Tag Archives: barack obama

Eff The 90’s

Have you been watching President-elect Barack Obama’s appointments to his administration with a sense of confusion? A feeling of anti-nostalgia? Crying out, “Why all the ClintonAdmin re-treads!?”

Steve Fraser is your man. Writing in The Nation, Fraser echoes a familiar complaint by liberals about recent appointments, registers dismay at the nearly uniform “neo-liberal” ideology, and compares the group think to the greater diversity that stocked Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet during a transition period frought with peril.

Worth reading for historical boning up, I suppose, but I was more interested in Fraser’s call for bolder action:

Under the present dispensation, the bailout state makes the government the handmaiden of the financial sector. Under a new one, the tables might be turned. But who will speak for that option within the limited councils of the Obama team?

A real democratic nationalization of the banks–good value for our money rather than good money to add to their value–should be part of the policy agenda up for discussion in the Obama era. As things now stand, the public supplies the loans and the investment capital, but the key decisions about how they are to be deployed remain in private hands. A democratic version of nationalizing the financial system would transfer these critical decisions to new institutions created by the Congress and designed to pursue public, not private, objectives. How to subject the flow of credit and investment capital to public control ought to be on the drawing boards if we are to look beyond the old New Deal to a new one.

Or, for instance, if we are to bail out the auto industry, which we should–millions of jobs, businesses, communities, and what’s left of once powerful and proud unions are at stake–then why not talk about its nationalization too? Why not create a representative body of workers, consumers, environmentalists, suppliers and other interested parties to supervise the industry’s reorganization and retooling to produce, just as the president-elect says he wants, new green means of transportation–and not just cars?

Why not apply the same model to the rehabilitation of the nation’s infrastructure; indeed, why not to the reindustrialization of the country as a whole? If, as so many commentators are now claiming, what lies ahead is the kind of massive, crippling deflation characteristic of such crises, then why not consider creating democratic mechanisms to impose an incomes policy on wages and prices that works against that deflation?

Why not, in effect, assert greater control by the people over the economic forces that affect them? “Cuz that way lies socialism! Aaagh!” Onoz. Heavens to betsy. And, well, probably not. More like neo-social democracy.

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Yay! Another Non-issue!

Props to my friend Leah for noting what a dodge this is. Head full of cold germs, my first thought when I heard CNN breathlessly report this morning (“this just in!”) John McCain’s proposal to delay his debate with Barack Obama and renounce campaigning until a bailout program is developed was, “Ah. Good strategy. Makes him look ‘presidential’ – whatever that means.”

Such is the obvious gambit. But, hey, what a way to get out of answering questions about an economy McCain fails to understand. Sure, the debate is focused on foreign policy, but a global economy facing a widespread crisis as the world’s largest consumer and debtor drowns in its own stupidity might have some bearing on how the next Prez interacts with his peers on the world stage. McCain has found a handy way to deflect criticism for last week’s gaffes and wild demands for firing the SEC chief, while putting Obama on the spot. The Bloomberg article linked above quotes a perfesser:

“The suspension does bring the ‘ready-to-lead’ issue back into focus for McCain,” said Paul Light, a public service professor at New York University. “Obama is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.”

Dana Perino helpfully chimes in:

“Bipartisan support from Senators McCain and Obama would be helpful in driving to a conclusion,” press secretary Dana Perino said.

But, hey, no pressure, “Barry”. So far, the AP reports that Obama is not, as Sarah Palin might put it, read to “blink.” If you’re thinking, “Er, isn’t this a non-issue meant to distract us from the sheer stupidity of the Paulson bailout plan,” I would chastise you for your cynicism. Really, just because neither candidate has anything more to offer than vague “principles” and is more interested in hedging their bets against either a full endorsement or a full rejection than, say, calling the Paulson bailout for the utter bullshit it is – that’s no reason assume they’re more comfortable arguing over porcine applications of lipstick. Are not presidential contests supposed to be about debate formats, the relative heights of podiums and microphones, the selection of bland moderators, and the arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic?

Golly! I Could Be Among the First to Know!

A very special e-mail from the Barack Obama campaign sent straight to my personal e-mail box!

Dear Kevin —
[See! First name basis!]
Barack Obama is about to make one of the most important decisions of this campaign — choosing a running mate.
[What about FISA? Oh…nevermind.]
You have helped build this movement from the bottom up, and Barack wants you to be the first to know his choice.
[Cuz we’re special friends!]
Sign up today to be the first to know:
[Sign up? Couldn’t he just, ya know, tell me?]
[See! He’s MY Barack Obama! Get your own, asshole!]
You will receive an email the moment Barack makes his decision, or you can text VP to 62262 to receive a text message on your mobile phone.
[Awesome! One more thing to interrupt my day!]
Once you’ve signed up, please forward this email to your friends, family, and coworkers to let them know about this special opportunity.
[Oh yes, along with my chain letters and long lists of un-funny jokes. They’ll love that!]
No other campaign has done this before. You can be part of this important moment.
[Seriously, haven’t you heard of Twitter?]
Be the first to know who Barack selects as his running mate.
[I feel so included! So Web 2.0!]

[No, David, thank YOU!]
David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

In Contempt (7/24/2008): Obama in Iraq

Click the image to read it at maximum capacity.

In Contempt (7/15/2008): He Gets It

july 15, 2008 cartoon reduced
Click it. Poke it. Prod it. Push it. Push it real good.

Idiot Wind

Bob Dylan doesn’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows:

“America is in a state of upheaval,” Dylan told The Times. “We’ve got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up.”

The 66-year-old went on: “I’m hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to.”

Yes, the times they are a-changing. Or is he only a pawn in their game? Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is. There is no truth outside the gates of Eden.

When Quinn the Eskimo gets here —

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Er… Not So Much

From the Gaurdian’s Hillary Clinton campaign retrospective photogallery. Suzanne Goldenberg also writes not the first and certainly not the last autopsy of Clinton’s candidacy. Also, Goldenberg and Ewen MacAskill join most of the American media to declare Obama the Democratic winner.

But I am not so sure. Clinton still claims a popular vote majority – if you count Michigan and Florida, and discount at least four caucuses (but why you would do that, I don’t know) – and her campaign has spent all day fighting against an Associated Press story reporting that she would concede Obama’s win. Sure, she’ll acknowledge he got the necessary delegates, but she won’t actually concede the contest. Does this strategy put pressure on Barack Obama to accept her as a Veep? To risk an already loaded historical analogy, it worked for Kennedy and Johnson. But that only sends chills down my spine.