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The Jehoshua Novels


How a handful of liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency

September 27, 2010 by Peter Daou

This post was originally written about the frightening case of Anwar al-Aulaqi, a heinous individual who now faces a judge, jury and executioner in President Barack Obama. The body of the post remains the same, but I wanted to add further context in light of yet another slap at the left by the White House, in this case, VP Biden telling the base to ”œstop whining,” as well as breaking news that Rahm Emanuel is leaving the White House this week.

When Robert Gibbs attacked the professional left he didn’t specify anyone by name, but the assumption was that it was cable personalities, disaffected interest groups, bloggers and online commenters.

With each passing day, I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher. (Jane, who has been a friend for years, has become an increasingly controversial figure and I won’t use this post to litigate the claims for or against her.)

Virtually all the liberal bloggers who have taken a critical stance toward the administration have one thing in common: they place principle above party. Their complaints are exactly the same complaints they lodged against the Bush administration. Contrary to the straw man posed by Obama supporters, they aren’t complaining about pie in the sky wishes but about tangible acts and omissions, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power. more

The essence of their critique is that the White House lacks a moral compass. The instances where Obama displays a flash of moral authority ”“ the mosque speech comes to mind ”“ these bloggers cheer him with the same fervor as his most ardent fans.

Some will dismiss them as minor players in the wider national discourse, but two things make them a thorn in the administration’s side:

a) they have a disproportionately large influence on the political debate, with numerous readers and followers ”” among them major media figures

b) they develop the frames and narratives that other progressive Obama critics adopt and disseminate

I’ve argued for some time that the story of Barack Obama’s presidency is the story of how the left turned on him. And it eats him up. You know it from Robert Gibbs, you know it from Rahm Emanuel, you know it from Joe Biden and you know it from Obama himself.

The constant refrain that liberals don’t appreciate the administration’s accomplishments betrays deep frustration. It was a given the right would try to destroy Obama’s presidency. It was a given Republicans would be obstructionists. It was a given the media would run with sensationalist stories. It was a given there would be a natural dip from the euphoric highs of the inauguration. Obama’s team was prepared to ride out the trough(s). But they were not prepared for a determined segment of the left to ignore party and focus on principle, to ignore happy talk and demand accountability.

As president, Obama has done much good and has achieved a number of impressive legislative victories. He is a smart, thoughtful and disciplined man. He has a wonderful family. His staff (many of whom I’ve worked with in past campaigns) are good and decent people trying to improve their country and working tirelessly under extreme stress. But that doesn’t mean progressives should set aside the things they’ve fought for their entire adult life. It doesn’t mean they should stay silent if they think the White House is undermining the progressive cause.
Case in point: the extraordinarily disturbing case of Anwar al-Aulaqi:

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54 comments to How a handful of liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency

  • Anonymous

    What’s the point of this article? He says, “they develop the frames and narratives that other progressive Obama critics adopt and disseminate.” Not in my case and not in the case of plenty of other people who write about our great decline. Each of the bloggers mentioned does fine work. They get the story out and people react. The reactions are based on the values of an audience. That audience isn’t following principles in lock step. They react to the particular instance based on their preconceived principles. And the larger audience that hears about Siegelman, for example, may find the information through other channels, before these bloggers. The hierarchical assumption here is a bit off-putting.

    And then there’s this: “As president, Obama has done much good and has achieved a number of impressive legislative victories (name one). He is a smart, thoughtful and disciplined man. (Who orders US citizens shot by edict, without a trial etc.). He has a wonderful family. (So do you. So do I.) His staff (many of whom I’ve worked with in past campaigns) are good and decent people trying to improve their country and working tirelessly under extreme stress.(Geithner, Summers, Rahm, etc.)” What unadulterated bull shit.

  • Tina

    it seems as if can’t decide whether he is pissed at the bloggers or afraid to admit they have been right along. Principles suck yano ;)

    Virtually all the liberal bloggers who have taken a critical stance toward the administration have one thing in common: they place principle above party. Their complaints are exactly the same complaints they lodged against the Bush administration. Contrary to the straw man posed by Obama supporters, they aren’t complaining about pie in the sky wishes but about tangible acts and omissions, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power.

  • Synoia

    the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers

    Bad diagnosis.

    The crux of the problem is O’bama’s actions, or lack thereof. The bloggers document and illuminate.

  • Michael Collins

    Yes, but the president is a nice guy and his principles would be there but it’s that 60 votes in the Senate, those Wall Street constituents who must be served first and always, and the need to maintain those 700 bases overseas. It’s a hopey thing. We wouldn’t understand;)

  • Escher Sketch

    you decide”?


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • JustPlainDave

    Bringing down the presidency in a particular audience component more like. Affecting what is considered to be within the spectrum of reportable “mainstream” thought, yes.

    “How shall I put it? I’d have a lot more time for the ceaseless absolutist critique if I thought any of these folks was willing to hump a ruck. Hell, I’d have more time for it if it just wasn’t so unidimensional.” ~ not-Richard Haass

  • Numerian

    Maybe Mr. Daou doesn’t get to choose his headlines, since he never bothered to argue his case that liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency. The economy is bringing down the Obama presidency, and President Obama’s own actions are bringing down his presidency.

    And let us begin at the very beginning, within a few days of his entering the Oval Office. Obama announced he would not pursue an investigation of war crimes during the previous administration because he wanted to “look forward”, not backward. It didn’t take Jane Hamsher or Glenn Greenwald to tell many of us liberals that this was a huge debasement of American constitutional and republican principles, not to mention a betrayal of Obama’s own campaign rhetoric. Nor was the left expecting Bush and Cheney to be hauled off to The Hague, but there was a reasonable expectation that the crimes committed at Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere in the name of the GWOT – some of these crimes were well-documented – would be investigated and criminal behavior tried and punished.

    What liberals were expecting was a Restoration of American values, including the simple statement that we do not torture. These values carried us through WWII, and were upheld in Korea and Vietnam, and it was an entirely reasonable expectation that they would be restored after being traduced by the Bush administration. Obama’s refusal to do so was a very big shock, and it was one of a succession of such disappointments that has caused many liberals to turn against the President, as have many libertarians.

    If Greenwald and Digby have a wide following, it is because they write compellingly, and in Greenwald’s case, present a lawyerly discussion of the facts to bolster very serious charges of imperial overreach by Obama. It seems very unlikely that major media figures read these bloggers, because the charges and the facts are never discussed in the media. This parallels the response from the Obama White House – the most serious charges are never rebutted. Instead, Gibbs and Obama and now Biden talk about the whiny, ungrateful liberals who ignore the damage being done to the Democratic cause, and the dangers of allowing the alternative Republican crazies from getting back into power. Obama is highly selective in his refutations, mentioning only the lack of a single payer healthcare program as an example of why some on the left are unhappy, when this is only one of many and by no means the most serious of the criticisms. The serious criticisms focus on Obama as an extension of George Bush in his destruction of the Constitution, and on Democrats and the media as complicit in this process.

    Because no one in the White House ever addresses publicly the real criticisms being made, liberals wonder whether Obama is hiding something, whether his administration is ineffectual in fighting powerful corporate and other forces that truly run our government, or whether Obama is part of some elitist group of lords and masters from both parties who care only about their own power and think they know what is best for the country (this is Greenwald’s belief).

    What motivates these questions and wonderments is the fact that America has now faced two administrations that governed contrary to traditional American values, and contrary to their campaign promises. Bush stormed into the White House as if he had been given a mandate for massive and radical change, especially in implementing the neo-conservative wet dream of unchallenged global military and economic dominance. Obama campaigned to end all the obvious abuses of the Bush administration, and then just as promptly as Bush, did the opposite once achieving power. To top it all off, the Democrats in Congress never criticize Obama for his volte-face and the extension of Bush imperial power, usually at the expense of the Congress. Why is that? Why is it left to a small faction in the Democratic Party, a few leftist bloggers and their followers, to continue to battle on important principles? Why does no one else care?

  • Tim

    But they don’t. And the admin is only whining about the left because the Independents are abandoning them. Demonizing the GOP isn’t going to work on the Independents, I’d guess.

    But the bloggers mentioned are as pragmatic as they are principled. Pragmatic in the sense that the conservadem policies Obama likes don’t work, and aren’t going to any time soon. We’ve reached the point where keeping the corporations on your side means you lose, automatically.

  • Jeff Wegerson

    We will be a handy scapegoat as his failure deepens. We are the next Nader.

    “Instead, Gibbs and Obama and now Biden talk about the whiny, ungrateful liberals who ignore the damage being done to the Democratic cause, and the dangers of allowing the alternative Republican crazies from getting back into power.”

  • Joyba

    The complexity of all the issues and problems was answered in one of my dreams the other night. In my dream, President Obama was pretending to address the nation on some subject that would get most Americans to watch his speech. Instead of talking about the fake topic, he came out and told America that powerful interests had him by the balls and were threatening to take him down if he did not play by their rules. He pleaded to America to help him be able to make real change and to stand with him while he thwarted these powerful groups. Then I woke up and realized it was just a dream.

  • Joyba

    The complexity of all the issues and problems was answered in one of my dreams the other night. In my dream, President Obama was pretending to address the nation on some subject that would get most Americans to watch his speech. Instead of talking about the fake topic, he came out and told America that powerful interests had him by the balls and were threatening to take him down if he did not play by their rules. He pleaded to America to help him be able to make real change and to stand with him while he thwarted these powerful groups. Then I woke up and realized it was just a dream.

  • Scotjen61

    and there is no threat from the left to the Obama Presidency. It’s a Fox News meme, a fantasy, and drama for ratings. Bases return in elections, and races tighten at the end. The progress is recognized, and will be rewarded. In the face of Obama’s planned middle class tax cuts and increase to the top rates, the Republicans will ultimately blink, but will fight like hell to avoid it.

    The left does what the left always does. Hold the powers that be feet to the fire. But if you press Greenwald, he knows the difference between Democrats and Republicans. And you fail to name the myriad of left and left leaning bloggers and movements in deep support of this Administration. My frustration is when the left drinks the kool-aid of Fox News, and the wave of misinformation passed off as news from the right wing sound machine that is not small by any measure in this period.

    The elephant in the living room is that Obama did not get the Presidency he campaigned for [which reminds me of something Clinton said about his presidency "I could do more in one day then I'll be able to do the rest of my life, but I couldn't choose what it would be. You are always pressed to the mat by events].

    I’ve been struck by two reported events that happened in the month after Obama was elected President.

    The first happened two days after his election, when he was set down and provided his first detailed and top secret foreign policy presentation. He is reported to have left the meeting saying he had just taken a cold shower and that he would likely never get over it. These would be things he did not know as candidate Obama.

    The second happened in a meeting of his accumulating staff who were being briefed on the state of economy, the state of the banking industry, together with polling about how knowledgeable Americans were about how bad the economic crisis was (which by the way was still unfolding and still growing worse). There was a profound mismatch in reality and perceptions. In that meeting Axelrod became extremely glum, and as various reports indicated he felt that the entire enterprise had been sabotaged by the prior administration. He said at the meeting, and many meetings after that Obama needed to prepare for the fact that his popularity would be in the shitter within 18 months and there was nothing anyone can do about it. Axelrod never recovered from THAT meeting. Obama plays a long game and he has known that reality from day one. You think he has not prepared for that?

    These were the parameters into which Obama stepped months before assuming the presidency. To state Obama is not principled is unfounded and untrue. His principles in fact have created constraints on party ideology, doing the easy and popular. It is not in his character.

    For example, a key event that has unwound his ‘popularity’ was the AIG bonus. After issuing constraints on how much executives of companies that had been bailed out could earn, it came out there were prior contracts (notably AIG but others as well) that provided for payment of bonuses. Axelrod immediately wanted these payments nullified, it was critical, and it would be popular. However, Obama knew that these were bound by contracts and that the day the Federal Government can go in and willy-nilly shred contracts (about 100,000 employment contracts) would be the day we were not a modern economy. He refused on ‘principal’ and made a highly unpopular choice.

    The other core principal he campaigned on was to change the tone of Washington. He is an ardent believer in bipartisanship. He is a wonk, someone who digs into policy and ideas. He wants to debate IDEAS. Not exactly the temperament that would send him embarking on taking the minority party through endless hearings and litigation by the majority party. He wanted no part of that, and still doesn’t. If that becomes the climate, Washington – and Democracy – would end.

    His draw down in Iraq is predicated on trying to transition so as to save civilian lives, to retain the safety of troops. Draw downs are hard and should be done slowly to be done safely. He has brought 90,000 troops home to date. One may ask what he has learned in his foreign policy dossiers, but what has emerged is that it is not Afghanistan, it is Pakistan that is of concern – And India which is the source of their anger. The Mumbai terrorist attack from the standpoint of American foreign policy is placed on an equal plane with 9/11. Pakistan has been at the center of both of these attacks. Pakistan staging their training in Afghanistan regions, using the resources of the ISI (Paks secret service). This is likely Obama’s cold shower. All of these issues have to be weighed and understood, and in my view forms the basis when he chides the left with – GET REAL!

    Legislation is transactional. Progressivism is human and very emotional. It should continue to be so, just as the gay rights movement should continue to fight for their rights. I don’t take any issue with that. I take issue with the idea that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats. That progress has not been made. That healthcare reform was worthless. Fight for more, sure, but acknowledge improvement. And to call Obama unprincipled, to me, is itself unprincipled.

    I have clients right now funneling $200k into Republican campaigns. Why? For one reason. They stand to lose $1 million to $2 million of their earnings to healthcare and tax reforms over the next four years. The core of Obama’s policies is a shift in wealth disparity, which has reached historic levels. It is one of his core stated goals within his administration and he has passed one bill, and seeks to pass a second that will reverse what Reagan did in 1980.

  • zot23

    “Hey look – that guy on the horse with the crown ain’t got no clothes on!”

    When this is such a controversial crime, does that implicate the bloggers with eyes that see or the rest of political cultural which does not?

    Maybe someone can send this to Peter Daou, I answered his sprawling essay in 15 words.

  • Tina

    let go can he. Maybe he is afraid he will lose access to the big boys and felt he had to add a few how great tho ares to appease the beltway. lol That or he was just drunk when he was writing, because he sends a slap in the title and then writes differently.

  • Tina

    Obama: Democratic voter apathy ‘inexcusable’

    By BEN FELLER, AP White House Correspondent
    Tue Sep 28, 7:02 am ET

    WASHINGTON – Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be “inexcusable” and “irresponsible” for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years.

    “People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and “if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

    The midterm elections are in five weeks and polling shows that Republicans, out of power at the White House and on Capitol Hill, have a much more excited base of supporters than Democrats. Obama, campaigning this week in four states, is in a sprint to restore the voter passion that helped him win office.

    Yet in his attempt to light a fire under supporters, Obama comes across as fired up himself about how many backers fail to acknowledge the progress he sees. He said the glass-half-empty view among many progressive voters can be a debilitating force that distracts them from the real worry: Republicans.

    The GOP is poised to win seats in the House, if not control of the chamber, and gain ground in the Senate, too.

    “It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election,” Obama said.

    The president has been telling Democrats to “wake up” and recognize that he and the Democratic-run Congress have delivered on promises, from a new health care law to tougher rules for Wall Street to more aid for college students. Obama wants disenchanted supporters to see that Republican wins in November would undermine the ability of Democrats to get the unfinished business done, from climate change legislation to allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

    What emerges in the magazine story is a stern, lecturing tone from Obama.

    It comes mainly at the end of the interview. Obama had wrapped the lengthy Q-and-A session, according to the magazine, but then returned unprompted to make one more impassioned point and unleash on the enthusiasm gap. He portrayed a clear choice between an administration that despite some warts has helped advance its agenda, and a Republican Party that would offer disastrous policies for the economy and civil liberties.

    “The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible,” he said in the interview. He said Democrats should be thinking about what’s at stake this election “if they want to move forward over the next two years or six years or 10 years.”

    The Rolling Stone interview was conducted Sept. 17. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the story, titled “Obama Fights Back.”
    Obama expresses plenty of disappointment over how Republicans made a tactical decision from the start to oppose him, but also offers some “grudging admiration” for its political effectiveness in keeping the GOP united. He said the resulting slog between Republicans and himself — legislative delays and political fighting reminiscent of the Washington he ran against — has worsened public skepticism of government and eroded the feeling of hope that surrounded his election.

    The president said he keeps a checklist of his campaign promises and that he has met, by his account, about 70 percent of them.
    As for the rest: “Well, that’s what the next two years is for, or maybe the next six.”

    Obama would need to win re-election in 2012 for that latter timeframe to occur.

  • chalo

    but the basic message is the same– Obama is right even though what he does is wrong; we are wrong to demand from him that he do right. It still doesn’t wash.

  • chalo

    “The president said he keeps a checklist of his campaign promises and that he has met, by his account, about 70 percent of them.”

    Wow— maybe those invisible campaign promises, like the occult knowledge that Scotjen presumes, are also things he has to keep secret for national security reasons.

    It couldn’t be simply that he’s a lying evil bastard who does all the same things Dubya did, and then ridicules his own former supporters when they ask him to do what he told them he’d do, could it?

    _______________________________________________________________

    “In the netherlands most of us do not ware a helmet. Also most of us do not have a gun. Still we get very old.” – jojo

  • Escher Sketch

    is not so easily dismissed by a buzzphrase with no reasoning produced to back it up. Give him the courtesy of the specificity you yourself said is welcome.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Escher Sketch

    It couldn’t be simply that he’s a lying evil bastard…

    - no, not really.

    Unless there were some sort of historical pattern of behaviour to support this (which would presumably have produced at least some supporting anecdotes from people who have known him and worked with him throughout his life) it isn’t a very likely hypothesis.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Anonymous

    That is exactly what almost everyone who knew his pre-presidential political history concluded. He and the politicos he associated with were mired in such behavior. It was a giant leap of faith to even imagine he would not continue the same.

  • Escher Sketch

    some specifics about his pre-existing mendacity would be welcome now.

    About Obama, please (anyone in politics is a single degree of Kevin Bacon from someone with truly filthy hands).


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Tina

    WH messaging about its base
    By Glenn Greenwald

    *

    WH messaging about its base
    (updated below)

    President Obama gave an interview to Rolling Stone and actually said this:

    The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible. . . . .If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we’d better fight in this election.

    This may be one of the most audaciously hilarious political statements I’ve read in quite some time. The Holder Justice Department’s record on domestic civil rights enforcement is actually one of the few areas where there has been substantial improvement — and that’s a perfectly legitimate argument to make — but for Barack Obama to cite “civil liberties” as a reason why Democratic apathy is “just irresponsible,” and to claim with a straight face that this election will determine whether we’re “the kind of country that respects” them, is so detached from basic reality that I actually had to read this three or four times to make certain I hadn’t misunderstood it. To summarize Obama’s apparent claim: the Republicans better not win in the midterm election, otherwise we’ll have due-process-free and even preventive detention, secret assassinations of U.S. citizens, vastly expanded government surveillance of the Internet, a continuation of Guantanamo, protection of Executive branch crimes through the use of radical secrecy doctrines, escalating punishment for whistleblowers, legal immunity for war crimes, and a massively escalated drone war in Pakistan. That’s why, as the President inspirationally warns us: “If we want the kind of country that respects civil liberties, we’d better fight in this election.”

    more with links

  • chalo

    Fiat killings are evil.

    Secret abductions are evil.

    Protracting a bogus, contrived war is evil. As is saying you ended that war when you in fact did not.

    Allowing hundreds of thousands to suffer and die needlessly to guarantee insurers’ profits is evil.

    Pervasive government surveillance of people who are not suspected of any crimes is evil.

    Taking money from wage earners to give it to wealthy, greedy fuckups who crashed the economy is evil.

    Prohibiting the people from seeing or knowing the extent of the damage a corporate polluter has wrought on their property is evil.

    (I could go on for a while, but you get the idea.)

    And saying you’ll do one set of things to win people’s allegiance, then doing the opposite things as soon as you get the opportunity, is lying (even if it isn’t evil).

    (In this case, it is.)

    So what part of this are you not clear on? Or are you instead suggesting that one can consistently lie and intransigently commit evil acts without qualifying as a lying evil bastard?

    _______________________________________________________________

    “In the netherlands most of us do not ware a helmet. Also most of us do not have a gun. Still we get very old.” – jojo

  • Scotjen61

    On January 22, 2009, his second full day in office, President Obama issued an executive order: The EO ordered the CIA to shut down its detention facilities “as expeditiously as possible,” and forbade the CIA from operating any such facilities in the future.

    edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9‐1885.pdf

    Made an executive order that that no president or any other person may order or authorize torture or abuse, that all violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions are prohibited, that all persons being held overseas must be registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross in conformity with Defense Department practices, and that all intelligence interrogations must be video recorded.

    On January 22, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order requiring the CIA to shut down its detention facilities “as expeditiously as possible” and forbidding the CIA from operating any such facilities in the future. Exec. Order No. 13,491, 74 Fed. Reg. 4,893 (Jan. 22, 2009).

    edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9‐1885.pdf

    On January 22, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order rescinding interrogation advice given by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001 and January 20, 2009.

    edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9‐1885.pdf

    On January 22, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order to close the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay within one year. The administration now acknowledges that the one‐year deadline to close the facility will not be met on time; however, it maintains its commitment to closing the facility. Exec. Order No. 13,491, 74 Fed. Reg. 4,893 (Jan. 22, 2009). This requires Congressional support.

    edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9‐1885.pdf

    Direct the attorney general to rescind the “Ashcroft Doctrine” regarding Freedom of Information Act compliance, which instructs agencies to withhold information whenever there is a “sound legal basis” for doing so, and return to the compliance standard under Attorney General Janet Reno, which promoted an “overall presumption of disclosure” of government information through the FOIA unless it was “reasonably foreseeable that disclosure would be harmful.”

    The Educational Opportunities Section should again initiate affirmative cases challenging sex discrimination and race discrimination in education under Title IX and Title VI, including harassment cases and cases challenging unlawful sex segregation in public schools. The Civil Rights Division of HHS is currently evaluating its caseload and seeking input from groups on stepping up enforcement.

    Rescind the Executive Memorandum of March 28, 2001, known as the “Mexico City policy” or “Global Gag Rule,” prohibiting foreign aid to organizations overseas that promote or perform abortions. On January 23rd, President Obama rescinded the Global Gag Rule.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/statement‐released‐after‐the‐president‐rescinds/.

    Beginning in January 2010, the Obama administration, through the Office of Personnel Management, has started to list gender identity among the classes protected by federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies. The EEO policy marks the first time that gender identity discrimination has been explicitly banned from the federal workplace.

    No Match letters. Pledge not to turn the Social Security No Match Letter system into a de facto immigration enforcement tool. Disavow and withdraw the finalized rule republished in the Federal Register on October 23, 2008. (A federal judge issued a preliminary order stopping the government from enforcing the rule last year. The court’s order continues to apply to the republished rule.) The republished No Match rule would – if allowed to go into effect – require employers to terminate employees who do not resolve discrepancies identified in a No Match letter within an impossibly short time frame. The Obama administration has repealed these regulations.

    edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9‐24200.pdf

    Return the Freedom of Information Act ombudsman back to the National Archives and Records Administration from the Justice Department, as the law requires. The Obama administration proposed (and Congress provided) $1 million for NARA to create this office, which is expected to be up and running by the end of the year. NARA named Miriam Nisbet as the FOIA ombudsman.

    In May of 2009 the Administrator of the EPA overturned much of the Bush administration process that increased OMB’s and other agencies role in controlling which chemicals are reviewed and what additional studies were included in the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).

    Repeal EO 13233, the executive order limiting presidential authority to release presidential documents of his or her predecessor, and restore President Reagan’s EO 12667. On January 21, 2009 President Obama signed Executive Order 13489, which repealed EO 13233.

    End the practice of reclassifying declassified documents, revise classification procedures to end overuse, and end the practice of using control markings to improperly restrict public access to unclassified information.

    The new Executive Order on Classification establishes several reforms to address the problem of overclassification and to improve declassification efforts, including tightened restrictions on reclassifying previously declassified information and the creation of a National Declassification Center. A Presidential Memorandum released with the EO suggests that further reforms may be implemented over time. The CUI Task Force Report included several recommendations to standardize the use of control markings on unclassified information and clarify that control markings are not determinative of release under FOIA. A Presidential Memorandum on CUI is forthcoming.

    “The president has directed the secretaries of state, treasury and commerce to carry out the actions necessary to lift all restrictions on the ability of individuals to visit family members in Cuba and to send them remittances,” said Robert Gibbs on April 13, 2009. Lifting or substantially easing the economic embargo, as set forth in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and administered by the Treasury Department, would require legislative action by Congress.

    The Social Security Administration should resolve the Social Security disability benefits determination backlog thoroughly, expeditiously and fairly. A current backlog of benefits determination cases is leaving hundreds of thousands of people who are in desperate need of assistance on years‐long waiting lists to receive the benefits promised to them in law. In particular, Social Security should undertake a complete review of the process for administering disability cases, and should seek additional funding as necessary to reduce this backlog.
    Under the Obama administration the SSA has significantly improved its attention to this issue. The SSA declared that “Eliminating the hearings backlog remains SSA’s highest priority,” and in a hearing in September, SSA said total backlogs had decreased for 9 months. In the spring Congress appropriated funds for additional personnel to work on the backlog.

  • chalo

    The basic thing Obama omitted that renders any nice-sounding executive “orders” against torture, extraordinary rendition, etc., null and void is that he didn’t break the cloak of secrecy that allowed such practices to arise and flourish. There has been negligible official disclosure about the crimes that have been committed by the executive, let alone which ones are still being committed.

    As long as that official secrecy is maintained, you can bet your bottom dollar that all those practices continue. That is why secrecy has been maintained all along– to allow the authorities to do things that are either against the law or unacceptable to the public. It is essential to “national security” (i.e., the authorities’ own security) that the nation be kept in the dark about these things.

    Many of the things we can verify, like whether Obama closed the extralegal prison at Guantanamo Bay, or whether he ended the war in Iraq, we can verify that he lied about. What makes you willing to simply accept his word on the rest?

    _______________________________________________________________

    “In the netherlands most of us do not ware a helmet. Also most of us do not have a gun. Still we get very old.” – jojo

  • Tina

    he has come thru on 122/500 campaign promises 24.4% link

  • quiet Bill

    by throwing “lefties” under the bus.

    And Peter Dauo is one of his conflicted hit-men.

    Peter has to admit the bloggers are factually correct and principled.

    He promotes the laughable thesis of putting blame on liberal bloggers, which is great scape-goating for Obama who wants to get some more center-right support by “showing” he is not a damned liberal socialist commie like they think he is.

  • Tina

    Democrats to Employ Man Who Played Obama During 2008 Campaign
    Would Hit Campaign Trail in Place of President

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – With just a month remaining until the crucial midterm elections, worried Democrats have decided to reach out to the man who played Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, Democratic Party officials confirmed today.

    “We were sitting around thinking of who we could put out there on the campaign trail to get people energized again,” said party chairman Tim Kaine. “And then I was like, what about that guy who played Obama in ’08? He was amazing!”

    While Democratic incumbents have been shying away from appearing with President Obama at rallies in recent weeks, they are “totally jazzed” about making joint appearances with the man who portrayed Obama in 2008, Kaine said.

    “When we put the word out that we were reaching out to the guy who used to play Obama, the reaction was phenomenal,” he said. “People were like, I loved that guy.”

    Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold echoed the sentiment of many Democratic officeholders when he heard that the man who played Obama during the 2008 race might be hitting the road again soon: “I was leery about appearing with the President onstage, but that other guy, come on, he was unbelievable.”

    According to preliminary plans, the guy who played Obama in 2008 would be used to fire up huge crowds in key races, while the actual President Obama would remain behind in Washington giving boring speeches about electronic medical records.

    Fox News offered scant coverage of the Democrats’ plans, other than to report that neither President Obama nor the man who played him in 2008 was born in the US.

  • Tina

    interesting post with links on previous setting up of the fall guy FDL

  • Scotjen61

    good source.

    I liked the promise to give a State of World address. Can’t even believe that one was made without jest. Glad that one was broken:)

    I see lots of progress on all fronts.

    Of course if he is an ‘evil liar’ how do we even know these bills were really passed?? Maybe they have staged Congressional votes to make it ‘look’ like they passed. Hmmmm. Its the same thing they did with that moon shot in 1969. Hmmmm. Was Robert Kennedy really assassinated, and we all know the World Trade center was bombed by the CIA, I think Obama organized it. Hmmmmm. Of course!!

    I think some folks could apply for Fox News.

    Oh, and Tina, I’m back:D

  • Scotjen61

    I think you probably should start wearing that helmet:D

  • Escher Sketch

    nearly 1/4 kept by nearly 1/4 of the way through two four-year terms.

    Given that fractional term, the 238 promises that PoliFact reports as “in the works” is a significant number too.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Tina

    I did not call him an evil liar, nor to I subscribe to conspiracy theories. Yes, you are back. You still have problems getting a point across without denigrating someone who disagrees with you. btw 24.4% does not equal 70%. Of course maybe he is only counting the campaign promises he thought were important or meant to keep.

  • Scotjen61

    400 promises kept, passed in a compromised format (hey this is Democracy after all), or promises in the works out of 500.

    THAT looks like 80% to me.

    Sorry, I actually was not responding to you. But to the tone of a number of the posts overall. Especially the one prior to you.

  • Tina

    The president said he keeps a checklist of his campaign promises and that he has met, by his account, about 70 percent of them.

  • Scotjen61

    moved by anyone rationally getting their points across. Folks believe what they believe, and seldom if ever change their mind.

  • Escher Sketch

    (and ScotJen shows that there’s actually ways of interpreting that as an undercount) – I think the fact that he’s got them written down as a list and is keeping track at all speaks volumes.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Tina

    And if you feel people believe what they want and can’t learn then why bother posting and going against the spirit of this blog by constant name calling and insults? Do you honestly believe by constant name calling and insulting the members here that it will make them believe the way you want them to? I would say that tactic is working out as well for you as it is for Obama and his mouth pieces.

  • Scotjen61

    I don’t think folks are so thin skinned. I react to this stuff:

    “That is exactly what almost everyone who knew his pre-presidential political history concluded. He and the politicos he associated with were mired in such behavior. It was a giant leap of faith to even imagine he would not continue the same.”

    I mean, wtf??

    I do try. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen someone entrenched in what they believe change their mind. And it is not based on rational argument. It’s more like someone finding out their son is gay, and then coming to terms with THAT. This is a well organized social site. Current, timely, interesting. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind.

    And this was a great post

  • Anonymous

    “That is exactly what almost everyone who knew his pre-presidential political history concluded. He and the politicos he associated with were mired in such behavior. It was a giant leap of faith to even imagine he would not continue the same.”

    It is like finally admitting the man you apologize for is “compromised”, and others saw it all along.

    So, then, what are you here for? Some of us are here to look into things and learn, the main purpose of the site, not just be committed apologists or promotional mouthpieces.

    And you will need to abide by the civility guidelines, as you have been repeatedly warned, to stay here.

  • Scotjen61

    There’s barely a person here I wouldn’t love to have a beer with. If this were a table of us we would call bullshit (and yes, as we see it). I spend most of the day with conservatives, not Tea Party god no but the ones who see their usefulness. It’s a dam shame folks don’t know when to stop and when to give. Agonist has heart and passion why I visit. Gives me hope. But yeah I get frustrated and I am who I am. And I get to meet some of these public figures. Wellstone was the greatest man who ever lived I knew of. I can tell a fake. I’m no mouthpiece. He’ll I wanted Hillary. And I still believe she would be a bit better than Obama But you get what you get. Brilliant and principled. I do wrankle when that fact is sullied.

    There you go
    why I like this site

  • Escher Sketch

    also extend to characterizations like “apologist” or “promotional mouthpieces”, Bill. And they also apply to many previously-tolerated-without-editorial-comment characterizations of ScotJen as dishonest – instead of simply being someone who disagrees with the CW here.

    Civility parameters are good. Evenhanded enforcement please. Fair enough?


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Anonymous

    those characterizations were meant to apply to both many of your as well as ScotJen’s posts, and in addition you personally have been one of the main breakers of civility guidelines, repeatedly, per all the editors here. The civility guildelines refer to personal attacks.

    /just saying.

    I haven’t been involved in this discussion until recently, and I’ll leave it to the other site editors/admins to clarify if they want to.

  • Escher Sketch

    Everybody that’s read me here over the last seven years would laugh if I did anyway :D. But I didn’t bring up the civility rules here.

    It’s no more civil to resort to namecalling (the term “mouthpiece” isn’t applied to a post, Bill, it’s applied to a person) when it’s meant to apply to “two of us”. That’s trying to defend a violation of the spirit of the rules by pointing to their narrow letter.

    Let’s just all do better, and I certainly include myself in that.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Michael Collins

    He sent a vague look-alike out on a lecture tour for a year to small colleges. The ruse was discovered and Warhol said it was art. His career continued to improve after that. If you see this guy and think its Obama, it’s all part of a long tradition of performance art in our political process.

  • Numerian

    I first saw this argument in Greenwald’s piece: the White House is setting up the liberals as scapegoats for midterm losses. But how is that going to sound? “Our most fervent and active supporters failed to vote for the party and so we lost.” The average person, and even the main stream media, will ask why you couldn’t get votes from your most fervent and active supporters.

    It makes more sense that this is all part of an “attack the liberals” strategy, as way of attracting independent and maybe even right-wing voters who have learned from Newt Gingrinch that liberal means something like Nazi or Communist. Even so, this is a crazy strategy. Republicans aren’t going to vote for Obama or his party no matter what, and independents want to know first why the Democrats can’t improve the economy. Besides, this runs the risk of fracturing the Democratic Party, and forcing the liberals out into the wilderness looking for a third party candidate like Nader. Liberals are still 20% of the electorate and they are often synonymous with unions, so why would the White House undertake such a high risk strategy?

    I suspect something else is going on. Emanuel, Obama, Axelrod, Gibbs – they are all part of his original Chicago crowd much more used to getting things done politically within an environment where liberals don’t matter. This is saying a lot, because Emanuel came from one of the most liberal districts in the city. Still, to get things done in Chicago you need the machine at your back. The machine runs everything, and bear in mind there is no Republican opposition to speak of. When a candidate wins a primary, with machine backing of course, he is guaranteed election in the general.

    These men were unprepared for vigorous Republican opposition to their program once they were in the White House. It didn’t even occur to them to get rid of the filibuster early on – in fact they still don’t talk about doing the obvious. Nor did they expect any opposition from within their own party; that sort of thing simply doesn’t happen in machine politics. Dissenters from the machine way of doing things are instantly marginalized and disappear quickly from politics.

    Obama’s $700 million fund raising success – his adoring crowds – are the national equivalent of the Chicago machine. Obama may not be a corporate lackey but he certainly doesn’t want to impinge on corporate political donations, because he intends to harness them to his national machine. Dissenters to his way of doing things need not apply. In fact they are viewed with suspicion, because only a crazy person would dissent in the face of all the political and even material success a political machine can offer a person.

    The White House crowd must view Greenwald, Hamsher, etc. as a tiny minority of vocal dissenters who need to be marginalized. They don’t see them as politically consequential, except that they demoralize normal party apparatchiks. They need to stop the demoralization now before it affects the November vote. They don’t see that 20% of the electorate who call themselves liberal may sympathize or align themselves with these bloggers, and that therefore there is a risk that the base of the Democratic Party could be set adrift permanently.

    What is more interesting in all of this is that Democrats in Congress aren’t protesting to the White House about this alienation of their voting base. Since these Democrats never protested the actions of the White House that are at the core of the bloggers’ complaints, this gives credence to the theory that the whole party despises the liberal base and wants to get rid of them. Ian Welsh’s post takes on credibility under these circumstances.

    Even if the White House does get blowback from Congress on this strategy, you can’t walk back these comments. They were made deliberately and strategically, or at least tactically, and suddenly talking nice to liberals isn’t going to make them support Obama. These comments have done permanent damage.

    By the way, even at the end of the Bush presidency, when Democrats and independents abandoned him, about 70% of Republicans still supported him. I would be interested to see polls showing that less than 70% of Democrats support Obama. That ought to be a scary statistic for the White House.

  • Scotjen61

    indicate very high polling for self identified democrats, well into the 80s%, it holds at a very high level. The drop off has been among the independents. This polling would actually support your theory.

  • quiet Bill

    Rahm has stated he would marginalize the left since 2006

    Quotes by Rahm Emanuel from 2006: he was determined to marginalize the left and said so…

    This was a party policy and continued for years, so they could move further right and compromise with the right, which is what they did. Bloggers are just stating what everyone is seeing.

  • Anonymous

    Why didn’t many members of Congress take a swipe at Gibbs? They may not care or they may view it as ‘inside the beltway’ and of little awareness among the liberals who might be offended.

    This type of systemic focus is the ultimate problem for the Democrats and the Republicans. Substance trumps style at times like this. The “liberal bloggers” are not advocating a leftist position, for the most part. They’re responding to outrages and inequities that are seen in pervasive criticism across the political spectrum. Libertarians, for example, would agree with much of the anti war and anti socialism-for-the-rich legislative and regulatory actions by Obama and Bush.

    We’re reaching the breaking point after several decades of decline in the respect for law, common decency, and drift away from productive business and social efforts. What happens to address the ongoing collapse is critical. Substance over style, programs over politics will either prevail or we’re going to look like Great Britain in the 50′s pretty soon.

  • ScentOfViolets

    For example, a key event that has unwound his ‘popularity’ was the AIG bonus. After issuing constraints on how much executives of companies that had been bailed out could earn, it came out there were prior contracts (notably AIG but others as well) that provided for payment of bonuses. Axelrod immediately wanted these payments nullified, it was critical, and it would be popular. However, Obama knew that these were bound by contracts and that the day the Federal Government can go in and willy-nilly shred contracts (about 100,000 employment contracts) would be the day we were not a modern economy. He refused on ‘principal’ and made a highly unpopular choice.

    Really? So when the Federal government willy-nilly shredded the contracts of GM workers, nullifying their pensions which had been written into contract decades ago in lieu of pay increases, you were completely up in arms and were denouncing Obama has unprincipled. Odd, I can’t find the tapes where those discussions were recorded . . .

    That is what people are really upset about, your revisionism notwithstanding. Not just that there were golden parachutes for the Players, though that was bad enough after these guys had told us for decades that taking it on the chin was just capitalistic natural selection, but that there wasn’t so much as a tattered hankie for the rest of us poor S.O.B.’s shoveling coal below-decks. Billions for Wall street, nothing for Main street isn’t just a slogan.

    For that matter, this whole nullification of contracts meme is just a play on false choice; there were lots of other things that could have been done to rein in these people, but not pursued.

    Me, I would have as a requirement of these chieftains getting any bailout money that they appear on live national TV where they would admit that their actions caused the near-collapse of the economy, they would apologize, and they would publicly vow to make amends. They can keep their lousy bonuses.

    Can’t appear on public TV and admit your part in the catastrophe and that you made some serious mistakes? Then you don’t get no bailout money. As simple as that.

  • chalo

    What is happening with the number of self-identified Democrats?

    80% of those who remain is not the same as 80% of those who self-identified as Ds back before Obama began to show his true colors.

    As things stand today, I am approximately as likely to be counted as a Repug as I am to be counted as a Dem. (Which is to say approximately zero likelihood.)

  • Escher Sketch

    in realtime here at the Agonist – I’ve certainly been persuaded myself.

    Not to single anyone out, but to pick just one example, JPD’s managed to persuade me on issues before through good reasoning or good evidence, and I can certainly point to issues where JPD started off in disagreement but was persuaded.

    Considering neither of us are particularly easily budged against our will from positions we consider reasoned and defensible [*cough*stubborn*cough*] :D I think that’s clear enough local evidence that even the strongest-willed can remain open to being influenced by compelling arguments. And I know I’m richer for it.

    Three words are particularly important to bear in mind here – “American election season”. Kinda like “moose rut” with leeeeetle ASCII antlers.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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