to do this time around. Further,  I’m pretty sure I know where Barack Obama stands on most issues important to me. I have not seen him bobbing and dodging the way Mitt Romney has.

There are things I don’t agree with this President on. Race to the Top. No public option in the Affordable Care Act. Drones. Simpson-Bowles.

But . . .

I’ve seen President Obama grow in his office.

I’ve watched the economy come back from near disintegration.

I’ve seen the war in Iraq end. And I see light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan.

I’ve seen the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

I’ve seen him evolve on gay marriage to where he now stands with the majority of Americans on legalizing it.

I’ve seen him nominate two women to the highest court in the land, which that brings me to my next point:

The Supreme Court matters.

During the next four years whoever is President will likely select one or two more Supreme Court justices.  Beyond women’s reproductive rights, I need to consider what a Romney nominee (or two) might do for workers’ rights as well.

As Bill Fletcher, Jr. at Black Commentator put it:

Who gets to appoint the next several Supreme Court justices could have an impact for decades.  We have already seen the damage done by George W. Bush’s appointments to the Supreme Court in the form of the Citizen’s United decision on campaign spending.  In looking at the cases that are moving to the Supreme Court or have been taken under their jurisdiction, e.g., the Texas affirmative action case, I sure wish that there was a different balance on the Supreme Court.

These considerations are important when one realizes that progressive forces in the USA remain on the defensive.  If we had the initiative there might be a different discussion.  But at the moment we are trying to hold off some of the worst elements of an increasingly barbaric capitalism.  No, Obama does not open the road to fundamental social transformation, but to tell you the truth, if he can shift the Supreme Court balance even slightly that will be an important victory; a victory with a potentially lasting impact.

‘Nuff said.

Oh, Terry! Oh, Nancy! Can’t you see? He’s just not that into you.

I got two breathless emails today. One  came from NOW’s Terry O’Neill and the other from NARAL’s Nancy Keenan.  Both of them were shocked (!) that Barack Obama would throw women under the bus (again) and side with the conservatives on emergency contraception (Plan B).

Terry O’Neill:

In a stunning betrayal of women, the Obama administration has sided with radical right politics in rejecting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to remove an age restriction on emergency contraception.

It is only stunning if you haven’t been paying attention. Please see:

There’s more, but you get the idea…

It is an unusual and infuriating move for the Obama administration to overrule that decision, especially at a time when rumors are flying that the president is on the brink of caving in to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by expanding religiously affiliated employers’ ability to deny contraceptive coverage to women under the Affordable Care Act.

Oh, he’ll do this too. No doubt in my mind. 

NOW calls on the president to stop playing politics with the lives of women and girls. During the Bush years, women’s reproductive health was under constant attack. We don’t need more of the same from the Obama administration.

Why should he stop now? After all, he did it to pass his POS health care bill. See:

Nancy Keenan:

Something like this should not happen with a pro-choice president in the White House.

Hahahahahahaahahahahahahaha!!!!   Ohhhhh!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!  (snerk, snuffle, snort) Hahahahahaha!!! 

Okay…pulling myself together now.  Pro-choice? In what fucking universe?

We had every confidence that this Bush-era policy would come to an end.

That was your first mistake.   No, really. Why would you think this? This is the same man that enshrined the odious Hyde Amendment in an Executive Order, thereby elimnating the need for Congress to vote to renew it.

That’s why today’s news is so shocking. The Obama administration has broken a key promise to the American people that it would base its decisions on sound science and what’s in the best interest of women’s health.

Oh, honey. Obama doesn’t care about us wimmenz.  Wake up and smell the coffee, for pete’s sake.  And get off the fucking fainting couch.

If you have any doubt left about what I really think of Obama’s alleged “pro-choice” bona fides, please read my post  I don’t think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies as the health of the mother and its follow up, Quit digging

I’m off to class now. I’ve got photographs to print for my final project. Maybe it will help me calm down.

Indeed, the problem is two-fold

Michael Brenner lays the blame squarely where it belongs: Obama himself, and those who did not, do not, hold him accountable. 

Obama has unmoored the Democratic Party from its foundations — philosophical and electoral. No longer is it an expression of the persons, programs and ideas that crystallized with the New Deal and which dominated the country’s politics for sixty years. Its future is that of ad hoc assemblage of hustlers and special interests whose sole claim to govern will be that it is not the amalgamated Tea/Republican Party. Obama, by this Oedipus-like act of patricide, has also betrayed the country that voted for an enlightened leader with a social conscience — a country in desperate need of the opposite to the fate he has laid on us.

[ . . . ]

Most striking is a behavior pattern that resembles closely the narcissistic syndrome — even if he is not a clinical narcissist. A narcissist has no convictions other than a total dedication to his own gratification. That gives him the freedom to maneuver without inhibition or conscience with the revered self as the only reference point. All expressions of ideals, of opinions, of intentions are implicitly so qualified. A complementary narcissistic trait is an ease with blurring the line between virtual reality and actual reality. Narcissists believe everything they say — at the moment they say it. Their declarations are sterile acts that have no pride of parentage nor can they expect honor from offspring. Witness Obama’s momentarily rousing support of a labor movement that he has scorned for thirty months. This is the same President who has launched an all-out campaign against public school teachers whose unions serve as the whipping-boy for all that ails American education.

[ . . . ]

The instinct to protect Obama was so powerful that it stilled the voices of those who should have been both bolstering and cajoling him to remain true to his avowed commitments. To this day, the hesitation about calling out Obama is manifest — witness the minimal reaction to his brazen reversal on clean air standards that is required by legal stipulation to promulgate. Pressuring Obama early on also would have been the line of political realism since opinion surveys have made clear that it was the Republicans who were out of step with prevailing attitudes on issue after issue. That remains true today despite the White House and the Democratic Congressional leadership jettisoning them wholesale. It cannot last for very long, of course, with the mass defections that have left American politics with only one narrative, the legitimizing of a Darwinian social philosophy, the ensconcing of moneyed interests on the throne of power, and the deference now shown the Tea Party outrages.

The vow by so many not to hold to account a President (the first person of color to occupy the White House) who engaged in one unseemly sellout after another emboldened Obama to go further and further down that road. Only now that the disaster has occurred are a few tentative, mild voices of serious criticism raised about the man, his methods and his politics. They have little practical meaning since the damage is done, the game is lost, the Democratic Party is denatured, and the great progressive wave of the 20th century that reconciled Americanism with the social ethics of the modern world reversed. Free of any mea culpas and lacking a sense of urgency, these mild chastisements fall into the ignoble category of “grandpa reassurances.”

I recommend you read it all.

The Speech Illusion

I almost never read Maureen Dowd because her junior high snark is usually too much to bear, but she nails it in today’s column.

Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry around and do what he proclaimed.

The days of spinning illusions in a Greek temple in a football stadium are done. The One is dancing on the edge of one term.

The White House team is flailing — reacting, regrouping, retrenching. It’s repugnant.

Why bother?

I caught Ralph Nader (he of “duopoly” fame) on Countdown the other night wherein he expounded on how he and a group of “progressives” intend to come up with a primary challenge to Obama.  The thing is, Nader noted that the movement wasn’t meant to actually defeat Obama, but to push him to the left.

Uh huh.

Somebody please tell me what the point of this would be? If the goal is not to run a viable candidate who can defeat Obama and resuscitate the Democratic Party, what is the fucking point?

Honestly, do they not get that if in 2008 he told them what they wanted to hear to get their money, time and votes, and then turned around and did precisely the opposite, that 2012 will not be any different? In 2008 he faced the the most competitive primary ever, and look what happened once he secured the nomination.

Head-desk.

Is anyone surprised by this any more?

He backs down every time. Every. Damned. Time.

Obama keeps trying to deal with Republican lawmakers — on the debt limit, on budget cuts, on taxes. And he gets nowhere. These people have dug in their heels on virtually every issue and are determined not to budge.

Now the president has thrown Warren under a bus in hopes of breaking the logjam over leadership of the new agency. All he’s accomplished is handing a win to his opponents and getting nothing in return.

Of course, this all makes sense if you understand that Obama isn’t a progressive. He’s a conservative.

Either that, or he’s still looking for Daddy’s approval.

“Progressives,” what does he have to do?

Come to your house and personally kick you in the teeth?

Now, Democratic commentators — mostly the President’s most hardened loyalists — continue to invoke this “he’s-weak-and-inept” excuse for Obama, but the evidence is far too abundant to sustain it any longer.

As I was driving to work this morning I was listening to Hal Sparks (who is sitting in for Stephanie Miller), and he almost started to call Obama on the carpet. You could hear the confusion in his voice. How could his idol do this?  He was almost ready to see it.

But, no.  He got hold of himself, put his blinders back on, and true to form, he blamed Democrats who “stayed home” in November. That’s where he went.  It wasn’t Obama’s fault at all.

Pathetic.

Obama as King

David Sirota:

If we take the Hill’s portrayal of its sources as an accurate picture of the White House’s not-for-attribution statements and attitude, and put it next to an administration that insists it is “astounding” for Congress to even consider fulfilling its War Powers Clause/War Powers Act responsibilities (and yes, they are responsibilities and not just prerogatives) — we see a posture that goes way beyond the mere “unitary executive” theory. We see, in short, an administration asserting a monarchical supremacy that inherently assumes that there’s no need to even rhetorically argue the legality of actions, much less halt those actions.

A tale of two countries

Wear your school tie to the meltdown (Prairie2 News)

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany dropped in on President Obama today, they had dinner in the Rose Garden and he gave her the Medal of Freedom for her life‘s work. If they talked about their respective views on economics or science they didn’t mention it publicly. Merkel grew up a Communist in East Germany and her school tie was Red. She has a PhD in Physics and speaks fluent Russian. Merkel now leads a united Germany from the center right. Obama who was raised by New Deal liberals from Kansas went to Ivy League schools with a lot of rich kids who now run Wall Street. He became a Constitutional lawyer and governs from the center right despite being an anti-colonial Mau-Mau Muslim commie liberal.

Merkel’s response to the world economic meltdown caused by Obama’s school chums down on Wall Street was a full blown New Deal style / Keynesian Economics take over of Germany’s economy by their government. Germany operates on economic principles put in place by Truman and his Marshal Plan and doesn‘t believe in letting the markets decide the fate of Germany.  Obama’s response to the economic meltdown was a half hearted stimulus package dependent on tax cuts based on the VooDoo economics of Ronald Reagan without Reagan‘s massive government spending or his tax increases.

More at link.